The death of Guild Wars 2

Tonight Guild Wars 2: The Dream dies, to be replaced by Guild Wars 2: The Reality, and for many the best MMO ever will cease to exist. Fear not, the cycle of life in MMO land will go on, and the next ‘savior’ should be with us in a month or two.

Not since Warhammer Online have we seen a game get this much hype pre-release (Tortanic was 90% corporate hype, as all but a few (paid?) fans believe it was going to work. Rift was very 50/50 pre-release), and the similarities are interesting. Both games came from trusted studios with MMO experience, with well-known brands, and very positive beta feedback. Both games share a familiar themepark base, but claim to mix it up significantly thanks to X and Y (PQs/Events, RvR/WvW, hotbar+ combat). Both games provide plenty of PvE content, but are ultimately relying on PvP for the ‘real’ ‘endgame’.

And while I don’t believe GW2 will share a fate similar to WAR, where the bubble burst fairly quickly and crushing flaws never get fixed, I don’t believe it’s totally out of the realm of possibility. It’s easy now to look back on WAR and say ‘broken’, but even deep into beta everything seemed to be working like a charm and people were LOVING the game. ‘White shades’ is what people today remember about WAR hype, but look back to 2009 and you will realize the hype was just as loud from fans in beta as it was from a guy lying about bears.

And even if GW2 does deliver, and it is a solid game, it will still disappoint some. There are plenty of people who have been ‘playing’ GW2: The Dream for 3-4 years, yet how many of them are going to be playing GW2: The Reality for that long? How many of them will have MORE fun actually playing than they did ‘playing’ with others on forums/blogs/podcasts/etc, dreaming about what might be? Going ‘all in’ on the MMO hype cycle can itself be all-consuming, and what does the software actually have to deliver to justify those years of waiting, reading, analyzing, and hoping? Are those people going to be satisfied just having fun playing 2-4 months after waiting 2-4 years?

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in beta, Guild Wars, Mass Media, MMO design, Warhammer Online. Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to The death of Guild Wars 2

  1. Ahtchu says:

    I’m a bit in amazement that you would even compare GW2 with WAR. The staying power for GW2 is quite obvious, and at least you’ve outlined as much. No, I’m not a fanboy of the title- I’m actually passing on this one.
    One thing you didn’t speak to is how the hemorrhaged players from TOR and WoW will finally have cleared their eyes from the WoW model haze and will have a polished, aestetically pleasing, stable MMORPG for them to fall into. The sub model doesn’t hurt in this regard either.

  2. SynCaine says:

    “The staying power for GW2 is quite obvious”

    It is? What is it?

    • Ahtchu says:

      Offhand, ArenaNet is connected with their customers at a very intimate level (ref: story about baby-happy dad who gets daughter added to game as NPC with special questline) vs WARs disconnect with their own staff, let alone customers. The ‘buy once, play forever’ model. The very, very pleasing visuals (best in an MMO to date?). Polished engine (esp compared to WAR). Community involvement (forgoing bigger conventions for smaller ones for demos and news updates). We could go on?
      Any half-wit can see GW2 is bigger than the sum of its individual parts. Any product to which you can say such will have staying power. Granted, until some suit with lawyers in tow shows up.

      • SynCaine says:

        By 2009 standards, WAR’s dev videos were seen as a revolution. The forum interaction was as well, since at the time the standard was Blizzard, and well, yea. Plus it was Mythic, who made DAoC, and now had the best fantasy IP not called D&D. They were actually going to focus on PvP unlike WoW who trashed it. The collision detection, the PvE/PvP zone mix, the PQs, the healers-who-could-fight, the huge number of classes, all those races, that third faction right around the corner, etc.

        The problem is people are looking at 2012 GW2 hype/expectations and looking at 2009 WAR as if it too was released in 2012. In 2015, what Anet and GW2 did for hype/expectations is going to look terrible, and we are going to have hordes of people telling us how 2015MMOX is going to fix all the horrible things Anet did when they screwed up GW2.

        Again, go back and read some blogs from 2009 and tell me they don’t sound like 2012 GW2 praise-posts.

        • Anjin says:

          I have been thinking the same thing. I can’t believe you caught an apologist on in your very first comment. Good job!

