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The Casual Life by Wintyre Fraust

An older, casual player's perspective on MMOG's in general and GW2 in particular.

Author: Meleagar

NCSoft Sold Arenanet and GW2 Out For Nexon Investment

Posted by Meleagar Wednesday November 21 2012 at 12:07PM
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First, the pertinent facts: In March, Arenanet hired a new "monetization manager", who immediately made some unpopular moves for the cash shop of Guild Wars 2 even while it was still in Beta.  This "monetization manager" was Crystin Cox, a former employee of Nexon who was famous (or infamous) for many Maplestory cash shop items. In June, Nexon acquired a 15% interest in NCSoft (of which Arenanet is a subsidiary).  Did Nexon insist that NCSoft hire a Nexon-friendly "monetization manager" with authority to oversee GW2 before they would purchase 15% of NCSoft's stock?  Seems likely.

It can be safely inferred that it was about this time that the majority of programming for the "Lost Shores" update began as it takes several months to create that kind of content.  Since NCSoft and Arenanet had been promoting the anti-gear-treadmill philsophy throughout 5 years of GW2 development, and had not violated the gear stat cap of Guild Wars 1 in the 7 years it has been running, it is logical to assign a causal connection between the Nexon purchase and the sudden, complete change of fundamental game design philosophy. Considering the big, steaming pile of lagfest, bug-ridden compost that was the "Lost Shores" event, and the total disregard for off-prime-time servers, and the pitiful communication about it, the implication is that Nexon had a heavy hand in pushing through the monetization scheme as quickly as possible.

Whether or not you enjoy a never-ending stat-grnid treadmill is not the point.  Whether or not  you think MMOG's should have such a treadmill or not is, again, not the point. Whether or not you like GW2 more now than before is, once again, not the point.

The point is that shortly after Nexon and Crystin Cox arrived on the scene at Arenanet, that company threw 7 years of game philosophy (whether you agreed with it or not), trust, and credibility down the drain in order to, apparently, introduce a gear-treadmill monetization scheme that would require people to either endure a massive grindfest to keep up with top gear stats, or pay to keep up by buying gems in the cash shop, converting them to gold, and then buying Ascended gear and infusions off the trading post.

Essentially, the game has become a pay-to-win scheme.  With an accessable stat-capped system that Arenanet originally promised, one could liesurely advance their characters to top-stat status and then liesurely play those characters to eventually acquire cosmetically variant skins; after a certain level, there was nothing one needed to "keep up with" in order to have a maxed-out character.  IOW, with everyone eventually hitting the same cap, there was no "win" you could pay for, even if you bought boosters all the time. 

After the introduction of the "item progression initiative", players will never (not for long, anyway) have a maxed-out character, so unless you invest enough time in-game to keep up, either by constantly grinding ascended [EDIT: Ascended materials] and infusions or by grinding gold to buy ever-increasing [materials for] ascended and infusions, your only option is to simply buy gold via gem purchases or off the black market.

Now,  how does this make anyone happy? How is Ascended supposed to be meaningful to those that grind for the prestige of having hard-to-get, superior armor if anyone can just pony up some real-life cash and buy the same outfit off of the Trading Post? Hardcore gear-grinders don't like pay-to-win cash shops, and casual gamers don't like being forced to grind. Perhaps it will make very casual players with a lot of disposable cash happy, because they can just wait for the gear to appear on the market and buy it either with legal or black market gold. 

I can see it now: teams of gold sellers running fractals for ascended gear [materials] and infusions, then selling them on the trading post for gold, then reselling the gold while hardcore gear grinders move on to other games that don't have a pay-to-win system built into the Cash Shop.  Arenanet/NCSoft/Nexon will have monetized the gear grind and will even be making a cut off of black market gold sales as long as there are plenty of honest players paying full price for legal gold.

Hardcore gear-grinders generally don't want to gear-grind in a pay-to-win cash shop game.  Casuals generally do not want to play in a game where they can never keep up or reach equality via playing casually. WvW players don't want to have to PvE grind anything. Who is this system serving? It is only serving to completely monetize the GW2 system, anchored by the ridiculously low amount of silver one earns while playing the game.  You've been wondering why it is so low? This is why. And if you sPvP players think you are immune to this, how long do you think you have before Crystin figures out a way to make you pony up?

Why does it concern all gamers, whether or not you play GW2?  Well, Nexon/NCSoft is now looking to acquire Valve.  What can we then expect from Valve when Nexon requires them to put in a "monetization producer"?  Even more, they have made it so that we cannot even trust a game developer (Arenanet) with a seven-year track record of not giving in to monetization or violating their niche game philosophy. If even Arenanet sold out, then no assurances whatsoever are good when it comes to public companies.

