The Daily Grind: Does multi-guilding hurt MMORPGs?

Call and answer.

Massively OP reader Josh wrote into the podcast recently — in fact, we’re answering his whole email on this afternoon’s show — about the state of guilds in MMORPGs. A fan of Asheron’s Call’s monarchy system, he posited that far from creating tight bonds in MMOs, modern guilds seemed designed to encourage “flitting around” as you can very often join multiple guilds at a time.

“But this seems to also result in far less expectation of investment in a particular guild,”  he observed.

I wanted to use that part of his question as a springboard about multi-guilding in today’s Daily Grind. I personally think that multi-guilding has helped a lot of social and roleplay guilds stay alive in an era when game developers are hell-bent on gamifying guild systems with achievements and perks that drive so many players into the arms of power-centric guilds. But I also see the investment issues Josh does, which inarguably affects the communities, just in a different way.

What do you think — does multi-guilding hurt MMORPGs?

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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Absolutely. It’s bad enough with all the instancing, phasing, auto dungeon finder-teleport you straight to the dungeon garbage.
Multi-guild thingies only further splinter the social environments that can naturally exist.
Once upon a time MMORPG server communities were large and very social, now they basically don’t exist and the social element in MMOs is almost entirely absent outside of trolling general/trade chat. If you’re lucky enough to have a tight guild, cool, but it’s not necessary anymore and many players I know don’t even bother.
It was better when you needed a guild. you needed other players to accomplish things in-game. Now it’s a me me me single player, casual fest.
No fucking wonder all I play is vanilla WoW anymore.
One server. One guild. Actual, real community.

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I am a fan of multi-guilding, even though I am personally dedicated to a single guild.

My guild, OTG, is a large, casual, adult (25+), mostly-PVE guild. A multi-guild system such as the one supported by GW2 enables our members to be in our guild, but also accomodate situations such as the following:

Form a guild with family members who are not old enough to join OTG.
Join a guild serious about a game aspect OTG does not pursue competitively, such as raiding, RP, PvP, or WvW.
Create or join a guild with friends who may not want to get involved in a big guild, but still want the “clubbiness” and other benefits an in-game guild provides.

One of the things that makes it work well in GW2 is that you can see and participate in guild chat for all your guilds concurrently, so you’re never cut out of the goings on.

If you run one of those guilds that eats, sleeps, and breaths its goals, I can see where multi-guilding would be a disadvantage, but it is terrific for a social guild like mine.

Andy McAdams
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Andy McAdams

I don’t know – it’s never really jived with me the multi-guild thing. But I keep looking for what I had in my first 2 guilds that I haven’t really found since. In Anarchy we had a tight crew and we had a ton of fun and I still keep in touch with people now and again from the guild.

In WoW, it was different because it became my social life. And I don’t mean that like I was a raid-or-die kinda guy but I would get off work, hit the treadmill for a while then get on and hangout. I was always thought of it like going to hangout at the bar with friends every night, just cheaper :-)

I think I’ve been looking for that since that guild kind of dissolved ( though I hear it exists in new forms now), but I haven’t found my new “bar crew” guild. For me, multi guilding detracts from that. So I don’t know if it’s great for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad for the genre as a whole.

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Little Bugbear

Most guilds aren’t good at supporting multiple styles of game play. Players who want to Raid AND RP (for example) can find themselves in a real bind about which guild to join(potential prospects having varying problems when they have to be THE ONLY GUILD). Multiple guilds can allow players to be involved with what ever play styles they enjoy (Raiding, PVP, Crafting, RP, etc.). I do think having multiple guild chats available (different colors for each guild) could help you keep involved in your guilds of choice. Also giving guilds more rewards for no combat game-play and social interaction would greatly help smaller guilds.

Pedge Jameson

Multi-guilding seems to me to be an easy way to run with a new crew without hurting anyone feeling. It’s the same why now you can just hide posts from friends on Twitter and Facebook without removing them.