        • Ahtchu says:

          From the outside looking in, hype-wise, sure. The player perspective is the player perspective. I didn’t address that. I was addressing staying power addressed by quality of development approach, not hype. Apparently somewhere there was a disconnent. Some of the things like collision detection and healers-made-fighters like you mention are mere flavor that feeds right into player hype, having nothing to do with ‘game quality’. (I, for one, found the collision system to be disjointed)
          @Anjin: clearly yours was a troll comment, but I’ll bite. Where exactly was I apologizing again? Read the post again. Good job!

      • spinks says:

        That was one customer who happens to be a journalist on an online MMO site. How are they connected with everyone else?

        • Stratagerm says:

          Yes, thanks for pointing that out. He’s hardly typical, not only is he a journalist but he’s a well-known blogger who is generally cheerleading the pre-release hype for new MMOs (he got his start with WAR). The sidebar on his blog now features countdown clocks for upcoming MMO releases, and he often pays extra to purchase the sucker’s, er, collector’s editions. Now that GW2 is actually out look for him to begin transitioning to TESO anticipation.

          It’s no surprise that ArenaNet took him up on the character name. Quid pro quo has been going on with reviewers forever, it’s just marketing.

          I read his blog, though.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, Syp has the truly annoying habit of being upbeat and positive about new games. I guess he did not get the memo that all real gamers are bitter and blase about every new game.

        • Stratagerm says:

          There’s a natural tension between game publishers and players. An overly positive attitude can make a journalist or blogger seem like the publisher’s advocate, not the player’s.

          Were I employed in the game industry I’d love him to death, but as a mere paying customer, I read him with caution.

      • eudaimonean says:

        Ok, so you’ve identified ArenaNet’s differentiators as (1) Community management (2) No subscription (3) Graphics (4) Engine/graphics, and (5) Community management.

        I’m sorry, all this stuff is nice and all, but I’m not seeing any of it as “obviously” guaranteeing staying power, with the possible exception of point two (though note that there are plenty of F2P games with item 2 as well…)

  3. Anonymous says:

    SynCaine, are you really this thick-headed and moronic or are you just plain stupid?

    Stick to your shitty EVE articles that nobody gives two fucks about.

  4. kalex716 says:

    Bravo sir.

  5. rulez says:

    How can GW2 still be a dream for anyone who cares, with so much beta time to be had during the past months?

  6. Pitrelli says:

    hmm I think its pretty obvious that people will be disappointed. I’ve not heard of any game that pleased everyone.

    With regards to WAR I played beta and knew it was going to fall flat on its face, I liked the pvp at lower levels but the PvE was terrible and felt tacked on. With guild wars 2 I guess its a lets wait and see, the higher level zones and dungeons are still unknown quality wise but if they are as good as what I have experienced so far then mark me as happy.

    After week 1 I’ll be playing pretty casual so I hope its the game that it promises to be and keeps me playing for the long run.

    As for the anonymous comment ‘Stick to your shitty EVE articles that nobody gives two fucks about.’ I’d rather he didnt, I enjoy SynCaines writing but not even he can make EvE sound exciting to me. I’d rather he stuck to fishing for bites……….. even if I’ve been the one on the hook a few times. Nerd rage is a wonderful thing.

  7. professer says:

    I stopped living ‘The Dream’ after being disappointed by Vanguard and Warhammer. By then I had learned not to get hyped up into upcoming games. Just let them be, and hope one strikes your fancy.

    I know there will always be people who get caught up in the hype train years before a release, but don’t most reasonabele people eventually learn to give that up and be realistic? They’re inflicting their own suffering upon themselves. It’s silly and a waste of time/energy.

    • kalex716 says:

      Yea I agree with you 100%, but i still often buy in anyway as I did with SWTOR despite my dispositions and being able to see the shortcomings from a mile away.

      The reason why is because even a bad MMO is still fun when it has all the buzz of the launch under its sails, and all your friends are going to be playing it too, and they get excited, and you pick servers, and nerd out selecting your race and class, and deciding on names etc. Experiencing the initial push for levels, and connecting with old gamers you lost touch with who you find out are playing it too etc..

      These things are all part of that “Dream” so to speak, and they do at least translate into enough fun for me to make a game like this still at least worth the box price. In guild wars 2’s case, the box price might be all i ever have to get into it for. I won’t be butt hurt at all about this if i’m not playing it any more a month or 2 from now.

