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Guild size cap and the WoW Insider reader guild

I was a bit saddened when Blizzard announced that guilds will be hard-capped at 600 members as soon as patch 4.0.1 hits. We're going to have to break up our family into smaller guilds if we want to have new members. And we're going to have to do it soon, because 4.0.1. is on the PTR and could hit any Tuesday now.

Blizzard says it looked at the data and reached the following conclusion:
...we are happy to say that this value covers more than 99.9% of all the active guilds in World of Warcraft
But I believe their data is flawed. Their research cannot have taken into account the many guilds who have split themselves up in order to stay below the 500 member soft cap. For those of you who don't know, if you have a guild with more than 500 members, not all members show up on the roster, so you can't tell how many guildies you have online or even in the guild. It makes things clumsy and time-consuming when you need to promote or kick. Not only that, but there is no rhyme or reason as to who shows up and who doesn't. Recent invites may appear on the roster, whereas people inactive for months may not. So many guilds have chosen to split up and patiently wait for the bug to be fixed. Since there are no alliances and no checkbox for "part of a larger group of guilds" built in to the game, there is no way for Blizzard to gather the appropriate data.

After the break, I'll be going into how this affects <It came from the Blog>, our staff/reader guild that has grown at points up to 1,700 members, and what our plans are for the immediate future. But first, have a poll:

Note: This poll is for entertainment purposes only, of course.
Does the guild cap of 600 affect you?
Yes2301 (9.5%)
No16586 (68.3%)
I just want to see the votes5382 (22.2%)

I know that the number of large guilds is not huge, but I think that the people trying to stay below the soft cap may have affected Blizzard's choice of 600. Of course, these enormous guilds are chock-full of alts, and rarely do they include several hundred different accounts. But temporarily, our guild does -- whenever we have a huge event, like our server maintenance parties. And <It came from the Blog> is full of people playing alts as an escape from their raiding guilds or to just enjoy the game with a bunch of great, mature players from all over the globe. Regardless of the numbers involved, this will affect our guild dynamic.

The plan

With the patch almost upon us and the change already in place on the PTR and in beta, it's time to move forward. I have a plan. We're going to have to split the guild.

Many years ago, I joined the Penny Arcade fleet of guilds. The Spousal Unit and I were too late to join the first one and we were relegated to one of the less cool guilds that formed because of the roster bug. We didn't get the cool tag and we didn't get included in the cool chat. The chat channel wasn't used as much by the first guild as the rest of us hoped. So we lost interest and went elsewhere. I don't want to have that happen here. Instead, I'm splitting the guild into level ranges so that alts will be grouped together for easier forming of parties and raids.

This is my plan:
  • <It came from the Blog> will now be the mid-range guild, encompassing characters from level 20 to 54.
  • <Bloglings> will be our separate event guild. It will be the guild that IcftB originally was at the beginning. All people who wish to join us for events can join this guild. This guild will become the stepping stone for entrance into the other guilds, should players wish to play in between events. Everyone will be able to invite.
  • <Blog Lurkers> will become the noob guild. Players in our new family of guilds that are in the level range of 1 through 20 will be here.
  • <The Insiders> will become our new high-level guild. Characters from level 55 and up will be played here.
  • We will have a global channel for general chat and camaraderie.
  • An event channel will be used to coordinate events.
  • WoW Insider staff characters will follow these level ranges so that we will have characters in most of the guilds.
There will, of course, be some transitional pains. We fear change, after all. But I will remain vigilant yet flexible so that we can get through this and try to keep our family together as best we can. Also, the benefits of guild leveling will mostly be felt in <It came from the Blog> and <The Insiders>, but that's OK. We won't really need it in the other guilds.

How Blizzard could help

If Blizzard wanted to make some changes to help out big guilds like ours, I have a few suggestions:
  • Raise the hard cap. I think the max would be more reasonable at 1,500.
  • Implement guild alliances. If there were a shared chat and other common functionality implemented for guild alliances, then I think Blizzard could keep the cap where it is and we'd all be able to work with that.
  • Limit guild benefits to a level range. Blizzard could take away the cap altogether and just say that the guild benefits only apply to level XX and above (say, level 40).
  • Send us a thank-you pet. Blizzard could send us a personal thank-you for being loyal customers and to ease the pain of breaking up our guild. It could be an adorable non-combat pet that would be just for the large guilds that are affected by the change. Like a pink, sparkly, miniature pony. Yeah! Or a fierce widdle tiger. Rawr! Uh, I may have exceeded my normal dosage of Nutella today. /blush
No, I don't think Blizzard is likely to do any of the above, either. It's not that it doesn't care; it just has more important things to worry about -- like making sure we have a smooth Cataclysm launch. But I am interested in hearing other solutions you may have for the problem in the comments.
Please join us on Zangarmarsh (US-PvE-H) in <It came from the Blog>. Guild ranks of Blog Lurker or above can invite, so /whisper Robiness or any online member. You are all welcome as long as you play by our simple rules -- basically, don't be a funsucker! Visit the guild FAQ for more details.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, It Came from the Blog, Cataclysm

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