GW2 and Content Charges

I’ve been reading a bit about the new Living story updates for Guild Wars 2 and, it has me intrigued. Not enough to go in there yet but enough to prod my attention towards it so I’ll be reading a little more about the story and changes to come.

There have been several great round-ups already on the new changes, of these and I’d probably recommend Inventory Full, Sygnus and Why I game of those but then I know I’m forgetting some as well. I just wasn’t paying that much attention at first until a little way into it. A new, growing zone to exploring, a better story telling approach and with the journal it won’t feel like such a constant achievement grind.

It seems as though they have taken all their learning from the first season and applied it now for the second, apparently it still has issues but nothing as overwhelming as the chorus being repeated from the first. Of course I still wonder why they so doggedly persevered for that entire time with a system that so obviously wasn’t working but, whatever.

I’ve actually been thinking about re-downloading it once more just to see some of these changes and experience the new content. Plus, I want to log in to at least get these content releases without having to pay for them but then there seems something a little wrong with them beginning to charge for content, now of all times. Yeh, it’s only a small part of each update that I’m guessing is locked behind the cost and the actual game changes like the world and gear are probably included but it’s still holding back content.

They do have allowances towards this as well, log in for a short time and you gain access to the current living story within the new journal mechanic, play it whenever you want from then on and that is extremely great of them but then, why charge at all. There are going to be new player coming in all the time, well, that’s what you want anyway and what your doing is restricting the amount of content to them unless they pay another charge.

Thinking about this further I seemed to remember some of the initial marketing speak and conversations about the payment model before release and arenanet were saying something like you would never need to pay for content, that all updates would be free. Sure enough with a little digging there was an old forum post from Colin Johanson

No need to buy them, Gw2 will feature consistent free content updates and in-game events going forward. Our goal is to make it so you get more from Gw2 for free than you get from a game you pay a subscription for.On top of a large amount of free bonus content, we will be expanding on offerings in the Black Lion Trading Company going forward, as well as be doing large-scale expansion content down the road.We’ll cover a lot of the details on the kind of support and plans we have in place over the next month or so on the Gw2 blog and with our press partners.We do appreciate that you’d like to buy lots of new content, but we’d prefer to give a lot of it to you for free, cause that’s what we think a responsible MMO company does!

Now, I guess you can kind of say the updates still are free, the game is getting updates it is a story rather than mechanics but…hmm. It also is free if you log in but still, that all seems like a rather tenuous line to draw. It does seem to be dealing a lot with the semantics of what is said, twisting it to the current vision of the game like they’ve done with a lot of the other larger changes.

There was also this comment within one of the G4TV presentations where Johanson stated

“When you buy Guild Wars 2 you get the whole game, period. You’re never going to get a microtransaction to get more of it

That seems a little less vague and more like they are breaking another one of their original guiding principles.  A principle of Buy to Play that many in the industry hold up as a beacon now and while it does appear small at first, a mere 200 gems it quickly adds up when you consider the speed and how long the living story will go for… Lets see, bi-montlhy updates for 6 months will cost about another 30$.

To be honest I did, and do have a problem with their payment model which is probably why I’m bringing it all up once more. It just seemed like there were too many gameplay changes as a way of reaching further into the players wallets. I called it the gold grind as I personally saw them trying to push people towards buying gold, and their gold or at least engaging in insane amounts of terrible gameplay to compensate for certain frustrations. It was also their rather insidious use of lock boxes and RNG for near everything interesting.

It also felt like WvW wasn’t getting any decent updates partly because they had no idea how to monetise it but that’s another rant now buried deep within the depths of my black, oozing, mmo heart

My main thought about this new change to their payment model is “why now”. Why after nearly 2 years would you begin charging for content and an obviously needed and highly asked for feature at that. Oh there’s definitely the demand for it but just because something might be good business doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for the game. It almost feels like they are designing an issue just to sell you the cure… Zynga would be proud.

Are they not as well off as the wanted or projected and needed the extra boost. Is the current strategy of cosmetics gated in their use by other mechanics and the sale of lock box keys not working out as well any more. Have the masses become wise to the abysmal probability. Last quarter was 10 million less in sales but looking at the quarterly report it’s hard to determine as you don’t have all the details and after a false report of 3 million sales in china we have yet to hear the real numbers.

