I'm writing this as if it were to be posted on the official WoW forums. I'm not currently subscribed, but I do still like to follow what's going on with the game for if/when I return.
With the new announcement of Thunderforged weapons, it becomes obvious that Blizzard has finally admitted that the 25 man raiding community is dieing.
Naturally, the player base understands that this "incentive" will not bolster the 25 man raiding community.
The problem is...
Blizzard did not listen to their players, the guys in the trenches raiding and playing for hours and hours. When they first announced that they were going to normalize gear for both 10 and 25 mans, every single person I knew echoed the exact same sentiment, "Well, 25mans are going to die now." And, surprise surprise, the players were correct.
Here, players are already telling Blizzard that this new "idea" is not going to help anything (and will most likely cause additional headaches and problems instead), yet, so far, it seems Blizzard isn't listening...again!
Without speedy corrections, I think it's safe to say that the 25 man raiding community will dwindle down to an extremely small niche group. The danger of this is that if the community becomes too small, it is no longer cost effective for Blizzard to create or maintain 25 man content. This is just a fact of business. Without corrective action, it won't be the players who end 25 man raiding (as there will always be some who will keep it alive) but Blizzard, because, let's face it, money talks.
Many, many players seem to be in agreement that the problem with 25s is a logistical one. In that it is simply more work to maintain a 25s raid roster/guild than a 10s. I don't think this can be disputed. As such, it seems to be common sense that there must be some extra incentive in order to compensate for the extra work. The enjoyment of the 25 man scene is simply not enough compensation for the 25 man guilds who are semi-hardcore/casual as they spend more time recruiting and managing then they do raiding (I've seen many 25m raid leaders/guild leaders who can attest to this).
The problem for Blizzard here, is that they think the correct solution is one of loot. I think this simply shows how out-of-touch they are with the 25 man raiding community as I have never met a 25man raider who was after "loot." However, the one thing almost all of them seemed to be after (perhaps some more than others) was the prestige associated with 25 man raiding. They didn't get the gear because it was better than 10 man gear, they got it because of the prestige. This is the same reason server and world first titles are competed for so heavily. It's simply prestige.
Having said that, it would make sense to think that the solution should be one that addresses a 25 man raiders core desire... prestige. This could be done a number of ways, but I think it is the correct solution.
Such as (some of which have/are already present):
- Exclusive mounts. *Not* reskins! Completely unique models designed specifically for this purpose.
- Exclusive Tabards.
- Exclusive Titles.
- Exclusive armor/weapon models. It can have the exact same ilvl and stats, but if it makes you look amazingly cool, it's highly desirable. Again, NOT recolor/reskins! Completely unique models.
- Exclusive transmog gear. Same as above.
- Exclusive companion pets.
- Exclusive heirloom pieces. This may be cried about as "game breaking" for low level BGers who do not 25 man raid, but it's just an example.
- Anything that reduces the load of managing a 25man roster, such as flasks, foods, group teleporters, etc.
- And on and on.
I think it's great that Blizzard has realized their mistake and is looking to take corrective action, but unless they do it in the right way, I fear the worst for 25 man raiding.
Here's to hoping you 25'ers keep fighting the good fight and a real solutions is found soon that brings back the prestige for all the extra work being put in to keep 25s alive.