      Its probably worth it to me regardless of its long leg.

  8. Drew says:

    Well done, Syn. You may have just written the post that will topple your previous “most viewed/most commented” after what I witnessed on Azuriel’s blog.

  9. Zyref says:

    GW2 will survive as nicely as GW1 did since their business model just needs you to buy the game. That said, I hope the microtransaction bit will just fade away =| ~ I’d prefer to pay $20/mo to play.

  10. Paragus says:

    I have no idea how long GW2 will be fun. It costs the same price as Diablo 3 so if I get that much playtime out of it or more I think I won, which is likely just based on the amount of PvE content.

    WAR’s beta vs GW2 beta, I’d say there are some big differences. In the WAR beta there wasn’t 144 different crowd control abilities because it was low level. Since GW2 gives you most of your abilities relatively early, and lets you play the end game right in the beta, there is a far less chance of finding some major flaw that was missed in beta. I think what we have seen is what well get for better or worse. Did WAR ever put in those capital cities that got axed a few weeks before release?

    Even if GW2 ends up being a debacle, it will be impossible to measure with real numbers since there is no subscriptions to count.

    • Anonymous says:

      They were never added in, and their absence was known LONG before it was announced that they weren’t going to be released.

  11. Nazgum says:

    I seem to remember warhammer beta quite different, with massive pleas to not go live throughout the beta forums, and confusion as to why marketing was hyping things that did not exist in beta…

    Over the course of the last 6 months or so leading to the actual release of the game it was feature cut, feature cut, feature cut, feature cut… til, “we’re out of money and have to launch; we’ll add that other stuff later”…

    Warhammer basically reskinned daoc, used the same engine and tons of the same code, and rushed a game from concept to release in something crazy like 24 months, bragging about how fast they can make an mmo at the time.

    I fail to see any of this in gw2, and as far as the beta to launch of these games, find warhammer a strange choice to compare to gw2.

    • Shadow says:

      They did the “reskin, 24 (actually 36)-month development” thing, but then got purchased by EA and had an additional 24 months iirc to get things right. They cut a lot of things out toward the end sadly. A drastic shift in direction earlier on also caused problems consistently down the road. The original game-concept did not include RvR lakes or capturable keeps: the PvP was entirely scenarios, but old DAoC players desperately wanted ORvR, and so Mythic made a scope change. Scope changes, unless handled with expert care and precision, rarely turn out well.

      • SynCaine says:

        Even with all of that, WAR was a lot of fun in beta. People should go look back on various blogs in 2009. They sound very GW2-like.

        Again, not saying GW2 is going to play out like WAR, but in terms of hype and player excitement, I think its a very valid comparision the day before release.

        • Pitrelli says:

          Hmm I’d say that WAR was far and away more hyped than GW2, I’ve not seen as much ‘WoW killa’ talk……..although maybe cause MoP is the WoW killa *shrug*

        • SynCaine says:

          MoP is the stick that is being used to hit the corpse that WotLK left and Cata buried. Plus calling something a WoW-killer today would be an insult rather than a compliment.

        • Pitrelli says:

          haha this is true…… if only i had paid attention to you years ago ;) I was a tad disappointed you have no commentary on MoP or the cinematic yet tbh.

        • Xyloxan says:

          But, I wouldn’t be surprized if the number of reactivated + new accounts for MoP exceeded the number of subs for GW2…

        • Pitrelli says:

          ofc but then lets see the drop off after the yearly subs run out……and while we are at it lets take into account wows asian players inflating ‘subscriber numbers’ on their pay by hour rate.

        • SynCaine says:

          On the day MoP releases? I would be. WoW’s numbers are far lower than even what Blizzard reports, since so many people took the bait on the D3 deal. Add in that MoP is… well MoP, and the fact that GW2 will still have that new MMO smell going, and I would be very, very surprised if WoW sees a rush of people returning like it did even for Cata.

        • Shadow says:

          Perhaps just a symantic quible, but it should be noted that GW2 doesn’t have “subs”. So a 1::1 comparisson isn’t really an appropriate, or even possible, measurement.

  12. theJexster says:

    Tonight, we are young, were gonna set GW2 on fire, and shoot higher, than the keep waaaalllsss.

    I’m as excited as I am worried, the last few tests were really rough. Crosses fingers.

