Guild Wars 2: Post Script
I hit the wall. I saw it coming but it couldn’t be avoided: I’m done with Guild Wars 2. We took a month off earlier this year when we started to get a little burnt out and came back feeling a little renewed, but it didn’t last that long. The game has become more aggravating than enjoyable due to many different reasons.
What would usually hold you over in a MMO during times like this is the promise of future content. Which, sadly, there is none. ArenaNet has said that there are no plans for expansion packs in the foreseeable future – they have instead decided to continue with the initially monthly, but now biweekly, micro-content updates schedule. I believe this doesn’t work well with their current game design.
ANet created the game around a very innovative idea where instead of quests, you have renown hearts and events. Renown hearts are more like your traditional quests, i.e. go kill these mobs or bring back these items. But starting and completing these renown hearts is dynamic. It’s much the same for events. At randomly timed intervals, events will trigger where you have to perform some action to complete the events.
I mention renown hearts and events because of this: the way they are designed is why this new system of two weeks of content doesn’t work. If ANet continued to use their existing “questing” system, they would have to create new geography, renown heart and events for each update. Instead they create this mismatch of assorted ideas that feel like they have no true connection to the world or the main story of the game. If they did actually follow their existing questing system, even if it took longer to do, I think many more people would enjoy it.
With these two week updates, the goal of ArenaNet is clear: they want you to login at least every couple of weeks, lest you miss the limited time content never to be repeated again. The new content is removed from the game once the event concludes. The reason they want you to login so often is due to their business model.
Guild Wars 2 is stuck somewhere in between subscription games like WoW and free-to-play games like Vindictus, which are supported by a cash shop. You have to buy the game but you don’t pay a subscription. The GW2 cash shop “gem store” isn’t filled with items that make you more powerful or change your gameplay dramatically, but it is filled with limited time items that are tied to these temporary content patches. So if you don’t login for a couple of weeks, you may find that everyone is walking around with weapons that look way better than any Legendaries and you now have no way of every getting them because of game has since moved on.
You may see where I’m going with this. So why did ArenaNet create two week content? Why do they want you logging in so often if they don’t really care how long you stay? They want you to check out the gem store, spend your money on these limited time items, and two weeks down the road, login again and do the same thing.
Once you have leveled a character to level 80, you have limited options. The first thing most people do is gear up with exotic armor and weapons. You find a build that fits your play style and trait accordingly. That can take some time if you are not willing to trade money for gems and then trade that for in-game gold. You will have to grind for gold or karma to get the items you need. After that, you really only have two options: 1) start the incredibly insane grind for a legendary weapon or 2) start a new character, if you haven’t already. Gameplay content is not as unlimited as they would make you think. So if you feel you’ve done it all and stop playing, ArenaNet stops making money because you’re not logging in checking out the gem store.
Now all this ties in with the second major issue with the game. How they operate the gem store and the much-hated random number generator. The poor random number generator ruins many aspects of game, but for this argument, we are just talking about how it relates to the gem store. The most sought-after items in ArenaNet’s limited time content patches are found in gem store items commonly referred to as gambling lockboxes. Free-to-play games commonly have these lockboxes as a way to incentivize players to spend real money. So rather than spending money directly for the wanted item, you will be buying just a chance to get that item.
Let’s go through an example of how much one would have to spend to get the rare item out of a lockbox. In June-July of this year there was an event called the Dragon Bash. There were many unique weapon skins added that you could only get from a claim ticket. These claim tickets dropped from Dragon Coffers, which were dropped from mobs, at an extremely low rate of 0.07%. If you bought Rich Dragon Coffers, the drop rate increased to 1.3% chance. (This drop rate data comes directly from the official Guild Wars 2 wiki.) You could buy Rich Dragon Coffers at a rate of 25 for 2000 gems. 2000 gems costs $25 of real money. So at a 1.3% chance, you would have to open 77 Rich Dragon Coffers to get one claim ticket. If you are buying them in sets of 25, you would have to spend $100 for one weapon skin. That. Is. Fucking. Insane.
The players who support the game by using the gem store want to be able to directly buy these items (weapons skins). Why doesn’t ANet provide that? The short answer is of course “money,” but in the long run, won’t giving the customer what they want become more profitable? They are not even creating content for their supporters. The content they create is for those who have rushed through the game.
I could rant forever so let’s wrap this up. I really did enjoy the game at one point. It had many new and different ideas that no other MMO had before. What really soured me was how they handled the game post-launch. And while I’m not saying that I will never play the game again, I do have around 50 games that are ahead of it in the queue now.