The Daily Grind: Do MMORPGs still need traditional guilds?

In the game’s design docs and our interviews, Camelot Unchained’s Mark Jacobs is positively adamant that multiguilding (that is, being able to join more than one guild at a time on the same character) is harmful and will not be possible in the game. Specifically, the doc argues that multi-guilding is “one of the things that has hurt the viability and attractiveness of guilds in modern MMORPGs” and that “multi-guilds have contributed to the decline of meaningful guilds in MMORPGs.”

My subsequent questions, you probably noticed, fought back against the idea that multiguilding is a problem. That’s because I’ve been a guild leader for a very long time, from hardcore to casual, and I’ve seen how strict and inflexible lines between guilds can actually cause massive rifts in communities and friendships, outstripping their potential for stickiness or society-building, and I’ve seen how blurring the lines, making the unit of play smaller teams or even larger factions or player cities, brings people together in ways structured, hierarchical guilds do not. Making people choose between my guild and somebody else’s was a friendship mistake, one I’d rather not be forced to make again.

But in retrospect, I think I was asking the wrong questions in that interview. I’m not concerned about multiguilding causing a decline in “viability and attractiveness of guilds” because I no longer care about the presumed sanctity of traditional MMO guilds in the first place. In fact, in the modern era, I don’t think traditional guilds serve the vast majority of gamers anymore. I am beginning to suspect we don’t actually need formal guilds. I care about guilds’ impact on MMOs, not about guilds. I care about friendships and communities, I care about the people in my core circle – not ephemeral, self-serving, studio-leverageable power structures. Let them decline, if that’s what gamers actually want, and let them be replaced by something that actually fits our lives, whether it’s with the dreaded multiguilding or CU’s own mini-guild-Warbands. Without the formal mechanics of guilds, similar would still form organically, as any day-one Ultima Online player can tell you – no mechanical intervention required, and the community went on just fine.

What do you think? Do MMORPGs still need traditional guilds? Do you also see a decline in guilds, and is it necessarily a bad thing? Are their replacements more suitable for your playstyle in 2017?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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63 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Do MMORPGs still need traditional guilds?"

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Rottenrotny

Yeah, I’m not a fan of multi-guilding.
Sure, it provides options, but at the cost of tight nit communities.
From a guild leader position it can be very difficult with all your members being in just one guild and much more so when your members are in multiple guilds. Who’s actually active in the guild? How do you organize events in such if a bunch of your members aren’t even paying attention?

Even in games like GW2 where you can have multi guilds I only stick with one.

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Frank White

Don’t think it matter so much with CU. As others have pointed out, in most MMO’s you want to be a member of more than one guild because of the different priorities of those guilds, which most commonly comes down to guilds with a pve emphasis and those with a pvp emphasis.Which is a big over-simplification, I know, but I just think that when the focus is on pvp/rvr/wvw it makes more sense for guild members to stick together, for logistical and tactical reasons, on top of friendship.

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athiev

I think it’s outstanding when developers are this explicit and honest. It helps make clear when a game is going to be a bad experience. From a business perspective, that’s probably a bad thing because it narrows the market and reduces sales. But it saves potential players money and the feeling of being burned.

On the main topic: traditional guilds can work really well. I’m in the world’s warmest guild (FC) in FFXIV! And that’s great. But given that the large majority of MMO players now bounce around all the time across games, characters, and playstyles, more flexible social systems are essential.

Solaris
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Solaris

For a PvP centric game, I’d say the answer is a definite Yes. For MMOs like Camelot and Crowfall, not having dedicated guilds makes the whole PvP premise somewhat worthless. I would say the same for upcoming PvE centric games like Pantheon. Having a guild that is active and works as a team makes a game so much more rewarding. When you can jump ship in a multi-guild game, the prestige just isn’t there. And in my opinion, nor is the dedication.

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starbuck1771

Loaded question! No and yes. It’s just like asking if we need social media, magazines, and websites in general, or dealing with game news. Do we really need it? No! But do we want to have it? Yes!

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Jeff

I think guilds were better when they were loose associations before the days of in game management. These days most guilds suck, and really don’t so that much that you can’t do on your own. Guilds should be a novelty not “You can’t sling a dead cat without hitting 9”

I have my groups of people I hang out with in ESO but we won’t form a guild, I do belong to a GW2 guild but there is more of a reason to in that game and it’s still just to take advantage of the perks more than OMG what a special group of people are we?

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John Kiser

I’d say it varies if there is reasons to actually be in a guild properly. Many guilds now serve no purpose other than social stuff (other than heirlooms in WoW it isn’t great for anything other than Social.) Archeage guilds served a purpose and they do in BDO as well.