It seems to me it’s just some half attempt to combat drama and toxicity. If a guild’s not living up to what you want, just leave, don’t pussyfoot and leave them high and dry when they were expecting you for a raid or such, but you went off for the night with guild B. Just be open and honest, most GM’s of guilds really appreciate the honesty more then an just blowing them off while you do content with someone else.

Robert Mann

Multi-guilding isn’t really terrible. The problem is that games have gone so far down the path of pure combat simulator with background environments that there’s no real reason to care. Raids/PvP grouping are about all that is left. Dungeons are made easy to allow for pugs, more and more raids are being made in a similar format and loot is being made less of a disparity between that mode and harder raiding (not that this is 100% a bad thing, just it means that source of guild cohesion is dying too.)

Not so social games are certainly in demand by some. That’s fine. The problem is, for those who want the social aspects and guilds that mean something, that no games and no systems encouraging that are being made by the major studios. I’m going to say that, even with multi-guilding, a game could make those connections valuable and important if they tried… and the first games to do so, multi-guild or not, will see a fairly stable fan base since they have little to no competition right now.

Ideally, in a system where the personal goals and motivations of each player contribute to an overall sense of community within the game. Something I think that sandboxes, should they make truly massive worlds that take a lot of time to cross, could manage easiest (especially with a player driven economy.)

Paul Nettle

As a former guild and raid leader across several MMORPGs, I think Arktouros nailed it.

It’s not bad for MMORPGs, but it’s bad for guilds that want to do things.

It’s great for those players that are only in it for themselves, and with with the solo heavy ME design of MMORPGs these days, it’s natural fallout.

I see it as a way for selfish players to ensure they are always the #1 priority. Good guilds require a certain degree of participation, cooperation, sacrifice, and loyalty and it’s harder to pull off when players are coming and going based on which guild activities reward them and only them the most and you can’t count on them or regular participation in general.

One reason I got burned out on leading guilds, leading raids, and MMORPGs in general was selfish players and often feeling like people expected ME to schedule and provide their entertainment. If I didn’t keep raids rolling constantly, people would play alts (often in other guilds) or switch guilds. It gets old dealing with selfish takers. It gets old when people are not looking to join guilds based on the people and instead based on what can this guild do for me and can it gear up my 20th alt.

As someone who started with EQ > DAoC back when solo was next to impossible and you had to group for everything, and where the genre was more about social and strong community and less about me, me, ME and catering to casual solo garbage, I also just see this as part of the toilet spiral of the genre brought on by the shift to chasing numbers and wider appeal by turning a once great genre into a cess pool of mediocrity with solo/selfish emphasis.

You’re always going to have some selfish people in whatever is going on but I think for sure in MMORPGs, when the design is 95% about solo and mini games unrelated to the game meant to keep A.D.D. in check, then you are bound to have far more self centered players, and for MMORPGs, I think that’s just bad all around.

Wanda Clamshuckr


the solo heavy ME design of MMORPGs these days

a way for selfish players to ensure they are always the #1 priority

It gets old dealing with selfish takers

about me, me, ME and catering to casual solo garbage

a cess pool of mediocrity with solo/selfish emphasis

the design is 95% about solo and mini games unrelated to the game meant to keep A.D.D. in check, then you are bound to have far more self centered players

Well, just going to put this out there, but..I think you might want to take a look at how you perceive solo players, and content. This isn’t 1999 anymore. The genre has evolved.

Multi guilds allow for diversity. RPing, ERPing, Crafting, Trade, Raid, etc. Who “sacrifices” anymore? This isn’t a job. That was sooo 15 years ago. You can still have loyal people, and plan events where people will attend, without having to give a pound of flesh.

Requiring people to give you their online lives is selfish. People who have lives, who make a decision to donate some of their spare time to a group for an hour or two a week, should be thanked, not flogged.

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“It’s not bad for MMORPGs, but it’s bad for guilds that want to do things.”

I think that’s a good way of putting it.

