GW2: Featuring the Failures

Now I barely follow Guild wars 2 news anymore, once I stop playing that’s pretty much the end. I’ve unsubscribed from the reddit, never visit the forums and glance over most articles on it. I read a little on the end of living story season one and it seems like they might finally have wrapped up the story well. I’m not sure they needed a year of fetch quests to do it but it certainly looked impressive.

The other recent news piece that piqued my interest was this so-called “feature’ pack and all I can think was what.. utter bullshit. Seriously, a feature pack. They certainly are the masters of artfully manipulating language to form a good impression of even basic mmo principles that have been tried and used many times before. When I look at the list of changes coming that have been outlined by the recent blog posts what I see is just regular mmo updates.

Worse though is that they have obviously been sitting on these needed and asked for features for who knows how long now. There would only be a certain amount of people working on all those features as they more involved changing the functioning of other systems. This isn’t the living stories area of expertise and most likely everything listed was being developed in tandem with the recent living stories. Some of these features might have been finished months ago, some were talked about going on a year now, some were promised as part of other updates and others are actually reversing decisions made a long time ago.

They’ve bundled this all up to make it look more important and make such changes look and feel far more drastic than they are. A PR move to pull in the absence of any other content. Personally I would have rather they avoid such a ruse and release these improvements when they were finished as part of the usual content updates like, you know, every other mmo does. Why make people wait for some drastic quality of life changes when they could obviously improve the health and enjoyment of the game.

If we look at the changes themselves they are rather contested features that should have been changed a long, long LOOOOOOOOONG time ago.

  • The trait system has been a mess for quite a while now, most put up with it but the design really doesn’t serve much purpose in itself… an inflated design to make it look more complicated. We have also seen very few additions to it over the year.
  • Rune and Sigil changes seems like a regular balance patch that most mmo’s do every update but no, lets package it all together.
  • Berserker has been the long running joke of Guild Wars and probably its legacy for a long while to come.  A focus on damage and the limitation of other roles as well as just how this meta invalidates much of the content.
  • A wardrobe is finally coming, well kind of. It’s something the entire population has been very vocal about before and after release. The system they had was an abomination spurned on by greed for more cash shop purchases that really came back haunt them. It served to demotivate people from the horizontal progression and deflate purchases. There is still a certain transmutation system but, at least this is progress
  • The change of dyes to character bound after release really annoyed and mystified me. It was a needless frustration, one that broke from the original design and so they have now reversed that decision… yay
  • Improvements to the currently inadequate LFG, or more like correcting their laziness in design.
  • More account bound changes. WXP should have been in oh, was it 3 months ago. The amazingly grinding things that are legendaries  and ascended gear. The amount of time and effort these take to get are massive and adding this functionality is huge, even if there are a variety of stat combinations at least this way you can fill the gaps quicker. Personally, I think they’ve finally come to terms with the casual aims plus the benefits of alting and have started removing some of the more hardcore requirements.
  • Finally we have the unification of gear between modes which really, should have been in on launch too. Having the modes so separated in terms of personal progression was a huge mistake, one that really hurt the popularity and growth of SPvP.

Looking at most of these, they really either should have never been designed as such, been there on launch or just after. Most of the “feature” packs this year have more been about fixing the mistakes made during development or just how much they misjudged the populations interests, wants and needs and this seems no different.

What this feature pack actually makes me wonder now is what’s changed? What’s changed in regards to Guild Wars 2 and Arena net to finally, after all this time start listening to the community about needed changes and functionality. A lot of people kicked and screamed all over the internet about many of these things or missing features and changes but until now they mostly ignored it and blindly continued with the living story. Now, after all that they change their ideas and the direction of Guilds wars 2.

I’m guessing that they are either getting a little scared now about the upcoming onslaught of huge titles and are trying to stem that flow, or the metrics they so obviously hold sacred have finally started to show that maybe, just maybe they should be changing certain facets. It couldn’t merely be there altruistic and community focused nature, that ship sailed long ago as they’ve been either oblivious or heavy handed in their interactions for a while now.  It smells like desperation to me, or is that just being my usual jaded gw2 self?

#GW2 #Rant #update

13 thoughts on “GW2: Featuring the Failures

  1. No, I think what it is is this..

    NCSoft have been pushing for greater returns on their investment. ArenaNet, being a particularly insular, pedantic and focused development house, have been resisting pressure from their ultimate paymasters, NCSoft, for 18 months, trying to hold the line on their idiosyncratic vision, but they have finally lost the battle.

    Meanwhile, they’ve had to do a large amount of work re-designing the game for the upcoming launch in the world’s largest MMO market – China. Chinese MMO players want and expect very different things from an MMO than American, European or Australian players so it has meant a considerable re-jigging of the basic systems.

    These two events have serendipitously coincided with the imminent launch of two or three potential major competitors, so this is an opportune time to bundle all the changes that would have been made incrementally up into a single package, give it the best PR spin it will take and throw it out there.

    I think it’s evident from no more than a passing glance that several of the changes are designed to drive more business through the Gem Store but what’s the problem with that? We’ve been saying since launch that the Store needs to sell more things people want to buy and now it will.

