There has been some expressed concern over GW2’s long-term appeal. I think the concern is somewhat valid. With no item chase, no long-term leveling progression, and no real ‘point’ beyond moving your server up in the standings (which will only appeal to a sub-section of the PvP community, so not exactly a mainstream thing), why exactly are people going to be logging in a few months after release?
In more than one way GW2’s WvW resembles DAoC’s RvR. DAoC did not have a retention problem, so why would GW2?
While DAoC PvP was fun, I don’t believe that alone is what kept people playing/paying. Realm pride mattered and was a factor, but I believe it was more of a result than a cause. Boiled down, what REALLY kept people playing/paying was progression. Realm ranks were slow to come and nearly impossible to max out, and getting BiS gear was also a long-term grind (pre-ToA, but talking about DAoC should always be done in pre-ToA mode), but those two things meant you always had a way to improve your character, even if very slowly and by a tiny margin.
That personal progression combined with group-based gameplay made DAoC work. Review MMO history with that formula in mind, and the results should not surprise you. GW2 lacks (intentionally) the progression aspect, and I’ve always believed that progression is what ultimately makes MMOs work. I don’t think it’s an accident that the game with the best long-term character progression (EVE) is the most successful MMO from a retention/growth perspective.
Just like SW:TOR going F2P won’t matter, I don’t think GW2 lacking a sub fee really matters either. Yes, it will make stepping away and returning easier, but at the end of the day you still need a reason to actually return, and right now I’m not seeing one.