Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

DAW4: ArenaNet

About a year and a half after Blizzard released the juggernaut World of Warcraft into the wild, some former Blizzard senior devs set free "a game which took risks with game design and business model." ArenaNet's Guild Wars didn't require a subscription, only a box purchase. The plan was to provide purchasable "expansions" at a rapid pace and minimize bandwidth requirements to turn a profit. The devs correctly projected that a subscription leads to a lifestyle/commitment to one (maybe two) MMORPGs, rather than the previous player practice of skipping around from game to game. Two more campaigns, independently playable (no need to purchase the original), were released in the same game-world of Tyria, plus an expac that required at least one of the other three to play. I believe they introduced a cash shop for cosmetic items a little later.
The universe at your fingertips.
I never played Guild Wars. As assessed by ArenaNet, I was locked into WoW by my subscription, and only broke out of that mindset as a result of my BNet account getting hacked and Star Trek Online being released at almost the same time. But the little-developer-that-could chugged on, proved their business model was viable, and began developing Guilds Wars 2.
Killing it with fire!
Fast forward to August 28, 2012—seven months ago today. As Scarybooster put it, the yellow and red logs had kicked the futuristic hype-train of GW2 into overdrive and millions of players were aboard, including Sctrz and me. GW2 probably surpassed everyone's expectations sales-wise, and even through the hiccups in the first month or so, was an immensely playable game.
OMG, the windmill is a tall ship!
It's still a ton of fun (the most important thing in a game), easy to jump into and play for a few minutes or a few hours. The game has a good skill/progression system, gorgeous graphics, plenty of lore, and just a touch of whimsy—without going overboard. The cities feel truly alive and—well, Divinity's Reach & Lion's Arch, at least—livable, something I haven't really experienced in any other game. My main, which I play in a "spousal leveling contract" with Sctrz, is at the max level of 80. I have several others that are lower levels.
In-Game and IRL, Sctrz has my back, and I hers.
I wanted to single out the Guild Wars 2 Social Media Coordinator, Rubi_, a.k.a. RB2, and the rest of the ArenaNet community team. You could say Rubi is an ascended fan, a leader in the community that ArenaNet was wise enough to bring into the fold. (Also a quick DAW shout-out to Stephen Reed, ersatz CM for SWTOR, currently working with Marvel Heroes.) The job of the MMO community manger is a thankless task, sometimes even from the devs themselves. But I thank you.

I appreciate ArenaNet for going out on a limb with game mechanics and pricing models. Besides the box, I've thrown a few tens of dollars into the gem store. But I don't feel that dragging commitment I did with subscription games, like I have to get my money's worth. I already have, and can go back any time I want. And ArenaNet is OK with that.

It's worth it.