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Critical Consensus: Guild Wars 2

ArenaNet delivers the most compelling MMO in years, and a strong argument for the death of the monthly subscription

It doesn't take much imagination to see Guild Wars 2 as a death knell for the subscription MMO. Bioware is in the process of building a micro-transaction economy for The Old Republic, Funcom is seriously considering its options after The Secret World's underwhelming performance, and the popularity of ArenaNet's highly anticipated sequel has simply underlined what many have known for a long time. For EA, which published both The Old Republic and The Secret World, the success of Guild Wars' business model will be a painful reminder of what could have been.

But this isn't all about business models. As difficult as it is to imagine a future for subscription-based games in the current climate, quality is generally a pre-requisite of success regardless of how the money is made. And according to every critic who has stopped playing Guild Wars 2 for long enough to write an actual review, ArenaNet has given its paying customers good reason to spread the word, striking a fine balance between familiarity and innovation.

"Guild Wars 2 feels like what World of Warcraft 2 would be, if there were such a thing"

Penny Arcade

"Guild Wars 2 feels like the right game for the right time," Penny Arcade's Sophie Prell writes. "Star Wars: The Old Republic is enjoyable, but the game's dungeons, grouping, and key rotations feel old hat. The Secret World is quirky and absorbing, but its class-less, level-less system and mission structures can seem experimental and ahead of their time. Guild Wars 2 feels like what World of Warcraft 2 would be, if there were such a thing.

"You're still in solid MMO territory with tab targeting and a medieval fantasy setting, but the process is streamlined to cut out extraneous or tedious busywork. The gameplay feels smooth and organic, and above all, convenient."

Guild Wars 2's innovations are subtle, and all in the service of removing the friction from the traditional MMO model - the "grind" that has ensnared many, but alienated so many more. This sentiment is echoed by virtually every review in existence, with Ars Technica's Andrew Groen contemplating why so many MMOs, which demand a high degree of commitment from their players, make the simplest actions so difficult and time-consuming.

"Despite living in realms of mysticism and magic, their characters are forced to travel through the world manually on foot or on mounts (at best there's limited fast travel through portals)... Once upon a time in a land called '2004', things were even worse. Until, that is, Blizzard's World of Warcraft arrived.


"WoW has dominated the MMORPG landscape so thoroughly and for so long that its design has become the modern standard, even if we often don't really remember why. It was due to a player-friendly design that borrowed heavily from the games that came before it, but it made the experience of an MMO much easier to enjoy for the uninitiated player. In this way, Guild Wars 2 seems poised to repeat history.... Here, at last, is an MMO that respects your time."

In Guild Wars 2, quests aren't handed out piece-meal by NPCs; they begin as soon as you enter the area in which they take place, and any rewards are received the moment the objective has been fulfilled. Fast travel is available in an instant from anywhere in the game-world, player characters are automatically levelled to cope with the task at hand, and the best, most compelling content - be it bosses, raids, powers or loot - is liberally sprinkled throughout the game, rather than cloistered in the upper reaches of the levelling system.

While this may seem obvious, it is also entirely brave. These tendencies were common in MMOs because the developer needed to give players a reason to keep paying while they inched towards the blockbuster content. ArenaNet has taken a more player-friendly approach, reasoning that making the experience accessible and rewarding throughout will be just as effective in creating loyalty.

As Groen points out, "ArenaNet seems intent on tearing down the artificial barriers of the modern MMO that only serve to add unnecessary length to the experience.

"In the eternal fight between lore, game design and player experience, Guild Wars 2 feels like it's on our side. It's almost spooky"

Rock Paper Shotgun

"This philosophy permeates the whole of Guild Wars 2. Unlike most MMOs, Guild Wars 2 is neither free-to-play, nor does it charge a monthly subscription. You pay a one-time price for the game and play forever. Since you're not being charged a monthly fee, the developer has no reason to goad you into playing for months and years. This is a game you could conceivably "beat" in two or three months rather than years. It's a new idea for a new marketplace. No more can an MMO seek to dominate players' time. The competition is too fierce, and it iterates too quickly."