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rafael12104

Hmm… well, I was the leader a guild for a few years. There was good, and bad, and yes, there was ugly. We went from casual, to progression, to both, and.. back to casual. Lol.

My take is a little different though than Bree’s I think. Yes, MMOs need traditional guilds.
Fundamentally, they provide a structure, for good and bad, that allows new players to socialize easily and get to know the game.

Oh, you can be social without a guild, but some players, many from my experience, just aren’t that open when they are new to the game. Why? Trolls. It is a sad fact, that when someone asks for help in gen chat, or is new in a dungeon or PvP area, they get treated like shit. And, this isn’t new, and it isn’t going away.

So, if you are new, and don’t have many friends in game, guilds serve a very important mechanical and social purpose. The trick, of course, is finding the right one for you. But, it’s not hard to do that.

I loved our guild. We were laid back, and enjoyed the game and the company. We branched out and added progression for those who wanted something more meaty but that didn’t compromise our core value of having fun and respecting each other. A few players were in other guilds too. It was no bother. We created an alt only guild. We welcomed new players and loved introducing them to raids, crafting, etc. Or, just encouraged them to hang out. We made alliances with other guilds to run content and share resources. It was a grand old time!

I don’t know, maybe we were lucky. Drama, and there was some, was kept to a minimum. Btw, people bring their own drama with them. Lol. Learned that. We never viewed being in our guild as a limitation on who you could socialize with whom or what you could do. We weren’t rivals with other guilds. We were not competitive in that way.

So do they serve a purpose? Sure they do. Are they a method to exclude and be, ironically, antisocial? Yes. But it’s like anything else, they are a great tool if used as intended and wisely. The good out weighs the bad though, and I have life long friends because or our guild. I wouldn’t trade that for all the devs in China.

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Serrenity

Well, it depends. Traditional guilds were little more than a tag and a common chat. Then we started to staple on things based on guild level (like all the heirlooms that are tied to Guilds in WoW … because why not?). Do we need guilds that are just a tag and a common chat? *Shrug* it’s not hurting anything, but I think in today’s world that closest thing you’d find to that is a Linkshell in FFXIV. Just a group chat, nothing more.

I don’t think MMOs need guilds that have content/skills/QoL improvements locked behind a guild. Because really, what’s the point of that? To ‘inspire’ people to join guilds, when in reality the people who want to join guilds … already are. The people who don’t want to and are being ‘inspired’ are really just FOMO-ing it up. Or in WoW’s case, you lock rewards behind rep grinds because … people are just generally jerks and will join for the perks put in place to get them to join and then immediately drop after they get said perks.

I don’t think we need any of that nonsense.

What I think guilds need is meaningful interaction internally and externally. Build gameplay around guilds that doesn’t immediately involve running a dungeon, or a raid, or PvP. Give people social reasons to join a guild. Give guilds a space to be together and let them actually be there, instead of giving them this space then giving a million and five reasons to NOT be there.

It just blows my mind that these games are about being around other people (note: very specific wording there), but we give remarkably few reasons to be around other people when we aren’t stabbing them. I think what we need are guilds that are more. That give social reasons to join, give guild features that are FUN, not required.

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Bryan Gregory

I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to guilds. On one hand, the guilds I’m in generally make the game I’m playing way more enjoyable. It’s nice to be a part of a group of people who don’t annoy you, aren’t immature, and are skilled people you can rely on. On the other hand, when I’m not in a guild, it feels like most people don’t want to group with players outside of their guild, and I think that’s silly and detrimental. I even hate being in a guild that does that. It’s like, well, we’ve almost got a full group, just missing 1 person, but can’t find anyone in guild, guess we’ll disband. Dumb. I like to play with everyone and meet new people. I mean one of those new people could potentially become a new guildie couldn’t they?

It’s actually funny you bring up the guild discussion, because I’ve recently returned to the Everquest Phinigel server and it’s something I was thinking about lately, after coming back to a server where the low end game is practically non-existent and wanting to start a new character. Shouting for groups while watching people in guilds only play amongst themselves and power level one another. It made me ponder what the game would be like if guilds didn’t exist.

I think it’s pretty disturbing the way people treat their guildies opposed to the way they treat a stranger. You should treat everyone as if they are your guildie. Treat no one as a stranger.

But finding a guild is also a chore, particularly one that you enjoy and feel comfortable with. You sort of have to window shop, like a dating app, read a bio where they try to ‘sell’ themselves to you, and then you have to go and file an application where you too try to ‘sell’ yourself to them. Honestly I think guild ‘loyalty’ is far worse today than it ever was. I don’t feel like people were so adamant to ONLY play with their guildmates back in the day. But I also don’t think it’s ‘loyalty,’ I think it’s just a form of anti-social behavior.