Will Guild Wars 2 be a “Three-Monther”?

by on August 16, 2012


As we wait with bated breath for Guild Wars 2, there’s an elephant-in-the-room question: will it actually last?

Today we’ve got two bloggers both addressing the question of Guild Wars 2′s success, failure or longevity from radically different points of view – but they’re both interesting, well-considered arguments.

First up, Azuriel of In An Age looks at the weak points he feels could still bring Guild Wars 2 down, including dynamic events and its “flat endgame”:

“I only today ran across these two Youtube videos that answered one of my fundamental questions of what happens at endgame, and it was surprisingly succinct: you continue gaining Skill Points for each “level” you gain past 80. Moreover, you can spend said Skill Points in a variety of ways (you likely will have purchased all the character Skills long before this point) including transmuting mats and… more cosmetic gear. I do not find cosmetic rewards in of themselves particularly compelling, but at least you gain something for sidekicking with your friend’s alt or whatever. Not that you always need a reason beyond their company, but let’s face it, it is better for everyone involved that it is incentivized at least in some small way.

That said, I have a big problem with the argument that the vast majority of WoW players do not see an endgame, and thus GW2′s lack of one is no big deal. Yes, raiding is only experienced by ~20% of the playerbase (although LFR undoubtedly changed all that). However, an order of magnitude more players run dungeons as an endgame activity, satisfying the urge of character progression via Justice/Valor Point purchases. Nevermind farming Honor in random BGs. Ostensively both activities exist in GW2 as well – although there are what, 3 BGs (all Conquest) and 8 dungeons? – but running, say, dungeons over again is going to be the equivalent of WoW’s upcoming Challenge Modes. Does anyone thing this is going to be a long-term retention solution?

By the way, I find the “everyone just rolls alts” rationale amusing considering it cedes the progression point. Gaining levels and better gear is fun, and that is exactly why designers try and transplant that same feeling into the endgame via incremental gear upgrades.”

I’m particularly interested by Azuriel’s arguments about GW2′s dynamic events. They’re a very brave, mould-breaking step, and I’ll be interested to see how they pan out – but his predictions do sound horribly plausible.

On a more optimistic note, however, the originator of the “Three-Monther” term, Keen, has been considering whether GW2 will be an MMO that only lasts most players three months, and he’s actually pretty optimistic -

“ArenaNet fans are been big on pushing the abstract philosophy that all of GW2 is “end-game” because your character is capable of experiencing the same types of things throughout all levels. Whether or not you subscribe to that, I’ll leave up to you. What I like is how a max level player can come back and experience the lower levels. If a new dungeon is added at level 10, we can go back and see it for ourselves and scale down.

Then there are events and true “end-game” activities (that ironically even AN refers to as end-game despite a lack of end-game… wrap your head around that one) which can always be added to the game. There’s Orr which is focused entirely on events and not on quests (hearts) and taking key locations fighting through event chains with everyone working together; Orr sounds awesome. I’m sure there are more, or more will be added.

WvW is probably the saving grace for GW2′s true end-game. Despite being able to WvW from level 1, a level 80 will have major advantages over lower players. Regardless, WvW is dynamic and a form of gameplay that can be experienced over and over and not become quite as stale as say running the same dungeon a dozen times — at least for me.”

It’s going to be a fascinating few weeks after GW2 drops, not least to see how the straight-up “New Game vs Blizzard Patch” battle goes. But around November will be more interesting still. Which game will stand, and which will fall – or at least lose ground?

What do you think? Will GW2 be a three-monther?

If you enjoyed this article, check out our other posts from these categories: Guild Wars 2

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris August 17, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Maybe its just the parts you quoted, but they seem focused on “End game is all that matters.” In WoW, that was true. That’s because anything before endgame in WoW is garbage. It is repetitive, boring and not challenging or engaging in the slightest (and only getting easier with every expansion) and to top it off, it punishes you for grouping. It’s a crappy solo RPG until end game. When WoW came out, it was a step forward from EQ, but it hasn’t innovated well or kept up since then. If everything in pre-endgame of WoW was in a single player RPG today, it would get some of the worst reviews of a modern AAA RPG ever. Because the game is not designed to be fun, its designed to take a long time to play, the bits of fun that are there are a byproduct and not the point of the design. GW2 is designed to actually be fun while you level. If they succeed at that is still up in the air, but the entire point of GW2 is NOT just the end game.

The other half of that is that there IS an endgame. In effect GW2 has combined Raids and dungeons as known in WoW. 5 Man content that is actually challenging. Requires you to know you class and have a certain amount of skill. You can’t grind gear and just get more powerful to make the fights easy. I can’t say how refreshing it is to actually have an MMO with an endgame not made for kinder-gardeners or my grandma. Actually requiring you to be competent? Not so many people in the group that they can make up for those that don’t actually know how to play? Amazing!

Also, while I don’t think those people you quoted are deliberately doing it, but they are also misrepresenting the number of dungeons and BG’s in GW2. BG’s – Yes there are fewer than WoW. But realistically, WoW only has 5 or 6 real BG’s where the object is to actually PvP, not kill PvE bosses (that’s a personal pet peeve though, I don’t queue for PvP so I can run across a huge map of snow and kill a PvE boss). That’s not much more for a game that’s been out what 10 years? Dungeons – Yes, there are ‘only’ 8 in GW2. But remember, these are halfway between WoW’s raid’s and dungeons. They actually take skill, not just better gear. Never mind that those 8 also have 3-5(?) different paths within them. Making for closer to 40 dungeons with 8 different themes. And they are ALL accessible at end game.