During a recent conversation at Gamescom, EA Play4Free's Sean Decker told me that the key to retaining players in any multiplayer online experience is matchmaking; if your game doesn't allow players to find each other and play together easily then the battle is already lost. This is another area that Guild Wars 2 shines, giving its quests a free-form structure that allows players to pick-and-choose what they do next from a range of quests all running concurrently. Each completed sub-objective contributes to that quest's progress bar, but there's never a need for the player to see something through against their will.

"Having four or five things to do in each quest cleverly hides the grind and repetition that plagues most online RPGs," CVG's Andy Kelly writes. "This means you can alter your play-style depending on your mood. If you don't feel like fighting mobs, there's always an alternative. You can finish most quests without even raising your weapon.


"Better still, you never feel lonely. If another player is in the middle of killing an enemy, you can help and it'll count towards both of your progress bars. It's this collaboration that makes Guild Wars 2 an incredibly social experience, even if you aren't playing with friends. The large amount of players currently invading the game's servers is not unusual for an MMO at launch, but seeing them all working together is. You won't spend all your time in the game silently grinding through quests on your own; you'll be doing them alongside massive groups of other players.

"In World of Warcraft you'd have to organise raids or wait in a queue to experience these big group boss fights; in Guild Wars 2 they're everywhere, and anyone in the area can join in instantly. It's a level of accessibility rarely seen in an MMO, and putting long-time players on a level playing field with fresh-faced newcomers gets rid of the elitism that's usually rampant in games like this."

Rock Paper Shotgun's Richard Cobbett distils all of these features and design choices into a pithy summary of Guild Wars 2's greatest strength: "It's general attitude." The absence of a monthly subscription seems to empower ArenaNet to concentrate on making the game as enjoyable as possible for however long each player chooses to invest. There are wrinkles, of course, and Cobbett devotes more time to discussing them than just about any other review, but the MMO is perhaps the most inherently flawed of all genres, and Guild Wars 2 gets more right than any in recent memory.

"In the eternal fight between lore, game design and player experience, Guild Wars 2 feels like it's on our side. It's almost spooky.

"When the hype around a game is this heavy, it's easy to expect perfection. Guild Wars 2 is not perfect. It is, however, the most fun I've had with an MMO in a very, very long time, and the first to turn social questing into something even solo-minded misanthropes like myself can do on a whim. That alone makes worth it playing, and this is just the start of its story. I can't wait to see where it goes next..."

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Latest comments (23)

T. Elliot Cannon Game Designer 9 years ago
I'm a big MMO PvP player so my comments are from the kid inside me not the developer;
GW2 does many things quite well but it may stumble over time due to its non "gear as a goal" type core character system, but since they are only looking for a retail box sale of (1) per user that may be just fine for them. Perhaps they don't want people there for 7+ years as a hobby. I think their game has nothing to do whatsoever with business models-people have recently begun to clamor over F2P and subscription this and that. It's like suddenly noticing that some products are gluten free. GW2 is a product done their way, just like the first one, although I hope they can keep up with the overhead!

Even just 10 days after launch many of my hardcore PvP player friends all came right back to Warhammer. (The last bastion of group/warband PvP-Hello EA missed opportunity here) Most of their comments I agree with. GW2 is fun in a Multiplayer Skyrim kind of way. It's not a long term goal driven game where one day you will don that incredible set of Warpforged armor and dual wield both RR100 Scenario weapons (a grind or commitment of at least 6-8 months) It doesn't have the glory of having a 189-2 arena record, or a fun premade that bust faces in battleground in WoW, and it certainly doesn't have that fear of being flat out murdered and your house keys jacked like in UO in the old days.It doesn't have an "us" vs "those bad guys over there" sense of group pride and identity either because the difference between teams is colored text only. (which by the way makes ganking impossible you can see it so far away)

What it offers instead is;
-Location based population shifting events-(instead of your typical laborious and meaningless MMO quests) an evolution of Warhammer's Public Quest system that ends up being a mayhem style zerg, but hey that can be fun!

-A fun story line that really does the best it can to be personalized.

-A Structured PvP system where end game gear is free and the real skill is finding that optimum set up with an emphasis on survivability and escape mechanics instead of flat out DPS burst. Think of it as 5 on 5 pickup basketball.

