Our only reasonable response is to just focus on the 25-man raids and consider the 10-man bracket as extra. The tuning required to create consistently equally hard boss fights in both brackets would require a ridiculous amount of resources and is very unlikely to happen. So for now, the 10-mans will be something that we can do if we have the time for it after the race in our own bracket. But that's not how everyone views it, simply because of the artificial "10-man = 25-man" decision rewarding the same achievements, same everything and having the official stamp of equal difficulty.
With what has to be stated looks like the minimum of fuss on their website, Paragon announced today that they're stepping out of the 25 man raiding bracket. The quote above is from the same site, from just over a year ago, and makes it clear that this group of people had only one priority at time of writing. As a GM I entirely grasp the need to prioritise, and clearly while they could, 25 man was always going to be the better choice to keep a Guild with such a high profile in the spotlight. Paragon has fallen victim to what I suspect will be referred to by many as 'The Cataclysm Effect': people got fed up and stopped playing, and their 25 raid team pretty much ceased to exist as a a result. 14 members of their Roster have given up Warcraft since DS was beaten, which is a staggering statistic to make public: more telling is the admission that Paragon's core of raiders had been constant since Ulduar. It makes their decision to downsize all the more understandable.
For everyone who leaves, there are always those who will stay.
I'm reporting all this for one reason and one reason alone: there will be those people 'out there' who will look at this and assume that's the end of 25 man raiding. DON'T GO THERE. Paragon, it appears to me, is a pretty tight-knit group of friends with a secondary support network. Too many people moved on at once, and they've been unable to recruit to a standard they are happy with. In other words, Paragon are JUST LIKE THE REST OF US. This has happened either before or after EVERY expansion in my memory: the only difference after seven years is the profile of the raiders, and the publicity that follows them. After all, not every Guild is sponsored by peripherals.
What this will do to the Hardcore sector of the game is debatable, however. From my position down in the Kids Pool it appears this could stick more competition into the 10 man bracket, is likely to give a new 25 man a chance to shine (assuming they don't decide to cheat their way to anything) However, if I put my Naysayer Hat on at a jaunty angle, could the loss of one of the biggest names in gaming really be a sign of a greater malaise? I think that depends on the average age of the players, on what else becomes more attractive than sitting behind a screen for countless hours, and the inescapable fact that if your life revolves around getting something before anyone else, what do you do in the times in-between?
My guild has survived for seven years because of the relationships that hold it together. The game is often secondary to that, and there comes a time where you stop looking at what bosses need to die and begin to care more about when the next baby is due or what there is to talk about in Guild Chat. To run a successful organisation of any kind, it is all about understanding the people who make up its being, and with the unique way Serious Raiding Guilds function you are likely only to survive if everyone is as passionate and committed as the the most committed individual. You can blame some of that on the game, of course you can, but in the end its only a smaller part of a far larger picture, especially when your every move is very publicly spotlighted.
I firmly believe what matters most when you play any game is the amount of enjoyment you derive from it. If you make your game a job, everything changes. If you choose to play with sponsorship, then there are responsibilities beyond simply those made to friends and that too is a path that should never be trodden lightly. I hope Paragon can be happy with the choices that they have made due to circumstances which are clearly out of their control, and I hope the community in general can see this development without overly critical or cynical eyes...