Not long ago, I wrote an article about how Guild Wars 2 was in a sort of rebirth after the failure that was Bless Online. Now, just short of 9 months later, I’m writing an article about how many players believe the game’s doomsday has arrived. That’s a pretty quick shift in a relatively short amount of time.
The fact of the matter is this: this is not the end of Guild Wars 2… for now. The game has obviously been on a downwards revenue trend for quite sometime but that’s endemic of many MMORPGs that haven’t had a purchasable expansion in recent memory. What made this incident so unique, however, was the number of employees laid off and the abruptness of it. 100 employees is nothing short of a massive layoff, with many well recognized names being a part of that layoff, and it pretty much blindsided the entire community.
But what many people seem to miss is the fact that these layoffs are not because of Guild Wars 2 solely. There were other, unannounced projects, that employees at Arenanet had been working on that most likely were far too time and money intensive to justify its continued development. This is what prompted the layoffs and while many Guild Wars 2 developers were laid off, many of the developers from these other projects were redirected to fill those spots on the Guild Wars 2 development team.
Therefore, Guild Wars 2 is in no real threat of being shutdown in the short-term. However, that isn’t the whole story. Firstly, as stated by a representative of the Guild Wars 2 team, content release dates have had to have been naturally pushed back and future releases of new content will most likely also now be slower than what the community is used to. While this is understandable, Guild Wars 2 is known for having frequent content updates that keep their players engaged. It’s a sticking point that many players have used attempting to convince their friends to play the game. With the time between content releases becoming expectantly longer, this is a feature of Guild Wars 2 that players can still boast about but not to the same extent they had previously.
So if not content release times, then what is of major concern? Well, considering the reasoning for these layoffs is a revenue issue then Arenanet will need to start exploring other options to increase their cash flows. One option is to release another purchasable expansion pack. But if regular content patches are now going to take longer to release, then releasing a whole new expansion pack will take an incredible amount of time. Guild Wars 2 is in the hands of a relatively new team that is still learning to work with one another and therefore it’s likely that any new expansion pack the playerbase would get would be of far less quality than what they are accustomed to.
Another option, that is far more likely than a new expansion, is a change to their current payment model. This could happen in one of two (or maybe both) ways: (1) a shift to a Freemium model (free to play but some players can pay a subscription for additional features) or (2) introducing pay-to-win items in the cash shop. Why this would be uniquely catastrophic for Guild Wars 2, as anyone who has played the game would know, is because Guild Wars 2 has long been praised for its buy-to-play and it’s non pay-to-win cash shop.
So while I’m guessing Guild Wars 2 will be here for the long-haul, it may soon not be the same game we know today. Players can either decide to jump ship in the midst of uncertainty or double-down and spend even more time and money on the game in order to demonstrate their continued support. If there’s one thing that’s for certain however, it’s that the last thing the MMORPG genre needs is another pay-to-win heavy game in the mix.