  13. Chewmbacka says:

    Some years ago when developer companies didnt or couldnt hype or beta test their mmo products (or the beta testing was quite restricted compared to now) , us ,the young and willing customers of self immersion and skill show off just bought the damn thing and judged upon our limited at the time experience . I remember vividly that i had tried almost every single title from 2005 and onwards .The mmo craze itself was too powerful at the time and personally I had bought many mmo games that of course couldnt live up to the expectations . At the time the “cycle” ,as Syncaine put it ,of an mmo was surely shorter and disappointment or the excitement that caused ,less exposed on the media .
    Nowdays ,whenever a major developer announces an mmo ,the party commences. Hordes of honest fans,fanbois,social networks,pc game sites,mmo game sites,blogs,yogcasts etc(the list is vast) ,bravely begin to popularize and advertsise the product ,years before its release and months after its complete or not failure. The swtor case is a magnificent example of how that works.
    Things have changed so much the past 5 years. Unfortunately most of these benefit every single mmo that comes out every now and then.

  14. bhagpuss says:

    2-4 months works for me and I think for a lot of people. That\’s an excellent return on investment. Of course, my investment is the cost of the box, several highly enjoyable beta weekends and a clutch of my most-viewed blog posts so I\’m already pretty much up on the deal.

    My days of investing all my time in one MMO are over and good riddance. Truth be told, they never existed. I\’m as far as its possible to be from being bored or jaded by the genre. Most of what I see and play I like and some of it I *really* like. I\’m more interested in sampling as many MMOs as I can than I am in moving into one and living there indefinitely.

    If I have any worries about GW2 its that it might grab me sufficiently that I *do* end up getting stuck there and going native. I only have the same old 24 hours in the day and I\’d prefer to spread the MMO love.

    • Derrick says:

      I definitely think that this is something modern MMO’s need to take into more serious consideration these days. That a large majority of players simply aren’t going to stick around for a long time. The WoW days of investing absurd amounts of time into a game are long gone – and good riddance.

      The key then is managing expectations for budgets, and designing the game to account for that. Of course, for an MMO you’re always better off with players being active players (even if they don’t spend a large percentage of their time in game) then people playing daily 12 hour sessions then leaving after a month.

      I think that these games would do much better being designed for smaller time investments either per play session or in frequency of play session, and larger reward on longer term play. Eve does well with that model: You continue to grow over time irregardless of how much you play, and quite a bit of “content” is gated based on that overall time.

      Generally speaking, you can’t rush it, and that’s a good thing. If you make rushing that progression easy, then people will do it and run through everything quickly (see: unsub after a month or two). If you make it unpleasant, people burn themselves out making the game suck in order to progress faster.

      No to say that you should copy Eve as it’s somewhat of a perfect storm of features in a niche setting, but you should learn something from it to apply to your own niche.

      And definitely don’t fool yourself. There are no mass market MMO’s anymore, and I doubt there ever will be again.

  15. Xyloxan says:

    I would argue that hype, like sex, sells. Marketing departments know it and gladly provide fuel to fanboys.

  16. carson63000 says:

    When I first got into WAR’s beta, I was a little disappointed compared to what they’d been promising. But I figured it had time for polish and improvements.

    I certainly don’t recall “everything seemed to be working like a charm and people were LOVING the game.”

    Only problem was, literally every single patch that dropped during beta, I thought made the game worse. They seemed to be introducing bugs faster than they fixed them (sure symptom of an out-of-control codebase).

  17. zaphod6502 says:

    MMO’s are dead .. long live MMO’s!

  18. Max says:

    Syncaine trollin’ to get hits.

    GW2 will be successful , more so than GW1. Yeah it wont trump WoW, but then again it was never their goal to do so, just sell boxes (which they already sold plenty) and expansions (which will come out regularly)

  19. Aeri says:

    One of the big differences I can remember from the WAR beta compared to the GW2 beta is how much changed at the very end.

    In WAR, there was a HUGE difference between the end of closed beta – which was mostly ‘focus tests’, and the start of open beta. There were a significant amount of skill changes from CB > OB, not many of which were ‘helpful’ or ‘balanced’ changes, IMO. Also, a fairly large portion of the CB community actually were there trying to test the game and make it better.

