My crystal ball may be cracked.
I might about as accurate as the weatherman predicting whether it will snow six months from today.
I could even be as accurate as an unfletched arrow.
I might be, but I don’t think so.
I was sitting and thinking again today (I really need to stop doing that) and the topic my brain decided to chew on was the difference between casual players and the more hardcore ones, particularly how I see the way raid progression will work in the coming expansion effecting them. The major differences that I see in the two (coming from my heavily PVE slanted viewpoint) is the amount of time they are willing and able to put into the game in one sitting.
I am not going to get into definitions of what is casual and what is hardcore as it really varies from person to person. What I will say is that the time required for 25 player content is significantly higher than the time investment in 10 player content. Not only do you have to do the instance, but you also have to coordinate your schedule around 24 other people. Working out a plan with 9 others is infinitely easier.
What I am seeing though is a coming blurring of that line even further. I see the progression in Wrath of the Litch King to be very different than it was in The Burning Crusade. I see this effecting guilds in what I consider a very positive way.
The biggest bottleneck in TBC raiding came at the switchover point from running heroics and Karazan to the 25 player content with Gruul’s and Magtheridon. Going from one to the other was difficult from the standpoint of the guilds running Kara. Mostly in that while you were gearing people up to move to the next level guilds running 25 man content were recruiting your better geared players to replace their losses. It makes perfect sense when looked at it objectively, but what you ended up with were essentially “feeder” guilds.
Like a new kind of leveling guild these guilds would be typicality recruiting fairly new 70′s who were geared enough to run Kara and heroics. They would work with them on developing thier skills and gearing them to move toward the 25 player content. Unfortunately people are somewhat impatient and tended to move on to a more progressed guild as their gear allowed.
This was great for the larger guilds running the larger raids, but devastating to the smaller guilds that were trying to progress. It was like a wall that was hard to get over, you kept boosting people up to the top and instead of reaching back to pull you up with them they hopped down and went on their way. Many a good guild hs shattered after slamming into that wall one too many times. Several of the guilds I have been in died that death, Infusion amongst them.
Coming in the new expansion Blizzard has changed the way that this will happen. They have not removed the bottleneck, now it will be more like a funnel. Keeping the smaller guilds together for more than one raid instance will hopefully make the transition easier. By allowing a full 10 player progression path they are giving the smaller guilds a chance to gear up more quickly and efficiently before they start bleeding players.
If they then choose to progress through 25 player content then they can, however I think it will be much better for the smaller guilds. If implemented the way it seems to be happening the players in the smaller guilds will be able to learn the basics of the encounters doing 10 mans while gearing up. Also with more than one 10 player raid to go through the wall won’t be quite so high and their will be a bit more incentive to reach back and help the others cross as well.
I see players that want to see the whole game being able to without having to sacrifice guild loyalty and friendship on the altar of progression.
I see shorter instances and raids, yet more of them.
I see more guilds working together instead of tearing each other down.
I see individual players that may not be able to sit 5 hours nonstop still able to “finish” the game.
I see the rise of the Hardcore Casual.