In the comments of a recent Drama Mamas article about the etiquette of going AFK while grouping, rayden54 said:
... I think the best way to improve pugging (and the community in general) is to remove GUILDS.Whoa. Having guilds is such a large part of playing an MMO to me, that I never even considered what it would be like not having them.
All they really do is subdivide the community into a bunch of exclusive groups that only interact with outsiders when they have to and regard them as little more than nuisances.
I think guilds are very important for making WoW a multiplayer experience, at least on the social level. Even if you play WoW as if it were a single-player RPG, you can still be chatting with fellow players as a group. That's all guilds used to be when I first started playing Everquest oh so many years ago, just a chat channel that you could only join if invited. And then there were games like Quake and Tribes where clans were formed outside of the game or you frequented particular servers that had the people that you liked to play with.
If WoW didn't have guilds, players would work around it using chat channels and voice chat as needed. But what if those options weren't available to us either? Blizzard would have to not provide friends lists as well. Battletags and Real ID would have to be gone too. If none of these options were available, we would still get around it by keeping track of our friends externally, using websites or even handwritten lists.
It would be impossible to not have organized groups in any multiplayer game, period. But let's say it were possible, would it improve the experience of the raid and dungeon finders? What other effects would being without guilds have on gameplay?
If we couldn't organize into groups except for PUGging, I think that realm grouping might have more prominence again. People would call out in Trade Chat as they do for Sha runs, and people would keep lists of who never to invite as well as who was a good groupie. (See? Organized groups again.) But treating strangers badly would continue to happen when using the Raid or Dungeon Finders. The anonymity would still be there as well as the multitude of realms meaning you may never see that person again. So getting rid of guilds would do nothing to stop the bad behavior there. If anything, since you wouldn't be representing a group of friends by having a guild tag, you wouldn't have to worry about your reputation at all.
In short, we will still organize into groups no matter what options are available in game and even if it didn't, grouping with strangers would not improve.
What do you think? Would there be benefits to WoW not having guilds? Do you think that people wouldn't organize no matter what? Blog your answer and post a link to your blog below. Or, if you don't have a blog, put your answer in the comments. We'll spotlight some of the responses next week.