    OB saw the huge mass of players start trying to find the fastest path to cap for XP and renown, which led to a vast amount of pure scenario grinding, since the RvR lakes were tiny rewards in comparison. Since there was less actual ‘testing’ going on during OB, many of the skill changes that were just made ended up pushing through to launch, which also didn’t help. This meant that a lot of the data gathered during the closed beta tests were fairly worthless, because it didn’t represent the correct player actions.

    There were a lot of other problems, yes, but a big portion of why the game ‘failed’, IMO, was purely do to what happened during OB/launch, that wasn’t fixed immediately.

    In comparison, while not everyone ‘tested’ the game during GW2’s BWEs, they weren’t designed to focus on a single portion of the game at a time, so there will probably be a much better representation of player actions when compared to launch. ANet was also very good about trying to fix and balance things in GW1, which will hopefully translate over into GW2, if there end up being major problems at launch.

  20. theJexster says:

    well called sir, well called

  21. Julian says:

    It doesn’t matter if Syp plays internet space spreadsheet, it’s a ver good point. It’s gonna fall short for a bunch of people.

  22. Stratagerm says:

    Syncaine, do you mean grassroots/fanboi pre-release hype? Because I thought that SW:TOR had a huge amount of hype, but of course most of it was top down, paid for by EA.

  23. whatever says:

    There is nothing magic about WAR or Rift failure. Gersh is good at sucking up and major class flaws were never fixed because of him.

    It’s not “oh what went wrong, no one could ever see”. Rift had Rogues as some sort of “support class” with low DPS, low single-target healing, and a decent, though hard, tank spec.

    Now, more than 1/4 of Rift players picked Rogue. They picked it wanting to DPS. They were then told no DPS for them. They tried healing. Not so good except off-heals maybe. And Chloromancer does healing better. So they could “support” or tank. And not many people, period, like tanking.

    Do not tell +25% of your base to “bleep off”. They will become unhappy. Other flaws were present, but there was nothing odd about Rift’s troubles.

  24. prebzie says:

    GW2 is going to do fine and it’s going to have a ton of players for years to come. GW1 did it after all and GW1 was a pretty horrible game to most MMO players.

    But GW2 is not going to be the home of all the mouthbreathing post-wow fanboys who have been looking for a new MMO since they quit wow. No game ever is.

  25. Dril says:

    So Syncaine, when are you and Azuriel joining Massively?

  26. Mr. Meh says:

    The only thing I would like you to go ninja edit in your article…

    “Go look back at **2008**…”

    WAR was release Sept 2008. In 2009 blogs on WAR would not have been all that gleaming about Beta impressions. It would have been more … angrier bloggers.

    I also agree with Sprinks. They really ninja feature cut WAR from BETA to Launch. It would take 2 years to patch WAR to a suitable state to only fuck it up with a fake expansion.

    Me thinks that is why they sold 800K but only 600K showed up to play. That whole buy a copy and we’ll give you full access to betas trick.

  27. chris says:

    Someone lives in their head you should come out sometime.

  28. AAnet are liars says:

    Causal wars 2 – PvE is a snoozefest, dungeons are just grinds, only one dungeon has multiple path selections(TA) and even then it’s still just a static path of three. Game was way overhyped and released way too soon, arena net are working on pumping out content while game breaking bugs go unfixed -_- (path 1+2 from AC anyone you got a 50% of it bugging up and you getting no ‘reward’ at the end while wasting 30 minutes to an hour). There is some ‘fun’ but the bad imo outweigh them, best to wait a year until they’ve smoothed all the crap out and even then it’s only a mediocre game at best because it’s too easy just as every other MMO to date they make the game accessible to everyone so the difficulty is a joke (yes the explorer dungeon/fractal is a joke minimal team work at best).

    The only saving grace is WvW and even then that gets tedious because a zerg>skill or how the developers have coded the game zerg = skill, if you have more numbers than the other server you win, that’s basically WvW in a nutshell (sure if it’s 3:1 ratio you can still fight well in WvW but you won’t hold anything for long or win, your server is a low pop compared to the other 2 server then you automatically lose lol). And if you want PvP to be fair sPvP is a joke too because it is so far removed from the game it feels like a crappy little addon, no one cares if your good there and you don’t even obtain anything of value except some crappy points for crappy looking gear skins. Finally they are going back on their word by adding a gear treadmill to the game because they don’t have any original ideas for end game content and are trying to please all the whiners.

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