Shared Topic: Guild Retention Strategies

I’ll admit, I had a dilemma this week. I could spend my Saturday night writing my part in this week’s Shared Topic. Or I could quit stalking people on Twitter and spend my night making a pretty account so I can follow people without feeling like a total creep. It was touch and go for awhile. Then I realized that I’d probably end up with a total of 4 followers on Twitter, 3 of which will be IRL friends and the fourth a random bot which would make me feel like an internet failure. Then I also realized that I’d probably have to answer tweets and stuff and I have enough on my hands with the one time a month I log onto Facebook. So the Shared Topic it is.

The week’s topic was again a courtesy of Windsoar from Jaded Alt who pointed out that in this era of player interest recession, guild retention strategies are something to think about. Links to the other participants’ (well, right now it’s still participant’s) post(s) can be found on Blog Azeroth as linked in the above paragraph. As you may have noticed, I’m skating more than usual this week. I mean, this topic is HUGE. Plus, having recently (because a month is totally recent tyvm) left an old guild for a new one, I have guild stuff on the mind way more than I’d like and I’m sure those of you who read this blog are sick of hearing about it.


These days, everyone and their cat has a sudden renewed interest in the offline world, which can be a pain for the rest of us who still want to do 25 man raids a few times a week. What is there to do? The annoying answer is: the same as before. You have to use the same tactics to keep players around as you did back when Wrath was shiny. The only difference now is that you have to use them. So lets break it down to the different levels of membership and my personal and biased suggestions to keep them motivated. Some of these are applicable to officers, some are applicable to anyone and some are not so serious (but still quite valid!).

The Potential Applicants

If you’re not overwhelmed with players wanting to attend all your guild events, it’s time to recruit. Recruit, recruit, recruit. Recruitment techniques are content for a post (or a perhaps phD thesis) of their own, but I’ll mention some major points:

  • Find a guild niche and stick to it. Emphasize what make your team special and deliver as promised.
  • When advertising in trade, spell your guild name properly. (Sounds obvious, but APPARENTLY IT IS NOT)
  • Get back to applicants quickly, either have people post in their recruitment thread with questions, or send them an email. The longer it takes to get back to an applicant, the least likely they’ll stay interested.
  • Figure out applicants’ goals before sending an invite their way. Better to turn an applicant away now than having them gquit after you’ve geared them up.

The New Recruits

Guild hoppers, much? These guys made it past the application screening, but there’s no promise they’ll stick around. They’re trialing you as much as you’re trialing them, and if you like them, then you need to give them reasons to stay.

  • Chose your successful applicants carefully. Again, you want to get rid of bad fits before hitting the invite button.
  • Have a go-to person who can give new recruits the happy fuzzies, answer questions and make them feel at home. If they can quickly bond with at least one guildie, it’ll be harder for them to leave.
  • Have stuff going on. If your 25 mans aren’t working out these days, get some 10s on the go. Have offnight/alt night fun. It gives your new guys an excuse to socialize and it shows that you’re not boring.
  • Encourage new recruits to get involved on the forums. If they post something, reply to them. Laugh at their jokes.


The next challenge to keep the interest of those who’ve been around for awhile. Members want to achieve their WoW goals, but beyond that, they usually want be entertained, they want to feel appreciated and they want something they can rely on long term. Maslow’s Pyramid applies to WoW life too.

  • Encourage member initiatives. Get involved in the events they plan. Be excited that they’re doing some of your work for you.
  • Delegate tasks to the pick-me people. Remember fighting for the right to clean the chalkboard back in the first grade? Not everyone loses that spark. Let them clean your chalkboard. They’ll feel a sense of responsibility to the guild and you don’t have to clean your chalkboard.
  • Have plans for the future and share them. Get people excited. WoW is goal very oriented so creating goals for your guild/guildies is great motivation.
  • Communicate and allow feedback. Communication is sooooo important. Despite popular belief, many gamers are very intelligent and need to know what’s going on. Talk about success/failures, talk about the why behind certain decisions, encourage guildies to speak their minds.
  • L2Listen. Communication goes both ways and a personal observation is that a majority of people (in and out of WoW) suck at listening. Big time. Which is inconvenient because a majority of people like to have their concerns heard. Some kinds of QQ are better off ignored, others should be addressed. Those to be addressed should be brought to private (and let it be known to the witnesses that the issue is being dealt with). Before getting defensive, ask questions. “Tough love” takes a level of skill to pull off. If you don’t like to play carebear, have a designated person who does.
  • Have a go-to person. This time, find someone with infinite patience and wisdom and who’s able to answer anything from From “why doesn’t anyone want to go my raids” to “I hate Person X but I’m non confrontational and don’t want to get into a fight with them” to “I just knocked off the power in my house, how do I fix it?”. (PS, Big thanks to Wild and Bu who taught me to fix the power in my house. I appreciate it.)
  • Remember “boy meets girl” drama isn’t a taboo for nothing. If guildies do get the wonderful idea to have flings with each other, make sure it stays between the two of them. No one wants to hear about arguments in guild chat, no one wants to see it on the forums and no one wants to be nauseated by hearing about it on vent. Keep this kind of drama to whispers and to the realm forums. Oh, and apparently nothing blows up a guild like someone having an affair with the GM’s wife. JUST SAYIN’
  • Don’t be afraid to enforce rules. It’s not being a jerk, it’s not pissing people off. People like to know where they stand and they appreciate a strong leadership. Be consistent, be clear and be fair.
  • Be fun. WoW is about having fun. Find out what your guildies like and work with it. Epic summoning stone battles? Yes please! (Bonus points if you can pwn the top guild on the server) Drunken raid nights? If you have a hilarious, belligerent drunk of a guildie to lead, then YES! Private guild jokes? Of course. Nothing forges a sense of belonging like a joke only you guys understand.