Make no mistake, Nexon - or some Nexon-like entity - is coming for your game sometime soon. Yes, you can sit by and laugh and smirk at GW2 fanbois, or not care because it doesn't really matter to your gameplay, but what will you do when your game or playstyle is invaded by the Nexon monetization locusts, and they put the very reason you enjoy playing the game into the cash shop and sell it to anyone who has the disposable cash?

What can we do? I suggest visiting the Nexon, Arenanet, and NCSoft websites and finding out how to email them or otherwise get messages to them, and raise bloody hell about what they've done to GW2 (adding ascended gear to a game that was supposed to have a permanent stat cap at exotics).

The more the MMOG industry is consumed by pay-to-win monetization groups like Nexon, the less there will be any meaningful reason to play those games for many of us.  Even hardcore gear-grinders will just be jokes for wasting their time doing something you could just buy out of the cash shop.  At that point, what exactly IS the point?

Rommie10-284 writes:

A couple of things spring to mind after reading this.

1) When does the ArenaNet analogue of EALouse spill the beans?  SOMEthing's happened there, whether or not it's Nexon.

2) Anyone hoping that Elder Scrolls or EQNext or Neverwinter is the next big thing should consider the level of microtransactions they will undoubtedly have, and the impact on a game chasing after $$$ hard that can happen.  If Lost Shores is the future, there's trouble in MMO City.

Wed Nov 21 2012 12:34PM Report
Newmoon writes: I saw what Nexon did to Atlantica and refuse to have anything to do with them. First it was - nothing is going to change. Having actually played Mabinogi, I knew this was a lie. I predicted 6 months before full takover, and sure enough, 6 months later it was a full takover. The cash shop started with 30day this, and 60 day that, and now you have to log in through their site. They also initiated the change from the lower level turn based system to the tactical battle system only for upper levels- a complete game change. Wed Nov 21 2012 12:48PM Report
Meleagar writes:

This is why this GW2 debacle is more important than anyone's particular playstyle, and more important than "casual vs hardcore".  This is threatening to not only ruin the MMOG genre, but it will soon seep into regular PC and console games.  Note how you have to be online to play some games - a growin trend - it's not a big leap to being able cash-shop monetize co-op and competitive-play games.

Arenanet was as solid as you can get when it comes to what they promised and their indie philosophy, and look what happened. Who can we trust now?  Why should we believe ANY producer that makes ANY claims or statments about their game, even if they can show it to be that way in Beta and even at launch? If ANET can do a backflip 10 weeks afer launch, who can even trust industry reviews?

This genre needs some kind of regulatory code or consumer oversight because right now nobody can be trusted to be anything more than snake-oil salesman trying to get you skinner-box addicted to their gaming schemes, and they're burning down the whole industry to do it.

Wed Nov 21 2012 1:18PM Report
Rawasa writes: holy shit...NCsoft has blade and soul.....we're fucked! (no game is safe from the nexon curse) Wed Nov 21 2012 9:36PM Report
chaintm writes: OP< you have had some nice write ups about this issue and to even hear (Would like to see actual data) about Valve is a scary thought. Do you have any more info on this? Wed Nov 21 2012 10:43PM Report
Beowulfsam writes:

If there was a small stat progression that doesn't take long and takes in to the consideration new players it wouldn't be bad, but current amount of stuff you need to grind for new gears is just silly for the casual player. As for myself, I spent most of my time doing stuff I enjoy (aka not grinding) which means even though I played idk 5hrs/daily on average I'm nowhere near either legendaries or ascended or whatever...and if this continues....i'll be forced to do stuff I don't like to stay competitive (PvE affects WvW which sux).

All this ofcourse takes away my incentive to have multiple lv80 characters. Exotics are pretty cheap to make/buy so having multiple lv80s is no problem, but decking them in armors requiring massive grind...I rather go out and get burned by that yellow thing I heard it's up in the sky :)

Thu Nov 22 2012 7:39AM Report
melvein writes:

First, in an interview, Arenanet has said they will be adding Legendary armor in the future so the Asended gear isn't the highest gear you can get.  Right now all you can get is a ring and back piece of Asended gear.  This gear is only slightly better than Epic.  When the other pieces will be added I don't know.  Does anyone know if the items can be sold on the TP?  If it's like the Karma and other dungeon gear it can't be.  The gold farmers or anyone else selling them won't happen.

Where are you getting your information from?  There is no cited sorce.  I don't believe anything a third party writes till I see the original information myself.  There is enough frenzy happening already about the new Lost Shores patch.  Stiring it up even more is wrong.  I know you can write what you want but please try to be more factual an not just write your opinion as fact.  There are many who can't tell the difference and believe everything they read on the internet. 

