This is not a good time to be a World of Warcraft fan. Between Shadowlands wasting one of the series' most popular characters, the current expansion struggling to maintain the interest of players and both Classic and Classic Burning Crusade being widely criticized for being rampantly monetized - oh, there's also that lawsuit - many heroes of Azeroth are looking for greener pastures. Classic's first-time Ragnaros killing raid guild is calling it quits, too.
Way back in the good old days of 2005, when we were playing actual vanilla WoW as opposed to Classic, the Horde raiding guild Ascent claimed the first kill on Ragnaros on the 25th of April. As undeniably epic it would have been for the same group to come back for seconds, the credit for the first modern Ragnaros kill in Classic goes to APES in September 2019. The hardcore raiding guild had impressively downed the fiery demon just 6 days after Classic launched.
Setting records like that is no mean feat, and APES cut it really close too. The 40-player raid was cleared on the first attempt, but almost ended in a wipe as a large chunk of the group was killed before they managed to down Ragnaros. As the first guild to clear Molten Core in Classic - so early that barely anyone was even attempting it, let alone succeeding - they etched their names into WoW history.
However, it seems APES is done with setting records in the fantasy MMO - and is done with WoW Classic entirely too. Different members have said conflicting things about what this means for the immediate future of APES, but the gist of it remains unchanged; the raiding is over.
Maitoz from APES has stated that they are quitting, and that the guild will essentially cease functioning. A WoW veteran of 15 years, they've stated that 'enough is enough' and that the direction that Classic is taking isn't satisfying for the old guard.
I think Classic started dying after Blackwing Lair, in the sense that it stopped being Classic and it turned into this money factory for boosters. Complete bot-meta too, man. There is no real PvP anymore, like the magic from WoW kind of died.
Fellow guild member Prefoxfox said that the guild itself in-game will stick around for a bit to act as a casual social group for the friends among the members, but is done with serious raiding. Some members in the current APES roster might continue raiding later on, but that will only happen with major roster changes, reorganization and almost definitely a new guild and a new name.
Classic and Classic TBC have had their share of problems and criticisms lately, as both retro titles are being accused by fans of being mismanaged by Blizzard. While the content is authentic, services and account features are aggressively monetized, and less attention is being paid to enforcing the code of conduct on these realms than on those running the latest expansion. Botting has become a notable issue with Blizzard hardly acknowledging it.
Alongside in-game issues specific to Classic, WoW players have been turning away from the game in droves as a form of protest as well. This year can be defined by the cataclysmic sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard, which launched a saga of mishandling and further accusations.
The direct effects of the lawsuit on World of Warcraft included development stalling and in-game references to abusers being removed. Players also cancelled subscriptions en-masse and used remaining game time to stage in-game protests against the frat-boy culture the company was accused of, as well as its dismissive initial response.
While the spotlight of the wider gaming industry has shifted to games-as-as-service models from traditional MMOs (which, really, are the original 'games-as-a-service'), the genre is very far from being dead - and there are plenty of great alternatives out there.