-WvW, which although is quite a riot, is glorified zerg-on-foot, with massive open locations and no mounts giving you that old DAoC penalty for dying kind of feeling, except you're not gaining RR, you're hoping to win for a crafting bonus ;\ Jogging shoes not included!

In summary, GW 2 is about just having fun and isn't about long term achievement or goals being directly related to character power. In fact I think they planned it that way. They wanted to make a game that was fun for a lot of people and I think they've done it.

The bad thing is lots of folks, myself included, have grown accustomed to and enjoy gear and character power, because eventually it separates the casuals from the hardcore hairsplitting perfection players and then going toe-to-toe with them is a real rush.

Hopefully they can sort their auction house (yet to work) and forums (not a priority for them atm)

It's a fun game and really different, with systems that mean you can pick up and play whenever you want without fear of out leveling-or out power curving your friends. I hope they sell bucket loads of copies, because they have clearly demonstrated perseverance and follow through with their ideas and have had the guts to evolve on a lot of nagging dumbness that plagues MMOs.

Nicely done.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by T. Elliot Cannon on 4th September 2012 5:21pm

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" Funcom is seriously considering its options after The Secret World's underwhelming performance, "

Can the author document this? I have seen nothing of the sort in any statement by any Funcom employee.

Secret World sold through 200,000 units. if even half of those convert to subscriptions thats a gross income of 1.5Million a month.
I don't know any real game developer (with the possible exception of Blizzard) that wouldn't consider that a rousing success.

Frankly, this piece strikes me as something between puff and outright propaganda. It makes sweeping claims with no sourcing to back them up. Really, GI, your editors need a refresher in what constitutes reasonable journalism. This is an editorial, and a bad one to boot.

Edit; It should be noted that Mr. Cannon wrote a far better article in his comment then the article he was commenting on. In many ways, HIS writing reads like an article whereas the original writer's reads like a comment,

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Jeffrey Kesselman on 4th September 2012 5:55pm

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Hugo Dubs Interactive Designer 9 years ago
Still missing Ps3/xbox and mac versions.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Hugo Dubs on 4th September 2012 5:11pm

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Show all comments (23)
Andrzej Wroblewski Localization Generalist, Albion Localisations9 years ago
What I've been saying for years now... Hardcore gamers are the loud minority which obscures legitimate statistical player feedback and distorts marketing goals -- obviously achieved by Guild Wars 2. The best example is Diablo 3. It's been designed in a way which doesn't satisfy the HC community, while completely discouraging and disappointing casual players. It's been widely consulted with the loud majority while their opinion shouldn't be taken so seriously... HC gamers will always strive for perfection, find themselves challenges, and excel where others (the silent majority) simply want to play and have fun. The key to success is a delicate balance between high level of playability and a long (but not necessarily very steep) learning curve with clearly set out goals and steps for casuals to get to and have fun with what they've already achieved.

Not derailing the topic -- subscription is not an option. I saw that already in 2009 when League of Legends went out from closed beta, and I predicted Riot to achieve great success with their business model (there are posts on different forums to prove it). Subscription is meant for hardcores. F2P is the only solution to compel casuals and give them the incentive they need to put their money where their satisfaction is.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrzej Wroblewski on 4th September 2012 5:21pm

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Patrick Keller Head of Software Development, ProSiebenSat.1 Games GmbH9 years ago
T. Elliot Cannon sums up my sentiments exactly, thank you for this!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Patrick Keller on 4th September 2012 5:24pm

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Roland Austinat roland austinat media productions|consulting, IDG, Computec, Spiegel Online9 years ago
@Andrzej: "What I've been saying for years now... Hardcore gamers are the loud minority which obscures legitimate statistical player feedback and distorts marketing goals."
- You're not the only one who has said this or who is saying this. I hope our numbers will increase. Mind you, I'd even fit the description of a hardcore player (my first console was a VCS 2600). I'm happy for ArenaNet and their success.

