It can be bit tricky to gather hard information on how many players have completed the various kinds of raid content in WOW. There are some sites like GuildProgress that list the success different guilds have had, but that's not quite the same thing as measuring the number of players. High end raiding guilds will have more than the requisite number of players, so that they have substitutes if one of the first team can't make it. Casual guilds may have less than the required number of raiders and make up the rest from a network of friends or PUG-raiders. On top of that, many players have multiple raiding alts.
However, that doesn't mean we can't say anything useful about raiding numbers, merely that we have to accept that any figures are approximate and interpret them accordingly. To generate the numbers in the figure below, I've made a few simplifying assumptions:
- There are approximately 6M players in the EU & USA (the only regions GuildProgress has data for).
- Each listed guild has 25 raiders. That's probably an small underestimate for 25-man raiding guilds, but a large overestimate for 10-man guilds. However, there are a number of floating raiders who don't raid with the guild they are a member of, so the overall totals should be about right.
- I've defined the "hardest" raid as 25-man for Naxx/Ulduar & 25-man heroic for the Coliseum & Icecrown Citadel. The easiest in each case is defined as being 10-man regular. I have heard arguments that 10-man content can be less forgiving of individual errors than 25-man, but in my view the difficulty involved in organisation makes the 25-man runs harder overall.
- The number of players who have completed the content was found by multiplying the number of guilds that GuildProgress has listed as completing it by 25. The figures were gathered on 3rd May 2010, after the second ICC nerf.
Looking at the graph, it seems that Blizzard have certainly come a long way in their attempts to open up raiding. Over 40% of players have at least finished Naxx. That's not the majority, but it is at least a sizeable minority and I'd guess that's most of the players who would like to raid. They've also managed to create some very challenging content. Despite the double nerf to ICC, only a tiny number (about 1 in 17,000) have completed the hardest raid in the game. Nobody completed it before the first nerf.
Only three percent of players have "seen the content" at all, even in the easiest form. In broad terms, then, Blizzard seem to have achieved their goals. I'd say that's a vindication of their chosen approach in Wrath, which runs contrary to the high level of complaints about the state of raiding.
There is one interesting quirk in the numbers which is worth commenting on. The number of players who have finished Coliseum is 12x higher than the number who have completed the (lower tier) Ulduar. I'd suspect that there are three possible reasons for this:
- Ulduar is in fact harder than Coliseum.
- Coliseum is much faster to complete, so more popular.
- Changes in the emblem system make Ulduar loot redundant.
So is raiding too easy or too hard in Wrath? Both. It depends which content you're talking about. I'd say that Naxx & ICC were about right for their intended audiences, but Ulduar and Coliseum were the wrong way round.