Thu Nov 22 2012 12:22PM Report
mayito7777 writes: Any game where NEXON plants its paws gets destroyed, the best example Atlantica Online. GW2 is doomed. Thu Nov 22 2012 1:00PM Report
Meleagar writes:

melvein: if you can't be bothered to even google easily available information (maybe by using the terms "crystin cox" "ncsoft nexon" "arenanet monetization producer" etc.), I'm not going to try and force-feed you what you obviously don't want to know.

Why check sources I might link to that serve my own purpose?  Google the terms and easily find your own sources to see if my facts are straight or not. If you care about it, put in some effort.

Thu Nov 22 2012 1:21PM Report
Br3akingDawn writes:

Nice little article, but if worst comes to worst, just quit the game. Not like its the first time we mmo'ers wasted 40-60$ on another failed game. It is just sad that everything seems to head that direction these days.

Thu Nov 22 2012 2:47PM Report
TattooedPrincess writes:

"Why does it concern all gamers, whether or not you play GW2?  Well, Nexon/NCSoft is now looking to acquire Valve. "

 

This rumor has been squashed by Valve.

http://massively.joystiq.com/2012/09/27/rumor-nexon-and-ncsoft-eye-valve-buyout/

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-09-28-faliszek-were-not-selling-valve-to-nexon

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Valve-Acquisition-Nexon-NCsoft-PC-Gaming,18007.html

Those are just a few of the articles out there.

Thu Nov 22 2012 7:14PM Report
sum12stupid4u writes: Melvein: Even IF by some chance there would never come a point where you can buy Ascended items on the Trading Post, that isn't even really the point. In fact, if anytihng, that makes it worse. We were promised a game with a stat cap and no gear grinding, and equally as important, a game where max gear could be earned in PvE, WvW, Dungeons, or out in the world doing mapping or events. The game promised options rather than grind. The new ascended trinkets can ONLY be obtained via Fractals dungeon. That's kinda the exact opposite of "no gear-grind" when the only manner of getting the new gear is to grind one specific dungeon. So whether or not you agree with the article's overview... its an undeniable fact that this update created two things that we were promised would not come into play. Gear grind, and a lifted stat cap. Legendaries excluded, as they are, in fact... legendary. (Btw currently Legendary weapons have exotic stats, pending a future update.) So its an undeniable fact that a promise was broken to the GW2 community, and you won't have to google that, because all the people who spent years waiting for release are perfectly aware of it. Fri Nov 23 2012 2:13AM Report
Meleagar writes:

TattooedPrincess:

Just because Valve claims they will not sell doesn't mean Nexon is not trying to acquire them.  Nexon has recently bought out a couple of game developers and is also rumored to be trying to invest in EA.  They're already in bed with EA Sports with FIFA online in S Korea.

 

Fri Nov 23 2012 3:30AM Report
lotaparty writes: a very well written article .although i never played the game but now i have full understanding of the situation and will not be distracted by stupid fanboi fools of the game  Fri Nov 23 2012 7:24AM Report
Noyjitat writes: I knew this would happen soon after or near the shutdown of city of heroes. Stupid company getting rid of games that do well in the US but don't do well in Korea. Fri Nov 23 2012 5:55PM Report
logandwj writes:

This is an NCSoft game. At the end of the day, Arenanet, for all their lofty ideals, are as shackled to the bean-counters in the corporate offices in Korea as any other NCSoft game.

Just ask any City of Heroes player how much we felt betrayed after 8 yrs and being kicked to the curb.

And probably our game was killed because in order to monetize it like this, you'd have to redesign the code from top to bottom and it would be too expensive with our older generation design and layered spider-web of a codebase. So bye bye City of Heroes, and Hello Guild Wars 2. Lovely game. 

And then 10 weeks in, they shaft you too. 

I hate to be the one to say - "I told you so" but... 

I told you so.

Never never never never NEVER trust NCsoft. One day the entire gaming industry and fanbase will learn their lessons and stop giving NCsoft their money. 

I hope at that time that Arenanet can break free from NCSoft and go independent. 

Sat Nov 24 2012 2:56AM Report
Punchington writes:

Do you even know what Pay to Win means?

What are people paying to win in this case?

sPVP is still stat-capped. Dungeons? Can you pay to win dungeons? Is that even a thing?

Teams of gold farmers will be selling Ascended gear? How, exactly? It's not tradeable. But surely you would know that, after doing all of the research for this piece.

Again I ask you - what are you paying to win? And how are you paying when the gear isn't tradeable???

