UPDATE - Editor's Note: After this column was written, the Guild Wars 2 site was updated with a new community address to discuss the pre-order kerfuffle. Please take a moment to visit the GW2 site or read our MMORPG.com summary on the news page.
It seemed like an eternity as we all sat and waited for the announcement of an expansion to Guild Wars 2, and when it came it was like a breath of fresh air. That is until the next day when we began our wait to pre-order the expansion, Heart of Thorns. That has come, and rather than cheers, you will mostly hear an outrage from players all over the forum. Are players feeling too entitled, or has ArenaNet marred what should have been a good day?
I remember the day the pre-order for Guild Wars 2 arrived, and without any hesitation I ordered the collector’s edition. I don’t typically get these types of releases for games, but if it’s an IP I love playing, and it offers a good amount of awesome physical extras, money just flies out of my pocket. So the Guild Wars 2 Collector’s Edition was a no-brainer for me.
Fast forward years later as the pre-order for Heart of Thorns becomes available. I’m staring at my monitor, thinking of all the possible extras that a collector’s edition could include. When I finally run out of ideas, I click the link to see what ArenaNet has in store. My eyes quickly glance over the three options available, virtually skipping over Standard. I was seeking a much higher prize. Deluxe seemed interesting, but digital extras mean very little to me if I’m paying extra cash. I see the word Ultimate describing the last option, and I felt that this was it. I read all it offered, and my heart sank.
The forums have been blowing up with angry cries from players the world over. One major issue that's not sitting well with folks is paying $50 for the expansion, and new players who make this purchase get the core Guild Wars 2 game for free. I get what ArenaNet is trying to do, and it is smart. This makes it easier for new players to join in on the fun. which means new possible players to make gem purchases. Many players have expressed that this doesn’t feel right, feeling that the expansion cost is including a copy of the core game. While a response from Regina B. on the official forums states it’s just a bonus, it still hasn’t instilled confidence into the existing players who feel slighted. Why do new players get such an amazing value? Once again, it comes down to business.
Looking back at the original games, it was always reassuring that I got two new character slots so that I could try out the new professions without having to delete a character. To be honest, extra character slots are standard in any expansion for any MMO , the ones that I’ve played at least. So with past experiences, I do expect to get at least one new character slot. Turns out you have to spend a bit more and get the Deluxe package to get just one character slot. I can see why this is upsetting some people, and in a way it kind of rubs me the wrong way. This seems like a devious plot to try and pry another $25 out of everyone's pockets for something that is typically included in an expansion.
Both of these issues all deal with price. The base package is $50. Deluxe comes in at $75, and the Ultimate package knocks the wind out of your lungs at $100. Now remember, I bought the Collector's Edition for the base game, so why does the price seem unfair? For me, the glider skin, the mini pet, heck even a new finisher means nothing to me. I might be the only player who doesn’t care about mini-pets. I only have the ones the CE of the original game gives you, and I never use them. All these digital goodies seems pitiful when I compare them to the awesome original Collector’s Edition, with its impressive Rytlock statue, lovely art prints, and in depth behind the scenes making-of book. And that just names a few things, as it also included some digital extras. The HoT Ultimate package can’t even compare in value.
The price is steep, and considering that this will be a true expansion, and not like the stand alone games from the original series, HoT will actually carry less content than the core game. So why the price? That’s a good question, and I really wish I had the answer for it, but we have to remember that GW2 never has had a subscription. This box price will go a long way to further enrich the game with content after launch. Still, the price is high when compared to other expansions, and we're still missing out on hearing a lot about Heart of Thorns actual content. The absence of a physical Collector's Edition makes me sad. In the end it all comes down to the fact that Guild Wars 2 isn’t our game as much as we wish it was, it belongs to ArenaNet. If they want to charge $50, then they have every right to do so. We may not understand it, but that’s just how it is. All we can do is decide if we're willing to pull out our wallet or not, and something tells me that will speak volumes to all parties involved.