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Guild Wars 2 Column: FREEdom!

By David North on February 21, 2012

In a few ways ArenaNet is going to be freeing us from several woes we find in MMOs.  But one thing Guild Wars 2 would be doing for players is freeing us from silly subscription fees.  Thanks to mobile and Facebook games, players are looking at things differently.  We even see a lot of MMOs switching to free to play models, with micro-transactions and having the choice of special memberships.  We have all seen the haters of subscription fee players out on the net, but with Guild Wars 2 being free to play, the potential for growth is limitless.

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You go to the store, and you purchase a game.  You take it home and install it on your computer.  As you watch the progress bar continue to move, your excitement builds.  You’ve been waiting for this moment for a while, and it’s about to become a reality.  The next thing that should happen is the game boots up, and you can begin creating a character.  Sadly some players experience a screen that asks for credit card information and payment options.  Didn’t they already buy the game?  Yes, and I too have experienced this very uncomfortable situation.  You end up paying a subscription fee, and you wonder what that money is being used for.


You shouldn’t have to pay to have access to all the good stuff.

They say the money is used to fund future projects for their game, and to keep the maintenance up on the servers.  For some games I have played, I believed this.  For others, my server was always down, the game had several glitches, and any new content was very rare.  I felt like my money was just being taken from me.  I understand servers require maintenance, but the fee just seems so steep.  I always felt cheated.

Guild Wars was free to play.  You bought the game, inserted your code, and off you go to the land of Tyria.  In all the years of playing Guild Wars, I think I have seen more updates than any game I have paid a subscription fee for.  I also never had an issue with the server being down, and no serious glitches that messed with my game play.  Now how does that make sense?

I’m sure it wasn’t cheap for ArenaNet to keep things running smoothly, and continue to monitor the players to keep the game as balanced as possible.  But one thing I think that kept Guild Wars going was that they kept the new installments coming.   This helped to keep money flowing in, allowing them to keep going.  For Guild Wars 2, traditional expansions may be a good possibility.  We will likely see them work like Eye of the North did, requiring your character to be a certain level.  Since the game areas are in more detail for Guild Wars 2, we may also see requirements, such as, the need to go through a certain amount of the game to reach the new content.  By pulling this off, they keep their game evolving, and players keep giving them support.

Another thing I would also like to see is the possibility of new maps being introduced to PvP.  There is a very good selection of maps to play in currently, but after playing through them over a long period of time, you will like to try something else.  To keep things fresh ArenaNet may look towards a method that is similar to the Map Pack DLC content we see for console games.  Those work by  purchasing a download that gives you access to even more maps in the game.  The only thing I ask is that they price it fairly, which I believe they will.  PvP is a huge experience, nearly as big as the RPG elements of the game.  Adding Map packs here and there, in between large expansions, may be a great way for players to continue giving ArenaNet their support.

To a lot of people, this sounds like a lot of work, and they’re right. It’s takes a lot to keep things coming along. ArenaNet’s development history with Guild Wars should put us all to at ease though.   They kept new content in development all those years, keeping player interest high.  When player interest is high, players are playing the game.  When players play the game, they buy the extra goodies.  The support is given back to the developer and a subscription fee isn’t required.  In the end, ArenaNet has learned that if you treat players right, listen to what they have to say, and give them respect, the players will do the same.  Happy players will always support their favorite games.  That’s how I know Guild Wars 2 will always be subscription free.

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