And we all thought WoW was bad
In the recent posts about the new content and update both Jeromai and Bhagpuss talk about the new ways people are making money after the recent update. Dragons and CoF runs have been a staple of the community for a long time and now with a few changes the horde has put their eye on the increased champion rewards. Optimised paths for these have sprouted up in a number of areas, spurned on by the elitists wherein the masses follow along unquestioning and unfazed by the repetitiveness because it doles out the most pellets. Seriously, when the grind is being optimised and adopted by the community in such an intrinsic way you might have gone to far.
I can’t help see the irony in this. For a game that was apparently championing against the evils of grind under the guise of fun it has become one of the mmo’s with the most grind… or at least the most people engaged in it. Instead of a minority of min maxers and raiders who get wrapped up in grind, here it seems like the majority of the population has been seduced into following the blue dorito and to just keep killing for a never-ending daily. I have never seen this amount of grind be engaged in by so many for such a long period of time before. The grind zergs are there day and night, weekends and weeknights.. Rain, hail or shine.
Grind isn’t a bad thing to have in our virtual worlds, in fact I think it is a needed component at times but there are limits to it. Everyone has their own tolerance to it but having it in excess can be quite dangerous to the playerbase.
I really think Arenanet misjudged the playerbase in a critical way. They knew what they were doing to an extent with creating time sinks but I don’t believe they realised just how much people would engage in these activities to the detriment of the game and their own enjoyment. We gamers often don’t have that sort of self-control, just keep consuming, grinding more and more till we reach that critical point at some stage and then POP, off we go.
It seems like the result in part of a combination of mechanics rather than any one thing but it all ends up in a game entirely functioning on grind and where repetition is the primary activity.
One of the issues was that there is no defined end point. You don’t get some class specific raid gear and become suddenly done with gear entirely. With trying to make gear less important it has suddenly become more of a continuous grind. There are so many different stat combinations for different builds in each class and with transmutation it seems like a constant goal to gain more options. Then you add alting on top of this and suddenly there is no end in sight.
Guild Wars 2 also seems to be a game revolving around getting gold, even more so then getting gear. Due to the minimal role guilds have and the extent to which gold guides peoples play I think it should have been called gold wars instead. Having wealth has always been important but never as much as I’ve witnessed here. I talked about this previously in an article called the gold grind way way back in January (yes I was critical even back then and it is still a very relevant piece even now) and the problem seems to be getting a worse. There are just so many gold sinks in-game that are so frikken expensive that it focuses play on the acquisition of it.
Then you have the restricted activities of attaining gold. Most of the in-game activities that could be enjoyable are some of the least rewarding things to do. Dynamic events were the key mechanic for guild wars yet they are a waste of space in terms of earning anything of value. And then there is an absolutely huge difference between these activities and the ones like dungeons, dragons, and now champions were gold rains from the heavens. It makes anything else pale in comparison and the choice of what to do becomes pretty obvious. Play the way you want is not an option anymore if you actually want anything in-game. Just hop on board the zerg wagon.
A major catalyst was also the in-game marketplace and how gold can be transferred to the cash shop. Suddenly an in-game currency has a defined real world value which makes it seem that much more important to attain. Being able to buy cash shop items is a big influence towards peoples habits, even I had dreams of buying the many items as it feels like you’re getting the most value from it but it is a very hard thing to achieve. Yet people chase that ideal extensively and spend hours upon hours amassing in-game wealth to purchase a cash shop item when I’m guessing that time could have been far better spent. Also what does Guild Wars 2 really gain from such a behaviour, people will and probably have burned themselves out grinding this gold and they are not getting any sort of profit from it.
Overall it just ends up in an experience where attaining some sort of imagined wealth becomes the focus of play rather than fun, or challenge, or being social… or enjoyment. I’m starting to think they need all these updates just so they are able to mask what the game is becoming.. a completely soulless experience.