    Since GW2 uses a genuine buy-to-play model (in that, to date, there has literally been no need for anyone ever to pay them another penny beyond the initial box purchase, the entirety of the game being fully accessible indefinitely for nothing more than that initial outlay, it’s very important for them to find ongoing revenue streams based on desire rather than need. The feature pack is an attempt to move in that direction.

    As a happy, satisfied player, I would say that about 50% of the “features” announced as part of the pack so far are background stuff that would feature in every MMO’s regular patching and 50% are significant changes that I’m excited about. Not having to pay for those is a huge bonus, although personally I’d give all of them up for a real expansion that I did have to pay for. Since that’s not on the table, however, I’m more than happy to take what I can get.

    I’m very excited for the Feature Pack. It will refresh the entire game in a very powerful and positive way, I think. Also the new WvW Season has gotten off to a wonderful start – I’ve had a couple of superb nights’ entertainment and I’m very much looking forward to another eight and a half weeks of thrills, spills, spies, drama and upsets. GW2 has rarely felt more compelling than it does right now.

    • yeh that does sound about right.. nc soft would pu a bit of pressure on to maximise profits and develop a certain way. Maybe with their new shiny coming out there more focused on it for the return.

      They are definitely big changes, quite drastic changes to qol but yeh, did they really need to package it together rather than releasing during regular updates

      • That’s what I meant. Once you sour on a game, it’s very hard to see any good side any more.

        I personally can’t look at Realms of Despair in the eye or even consider touching it as a game any longer, but well, it’s a learning experience. Funny thing is, other people still play the game today.

        Sometimes it helps to figure out exactly what thing(s) jaded you about a game, so that one doesn’t fall into a vicious cycle of trying games and then getting bitter about them too quickly, until one day, one runs out of games and become way too cynical about them all. 😛

      • oh i know exactly why. I went in expected a more open world, horizontal experience than what it was. That was I guess, me imprinting my own wishes on it but also the initial marketing campaign

  2. Reading my comment back in the cold light of day I might have been overselling it a little… I *am* enjoying GW2 a lot right now and I am looking forward to a number of the changes, but that last paragraph does sound as if I’ve been at the Kool-Aid.

    You’re also quite right that the game as-is bears little resemblance to the game they spent two years of PR trying to sell us. It’s perfectly reasonable to be disillusioned about that, especially since that seems like it would have been an even better game. Still, compared to everything else around, the game we ended up with is pretty consistently entertaining so… mustn’t grumble.

    Hope TESO works out better for you. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how that launch and first few months plays out. It’ll be all the more interesting to watch from a neutral perspective.

    • haha no, you don’t come off that way. Your impressions are always quite realistic. And it was definitely entertaining, can’t argue with that as I got a good year out of it which is a lot more than most.

  3. Nice post!
    I’ve been off GW2 for a while and the changes aren’t enoughto drag me back in. If they’d of put the fixes in part way through the living story…maybe some of those that got bored of the LS would have played it to the end.
    I don’t blame them for bigging it up with all the other mmo’s on the prowl, its a ‘We fix our problems, look!’ for any new players out there. I’ll bet they’ll be an invite a friend day soon after.
    That said, the complete blanking of the playerbase and the over-enthusiastic joy they ooze with every LS step got a bit over-whelming.
    My main thought is- did they do all this for the existing playerbase and game, or did they only do this because it was a path to gold in China?

  4. During the orignal Guild Wars lifetime, NCSoft was not afraid to admit when GW sales didn’t met expectations.
    NCSoft keeps saying that GW2 sales keep exceeding expectations.
    In fact NCSoft during the first few financial conference calls kept pointing at an expansion for GW2.

    Almost 2 years and no expansion for GW2 even announced, with a growing Arenanet staff.
    If anything, it seems to me GW2 revenues have been so good (at $25M-30M per quarter) that it bought Arenanet time.

    ESO is out and I see queues to get into WvW in the desolation server.

    People got addicted to MMORPGs failing or under performing but I don’t think GW2 falls in that pattern.

  5. It will be fun if the same people that kept complaining about the Living Story will start complaining that they stopped releasing it for a brief period of time.

    Additionally it seems clear the Living Story break is due to China release.
    China already missed the first season and makes no sense to launch the game in China and drop your players in the middle of an ongoing Living Story season.

    • OH definitely, although I am wondering whether they are going to replay this years living story for them or at least have it playable in some way. Seems a shame to leave them behind on all the world changes and storytelling.

      And the game is doing well but the question is, well enough. I have a few friends in there as well who talked about the queues during this latest wvw tourney release and they were looking at 30mins, this is a top 3 server. Last time they held one I remember a 3 hour wait for some borderlands, and that was during off peak.

      None of those observations mean much though since, based on the btp model having active players while making the game look healthy doesn’t mean financial gain. With the changes and the fact that they are starting to hit their groove with creating interesting cash shop items I think they’ll do ok.

      Maybe a little less so after these bigger mmo’s come out but it’s sure to have a decent population for a while yet

  6. Pingback: This week in Guild Wars 2, 29 March-4 April | GuildMag

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