Obviously, I’ve only seen the beginning areas for myself, so everything here could just be me spouting bullshit hype from ArenaNet. But after playing a lot of AAA MMO’s since UO, and correctly dodging those that were obviously all hype (and were only ‘WoW in space’ or ‘WoW but with BIG-IP-NAME-DROP’, I feel like I have at least a little experience in filtering out some of the hype from the truth. Hopefully, GW2 is at least half as good as it’s made out to be.

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Barnacles August 17, 2012 at 10:05 pm

It’s funny that I found your comment much more apt than the article itself. While the article brings up good questions in my mind, I think your comment really hits the nail on the head.

From what I’ve seen in Guild Wars 2, you’ll be able to level as a casual gamer with little experience because stats are simple, and if you can’t handle a higher level area, you can stay where you are until you’re ready. If you’re a pro, you might even be able to leave an area for a higher level one a level or two early for a challenge.

Either way, leveling up solo with level-appropriate content and gear has never been more challenging. Whenever I face a dynamic event boss, even I find myself getting downed or defeated until I learn the boss. Thing is, this was a starting area boss, designed to be easier than regular dynamic event bosses. Not only that, but those DE bosses in high level areas are easier than dungeons! And guess what? Dungeons are “easy” compared to exploration mode dungeons.

I can’t wait to be terrible at Guild Wars 2. Beta was awesome, challenging when you had to learn, and it was fun. I met people, worked together, and didn’t come across a single thing I disliked. The worst part was honestly that my character didn’t save through to Live, and the thing is I don’t really care because I can just make the same race/class, and take her to a new area and then come back to where I was level-wise. Or I can do it all again. It was honestly engaging enough that I’d likely revisit even if I’ve already done it before.

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Val August 17, 2012 at 6:59 pm

I’ve played lesser games for the PvP alone for longer than 3 months, even after I had the top gear/ranks/skills.

I’ve played PvE games that were nowhere near as well done as GW2 for years after I’d had the top gear available, running dungeons, taking part in player run events or just chatting in town.

While for some that still crave a clear cut endless series of temporary progressions (after all, that’s all we’ve really had as an option as far as triple A mmos go for over a decade now), it may very well be a 3 monther (or a 3 monther with random returns over the coming years as there’s no sub barrier keeping people from checking out new content), but I’ve had my fill of that and know it’s there in every other MMO if I want a change of pace.

It’s already been proven that I can continue playing games I enjoy long after there’s any tangible benefit to logging in, and I know I’m not alone.

So I don’t see why anyone would think GW2, which is designed around exactly that, would be any different. I suspect a lot of people with little long term or varied MMO experience are simply projecting.

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Stupid August 17, 2012 at 7:29 pm

One other point that seems to be lost here is that GW2 does not require a monthly fee. Arenanet’s profits are not tied to player retention. If the vast majority of the playerbase loses interest and stops playing after three months, it does not affect the bottom line of the game at all – asuuming, of course, that everyone “comes back” for the first paid expansion.

This is how things went in the first GuildWars, and I see no reason why it won’t be the same here. There will be player decay, and it will probably be fast, but GW2 is such a highly poliched game that nearly everyone will be back in (and buying) when the expansion(s) come out.

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Devolve August 17, 2012 at 9:06 pm

“Gaining levels and better gear is fun”

Don’t entirely agree with this for most MMO’s. I usually find that this is the Grind. I actually just prefer playing the game and progressing to higher difficulty stuff, and managing to complete it, enjoying the storyline and content as I go. The sense of achievement never needed the gear reward to make it worthwhile.

The difference with GW2 is, that I don’t really feel the grind in the game. Just randomly wandering the world and experiencing new things, I never really noticed my level progression, and nor did I care.

I would of probably continued playing TOR if it wasn’t for the fact I had to pay for what was maybe playing 1 Raid per week, and that is if there was space in my guild! In GW2, I feel like a no sub game will allow me to just enjoy it at my own pace, giving it even more longevity.

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Cerulean Shaman August 17, 2012 at 9:17 pm

I actually think there were some good points brought up, but yes, the dungeons’s explorable modes are the equivalent of raids and there are also meta-events spread throughout the game. Both operate very much like typical raids, one instanced and the other open world, complete with environmental progression, boss toss, and pat-on-the-head loot rewards.

ArenaNet is simply trying to reach out the people with simple minds in their explanations, I suppose. The fact is that there’s plenty of “endgame” simply in both forms of PvP because, as was mentioned in the article, they are very much dynamic and repeatable. The remaining content, PvE, is really no different than WoW’s if boiled down as just like in WoW once you progress beyond a point there’s no mechanical reason to come back. In GW2 at least you can return for the challenge or new sets of cosmetic gear if a lower level dungeon or event is added later. There’s also the difference of value. WoW’s raids were never hard for me since it is not a skill based game, it’s a gear based game, so failure only really reared its ugly head when either too many people did not understand the concept of the fight or the raid group as a whole was undergeared.

Timing, reaction, and situation handling were not nearly as important as the tank’s raw stats, for example. I’m not going to lie and say GW2 isn’t gear based at all, but it definitely has more skill focus and because of that alone every dungeon/raid encounter has more value, or at least in my opinion anyway.

I don’t agree with everyone who says that GW2 is the new generation of mmo gaming; the real truth is that it’s the purest, most advanced form of the current generation of mmo gaming. It does everything every other MMORPG does (quests, PvP, gear, crafting), but in most of its fan’s opinions, it does it better. I doubt WoW will be mysteriously gone in the next three months, but anyone who thinks Guild Wars 2 will be joining the slew of other free-to-play failures is kidding themselves.

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