I still enjoy raiding and my guild is progressing well enough on principle, but we keep having to cancel raids due to not having enough players. We're advertising on the official forums and via in-game chat, but it's been nearly two months since we had any kind of application at all. It's immensely frustrating. When I ask around I get told that it's the same for all guilds, but that still doesn't answer the question of why.
Many people say that the raids are too difficult and that this has killed the player base's interest in raiding, but I don't really buy that. Or rather, I can believe that this is true for many but I don't see how it explains such a massive dearth of recruits. Raids in Burning Crusade weren't exactly faceroll either, but I don't remember there ever being such a lack of interest in them. Not to mention, to come to the conclusion that raids are too hard or not fun for you or whatever, you'd at least have to give them a try - where are all the new players trying to break into raiding? My guild is pretty casual these days, so it's not as if we have huge expectations and are only open to the most experienced, but still we don't see any of them.
I wonder how much the fragmentation of the server community plays a role. It feels like you have little reason to interact with people outside your guild anymore, maybe the occasional Baradin Hold pug and that's it. I used to have plenty of contacts outside our guild, but they have mostly dried up. Five-mans used to be the big thing to do with people outside your guild occasionally, but the dungeon finder has mostly killed that off too. So it's not until you're short on raiders that you realise that you've got nowhere to turn. I keep thinking that I should make a point of running the daily heroic again and ask in general chat whether anyone wants to join to get to know people, but seeing how I'm a healer and healers are exactly what we're missing, that strategy wouldn't really achieve much.
Strangely enough, the whole guild levelling system doesn't seem to help either. You can question whether the guild perks are really all that, but it's an additional mental barrier to prevent you from leaving your old guild for sure. I actually hit exalted with Onslaught only yesterday, almost four months after expansion release, and most people in my guild still have a fair way to go. I doubt this kind of thing is keeping anyone in a guild that they hate, but if you're just considering leaving to join a raid guild for example, it's one more thing you risk to lose if things don't work out. Not to mention the issue of whether your raids count as guild groups in the eyes of the in-game system, something that has effectively killed off multi-guild raid forces and discourages filling holes with the occasional pugger.
And then... there is the issue of ten-man raiding. So many people thought that ten-man raiding becoming the new focus would make everyone happier, but I'm not sure it's working out that way. People thought that fewer people would mean less organisational effort, and in many ways it does, but maintaining a balanced roster with neither too few nor too many raiders is harder than ever, and multiple smaller raid groups means that more people have to take on the burden of being raid leaders than before.
Also, the whole "raiding with my friends only" thing has turned out to be a double-edged sword in my opinion. How many people cheered that they would now finally be able to focus on raiding with the nine players they liked best, without having to "carry" the chaff of fifteen others? (I wasn't one of them, but there were many.) However in the end, if one or two of your friends leave the game and you need replacements, who do you turn to? What are the chances that you always have a close friend at hand who can provide just what you need? In the end most guilds need people who are willing to be raiders first and friends second (at least initially). But if everyone else is already friends, who wants to be the one guy who has to struggle to fit in? Since you only need ten people, you're probably better off trying to make your own raid group with players that are already your friends. Except that you're probably one or two slots short in the end as well... And so it continues as everyone just sticks to their little cliques, which are too large to be absorbed into another ten-man but too small to be stable on their own.
This is all just rambly theorising of course, as I don't have any proof of these things beyond my own impressions and the occasional chat with other players. But I do feel that something is off, and I still don't think that it's the raid content itself. I'd be happy to hear other people's thoughts on the subject, and suggestions for solutions if you've got any.
Oh, and Onslaught on Earthen Ring-EU Horde side is recruiting. Of course. /cough
My MMO Outlook for 2015
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