I feel like I should post about GW2 going F2P, only I can’t call it a ‘downgrade to the minor leagues’ because the game wasn’t a sub MMO to begin with. Side-grade I guess? Which, thinking more about it, is right in line with everything GW2; it’s not outright bad, just some middle level of meh.
The business model change, along with what the expansion is bringing (raiding, and basically other ‘end-game’ stuff), is of note however. Out of all of the game’s many flaws, the biggest one IMO is the lack of long-term interest/progression. At the start, Anet wanted it both ways. They wanted the business model to be like a single-player, one-off purchase, but to support the game like an MMO with frequent updates and players sticking around long-term, without actually designing the game to support long-term playing. This change confirms that wasn’t working out, even after the in-game cash-shop was greatly expanded after release.
The root problem circles back to why the sub model is really the only model for successful MMOs; in order to support your game like an MMO, you need a constant source of revenue, which is what the sub model provides. A cash shop is great at hooking whales, and if you hook enough of them you can get a huge, though most often temporary, boost in cash (that you will likely make a big PR release about only to go silence after). But long-term the model simply doesn’t work in the US/EU (Asia is very different) for MMOs. Either you let sales diminish, or you try to keep them up by escalating the cash shop. Either way, things will eventually come crashing down.
MMOs aren’t League of Legends with its 100+ million active players. MMOs aren’t LoL where selling skins fits perfectly with the game, and where creating skins has zero impact on gameplay and the drive of the other developers to improve things. MMOs have a very difficult time not slipping into Pay4Power with their cash shop, even if the intended goal is just to sell ‘convenience’. MMOs also have a hard time convincing people that selling ‘convenience’ isn’t driven by making the free part of the game cripplingly terrible if you don’t pay. There are no hotbars to sell in LoL.
GW2 is likely, almost by default, the best F2P MMO out, and it’s fitting that the ‘best’ F2P MMO is one that most try, find decent, but ultimately don’t honestly care all that much about. That ‘achievement’ is the ceiling for F2P; you made something people don’t hate. Huge congrats. Now make something people actually like, and that $15 a month will start rolling in, consistently, for years to come.