raids in GW2 are little pieces of art and game mechanic heaven, that sadly never really took off and now are well on their way to decline into nothingness. Thats extremely sad, because, well, as I said, raids in GW2 are so well designed. But there are several fundamental flaws with how they got implemented, and with GW2 in general tbh.
GW2 started 2012 with the promise of tearing down the classical "roles" of tank, healer and dps. Instead you were supposed to counter incoming dmg by dodging and using your healskill for emergencies. Not to mention downstate instead of fulldeath. This worked to some extend in the core game, where certain boons werent as common as they later on were in HoT and even more so in PoF - aegis, stability, quickness, alacrity, resistance. But also because everything at this point was "optimized" around 5 dps builds. Raids have up to 10 available slots, and you suddenly need a tank and have room for a healer, but you also want those juicy boons for everybody, because they increase the dmg output more than adding another dps player.
The mirrorsquad was born about 3-6 months after wing1 release for a reason. Per se nothing bad, but it limited the available class-slots a lot. In the beginning of raids, you'd run a very fixed comp and if your favorite class wasnt part of that comp, you had a hard time finding a raidsquad for a successful kill.
Other mmos that have a traditional role setup try to either provide builds for each class to fill each role, or they designate a class to a role. So when you start playing a certain class, its either already a tank/support/dps at character creation, or (except for absolute high end instanced content) you can decide during the developement of your character which role to fill.
In GW2 those roles didnt exist until raids. And then they were filled with the best in slot variations available. Not a good thing at all.
On top of that, the balancing was - and still is - all over the place in terms of supporter builds. Anet is slowly working towards fixing this, but lets be honest here... its too little, way too late. Its still incredibly difficult to interchange support builds, because not all builds have access to the same boons. For beginners and LFG squads this directly translates into choosing 1 support comp that excludes all else. Ofc you can clear raids without a druid, my static does this regularly. But a druid is the easiest to fit into a chrono support comp. The LFG alone is pure nightmare if you want to run something other than 1x druid, 2x chrono. You want to run quickbrand instead of 1 chrono? Herald instead of druid? It always means more limitations on otherwise fully available dps - or healer - slots.
In the beginning we were all little noobs, discovering raids together. So in the beginning, we didnt need difficulty scaling. Everybody was pretty much in the same boat and difficulties were solved by running a certain comp and using voice chat. However, about a year after wing1 release, this already was completely different. There were experienced players that raided several times per week, the weekly clearers and the newbies. Weekly clearers just wanted their kills, experienced raiders wanted challenge and newbies just wanted to get into raiding to start their journey towards being weekly clearers. For newbies there are the training guilds - though its getting less and less of those as well. But the weekly clearers and experienced raiders constantly clashed with each other. This caused a LOT of toxicity. It only now has died down because of the immense power creep that removed pretty much all challenge from raids and most of the hardcore raider community with it. Now you could say: well, thats solved then. But.... it isnt. Because those very invested players are needed to keep raids hyped, to test new strategies, new builds. They make it possible for new players, or casual players to just hop into raids and not have to theorycraft everything for themselves, not have to discover each little boss mechanic for themselves. In a way, the hardcore raiders are like teachers, showing you how its done. Ofc you can also learn to swim on your own - well, not everybody, but most - but its way easier (and faster!) to get it shown to you, isnt it?
So, at the latest on wing5 release, we needed difficulty settings. Instead, anet tried to make raids easier but still engaging. Wing7 is a direct result of this, like canteen food that has no flavor so to offend nobody, it doesnt fit anyone. Too difficult for new players, too easy for experienced players.
There have been several suggestions for easy modes, personally Id highly favor having a buff that gives boons+buffs periodically to each player. But we also need a hardmode to keep players engaged. No downstate debuff as hardmode would be an idea.
But, no matter how anet implements it, raids without difficulty scaling can never survive longterm.
Thats a really sore point for me. Because the reward system in raids basically translates into everybody clears raids once per week. That works out well if you:
a) have enough raids and
b) have a big enough raiding community
GW2 lacks both.
Many raiders started getting into raids only for the legendary armor. It was supposed to be that constant draw to get in new players. However, while the design choices themselves are a matter of taste, the fact that you cant properly dye it just kills that longterm goal for most players. That leaves the legendary ring, but its not really a longterm goal to begin with.
So, why even start raiding? You have to invest a lot of time getting into raids and the raid rewards arent really worth a lot (pretty much everything has higher rewards per hour compared to pugging raids if you dont need ascended stuff). The only draw left is that its the only instanced pve endcontent except fractals. But thats not enough, especially because of the issues with the weekly reward system, the lack of difficulty scaling.
So, theres several other problems, I know, but imo those 4 are whats kept raids from taking off.
And still, it was a very nice time overall for me - raiding in GW2. With all its ups and downs, memes and trolls. And I can only urge everybody to give it a try. If you've never been part of a static raidgroup, you havent experienced the real mmorpg feeling.