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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

The GW2 Debacle: More Than A Matter of Lost Trust

Posted by Meleagar Friday November 16 2012 at 9:15AM
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So, to catch everyone up to date that isn't yet aware of it, Arenanet has introduced vertical progression in GW2, and has established a real distinction between "end game" and the rest of the game, which contradicts their manifesto and years of design and philosophy statements. Of course, it isn't shocking or even surprising that an MMOG development company broke the trust of players - that happens all the time.

What is shocking about this development is that ANET has a bona fide track record of adherence to its design principles.  Yes, they made a lot of promises in their GW2 Manifesto video and countless other media releases and interviews during the GW2 development process, but they also had seven years on record as being the guys that actually stuck to their principles. In a sea of unethical behavior and broken promises and shattered hopes and perhaps even outright fraud that is the MMOG genre, ANET stood as llightnouse in the darkness, guiding all those who couldn't stand the infinite gear and progression treadmills to their GW doorstep.

The fallout from this betrayal of trust cannot be overstated.  If one cannot trust a company like ANET with a proven, seven-year track record of ethical adherence to design principle, who can you trust?  Thousands, if not tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of players pre-purchased GW2 in a dramatic show of support for the principles of ANET and the promises they made for GW2, even in an atmosphere poisoned by many recently-released AAA titles that proved uninspiring.

ANETs "rebellion" against the MMOG status quo fueled a hype and excitement levels only matched, perhaps, by SWToR - and that title had a IP franchise behind it that is a worldwide phenomenon.  GW2 launch was a huge success, and going forward they had to add servers and expand capacities. ANET - at least for  a couple of months - actually delivered what nobody thought they would or could - a new kind of MMOG that lived up to their basic principles as promised.  Players indulged in unnecessary cash shop purchases to show their support for this rebel title that eschewed never-ending vertical progression, ad infinitum gear treadmilling and content-gating.  Their motto was "the whole game is the end game", and they delivered.  They didn't want you to have to stay logged in to keep up; they wanted you to feel fine about playing at your own convenience. Again, they delivered, but players stayed logged in because the game was so much fun.

And then, just ten weeks after launch, with no warning or discussion with the public, they ditched their 7-year game philosophy, betrayed all of their long-loyal customers and installed vertical progression, necessary gear-grinding, and gated content (formal end-game).  This kind of 180 degree turn-around  is perhaps only precedented by the SWG-NGE event.  It's nothing short of stunning, as the compiled thread on the GW2 forum suggests, nearing 10,000 responses (far more, if one counts all the comments culled out by the mods), and over 100,000 views. To call the fan base "outraged" wouldn't be accurate; they are devastated.

Why devastated? Because they (and I) believed we actually had a developer we could trust in ANET.  We put our heart, soul and cash into this game because we felt ANET could be trusted - because they had a seven-year reputation that earned them this trust.  Through five years of released info in various media outlets, they stayed true to that vision.  

How are we supposed to pre-purchase or show support for any company going forward, if not even a seven-year track record can be trusted? Why should anyone buy a game and invest in their F2P cash shop again? How is any future developer supposed to sell a customer base so badly burned and betrayed by ANET on a game they might be developing that promises a similar non-comformist, anti-status quo philosophy?

This staggering betrayal by Arenanet is more than just a debacle for GW2 and Arenanet; they have harmed the entire MMOG genre and have made it very, very difficult going forward for any company to break from the status quo and succeed, as potential customers will be extremely wary and unwilling to invest cash or time right off the bat - something necessary for a new title to succeed.

Arenanet has seriously poisoned the well for all future developers trying to break out of the conventional MMOG box.  They've cut their entire fan base adrift and have made it even more difficult for them to find an MMOG to enjoy in the future, without even so much as a dialogue or a reasonable explanation.  Bizarrely, ANET just gave hundreds of thousands of dedicated fans and supporters the finger and for no apparent good reason.

JobeArthur writes:

A spectacular betrayal...

Yes they seemed to have turned their backs on a loyal fan base in the search for more.

The game was ok the only thing it offered was the lack of gear treadmill as nothing else in the game is very good tbh. I fail to see how they will compete with the traditional MMO when their product is sub standard at best. One of the best things the game offered was a hit level cap and do what you want is dead after this patch as there will be nothing to do but get more shiny gear.. Reminds me when SWG released JEDI, the whole game died cause of that grind.

I look on the brightside of things.. The theme park is officially dead GW2 was the last hope of something different out of the theme park model, but in the end its just the same garbage now hopefully openeing up the way for games like EQ next and other sandbox games that are coming down the pipe. I mean really what does SOE have to loose by trying a sandbox as GW2 has just proven the only other type of game you create is sppon feeding gated content chasing shiny garbage..

Maybe people will be open to the idea of more open worlds and player interaction thats not related to raids or other PVE content and just go back to having fun exploring,crafting,building communties, ect..

Who knows and really who cares anymore as I and many other are pretty tired of the whole MMO theme park idea anyway.