Even if it were purchasable - are we really this petty that we're angry when that guy over there bought his ascended gear with RL money while you worked for it? What difference does it make?

And are we this naive that we believe F2P games don't try to entice you into microtransactions?

Get a f'n grip.

 

 

 

 

 

Sat Nov 24 2012 2:51PM Report
Dream_Chaser writes:

@Punchington

My dear, gullible angry Internet man. They're paying for the gear, of course. You see, whilst you may not comprehend something as simple as a 'goal,' acquiring one is a 'win.' If you can 'pay' to acquire a 'goal,' then you are 'paying' to 'win.'

I can't help but be patronising when people can be so amazingly silly. I'm sorry. That's the very definition of pay-to-win. Now you're either being blithely ignorant and clueless, or you're being intellectually dishonest. Care to tell us which, Mr. P?

Sun Nov 25 2012 1:14AM Report
MadnessRealm writes:

Just a bunch of speculation without evidence to back it up. Move along.

 

Oh, and chances of Valve being bought by anybody are pretty much extremely low to non-existant. Why? Look up how their management work at Valve and you'll understand.

Sun Nov 25 2012 9:50AM Report
Umbrood writes:

Now I have not logged in to GW2 in a long time, but explain something fotr me?

Allready when I left the gold to gem ratio started to plummet.

As only players can trade gems for gold between each other, and the price was a supply and demand thing.

Wereas Gems had a fixed cost in dollars.

There was very little to buy with gems, aside from boosters, though many of them were good.

Can you actually buy gold for gems at a reasonable rate?

Seeing as players have become richer, prices gem/gold must have gone up a LOT and adding in that these ascended items will be VERY pricy, if they are able to be traded at all?

My real question is!

Is it even feasible to buy ascended gear for real dollars?

I mean below the 1k$ mark at least?

Or will the items be sold outright in the cash shop?

I am honestly curious, because how can it be pay to win if there is nothing to buy that makes you 'win'?

Sun Nov 25 2012 10:42AM Report
Duncker writes:

Nicely written OP.

Although I knew most of this prior to reading your post, it might help bring light to the problems we face with future mmo's.

Buyers beware, indeed..

 

Mon Nov 26 2012 7:06AM Report
koljane writes:

GW2 was never ment to have bright future, only thing about it that is great is the money they spent on marketing and hyping it over the limits of normaility.

 

Tue Nov 27 2012 5:44AM Report
Celcius writes:

Yeah seriously, people paying money for the back piece for a wopping 5 to each stat are really paying to win.... 

The rings require you to play the game and have nothing to do with the cash shop, the infused rings (with infusions, I might add) are acquired when you hit level 20+ in fractals (which is not difficult for even a casual player, i might add). The infusions themselves are trivial stat upgrades that will be available in many different ways as they continue to be introduced. You also cannot trade Ascended gear to other players.

Not sure what any of this has to do with Nexon or "paying to win" anyways. Lets get one thing straight here..ArenaNet did not promise the game would never have a vertical gear progression, infact they said there would be a small amount of progression end game before items start to platue. That progression was there and is still there. The only difference is that now they determined that they would like to add some form of vertical progression for those who want it. It is not a gear treadmill and the core philosophy of the game has not changed.

Gear does not bar entry from content. You can do every part of the game in yellow, hell, green, gear. You can be sure that the easily acquired exotics will serve just as well. The whole idea behind the concept people are trying to make up stories about, is that the game lets you play with your friends without forcing you to grind. This has not changed. Yeah it was a mistake to introduce the new rarity of gear in one area of the game, (even with being such a small upgrade all together) and they have acknowledged this. There are plans to introduce all future ascended gear into multiple areas of the game the second they introduce more. Everyone will be able to get it just as easily as Exotic gear, maybe slightly harder. (Hell, the ascended gear is easy to get now besides the back) The progression will take form in infusions, which will only work for the part of the game you are interested in progressing in. (WvW infusions,fractal infusions,ect) This way, there won't be imbalances for WvW. You can't pay to win when you are playing cooperatively. The game lets you do everything you want without paying a cent. If you think that someone else is better then you or "beating" you because they have 5 more condition damage then you, I would take a step back and rationalize your thinking.

Wed Nov 28 2012 3:45AM Report
iddqdnoclip writes:

I remember when NCsoft sold us Aion players out to Gameforge.

Almost everyone was happy about it, because many of us had problems with NC and their support. Now that we are in the hands of gameforge, we had to ralize there is always a worse company.

