The debate has been roaring ever since Aguustino Fontevecchia released his article "World Of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2 and Vivendi: Activision's Achilles' Heel" for Forbes. Why the debate? Because the public is fickle. They quickly and easily forget what happened in the past. Or due to the fact that they are maybe new buyers to the market they have not learned this yet. That is true in the MMO gaming industry as well.
I have been in many betas as well as releases of MMOs where I have seen how those that play these games act within them. The trend in most games I have been in is that you buy the game. You are offered one free month to play the game and then you will start to pay a monthly fee.
Now since most of the MMO industry has come into existence after the console games became a nearly normal accoutrement within the average household. We all know games designed for these devises are made to be played in about a month on average. So we have these folks I have come to affectionately call "Console Players." So they hear about these great games out there like WoW, GW2, EQ, City of Heroes, DAoC, STO, FF XI and so on. These console players hear you can play the game for free for the first month. In the back of there minds, they think to themselves "That's more then enough time to beat the game, why pay a monthly fee." This statement is the problem.
MMOs are an offshoot of MUDs. These were text games that were designed to be played over a long period of time. They were part of the original computer games that came into existence in the mid 1980s. MMOs or virtual worlds as they are also known; were designed form the outset to be played over months if not years. Not days as console games are made to be played in. The problem is that MMOs started to become big business when a majority of the console players were becoming a part of the marketplace as consumers. They are also well versed in the use of the internet, but they were not well versed in how an MMO was designed to be played. This upset them and some due to their knowledge of the internet. They become more vocal then those that were use to how MUDs and MMOs were meant to be played. These people became an extremely vocal minority.
As usual; those with the loudest and most irritating voice gets heard. While those that are the mainstay and the bread and butter for MMOs gets ignored, but continue to support the MMOs they like. Thus making the game makers a ton of cash. So the game makers do their best to silence the vocal minority, but they don't catch on that this minority expects to beat a game in a month because that is what they are use to doing. Because of playing console games.
As a result they release games with PvP because this is what the console players demand, but it is not quite ready when the game is released due to finical limitations placed upon them by those funding them the seed money. So they release the game expecting to get an influx of cash from the release to bring in more bodies to get what people call the "endgame" out in the game. The problem with this is that it will take at least six months to get the endgame out and released in the game. So the vocal minority scream and complain in general chat within the game that there is no endgame. Being console gamers and expecting to beat the game in thirty days they don't realize that the MMOs were meant to be played over a longer period of time as mentioned earlier. So the bitter cycle repeats itself.
Now we have ArenaNet. Within the staff at Anet are those that are MMO enthusiast and players. They have been around since they were called MUDs. They have worked for companies that have made other MMOs and most likely tried to get their point across about the silent majority. Since it was those that were really supporting the MMOs that were and are out there, and they were not being listened too. So Anet is made and then released Guild Wars, which in a way answered some of these issues the silent majority was encountering, but it wasn't quite enough. So they decide to make the game that is due to release on Aug. 25th. Within this game they have solved the problem that was being caused by the vocal minority while at the same time keeping the silent majority interested.
How can I be so sure of this? Because I am one of the silent majority. I have heard time and again the vocal minority that always ruined my gaming experience after a week of game play till the free month was up and most of them went away to go buy a console game to play so they could beat it. Since they could never beat the MMO due to no endgame.
Now we have a game with the endgame built in from the start. Designed to satisfy the numerous tastes of not only the console player but the hardcore MMO players. Now we see since it has no monthly fees and so no need to quit once the month is over or start to pay to play. That with a well designed game with endgame built into it will cause those that are console players to learn something new.
Will they learn that a game can take longer then a month to play? That a game can take more then a year to play. That a game will have other things to offer. Other then wanting them to get the most powerful gear so they can be the big kid on the block for a few days. Till a new set of armor or weapon comes along to make them the losers.
Will they join in those that have been MMO players for decades? That play a game for the content, not the toys. For the social interaction, not that they can spout out they are the biggest child in the game. Will they learn to enjoy a game due to what is in it throughout the journey; not just the endgame?
Is the console gamer mentality the reason why WoW is launching its expansion thirty days after GW2 goes live? Yes.
Will GW2 hurt WoW? I think so.
Will it kill WoW? I don't think so.
Will it destroy the thirty day cycle trend? Maybe. I would hope so myself. Since I feel it is long over due.