Exodus (some might know them as vodka), a large 25 man raiding guild in WoW, is calling it quits.  They were an ultra competitive group and the post summing up their exit is very interesting.  I’ll summarize the quote (bold for emphasis):

In the last few years this game (despite many people quitting and guilds dying) isn’t to blame for vodka/Exodus’ demise it’s the raiding community. You see… we’ve basically been killing ourselves off slowly since day 1. … the time commitment and the level of shear dedication and determination it takes and costs to be at the very top. Raiding for many many hours on end is fun, CAN be exciting, and at the end of it all can really prove who really wants that world first/us first/realm first the most.  Unfortunately we (hardcore raiders) pushed too hard. The competition is slim because the competition is literally eating each other (well not that literally). Good luck to everyone left in the race for this expac, but I don’t know how much longer this sort of thing can last.

I think it’s important to read the original quote but the TLDR; version is simply that hardcore raiding has a smaller and smaller pool of eligible players.  Those that do make the cut get burned out on the crazy race for world firsts. Many guilds run 16-18 hour days until that world first run is over.  No human being with children can run those hours or any with a typical full-time job, so you’re looking at getting people just out of school (or in post-secondary) to fill the slots.  There’s just too much competition for their attention at that age that it’s difficult to motivate them.  Especially if they haven’t been part of the MMO scene from the start.

This isn’t to through the genre under the bus.  I was a big raider in EQ and early WoW.  I knew quite a few in the real world before I met their in-game counterparts.  I made a choice for a family life and put the raiding away.  Some didn’t and they are quite happy where they are today.

That being said, it’s rather clear that today’s trend of a more social/casual attitude towards gaming is not a fad but a reality.  Games that want to attract a hardcore base will have to be niche from design as there simply aren’t enough people left in the general public with the time or energy to consume it.

Slightly related, Camelot Unchained hit its kickstarter goal (and passed by 10%).  I am glad it was able to make the mark and look forward to what is put out.  I hope that the game launches and gets some success, if only to break the MMO-themepark mold.