Now, I am being a bitch and mostly picking at small changes backed by some decent allowances to avoid these new payments but it’s these slippery slopes of payment changes that have a tendency to grow larger and more intrusive with time. At least what they’re producing is better this time around, maybe it is worth they extra money… is this the eye of the north equivalent expansion everyone’s been asking for?

#GW2 #Update #microtransactions

14 thoughts on “GW2 and Content Charges

  1. You echo a lot of how I felt when I heard about this and thought it through. I still don’t fully agree with it, even if 200 gems is a small price to pay and folks get 2 weeks to activate the content, which should be enough time.

    But, hey. Things come up. Vacations. Computer issues. Life.

    It feels like GW2 is just pushing people to log in at least once every 2 weeks… and I’m unsure why or what that gains them. I’ve logged in the first day of the new content, activated it, and logged out to save it for later. I like the feeling of doing it on my own time, when I’m interested in it (even if that means I have to stay away from GW2 posts and the Tumblr tag for fear of spoilers).

    I also wonder if they really have that much confidence in their new story that they believe it’ll have real money value to people. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t undervalue a GOOD story (I’m a writer, after all), but I’d never pay gems to activate anything from Season 1. In fact, I purposefully skipped some of that content simply because I wasn’t interested in what I saw happening there. Especially in the day and age of YouTube and Twitch playthroughs. I know it’s not the same as playing it yourself, but if it saves money, I can see folks watching it elsewhere and picking up where they left off for free.

    • I’m not really worried about the regular players.. You miss the occasional update and it’s not too much of an issue. It’s just that once again, if you get a new player they are going to completely miss out on it all without paying a hefty chunk.

      I wondering whether it’s worth it as well. I have and will pay for this sort of thing, I bought the TSW mission packs after all but I’m not sure if it’s of that quality or even that extensive. They usually run a couple minutes and are contained within small instances.

      Getting people to log in emulator is an important thing for any mmo. Your still thinking about it, still updating and not just removing it. It’s also tends to create a stronger connection the longer you go for but usually that’s a thing dailies are designed for. Just something wrong with forcing temporary content like this.

  2. The idea, I believe, -is- encouraging consistent log-ins.

    Any MMO requires some form of community to work, and if they can encourage folks to at least show their faces every fortnight, there’s a chance that their guildmates may say “hi” and bring them back to playing the game a little more, or they themselves might get tempted into trying an activity and realizing they miss it and so on.

    Eri, I’d encourage you to at least poke your head in to pick up the unlock so that it doesn’t build up. Just let the client download on the side while you putter around in Don’t Starve or something. :P

    200 gems for the first episode is $2.50 or 20ish gold, fairly minor, but it’s going to snowball from there. I suppose they think that asking someone to pay $10 per 2 months is reasonable for something like an MMO subscription or an expansion.

    I do personally think that each of season 2’s missions is more or less worth a buck of entertainment – especially if you re-run them for achievements, but I might be biased. :)

    • Yeh, understand that is the aim and I guess that’s ok but I thought the dailies were what was pro icing that reason. Using content like that seems odd.

      And yeh, I’m probably going to renown load over the weekend to check out the changes as it seems cool and the slow reveal o the new zone is awesome too.

  3. I was prompted by Mercurial to delve back into GW2, I’d run out of steam on my Elementalist at mid-30’s, and so I thought I’d try a Mesmer. The new content seemed like a good motivation too, but I was disappointed to see that it was locked to level 80’s in the journal. Now, I don’t know whether this still counts as having unlocked it so I can play it in the future, I have a long way to go to hit 80 given how casually I play it, and to find that I’ve been dutifully logging in once or twice a week and *still* have to pay to unlock the living story content will result in table flipping forever.

    • Oh that sucks, scaling for them would have been better but I assume you still keep it as they’ve already said you don’t need to enter or start the quest, just log in for it to count.