Fri Nov 16 2012 10:33AM Report
Omegashock writes: This is just a rehash of every other forum post across multiple GW2 websites. Granted I'm sure this is an opinion post, but at least provide us with some useful information. Not the same old regurgitated Barrens-type toilet editorials.  Fri Nov 16 2012 11:05AM Report
Emeraq writes: I'm confused... You have armor and weapon progression through the entire game.. Yet players don't expect there to be better weapons and armor when new content is added? Am I wrong to think that new content usually introduces "bigger/badder/stronger' monsters that hit harder, and take longer to kill... For me it only makes sense for them to also bring in 'something', be it weapons or armor, to help you offset the stronger creatures.... Or is  it stronger skills that players want introduced.  Fri Nov 16 2012 7:30PM Report
Meleagar writes:


You are correct in that most MMOGs do have a form of endless gear-grind and power creep. The problem is that GW2 has been promoted as a non-gear-treadmill alternative to those games, of which there are plenty, for the past five years, most famously in their game "manifesto".  Exotic gear stats were supposed to be the ceiling forever, the same way they did in GW1 (which is why legendarys, much more rare and hard to get weapons, had the same stats as exotics).

That's what the outrage is about. They took our money and then first update out of the box they do exactly what they promised not to do.

Fri Nov 16 2012 8:32PM Report
Emeraq writes:

The gear that I saw was a minimal improvement at best, like +1 or +2 over the exotic gear you speak of. If it's really that big of a deal, just don't pursue the gear, and how does it hurt you if other players do pursue it? It doesn't effect you in PVE, but maybe in PvP?

In addition, if they introduced new skins, with the same stats as exotic gear, that you could NOT purchase but had to pursue in game, what the difference be in collecting that gear? Your still grinding gear but rather than for stats, for appearance sake......

Fri Nov 16 2012 9:41PM Report
Meleagar writes:


I didn't say it hurt me. I said they promised, promoted and sold me (and many others) on a design principle and game philosphy that, 10 weeks after release, they completely ditched.

The game was billed as one that I could play casually - meaning, play my way, enjoy my way, do stuff I found to be fun, and via that playstyle I would be able to eventually accrue the same "best" stat gear as anyone else because there would be a hard stat cap for gear for the life of the game,and that what would matter was the skill I had in playing my particular character, not the amount of time I spent in grinding gear.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong or evil with never-ending gear-griders and power creep; but there are dozens of games like that on the market. I stopped playing MMOGs a few years ago because I no longer wanted to play in such a system. I've been waiting for years to find a game to offer a hard stat cap where my casual playstyle could - eventually - get me the best stat stuff in the game.  That's what ANET promised and claimed GW2 was going to be.

Read the near 10,000 post thread on the official forums and you'll see that there are many, many people, like me, that came out of MMOG retirement or left other games specifically because of this point.  We don't want to play vertical gear-grinders.  We wanted a different kind of MMOG.

So, I think we have a right to be a little upset about ANET taking our money and then giving us the finger 10 weeks after launch.

Fri Nov 16 2012 10:09PM Report
Emeraq writes:

It's a difficult one for me to take one side or the other... Because there are players that ALSO paid their hard earned money to play this same game that don't mind the addition of new gear... So if those players are clamoring for one thing and the 'old faithful' want the gear currently in game to always be the best, how do you make everyone happy?

And  my other question still remains unanswered, what's the difference if you had to grind new gear for the aesthetic value, versus stat improvement?  Not saying that they will choose to implement new armor/weapon skins this way butIf they DO chose to implement new skins via new content and dungeon crawls rather than in the cash shop. Would grinding for those skins be any different, if you want something bad enough whether it be for the eye candy or for the stats, you're gonna do what it takes to get it, right?  No one cries about something looking better, they just go get it.. but if there's actually something that is statistically better, now there's a reason to cry.

Fri Nov 16 2012 11:10PM Report
Emeraq writes: If I may add, I'm just playing devils advocate here... If you saw what my main, level 63 character is wearing (level 56/57 gear) you'd realize gear is not my big focus. Fri Nov 16 2012 11:13PM Report
Meleagar writes: <span com_body"="">

You can't make everyone happy, Emeraq. That's the point.  There are dozens of major MMOGs already there out that serve the interests of those that want endless gear progression; GW2 has been promoted for 5 years and sold specifically as an alternative to that - and other - standard MMOG convention.

The difference between having to grind for stats vs choosing to grind for cosmetics is obvious: even if I choose not to grind for some cosmetic reward, I would still (eventually) be the stat equal of those that can spend 10x as much time in the game dungeon-grinding for such rewards.  In the original version of GW2 (and in GW1), I would know that eventually I could be on equal stat footing with anyone else; in this version of GW2, I know I never will be. 

That's just like any other MMOG out there when it comes to casual players, and directly in contradiction to what was promised.  I can't ever be anything in GW2 - or WoW, or Aion, or Tera, or Rift, or EQ, or EQ2, or Lineage, or Lineage II, or Age of Conan, Champions Online, Final Fantasy XI, etc. - other than 2nd or 3rd or 4th rate when it comes to gear stats, excluded by gear checks (inherent or via group joining restrictions)  from all sorts of content, and at a disadvantage in WvWvW.