The interesting question, for me, is whether there are in-game mechanism that can encourage two-way commitment. That is, encourage players to invest more in their guild(s), and encourage guilds to invest more in their players (particularly new players).

Things like EVE University clearly demonstrate that, in-game mechanisms or not, players can set up this sort of system if they are determined enough and put enough energy into building that sort of community. But I wonder what the underlying game design can do to lessen that activation energy.

Asheron’s Call made a stab at it in a way that I don’t feel like other more modern systems do, insofar as patrons and lieges were directly incentivized to act as good mentors for their clients. They got XP out of it if those folks stuck around, and more XP if they were could be trained up into good players. As others have pointed out on this thread, AC’s system had all sorts of flaws as well. But I’m not sure that anyone else has even taken a stab at it in recent years.

A Dad Supreme

I think joining a large guild with limited spacing for certain MMOs hurts far more than multi-guilding.
Generally joining a large guild will only offer the opportunity for a few to actually play/mingle with the more influential/popular/older members of a guild. They will usually have a tight-knit clique that will only admit a few.
The rest of the gaming guild will then have them open “alternative” groups and guilds in said MMO, which splinter off into further cliques.
I’ve seen eventually that some of these smaller groups end up not having much in common with the original guild so that they end up quitting and re-forming into a brand new guild, thereby recreating the whole ‘clique’ tree once again.


I wouldn’t say it hurts or helps MMOs; rather, it changes, sometimes deeply, how people interact with guilds. Multi-guilding seems to make guilds more casual, unable to command as much dedication; for some people that makes the experience worse, for other people that makes the experience better.

I’m in the camp that finds multi-guilding improves the experience. But then, my relationship with guilds was never one of blind dedication; while I would do my best, of my own free will, to help whichever guild I was a member of, at the same time if any guild officer or above ever demanded something from me I would immediately put that player on ignore and /gquit. No one dictates how I play, and that certainly includes any guilds I join.

Robert Mann

Indeed, the entire ‘You must do X’ is not acceptable. There are always guild goals, but any leader worthy of being followed knows better than that (at least in a play situation, in real life sometimes leaders need to get down to business mode.)

Zen Dadaist

I’ve not had any experience in how multi-guilding works in the newer games like ESO, so I can’t really say how those systems affect things.

What I do have experience with is multi-guilding the old school way: having several characters, not all of them in the same guild. I very much enjoy doing this because I see it as a great way of having different experiences in the same game, and as a larger pool of people to play with and bring together. This is somewhat different to a permanent alliance or mega-guild. Each guild is still its own unique entity with its own feel, members, priorities and so on. It’s just that players who become more invested in the game on a wider level have more choice with what to do and who to do it with. A hardcore player can be a part of several casual guilds that way. This suits me very well, particularly in smaller games with closer-knit but not necessarily more hardcore guild groups.

Where it does run into issues is if one player ends up in a position where a lot is needed or expected of them in more than one guild. Then you run into clashing priorities and timing, an inability to honour all their responsibilities, and feelings of a lack of dedication or even abandonment. It requires careful curation and good time management – as well as a realistic understanding of what you can and cannot do. You have to prioritise, and also be flexible. I am always careful who I promise to do what for/with, and I will usually try and cross the groups over so that even when I’m not around, they’ve all got some other vouched-for folks to play with.

I am going to guess that the way multi-guilding works in ESO et al is different and not as conducive to fostering small communities. I’m not sure why it wouldn’t work to foster groups of guilds (i.e. alliances or even just shared chats to coordinate activities).

Robert Mann

Because the only real guild activities around are PvP, Raiding, and Trade/AH. PvP groups will use outside chat (and they do form alliances, although the primary one removes much of the entire three faction dynamic.) Raiding is, well, by it’s nature small groups that run together and tend to either not talk much to others in guild about it or just have their own little set guild. Trading… they are in competition, so the only way they would work together is to jack up prices on everyone else.