For years, I’ve always instinctively felt that MMO players who joined guilds tended to stick around in games longer than those who did not. Oh sure, I track my own membership numbers, but that only tells me a small part of the overall story. I never really know what’s going on with other guilds or whether or not players who don’t join a guild are more or less likely to stick around.
So, for years, I’ve rigidly stuck to my assumptions because I could remember hearing about studies that showed guilds were beneficial. I could recall discussions at conferences and conventions which supported that position. I could recall seeing occasional posts about the subject. Sure, it feels logical to me that a player would stay in a game longer if they feel that additional investment to a guild, but that’s not really a fact I can point at with any degree of confidence, now is it? In any event, it wasn’t something I thought about a great deal during any given week.
Certainly, MMO studios have likely parsed the millions and millions and lines of logs they have access to to glean the data on whether or not guilds bring in the money, but they’re not likely to share that information publically. As players, we can only guess at their conclusions when we see games releasing with more and greater guild functions included and when we see existing live games introducing more guild features over time. However, that’s still largely conjecture as opposed to fact.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only person who’d wondered about this topic, but it wasn’t till recently when I found out exactly who else was doing the wondering. It was only this week when I became involved in a rather impassioned discussion regarding whether or not guilds should be better supported in 38 Studios’ eventual Project Copernicus MMO. At one point in the conversation, one of the participants actually stated: “The truth is that a more robust guild system is probably a bad target for developer resources…” Well, that statement really got me to thinking.