Thursday, September 3, 2015

Guild Wars 2: Not Really Free-To-Play

On Saturday, ArenaNet confirmed that Guild Wars 2 would finally launch an expansion, Heart of Thorns. I'm not saying I'm excited for the game, but I've already pre-ordered the expansion. The expansion doesn't launch until 23 October. On an unrelated note, I'm taking that Friday off from work and I highly doubt anyone will see me logged into EVE that weekend.

The other bit of news to come out of PAX Prime was that Guild Wars 2 is going free-to-play. Well, not really. Just the original content. But that's only 80 levels. One thing I looked up is that if someone doesn't already have Guild Wars 2, you can download the client and apply the code for the expansion to upgrade to a paid account.

Why would I do that since I bought the original game and have a level 80 ranger? Well, I should say, had a level 80 ranger. I forgot my password and can't find the serial number to my copy of the software, so I'm out of luck. But that's okay, because I wanted to roll a new character anyway. Of course, I then found out about druids. Hmmm. Oh well.

When any game turns to the free-to-play model, the developer needs to worry about real money trading and all the evils that go along with that. ArenaNet addressed the subject in their announcement:
"A game like Guild Wars 2 lives and dies by its community. Our goal is to protect our current community but also to make it as easy as possible for you to introduce the game to your friends, to recruit new players into your guilds, to challenge new players to Player vs. Player matches, and so on.

"It’s trickier than you’d think to accomplish both objectives. We have to ensure that free accounts can’t be used to abuse the game or its current players (through botting, cheating, spamming, or RMT) while still making sure that free accounts get the authentic Guild Wars 2 experience.

"Here are the changes we made for free accounts.

"First, free accounts start with fewer character slots and bag slots than the paid version of the game. But they still get the full complement of slots as soon as they buy Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns.

"Second, free accounts have some chat restrictions and economy restrictions so that they can’t be used to disrupt the game for other players. Free accounts can use local chat and whispers, but not map chat. With whispers, they can both start new conversations and reply to existing conversations but are limited to starting new conversations no more than once every 30 seconds. Free accounts can buy and sell common goods on the trading post. They can’t mail gold or items directly to other players, trade gold for gems, or access guild vaults.

"Third, free accounts have some restrictions to prevent them from skipping ahead to places where they could be used to disrupt the game. They must play to level 10 before leaving the starter zones, to level 30 before using LFG, and to level 60 before using World vs. World. They can play PvP immediately but must get to rank 20 before using custom and unranked arenas."
Given my experience with GW2, I'd probably recommend just buying the expansion. The extra character and bag slots are worth the $50 price. Purchasing the expansion also gets players into the beta (which runs on the live servers), but that's not the draw for me. Guild Wars 2 is the opposite of EVE. I don't need to pay that much attention or strain my brain after a long day at work. Who knows? Since the game is a PvE themepark, maybe I'll even stream my game play.

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