3 Jun 2012 1
The Future of ArenaNet and Guild Wars 2

Within the last year or so, you’ve probably noticed a few changes in several MMO’s. And like it or not, most of the changes were not good. While this article mainly focus’s on ArenaNet and Guild Wars 2, I’ll also try to discuss events and changes taken place in several MMO’s. Now as a fair warning: I have not played some of these MMO’s so if I manage to get something wrong, please inform me.

First off, I would like to state gaming has been both good and bad for companies in general. For example: “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has grossed $1 billion in just 16 days, beating the previous entertainment industry record holder, Avatar.” And this going against Battlefield 3, what was thought to be a huge competitor and was believed to overtake Call of Duty. It didn’t, but EA still managed to sell 10 million copies. ALthough some sales may of been affected by due to the fact that EA pulled many of their games off Steam, a long standing and well respected Gaming Platform. Granted, this was due to EA creating Origin but the drama that came from this decision left a bad taste in both Steams and EA’s mouth. Many people, myself included, did not want nor need another digital distribution program to run on our PC’s and to this day I still know many people who refuse to buy Battlefield 3, simply because they MUST install origin to play it on their PC. The experience of PC Gaming has become quiet the annoyance, always having to sign up for some ridiculous and unnecessary garbage in order to play.

Rockstar has their Social Club that everytime you load up Grand Theft Auto insist you sign into. Mass Effect 3 for the PC, as well makes you sign in to their network. The latest, Diablo III requires constant internet connection and shortly after release, many accounts were hacked. In virtually every game nowadays, there is a sign up process or a social network of some sort, and it seems that more and more you can’t just buy the game and start playing it right away. There are prerequisites you must follow, forms you have to agree too, and more garbage being installed on your PC that you would really care for. “Freemium” Games come with a hook where in order to advance, you MUST pay money (buy-to-win) to succeed. Some games tie into your Credit card and bring up some horribly outrageous charges that you don’t notice. It just seems more and more that Gaming Companies are either continuously screwing gamers over or receiving negative criticism for their actions. Take for example EA, who recently received The Worst Company in America Award over corporate giant Bank of America who has several times been in the news for negative reasons, and doesn’t have the best business practices. Greed seems to be the dominant standard as of late.

In the MMO Market we’ve seen several top end games switch their business model for troubling and trying times. Many companies have switched to a “Free-to-Play” or “Buy-to-Play” business model. Something ArenaNet was very successful with. Games like Star Trek Online, Lord of the Rings Online, DC Universe Online, Age of Conan, and the long standing EverQuest, after 13 years, have all gone Free-to-Play. Even Rift and World of Warcraft are free to play up to level 20.

Many people will state the reason why MMO’s are falling short of their intended goals is due to the economy, or how every MMO is trying to hard to kick World of Warcraft off of the #1 spot, claiming to be the next “WoW-Killer”. Likewise many people simply don’t have time to devout so much time to multiple MMO’s and have invested so much time in other MMO’s. Or quiet simply, the game “sucks” or pulls off a horrible move causing gamers to loose respect and flock to other games. EVE Online and 38 Studios has definitely seen better times. BioWares recent and highly anticipated Star Wars: The Old Republic has had an issue with lay offs and subscription losses, and the MMO Giant themselves, World of Warcraft was not alone in this matter and had it’s own layoffs.

It just seems that one after another after another Gaming Companies are falling short of gamers expectations, or are in some sort of trouble. Then again, gamers are some of the pickiest and outspoken people, evidence of this can be found on ANY gaming forum. People are wanting and expecting the perfect game. Many people felt that game was going to be Star Wars: The Old Republic, others feel that Guild Wars 2 will be the end all be all of MMO’s – and change how MMO’s work, and many people feel as if World of Warcraft will reign supreme once again when Mists of Panderia is released. But with all of this negative news, it seems as if everyone is skeptical of what will happen.

As you know I am a Guild Wars Fanboy and I highly respect ArenaNet in comparison to several other companies out there. When Guild Wars 2 had their first open beta, it was met with mixed reviews. Some stated the combat was lackluster, there were plenty of server issues, and the game wasn’t what they expected. On the other hand, many people were simply amazed about how incredible it was. Considering how stable the Beta actually was, I was incredibly surprised. I’ve seen game releases with worse issues.. I’ve seen WoW patches have more issues that the first Open Beta Guild Wars 2 had.

But of course, this means nothing to hardcore MMO players. Regardless what game it is, someone, somewhere will listen to the bad news, and from that moment on, the company will hear a plethora of crap about a game that they worked extremely hard for. There are many games I played and didn’t like, but it doesn’t mean I don’t respect the hard work that was put forth in making the game. So far ArenaNet has not only maintained my respect I’ve had for them since the Original Guild Wars.. but they have elevated it with the game still not released and still with several uncertain issues still at hand like the cash shop, expansions, and content.

ArenaNet does has a couple of advantages in comparison to several MMO’s released in recent years which, in my opinion will help severely. They has been around for some time and back before there were a seemingly endless amount of MMO’s to choose from, Guild Wars made a name for itself. Lately you can see MMO’s being made out of everything like an Elder Scroll’s MMO, which I’m incredibly sad about. I would much rather see a multiplayer than a MMO when it comes to that game. And for the longest time, I didn’t even know there was a Star Trek Online MMO, granted.. I’m not much of a Star Trek Fan..

Guild Wars as well has a developed fan base, and the advantage of being around since 2005 with 3.5 expansions: Guild Wars Prophecies, Factions, Nightfall, and Eye of the North. Each of the expansions released in good time, and with plenty of content. They also know’s how it is to manage server issues and updates with minimal issues. But this time around, Guild Wars 2 may prove to be harder to control due to the fact that it’s more of a MMO now compared to what many call Guild Wars as being a CO-RPG. ArenaNet has prior MMO experience in the field, something most companies didn’t have but decided to dive into anyways many times copying the EverQuest/WoW Model. They also have a pre-existing world and deep story with plenty of lore to continue the game in several directions. All in all, ArenaNet has prime conditions to set up Guild Wars 2 with, and so far they seem to be making a lot of smart moves.. but that can all change..

So with all of this said.. What do you foresee for the future of Guild Wars 2 and ArenaNet? Will it follow suit in what seems to be a failing MMO Industry and greedy Gaming Industry? Or do you think ArenaNet will pull ahead of the crowd and emerge as a triumphant competitor?

One response to “The Future of ArenaNet and Guild Wars 2”

  1. Hyperion says:

    Very interesting post!
    I believe there are more things to look into, while talking about the future of a game and a developer. Sure, business model, player base, community, some characteristics of the product and player reactions are all important factors.
    I would also consider factors such as the size of the company, their marketing strategy, the way they handle feedback and community, player expectations of the product and how they manage these expectations. How does ArenaNet compare to blizzard in terms of employee/role composition and industry expertise? There might be even more, since the topic you chose is not a simple one.

    I understand that one cannot inspect every detail. What I am trying to say is, while the product is important (especially the product at the point of release), we should take a look at the company itself, in order to have a more accurate estimation of risk. To me, it feels like Arena Net is building on existing knowledge and resources, by creating a game that emphasizes on the strengths of the previous one (mostly). Thus, I expect their process and their philosophy to produce results adequate enough for the game to succeed to some degree.

    But there’s so much more to say!
    Once again, thanks for the interesting post :)

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