    • I’m glad you decided to give it another go. I do warn you that the post-April 15th changes made it a bit more difficult to level up a Mesmer being that it’s one of the more trait-dependent professions; you’ll have to devote skill points and gold to specific traits unless you plan on venturing out into the world to earn your traits, some of which require higher-level map completion and achievements for reasons unbeknownst to us non-developers. I really do prefer the previous system which awarded you trait points every so many levels, but alas.

      I think you really have to love Mesmers to be able to level them in the current environment. Either that or have a lot of patience. I’m not sure what type of player you are, but if I were to level another Mesmer I would probably do it in Edge of the Mists almost exclusively, but that’s just me.

      Please don’t be too unkind to tables. If you really do insist on abusing them, please at least have the courtesy to use cardboard box replacements when soothing your inner beast as these fine gentlemen do in showing us how animals eat their food: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnydFmqHuVo

  4. Colin Johanson often talks a lot of nonsense as I have had cause to observe not infrequently since launch. In that first quote I believe he’s attempting to be ironic when he says “We do appreciate that you’d like to buy lots of new content” but in fact I think that is the plain and simple truth. A lot of people actively enjoy spending money on things they want and believe they’ll enjoy. For me, stuff you get for free rarely feels as “valuable” as stuff you have to pay for.

    One of my problems with GW2 has been that there has never been anything in the Gem Store that I wanted, other than unlocks for character slots and inventory. I save up my gold and I buy those and really enjoy it. I would be extremely unlikely ever to by armor or weapons skins, minis or any of the other cosmetics because that side of MMOs simply does nothing for me. I would, however, be very happy to buy new content, especially at a very reasonable rate like 200 gems.

    Of course I won’t need to do that because I can just log in and get it for free and I’m not an idiot (self-identifying there, I know) so that’s what I’m going to do (especially since I need the content on two account, four for the household). If they were only selling these updates in the store and not giving them away, however, I’m pretty sure I would feel I was getting more value not less.

    And of course I still wouldn’t pay real money, I’d just farm the gold. At current rates that’s 20-25 gold per unlock and I generally make 5-10 gold in a normal session (or would if I sold everything I get instead of banking it all, which is why I keep having to buy more bank slots…). Consequently I would easily have enough gold every two weeks to buy the update on both accounts.

    What I really want, though, is that “large-scale expansion content”. It’s been almost two years. How far “down the road” have we got to go before we get it?

    Oh, and yes, what Jeromai said.

    • That he lol and I’ve already said he is anets Main Pr person and to not take what he says seriously. It is a little disappointing though to see them further go back on their word, I had so much hope for it and there is that potential but it seems like they went in a different direction. And that direction still seems to be changing.

      See, I am the kind of person that does by cosmetics and random stuff. I bought a fair amount of TSW’s store as it was both interesting and reasonably priced. Plus far easier to use with less restrictions. Gw2 has never really had that much for me when I was playing, the outfits were either far to ostentatious or to gimmicky. I would have bought an interesting armor set in a second if I liked it, could use it when and how I wanted and didn’t have to deal with RNG. All these factors pushed me away form the store and I think the game too.

      I don’t think it’s an issue of being an idiot (although I am a lot of the times). I would think wanting to entice old players back in and reward new players with a breadth of content would be an important design for an mmo. It’s great how it rewards the dedicated and even aware players but that’s just not enough.. And yeh, wondering where that expansion is too.

  5. Honestly, if you miss any of the storylines, you can still experience them without paying by having someone else open it for you.

    A bit of a hassle of course, but if you’re that dead-set again paying gems (there’s also the caveat that gems can be bought for gold) then there are options. Comparing Anet to Zynga is pretty unfair.

    -Ursan

    • Yeh I heard that and that’s a good thing as well. You don’t get any rewards but they usually aren’t the reason you do it anyway.

      Hehe, couldn’t help myself with he zynga comment. Allow me at least one troll per gw2 post

      • Dunno, might as well do a Colin Johanson post. Pic of you with a humongous smile, post something like “This blog will forever remain microtransaction-free” then next month start selling commentating privileges!

        -Ursan

      • haha that would be funny.. i even made a joke about that already somewhere and my future plns for locking of content and a subscriber bonus

  6. Pingback: This week in Guild Wars 2, 12-18 July | GuildMag

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