@T. Elliot: "In summary, GW 2 is about just having fun and isn't about long term achievement or goals being directly related to character power. In fact I think they planned it that way. They wanted to make a game that was fun for a lot of people and I think they've done it."
- That's the point of making games I'd say, no? A lot of people vs. a vocal hardcore minority that isn't even really that hardcore - show them games from the SNES/Genesis days and they'll start crying for save points. ;)
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd9 years ago
@ Jeffrey No, I don't think you have a good concept of game economics at all. 100,000 paying subscribers would take years to even break even on the development costs of The Secret World, and may never do so, as at that level it's probable that it's operating at a LOSS in the MMO cost formula of Profit = Subscriptions - (Maintenance + Server Cost + New Content Development). Indeed, 100,000 or even 200,000 long-term subscribers is a bomb for most MMOs, especially one that had as much time and money put into it as TSW.

You don't lay off tons of staff when things are going well.

@T Elliot Cannon Great comments, and I respectfully disagree! I find the structured PvP far more competitively appealing than WoW. You still earn noticeable visual improvements for being good at it, and tournaments will yield real rewards. The game not letting you beat people just because you outgear them, and forcing you to compete on skill alone, is IMO, its most amazing strength, and something all of the most popular online games have. League of Legends and Dota 2 aren't popular because the best geared win. They're popular because the BEST win, and the strategy is certainly much more complex, especially in organized teams, than just "stack survival skills." I hope you give it more of a look, because it is, IMO, the best structured PvP in any MMO, ever.

And yeah, WvW is just chaos. Fun chaos, but chaos.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 4th September 2012 6:13pm

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Hi Nick,

I've been developing games professionally for 25 years and have been the CTO of 4 online game startups.

So I do think I have some grasp on the economics of the game industry, actually.

WoW didnt hit 100,000 subscribers in their first 3 months of operation according to Bruce's MMOG charts (the industry standard reference for the period). Their total reported sales for 2004 was 240,000, only slightly more then Funcoms 200,000 It is unclear if this is filling the chain or actual sell through since no one questioned the number at the time. (Funcoms is a sales-through number thanks to it being an electronic download.)

Some basic math might help you. 1.5million per month * 12 = 18 million dollars a year + 200,000 sales at 50 dollars or more is another million-plus making 19 million dollars in the first year.

The development budget for Secret World is not public to my knowledge, but IGN places it in the "millions of dollars", not "tens of millions":
"So why hasn’t a game that cost millions of dollars to create and been in development, including its very early conceptual phase, for nearly a decade created more buzz?"

So, by all available information, this is a pretty hefty first year profit even if the population grows none. (And MMORPGs to date have all seen a bell curve for population.)

By the way, this comment I am afraid shows that you are the one with no grasp of the economics of the game industry,
"You don't lay off tons of staff when things are going well."

It is, in fact, industry *standard* practice to bulk up for game development, the bigger the game the bigger the bulk, and then lay off a large part of the production team when development is finished in order to create a much smaller "live team." I have personally worked for many companies that functioned in exactly this way in my time in the industry.

The only companies that don't do that are companies big enough to have another large project to toss all those employees immediately into. They can be counted on one hand.

Edited 7 times. Last edit by Jeffrey Kesselman on 4th September 2012 7:08pm

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Spencer Franklin Concept Artist 9 years ago
@Jeffery Kesselman

I couldnt find the actual document at the moment, but this is an article talking about it, I'll see if I can dig up the actual report later. In any case, It seems the company, though focused on improving the game and moving forward, isn't particularly happy with where things are, at less than half of what they predicted, and taking a loss early on...
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There has been a lot of supposition,opinion and general misinformation masquerading as fact in the news media on this issue.

Here' is Funcom's *actual* statement (bolding is my emphasis):

"We've had to let some people go, and we're in the process of reshuffling and reorganising ourselves around the remaining staff. This is never fun, but it's the way of things: we need to scale down from a full development team to a more cost-efficient live team."

Full article here:
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Here, by the way, is the rest of what Funcom said about their TSW numbers. The parts no one seems to be bothering to quote:
"Funcom is pleased to see that gamer satisfaction is high, with user score of 8.4 out of 10 and higher on and other sites like This is in line with the beta surveys and beta players' feedback that the company received prior to launch. The company considers this a positive indicator of high customer satisfaction, and a solid foundation to build on the positive and engaged community Funcom has established with The Secret World.

"First indication of churn is more positive than for Age of Conan, and the in-game store is performing as expected. The add-on packs are performing better than expected. Also higher than expected sales are going directly through the online download stores like EA's Origin and Funcom's own storefront, generating more profitable sales for the company.

