GZ: Both ArenaNet and NCsoft have been really bullish about reclaiming the number one MMO spot from WoW. Do you think it’s a lot harder to aim for that label now than it was when Guild Wars launched seven years ago?
ERIC: It’s definitely more of a challenge now that so many MMOs have had so many years of development behind them. You can’t compete with the state a current game launched in; you have to compete with what they are like now. Despite this, we’re always up for a challenge here at ArenaNet – if we don’t aim for the top, we’ll never be able to reach it.
GZ: Not charging a subscription for Guild Wars 2 is seen to be generous by gamers and foolish by business types, especially with how good the game looks. How soon in development did you elect for that revenue model and why are you doing it?
ERIC: I think it’s fair to say we chose our business model before we even began development. We chose it when we chose to go with this model for the original Guild Wars. We feel like we made a promise to our fans that Guild Wars games will never have monthly fees and we wanted to uphold that promise.
We also truly believe that the no subscription fee model is better both for us as developers and for our fans as customers. Without being able to rely on a monthly income it puts us into the position where we have to justify any new content or features to our existing customers, which means that we have to give them what they want. This means we can focus development on the things that will make our customers happy and make the game better. It’s a better situation for us than if we relied on a monthly fee.
GZ: What sort of things will players be able to buy via the in-game store?
ERIC: We’re testing various things right now, so I can’t give specifics. In general, we want to include the kinds of things that we included in the first game, though of course the list will not be identical.
GZ: Will the standalone expansion model return? We really enjoyed how Factions and Nightfall took the series in new thematic directions…
ERIC: At this time we don’t plan to continue with the standalone expansion model. We felt that this model split our player base unnecessarily and also caused us to focus development effort on things that were redundant with the original release of the game such as tutorial areas and duplicates of already existing skills.
GZ: The combat system in Guild Wars 2 is much more impactful than most offerings in the MMO genre. Do you think this will attract a wider audience to the game and have you guys done away with the more ‘by the numbers’ based feel of combat?
ERIC: We hope that our combat will appeal to players who may find traditional MMO combat static and boring while not alienating fans of traditional MMO combat. We’ve done this by making strategic positioning important, making skills feel more impactful, taking the focus off of reading the user interface, and moving away from the traditional tank/healer/DPS roles.
GZ: Guild Wars was a massive PvP favourite across the world, especially Korea. How are you evolving that aspect for the sequel?
ERIC: We have two very distinct types of PvP in Guild Wars 2.
First we have what we call “competitive” PvP which features small teams matched against each other. In this type of PvP players are all on an even footing, having access to the same skills and abilities as every other player. The only progressions featured in this type of PvP are purely cosmetic upgrades.
Then we have World vs. World PvP (WvW), which features full player progression and levelling. In this type of PvP, players are transported to a large area of the world where they take part in a multi-week persistent match against two other worlds (what you might call servers in another game). This match features castle sieges, supply lines, and lots of objectives of varying size.
GZ: It’s funny how Guild Wars transformed from a very social game to one where it was possible to almost do the entire story on your own with the aid of the customisable henchmen. What does the sequel offer players that prefer to play on their own and see the world at their own pace?
ERIC: Players should be able to take part in almost every aspect of Guild Wars 2 as a solo player. The only content that players must find a group for are dungeons which are designed for group play.
GZ: How does Guild Wars 2′s plot allow players to express themselves and carry out their role-playing fantasies?
ERIC: Players in Guild Wars 2 can express themselves in a variety of ways. We have a huge amount of visual customization but in addition to that we provide players with a branching storyline that is tailored to their character. For those who want more freeform role-playing possibilities we offer a world where their characters can have an impact by participating in events. Developing the world of Guild Wars 2 has been one of the most important things for us and we hope to provide players with as rich a fantasy world as any they have ever experienced.
To read the first part of our exclusive interview, please click the link on the right.
Tags: Guild Wars 2
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