I was in Dalaran standing around waiting for a guildie to give me some enchanting mats when I suddenly got invited to a group by a stranger. Almost as quickly the invite disappeared and then I got a whisper of apology. It was another rogue. I whispered back;

“Those damn invite and inspect buttons are just too close for comfort, eh?”
“Indeed,” was his reply.

Truth be told, I myself had inspected him only a few moments before, checking out his impressive ilvl 264 weapons which I would do naughty things to an elephant in order to be able to get my hands on. The rest of his gear was all top level PvE stuff as well, nicely gemmed and enchanted. A wonderous thing to look apon. Some of his gear had the little heroic label on it and some of it was obviously from 25 man ICC. The best gear I ever saw on a rogue was back in BC when I saw a rogue decked out with all the top gear and the legendary twinblades. Man that dude looked cool.

Blizzard has announced that they will be giving the same gear and achievements to 10 and 25 man raids in the next expansion. There has been a lot of wailing and crying and happy people about this announcement in the time since, though things have quietened down somewhat in the last few days. I myself am happy with the change but I do think that it will be the death of 25 man raids for the simple fact that there will be no way to demonstrate to somebody inspecting you in Dalaran that you have run it. In short, running 25 mans with all the extra hassle and difficulty will garner you no prestige. You will have no special gear or achievements. There will be no way for you to show off with it. And this prestige goes a long way to getting players to put up with all the hassle of 25 man runs. Oh sure, maybe you’ll be able to find 10 or 15 players who still want to run 25 mans. But you won’t be able to flesh out the rest of the raid with the players who were doing it for epeen glory.

The question then is, where will the prestige be found? Arena gear will no longer have ratings either. Will the prestige be found in mounts? The common player needs the pull of potential prestige, even if they don’t have a realistic chance to get it. I hope Blizzard keeps this in mind for the next expansion, because otherwise we may see a decline in WoW.