"A possible scenario going forward is that the game will sell less than both of the two above mentioned scenarios the first 12 months following launch, but with high customer satisfaction, it will generate a more stable subscriber base than the game Age of Conan. Over time, this will enable Funcom to retain more customers and generate higher revenue.

The other thing the article makes clear is that its not less than half of what they budgeted for or expected, just half of the rosiest potential projected scenario. I assume you know the seer sucker principle?

"In any group of five people there will be two who claim to be seers, and three suckers to believe them."

Future predictions are always shots in the dark.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Jeffrey Kesselman on 4th September 2012 7:57pm

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By the way, the "everyone gets full credit for a kill" solution was pioneered by Disney in the Pirates of the Caribbean MMO in 2005.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd9 years ago
@ Jeffrey I'm glad you have industry experience, but what you're saying is far beyond the realms of common sense.

Let's do some more math. 282 employees X $40,000/yr is a staff overhead of $11.28 million/yr alone. None of that accounts for any other costs associated with operating the company or continued development or support of the game. There is absolutely no guesswork involved here; with that much staff you are not making money at 100,000 subscribers. Not even close.

Also, the staff was cut before development was even completed due to financial troubles

This followed the game throughout its tumultuous development. A game originally intended to be released in mid-2010 just came out, 2 years later. Also please don't take what IGN said as evidence, as that's ridiculous. It was an offhand comment that that writer made without really considering the true costs of developing an MMO. Even the basic math shown by the amount of staff they had shows this game was far more expensive to make than that, and we're talking about a game 4+ years in the making.

As for anything being profitable at 100K subscribers, Funcom was posting a $23 million quarterly loss when Age of Conan was running that many subscribers

And as for the game being a disappointment for Funcom themselves, and the operating costs of the company being FAR higher than the revenue you're now stating, the final word is in an article on this very site

So no, I again do not think your statement has much to do with the reality of the financials involved here.
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I miss GvG and Hall of heroes, Anet killed the best pvp modes I played in the last 5 years! I played 1 beta of GW2 and I knew it wasn`t for me, no Guild versus Guild = I keep my money. I will eventually buy GW2 when it is cheap.

In the other hand, I hope GW2 keeps selling, I wish the best of lucks to Arenanet because they made one of my favorite games ever in Guild wars 1! I made so many friends online that I still keep in touch even now, that`s what I call a social game!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rios Heberto on 4th September 2012 9:01pm

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What kind of game project has 282 employees?? Thats bigger then entire medium sized game companies I've worked for.
Do you have any source for the figure that there were 282 employees working on TSW at the same time?

The figure you quote for 2009 is the income of AoC against *all* operating expenses, including but not limited to the development of TSW. And the figure for AoC is not reported 100,000 but "under 100,000". Keep in mind that 100,000 was my VERY conservative conversion estimate on 200,000 sales. Given the reported user satisfaction scores it is likely much higher.

Additionally, your 2009 loss figure is NOT a Funcom reported number, or even a quote of a Funcom statement, but just an unsubstantiated report of a Funcom report by a source that we have already seen does not have terribly high journalistic standards. Without a reference to the report in question,we have no idea if they even read it correctly.

EA picked up distribution for TSW and its is absolutely typical in a deal like that where a publisher picks up a nearly completed game for the publisher to pay back some element of the development costs. (Thats what GameForge did with us when they picked up ZooKingdom.) How much, we don't know. By the same token we also dont know what EAs cut of the user fees is, so thats probably fair, if further inaccurate, to ignore.

In general, I find your numbers both full of questionable assumptions as well as out-right holes.

Game accounting is *very* simple. Its effectively "cash based." You take all the development costs on one side of the sheet and all the income from that product on the other. if the second is bigger then the first, its a success. Thats it. You haven't shown me you have any inkling what the first number is so even if you knew the total the second will be, which you don't, how can you possibly gauge the success?

One of the other quotes I pulled out for someone else shows Funcom expressing confidence that this could still be a big money maker for them. Even if we fiat that it cost them $30 million to create, at my very conservative subscription rate guess thats still a profit in under 2 years, and then its pure profit from there out. All they need to do is average that user base over a life of 5 years and your talking about $60M in profit.