Again, I'm not saying it's a "bad" mechanic; I'm just saying a lot of us specifically bought this game because we believed (based on 5 years of ANET media) that eventually we'd have top end, competitive stats and not be always falling farther and farther behind the player power curve because of our playstyle.

Sat Nov 17 2012 5:47AM Report
Shiftyt writes: I agree with the OP.  I feel like I have been dooped.  I got into GW2 because I don't want to grind and that is what they promiced.  I understand that alot of peeps that played other MMorpg's (WoW) came to this game.. great, but don't try to change it into WoW / EQ or one of their clones.... But I guess its to late for that. Sun Nov 18 2012 6:17AM Report
grindwars2 writes:

I think it's about time we get over the betrayal and the dismay and start GETTING BACK AT THEM. Get your refunds people!! You have a 6 month window to get it back. I know all fo us april pre-purchasers got shafted, but we can still charge back.


Stop taking this shit like little sheep! They screwed you over! Do something!

Mon Nov 19 2012 8:08AM Report
Meleagar writes:


My question is, if you get a full refund and/or a chargeback, won't your account be terminated and you won't be able to post on the official forums?  While I applaud your intent, right now I'm more interested in still being able to post on their site instead of diffusing the opposition to this change too much.

Mon Nov 19 2012 8:30AM Report
Meleagar writes: I've just heard that you can still use the forums even after you get a refund, so getting a refund will result - apparently - in no loss of ablity to still be heard on their forums about it. Mon Nov 19 2012 8:40AM Report
sum12stupid4u writes: I feel like most people are missing the point. This isn't about whether or not we like or dislike the game mechanics being implemented, its about a promise that was made to us. And I simply don't enjoy being lied to. I spent a long time busting my ass in Guild Wars 1 (awesome game, by the way, where your stats were always as good as the next person's and all grinding was purely optional and aesthetic) for 50/50 GWAMM to take advantage of everything I could get out of GW2. Bought the expensive copy, pre-ordered it, played some beta, and started playing actual content at pre-launch. The game was JUST as awesome as all of us had expected, with exotics fairly easy to get and the mats easily farmed if necessary. One week my server is full of happy, content players, doing awesome in WvW and doing dungeons in their off time. Then Lost Shores is released, the price of T6 mats are now x10, the price of Precursors are dropped almost problematically, and my entire WvW guild is doing Fractals 24/7 while you can hear crickets chirping in WvW, and normal dungeons are almost impossible to get teams for. I've literally NEVER seen a game piss so many people off in one update. Not only did that update give the middle finger to the awesome legacy of Guild Wars 1, but it was a huge F__k You to anyone who plays the game for the WvW element. Fri Nov 23 2012 1:55AM Report
sum12stupid4u writes: Emeraq: While I agree with your assessment that there are people who don't mind the new gear stats being released, the only metaphor that I can use in this situation is its a "human centipede." Those people get excited about new stats and rush to get the new gear via endless hours of tedious grinding in something that is MAYBE fun to do a total of 1.5 times. But, *ahem*, what was wrong with exotic stats, exactly? Its a never-ending circle of Sh** eating grind. There is literally NO reason to get excited about higher stats, when the gear that was available was already perfectly adequate, and you know full well they will keep raising the stat bar and quickly outdating your new gear that you just worked your butt off to get. And to be honest, I couldn't give an actual fk about people who want higher stat gear. If you want the game to be easier, you probably shouldn't be playing a skill-based MMO with a necessary dodge function. What MIGHT have been nice, is new insignias. Currently the only way to get alternate variations of the crafted insignias was via dungeons. New TYPES of gear would've been cool as hell, but the one thing you DON'T do is mess with a player's stats. There is such thing as a buyer's guarantee, and false advertising. At the moment, this stinks of false advertising. Fri Nov 23 2012 2:40AM Report
Meleagar writes: <span com_body"="">

It's not jumping to conclusions when both Linsey Murdock and and Chris Whitside state flatly that this is the beginning of their item progression system.  Ascended gear is being released slowly and it has tiers, and the infusions are progressive.   With ONLY the Ascended and the infusions they have introduced a long-term "item progression initiative".

The stated reason has changed from addressing the "rewards" gap to addressing the "effort" gap between exotics and legendaries. Both of these are lies. There was no rewards gap to start with (they had the same stats), and if you're just addressing an effort gap there's no reason to bump the stats.

Fri Nov 23 2012 8:08AM Report
wordiz writes: Thanks for the laugh guys. I needed it. Fri Nov 23 2012 8:41PM Report
mysticaluna writes: wish we did have a game that was horizontal, because I have spent a lot of time raiding over the years which was fun, but far to grindy... its all farming mobs that have no challenge over and over to gear out the guild.  Now, if you could keep the same gear guildmates could keep getting challenging harder and harder raids released in updates, and actually be challenged instead of having to grind boring farm zones.... Would it be so wrong for us to concentrate on difficulty challenge and strategy instead of pretty shiny overpowering unbalanced new equipment like on Everquest 2 and WoW? Where old raid gear is instantly trashed for the next expansion's solo gear...  Mon Dec 10 2012 11:02PM Report writes:
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