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

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?