I stumbled across a list of features of the forthcoming Guild Experience system hinted to come in Cataclysm. I read them through and forgot the whole thing until the other day, when I found myself comparing the guilds I've been associated with. I've seen quite a few different styles of running a guild, from very much military style organisation of the first guild I was in to the completely open and plutocratic system of SAN. Also the aims of the guilds have been very different: from the 'do as you please as long as you're having fun' of SAN to very much achievement and achieving oriented approach of the first guild I've been in. In between there are several different kind of mixes which have been somewhat successful to combine the parts of both ends.
The Guild experience system will do some damage to all of this, I think. Now the system which Blizzard presented in the Blizzcon last year is far from set in stone, but the overall idea of having all of the members of the guild to contribute to the guild sounds very nice. However, if we take the average casual, social raiding guild (tm) into consideration, what will happen?
Guild has two 10 man teams, which combine for the odd 25 man run once, twice a week. Regular schedule, so there are 30 raiding members in the roster. As this is casual and social, there are some 30 more casual players who either enjoy the company, hang around because of the cool name of the guild or are in because they think they have a chance to raid with the raid teams one day or another. So a 60 players in the guild, quite reasonable.
Currently the situation is such that the raiders would have to support their raiding by themselves, and the guild would help by disenchanting the gear not needed or distributed by the raid attendants. The casual part of the guild would just help when they are asked to and would happily be chatting around.
With the guild experience system, the guild gains experience from everything any member does, so the more active the casuals are, the more experience the guild gains. The raiders will continue as they are doing currently, logging in half an hour before the raid and chugging out as it ends, as well as the casuals would be logging in to do their quests, dailies, chatting and achievements. However, there was a mention of the guild experience and achievement for internal trading.
The optimist in me would like to see this mean that the raiders, who are the experts of the game by far, would trade with the casual members and lower level members of the guild. But if they continue doing what they usually do (because of being casual raiders), they login half an hour before the raid to get ready and log off right after the raid for the night is done. There is no connection to the social casual group of the guild, so the raiders would do their internal trades among themselves (I can see a lot trades in consumables and enchants on the way...), where as the casuals would have to do them by themselves. In the end, the casual group would be supporting the raiders in the guild, widening the separation even further.
There will be a huge recruitment spree because of this even before the Cataclysm hits: each and every guildmaster of a raiding guild can see the benefit of having as many slackers in their midst only because they generate the Guild system currency while the raiders are away and not attending to anything.
The question is, how can Blizzard be sure that this is going to be fair to all participants? I mean, the casuals are already paying for the content the raiders are consuming at ever faster rates.
The casual gamer, who I think are the biggest group in the game, are the ones who are paying for everything.
That's what I think.