I mean, right after a maintenance they shutting down the servers because "someone tripped over lots of cables". Or not being able to hold an event that players would actually enjoy, or the ridiculous regulations of a non veteran player. It would worth an article how badly they are trying to ruin the game we loved so much. Sooner or later every free to play becomes pay to win even if they promise the opposite.

Wed Nov 28 2012 4:02AM Report
Ogrelin writes: This is what we get when we moan over subs... :) Wed Nov 28 2012 6:55AM Report
DukeDu writes: they are both horrible companies, doens't make a difference. Wed Nov 28 2012 8:20AM Report
apeth writes:

I hated the lost shores event, but actually really like the fractals and the progression that looks to be coming.

Everyone like a good conspiracy theory, but this one is missing the money trail. I don't see anyone buying ascended gear or ingredients through the gem store. They certainly could do it that way. When I played EQ2, the best way to get rare crafting components was through their cash shop.

Making precursors more available... Adding drops and coin bags and all that stuff that came with the fractals release, none of that will increase gem sales.  Follow the money. It's not there.

Wed Nov 28 2012 4:31PM Report
VancePants writes:

A games got to make money - even an enormous game like GW2. I'm sorry, especially an enormous game like GW2. These companies are bigger than your philosophies or ideals, and tactics like these are effective - plain and simple. 

 

In my experience MMORPGs are like a Casino. You go in and play your game, but at the end of the day: the house always wins.

Thu Dec 13 2012 7:19PM Report
TheDevice writes:

The simple fact that they've added karma boosters makes the game a bit pay to win. They completely took the original beautiful and original concept of the game and plagued it with WoW clone and pay to win diseases. 

KNOW THIS: this disease will spread. You can all be as hopefull as you want. It is truly the saddest thing to watch a die-hard fan who's clung on a glimmering hope that their game is not going to fall die inside when it finally becomes evident. THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINING. This game will get worse. I assure you. They will soak as much money out of your pockets as they can for about 3-4 years max. Near that 2-and-a-half mark, if the game is still active, they will begin hitting you hard. 

Nexon/NCsoft are completely aware and have contrived business plans on how this game will pan out. (Believe me when I tell you these things) GW2 is in the hands of very insensitive, unartistic, unimaginative, callous creatures bent on exeeding wealth. 

The graphics engine will be outdated in 3-4 years or less. Implementing new engines to keep up with modern standards are too costly. Nexon/NC are fully aware and account for this. The cash shop will simply gain momentem as that end-date draws nearer. Once they decide that the game looks too old, they will trash it, having also sucked out as much money as they possibly could within that time. 

This will not be sudden. It cant be. If it was, it would carry too much shock. It will happen slowly. You do not need to be an insider on a corporate level to recogize these facts. When historians warn of comming disasters its not because they can tell the future, its because they are wise to the past. This entire game is an engine. It is a carefully constructed to produce profit in the most efficient way possible until cashed. This is a simpel warning. 

I truly am sorry for those of you who are trying vigorously to deny anything that would obstruct their enjoyment for a game that was truly impressive at its begining (as many are). 

Sun Mar 17 2013 12:23AM Report
TheDevice writes:

The simple fact that they've added karma boosters makes the game a bit pay to win. They completely took the original beautiful and original concept of the game and plagued it with WoW clone and pay to win diseases. 

KNOW THIS: this disease will spread. You can all be as hopefull as you want. It is truly the saddest thing to watch a die-hard fan who's clung on a glimmering hope that their game is not going to fall die inside when it finally becomes evident. THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINING. This game will get worse. I assure you. They will soak as much money out of your pockets as they can for about 3-4 years max. Near that 2-and-a-half mark, if the game is still active, they will begin hitting you hard. 

Nexon/NCsoft are completely aware and have contrived business plans on how this game will pan out. (Believe me when I tell you these things) GW2 is in the hands of very insensitive, unartistic, unimaginative, callous creatures bent on exeeding wealth. 

The graphics engine will be outdated in 3-4 years or less. Implementing new engines to keep up with modern standards are too costly. Nexon/NC are fully aware and account for this. The cash shop will simply gain momentem as that end-date draws nearer. Once they decide that the game looks too old, they will trash it, having also sucked out as much money as they possibly could within that time. 

This will not be sudden. It cant be. If it was, it would carry too much shock. It will happen slowly. You do not need to be an insider on a corporate level to recogize these facts. When historians warn of comming disasters its not because they can tell the future, its because they are wise to the past. This entire game is an engine. It is a carefully constructed to produce profit in the most efficient way possible until cashed. This is a simpel warning. 

I truly am sorry for those of you who are trying vigorously to deny anything that would obstruct their enjoyment for a game that was truly impressive at its begining (as many are). 

Sun Mar 17 2013 12:38AM Report

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