Seems a very reasonable business to me. And we should probably return this thread to people who actually want to discusss GW2.

Edited 13 times. Last edit by Jeffrey Kesselman on 4th September 2012 11:29pm

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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd9 years ago
@ Jeffrey I think you misunderstood me. I'm very aware that game company financial success is simply money made vs money out, which is why I gave you Funcom's total current staff. Given that they only have two currently available products (Age of Conan, previously shown to be performing poorly, and The Secret World, also admitted in multiple cases to be performing poorly), that staff is being compensated on the profits (or obvious lack thereof) of those two games.

The figures of that $23 million dollar loss are from Funcom's public financial records. Funcom is a publicly traded company, and just like all publicly traded companies they are obligated to give accurate financial reports quarterly and annually. Funcom ate a massive quarterly loss in 2009, and again this year (much larger than the 2009 one in this case).

Regardless, everything boils down to the numbers.

Funcom lost $49 million this quarter (public record). If they keep ALL 200K subscribers (unlikely) they'll still only make $30 million in the next fiscal year off the game, and like you said, game accounting is very simple. Funcom is losing a lot more money than they're making. As for how the company views the game? Well, they say that it's not doing what they wanted/expected on at least two occasions in the past two weeks, both in one of my above links and in this link

You can believe what you want about the game, but numbers and Funcom themselves say that, at least right now, The Secret World is a disappointment, and certainly not a success. That may change, but the company is in pretty rough financial trouble, and have lost a lot of key staff over the last 4 years.
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Raphael Honore Localization Assistant Manager, Blizzard Entertainment Europe9 years ago
100,000 paying subscribers would take years to even break even on the development costs of The Secret World, and may never do so, as at that level it's probable that it's operating at a LOSS in the MMO cost formula of Profit = Subscriptions - (Maintenance + Server Cost + New Content Development). Indeed, 100,000 or even 200,000 long-term subscribers is a bomb for most MMOs, especially one that had as much time and money put into it as TSW.
Interesting discussion for those who have no understanding whatsoever of game economics, like myself :)
Back on GW2 topic, Nicholas - How does GW2 fit in this formula? It's selling lots of boxes, but they still have maint+server+development costs, and from what I understand the cash shop only sells vanity items, and probably won't generate a lot of revenue. Aren't they going to operate at a loss at some point in the future before they release an expac? Their economic model is a bit mysterious to me - not F2P, not Freemium, not sub.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Raphael Honore on 5th September 2012 5:08am

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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd9 years ago
@ Raphael Good question. Guild Wars 2 has in-game microtransactions, which aren't necessary, but should theoretically help the game maintain its free status. These are things like expanding bank and bag slots, server transfers, aesthetic clothing, temporary exp boosts, and extra character slots. Whether these will be enough to maintain the game's budget remains to be seen, but it worked for Guild Wars 1.

Also keep in mind that expansion packs will come much faster in Guild Wars 2, if it follows the GW1 model, than in most MMOs. As part of the game design new campaigns were released for GW1 at least every 12 months. ArenaNet has stated they have similar plans for GW2, but specifics haven't been given. Regardless, it's off to a great start with well over 1 million (possibly nearer to two million by now) sales and incredible positive reaction from fans. As with all MMOs, the future is unpredictable, abut at the very least the start for GW2 is great.
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Abraham Tatester Producer 9 years ago
Who knew a university professor could be a raving fanboy!

Jeffrey, this is not an opinion piece by Mr. Handrahan. This is a column called "Critical Consensus"—it's a compilation of excerpts from reviews. Did you not notice all the quotation marks? Given the fact that GW2 has a current Metacritic score of 94, any similar column would likewise be full of praise. As you may have read, GW2 is the first PC game to top the UK charts in nearly two years. It's kind of a big deal.

Your fellow readers all recognize that you are a big fan of TSW, and that's great. But please, your persistent prattling on about it is not only getting tiring, it's hurting your credibility.
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Raphael Honore Localization Assistant Manager, Blizzard Entertainment Europe9 years ago
I see - then I suppose this "B2P" economic model depends a lot a on initial box sale to be successful and probably wouldn't be viable for products like TSW, which are more of a niche thing.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 9 years ago
We do not have anything resembling final retail sales for GW2 and we are willing to call it a success, while Star Wars is dubbed a failure. Considering public information, Star Wars still sold more boxes to this date and leveraged a subscription. It probably generated more revenue. If Star Wars was financially unsuccessful, then due to its costs, not its revenue. We have to wait for November, when NCsoft has to publish its numbers, then we will see how much money was made on GW2.

