I have seen some talk on other blogs about WoW as a social network, guild survival, and opening up more options for grouping. Here are my thoughts:
To combat long queue lines for certain activities first Blizzard gave us cross-server Battlegrounds, then Dungeon Finder, and now Raid Finder. All these have hurt the server based communities and/or guilds each in their own way to some degree. Blizzard needs to strike a balance between allowing us to play with whomever we want, giving us quick queue times for our desired play, and nurturing the server and guild communities.
I believe the way they can accomplish both is by tearing down walls but putting up fences:
Tear down these walls to allow us to play with anyone we want:
Give us Battletags now: RealID is great, but there is no one on my RealID friends list that I don’t know outside of the game. Sure some of these I met through the game but became friends with and communicate with outside the game by email, facebook, or phone. If I meet someone in Dungeon Finder that I think is cool and would like to play more with, I am not going to just give out my RealID info. Battletags would allow me to tear down a wall that I am not otherwise willing to do.
Create Battle.net guilds. These could simply be guilds such as we have now but extend past server barriers or could be guild alliances of server based guilds. Both PvE and PvP guilds could benefit from this. So if I have friends who play on another server, sure I can invite them by RealID, but what if our 2 guilds could be joined into a Battle.net guild? Then I could invite other members of that guild even if my friends were not on. PvP guilds could join forces and queue up together.
Open cross faction grouping for instanced dungeons and raids. I have some real life friends that play mostly horde. My main is alliance. Why can’t we all help Thrall take down Deathwing together? Also I think it would be awesome to do this for PvP. Being able to not only group with your same faction friends but also with cross faction friends to face-off in the same battleground.
Integrate the forums and armory pages better. Make my toons armory page more like a Facebook profile so if I post on the forums it shows on my armory and I can add some sort of status updates. Guild armory pages whould be done similarly. Allow some sort of Facebook or Twitter tie-in if I choose to do so.
Put up these fences to nurture the server and guild communities:
Allow membership in up to 3 server based guilds. My reasoning is you could stay in your casual social guild but still join a focused raiding and/or PvP guild to pursue those interests without leaving your in-game friends to do so. All 3 guild chats could be displayed at all times. Which guild is displayed under your name? They could have the guild tab function like the talents tab, you activate which one you want to use. This would also affect which guild bank you can access, where your rep gains go and so on.
Allow the current tier of raid to be accessed cross-server but limit feats of strength and achievements for first kills to only server exclusive groups.
Have server exclusive non-instanced content such as World Bosses, Holiday Bosses, and updated Wintergrasp and Tol Barad. I see why Blizzard may not want to spend dev time to making new WG/TBs but keep these 2 up to date and relevent to level cap characters. Level-cap World bosses spread out through the entire game world would get us out of the cities, cause us to group up, and even encite world PvP. These all would be great little side activities that if we want to participate ensures we need to socialise with our home server.
Guild improvements would be great. I would love to have guild housing, a place to hang out with your guildies, access guild vendors, and post to some sort of bulletin board. Check out wowinsider.com. They have a great article about needed improvements to the guild system.