Guild Wars 2, like its predecessor, might not have a subscription fee, but microtransactions will play a much larger role in Tyria this time around. Not only will the new purchasable currency play a vital role in the game's economy, it might just eliminate gold farmers and sellers entirely.
Microtransactions have always been a topic of concern and debate among online gamers. Although the rise of these small purchases, and subsequent phasing out of monthly fees, has helped stabilize many sinking MMOs, the audience is still split over how microtransactions should be implemented in games. Developers have gotten better about balancing these sales so that players will not be able to "pay their way" to the finish line. That said, the additions must be attractive enough to turn a profit, especially for games without subscription fees.
Guild Wars came late to the game with its inclusion of microtransactions, and because the items and services had virtually no effect on gameplay or progression, the community accepted the extra character slots and fancy costumes without much controversy.
Enter Guild Wars 2. This time around, with a much larger and more ambitious title, ArenaNet knew early on that microtransactions would have to play a more prominent role in the sequel to everyone's favorite CORPG (competitive online role-playing game, in case you were wondering).
Mike O'Brien, the studio president at ArenaNet, recently made a detailed post on the ArenaNet blog about the new gem currency players will be able to buy (or trade for). He first made sure to lay out the philosophy behind the system:
"We think players should have the opportunity to spend money on items that provide visual distinction and offer more ways to express themselves. They should also be able to spend money on account services and on time-saving convenience items. But it’s never OK for players to buy a game and not be able to enjoy what they paid for without additional purchases, and it’s never OK for players who spend money to have an unfair advantage over players who spend time."
After years of development, the team behind Guild Wars 2 found a way to make the most of microtransactions by splitting the economy into three separate currencies: gold, karma, and gems. Gold is in-game currency, as expected. Karma is gained from completing missions and the like to purchase unique rewards. Gems are the third currency, and can be bought with real world money to then purchase microtransactions.
Here's the kicker: you can trade gold for gems, and vice versa. O'Brien compared this to EVE Online's PLEX system, pointing out that in Guild Wars 2, players will be completely in control, rather than having real-money trading companies involved. Those who do not have the time to devote to playing the game on a regular basis will have the opportunity to not only purchase gems at any time, but then trade those gems for gold to buy in-game items. Everything stays in-game, meaning ArenaNet will see the revenue from all gem sales, and players are free to create a market for the gems without outside interference at the player-to-player Trading Post.
How do you feel about the direction Guild Wars 2 is taking regarding microtransactions? Do you think the market will regulate itself to keep gems reasonably priced and keep the economy flowing? Let us know in the comments below.
Guild Wars 2 will be available for pre-purchase on April 10, 2012 for the PC.
Source: ArenaNet Blog