People leaving

Sooner or later, members aren’t happy. Their goals change. Their lives change. For whatever reason, they have to leave. I’m a huge proponent of compatibility. Being unhappy in a guild brings out the worst in everyone. Ever been in one of those breakups where that jackass who treated you like dirt gets together with someone new and becomes a total gentleman? That’s what compatibility is all about.

  • Accept that you can’t please everyone. It’s not you, it’s not them, it’s life.
  • Be cautious with promotions and access to the guild bank. Angry people who rob the bank make good Guildwatch fodder.
  • Remember we’re all human. As much as we’d love to be elegant and dignified and never fart, sometimes things get too much. Some things shouldn’t be forgiven, others should. Learn to tell the difference.
  • It’s totally possible to keep in touch with former guildies. Friendslist are great. For out of game chitchat: email, facebook, twitter… You almost have to try to not be in contact. And from personal experience, I’ll say that its easier to find things to talk about when you aren’t spending almost every single evening playing together.
  • If they’re leaving for a good reason, make sure they leave on a high note. They just might just say some nice things to the new people they meet and do some recruitment for you!

So as you can see, it’s not Saturday night anymore, it’s Sunday morning. But it’s ok because shared topics run until Monday. Which means that THE REST OF YOU have all day today and all night tonight to talk about your guild retention thoughts and go post it on Blog Azeroth. 🙂

EDIT: The bullet points are making me tear my hair out. It looks like they are fixed now but my apologies if they’re still impossible to read.

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9 Comments on “Shared Topic: Guild Retention Strategies”

  1. Pheadra Says:

    I love this article. In fact I am sending it to my GM and the officers right now. The fact that we should be doing “guild bonding” exercises escaped my brain until I read this post.

    I have one point to ask about: Do you encourage the use of a DKP or similar system as a way to keep guilds together? People will be less likely to leave if they know they’re going to lose their chances at getting the best loot.

    P.S. The Bullet points read fine on my screen :]

    • Ophelie Says:

      To be honest, I’ve never been in a guild with a DKP system. My old guild used a roll system and Conquest uses loot council. Going on a guess, I would say that DKP would help keep people motivated during progression and when there’s a lot of competition for loot.

      Maybe it’s because I don’t care much for loot myself, but I’m hesitant to advocate using loot to keep people interested in a guild. I’d rather my teammates be there because they’re enjoying the game and not because they’re trying to get uber neckpiece of pwnage.

      That said, the prospect of racking up DKP for more chance at ICC goodies might be a good motivator for raid signups and keeping those 25 mans alive. Unfortunately, I don’t have any first hand experience with DKP here, so I can’t say more.

  2. Lloth Says:

    Communication is hard :p
    As an officer of my guild, we’v heard a lot of complaints about people not agreeing with decisions, accusing us of having too many cliques, of not helping ppl gear up enough. Problem is none of the ppl complaining are willing to say WHICH decisions or WHY, and the people complaining about not getting help gearing are the kinds of people who sit in /g and never ASK for help. It’s alot harder being a leader of a guild than people realize, especially when the complainers are never willing to be specific about their complaints.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Communication *is* hard and that’s what makes it so much fun! It’s like a Suduku puzzle!

      There is actually a technique I didn’t mention for dealing with people who whine to whine. Whenever you feel like a conversation is about to go nowhere and someone is complaining about something they’ll forget about in an hour, changing the topic works wonders. Constant whiners often just want to talk about something and don’t know what else to say. If you give them a new topic, it’ll bring their mind somewhere else.

      If the complained about subject seems remotely important, I’ve given people “homework assignments” where they have to come up with an example and a suggestion. I can’t say I’ve ever had to do it in a guild, but it’s always worked great for me IRL.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Thinking about this again…you’re absolutely right about people being bad at complaining. That gives me an idea! ;D

  3. Matticus Says:

    Speaking of communication, what is your twitter account? ^^

  4. […] I apologize for the long delay from my intended post time.  Special thanks to Ophelie and Jaedia who tackled my too-big post before I did!  Guild week has been more successful than I […]

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