I wrote a while back about one of the negative consequences of raiding as the primary endgame activity in MMOs. The reasons I gave were social in nature, and not really aimed at the structure of raiding itself, more the attitude of players in general.
This past week there was a series of articles on Massively about the structure of raiding and how it should become a less monolithic part of MMO endgames.
I happen to agree with them entirely. The articles argue, for various reasons, that raiding is too greedy in terms of developer resources. It alienates far too much of the playerbase for frivolous reasons, it promotes social drama (in different ways than I talked about in my post), it actively takes away resources from developing fun and interesting and accessible new features (e.g. faction systems, pet or mount events, new combat systems, new crafting professions, etc) or expanding current ones (e.g. racial Garrison structures, new holiday events, more clothing or pet or mount or collectibles options, new crafting recipes).
I’m a little torn. I don’t mind raids existing, because there is definitely an exclusive rush you get from completing huge battles with a large group of friends. But they should be rare at best. They should be an option that people can participate in, but not something that offers objectively better gear than all other activities. There are many ways that small group and solo play can be just as difficult, just as rewarding to complete, and just as long-lasting as raids are. It’s time that more MMOs realise that and start offering more variety in their ‘endgame’ activities.
Guild Wars 2 and EVE have not been hurt by a lack of raids, The Secret World only has one currently, and will add its second sometime next year I believe, and MMOs in development – such as Star Citizen, EverQuest Next, Shroud of the Avatar, Camelot Unchained, still months or years away from release, and Elite: Dangerous and The Crew, which are due for release in December – are either avoiding raids altogether or making it a small part of the game. I hope that current raid-driven MMOs see the sense in making the switch to that deprioritisation of raiding.