I understand that most people in this thread are infatuated with GW2, but let us not allow our love for the game blur our view on how much money is made here and which game earns more of it. Let us also not forget that during the first three months all seemed to be going ok for Star Wars as well.

Imo, the real challenge of MMOs is not creating a good game, it is not selling the box, it is keeping players actively engaged in the product six to twelve months out, or however long it takes to produce an expansion for retail sale. Creating and marketing a game is a well understood science, maintaining a game in such a way that it turns from one time media consumption into a hobby for players is a mystic art. No surprise, companies gambling their existence on maintaining the same set of players have dies left and right. The world is littered with games which sold great but then crashed and burned as ongoing content was not enough to maintain players interest. We are blinded by f2p never discussing how much user turnover is part of their business model. Instead, the well being of entire companies is part of a gamble that players will keep paying money.

Maybe ArenaNet will simply stick to its old credo, that they are fine with players being nomadic consumers of media. They come, they go, they are regularly charged. Instead of hoping to have made a game so great it will pay their bills until retirement, ArenaNet will sit down, work hard and make another game worth paying for. That has always been the difference between Guild Wars and those games which failed.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd9 years ago
@ Klaus Star Wars: The Old Republic is by all reports the most expensive video game ever developed, with budget estimates ranging from $150 million to $300 million (and sometimes even higher after marketing). So yes, it's because of the costs, not the subscriber numbers, although the fact that they had sold near or over 3 million copies and had under 1 million subscribers says there is an endemic problem in the game design itself that's keeping people from staying around. Also, it didn't sell better than GW2. SWTOR had 1 million sold 3 days after launch. GW2 had 1 million sold on perorders alone, and far more than that 3 days after launch (how much exactly we won't know until ArenaNet gives us some numbers).

But yes, I largely agree with you that we don't know what's happening with the future of Guild Wars 2. I merely stated that in the present it's doing even better than ArenaNet hoped, to the point that they have shut down online purchases of the game to prevent server flooding until they can create more space.

That said, the reaction to SWTOR's lack of long-term content problems was almost immediate. Within the first week people were complaining about running out of things to maintain their interest, and no top-level gameplay to keep them going. Indeed even by February 1st (one month after launch), when they had sold ~2.3 million units and only had 1.7 million subscribers, it was apparent that problems were building. People were literally unsubscribing before their 30 days free were up.

That does not seem to be an issue with GW2 at all. Will it have the staying power of WoW? Well, probably not. No other game has, and Blizzard are masters of the endgame. But it's again, still off to a great start.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 5th September 2012 1:47pm

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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 9 years ago
The success of one game doesnt warrant the success of any game that comes after it. To me each games should be treated as an individual situation. If every game were to be subscribtion based, I bet most MMO games would not be succesful, and that in turn would make anybody think twice about developing them. These games require to much time to play, you pay a monthly fee, are tied to an internet connection and you can go through all the content in the same time it would take to go through a long RPG. And even if you dont go through all the content, it must be interesting enough to keep you playing. And unlike a regular, offline retail game... online games require continuose development and maintenance and a staff thats on a payroll to do it. You always have money coming in, but it only offsets the cost of staff payrole, server maintenance and software update, monitoring etc. If I was a game developer, I would not look to develope an MMO. It requires just as much resources to develope a regular game, plus you need to give it maintenance and updates. And i really hate when people say console gaming is dead, online, subscription or F2P models are the future... dont even get me into mobile gaming.... but anyway... I dont think one is better than the other. I just think they are simply alternative revenue streams, but not a replacement for one another. the arrival of online F2P doesnt have to do away with traditional development and the success of world of war craft will not dictate the success of games in the same market. because developing a game like WOW has its own hurdles, F2P as well. What i dont like about free to play is that, its not a game where you get rewarded with your gameplay achivements, but rather with how much money you have.
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