Letter from the President confirms Guild Wars 2 is now FREE, and will include raids
Mike O'Brien, the president of Guild Wars 2, has a lot to say to GW2 fans today. Obviously, it wasn't enough that they also released the official Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns trailer. O'Brien not only addresses that GW2 launched three years ago this weekend (Happy Birthday!), but mentions details about the future of raids, reveals the official release date, and oh, a small detail about the core game being free for everyone.
The official Heart of Thorns launch date is Friday, October 23rd.
Guild Wars 2's first expansion is only two months away and still available for pre-order. It still costs $49.99 for the Standard edition, $74.99 for the Deluxe edition (additional character slot and aesthetics), and $99.99 for the Ultimate edition (Deluxe features plus an additional $50 worth of gems).
Guild Wars 2 core game is now free
O'Brien is officially releasing the hounds. As of today, anyone can play Guild Wars 2. In a detailed explanation, he explains his reasons for the sudden change. In summary:
- In MMOs with expansions, new players are usually intimidated and not sure what expansion(s) to buy. By making the core game free and the expansion an optional addition, the confusion will be less.
- He believes by changing the model to free-to-play, it will appeal to people who have been reluctant to try. They'll play GW2, love it, and (hopefully) buy the expansion.
But there's a catch. Since the game is free, it opens up the potential for spammers and cheaters to abuse the game. To fix it, there are restrictions for free accounts. Most notably:
- Fewer character slots (2 instead of 5) and bag slots (3 instead of 5)
- Cannot use map chat and can only start new conversations every 30 seconds
- Cannot directly mail gold or items to other players, trade gold for gems, or access guild vaults
- Can only buy and sell items from a selected list on the Trading Post
- Skipping restrictions:
"They must play to level 10 before leaving the starter zones, to level 30 before using LFG, and to level 60 before using World vs. World. They can play PvP immediately but must get to rank 20 before using custom and unranked arenas."
Details about the account types have been updated in an easy-to-read FAQ page.
A message to the veterans and free gear
O'Brien is aware the impact restrictions may have on gameplay, so he's keeping an open mind. He encourages veteran players to test out free accounts and give feedback.
In addition, he encourages current players to continue being the renowned friendly community they've always been as they're faced with an influx of new players. To celebrate the three-year anniversary, all current players are being given a brand new Royal Guard Outfit.
"Wear it with pride whenever you want to show that you were there early on, and that you’re someone that new players can go to for help."
Following up on PAX Prime's raids announcement
First announced at PAX, Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns will include raids!
What are Raids?
"Raids are 10-player, instanced content that will introduce very challenging bosses, epic encounters, and more!...You’ll have to actively manage your position, dodge, coordinate on objectives, and much more. You’ll have moments of anticipation where your next action could spell victory or death...Everyone will be expected to pitch in and execute at a high level to ensure success."
Raids in GW2 are meant to be an engaging experience, so there are a number of meaningul bonuses:
- Raids will tie into the new, advanced Mastery system of progression and have new (legendary!) rewards. There will be new Mastery tracks and abilities that will be detailed in an upcoming blog from GW2 designers.
- Raids utilize build-customization and weapon-swapping systems to allow anyone to become a necessary role. This means players won't have to wait and find someone to join their team if they're lacking a tank or healer.
- Raids don't become easier and aren't dependent on better gear or level-caps. That means raids will always be a challenge and success at one is meaningul.
Players who purchase Heart of Thorns will get first raid access. There are currently three raid wings planned for post-launch and they will be balancing new professions during the pre-launch window:
"Players who purchase Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns will get access to our first raid, with the first of the three associated raid wings to be activated shortly after launch. During this window, we’ll be looking at balance with our new profession and elite specializations as well as giving players some time to train the Heart of Maguuma Masteries that will be used in the first raid wing. The remaining two raid wings will follow in sequence soon after."
Talk about updates. With 55 days and counting, there is certainly a lot of hype surrounding the changes. For veteran players, the continued question of "But what about us?" remains. The current store page doesn't reflect the free-to-play changes (and it's unclear if they ever will), and the community has already become very vocal about their concerns.
Of course, some are fine with the changes.
I'll keep my ears open and eyes peeled for any additional comments regarding price changes, but in the meantime, I think I'll make some tea and watch this party go down.