As always, the Guild Wars 2 gem store additions have caused controversy and counter-controversy across a variety of mediums. I feel that this month’s Flame and Frost update went aggressive in terms of getting players to bolster the gem/gold exchange rate or simply spend some cash. It is interesting though because at the same time there was a competing interest in game with the Super Adventure Box. ArenaNet keeps on presenting ways to spend money and time in different ways, which is both exciting and tiring.
Might as well start with the most controversial piece, in my opinion (not the unbreakable pick, but we’ll get there). The Black Lion Chests, the bit of the gem store everybody loves to hate, has “for a limited time” a Fused Weapon Claim Ticket. This is a rare chance, but people seem to be attacking the chests with fervor. The rarity and the random-number generation (“RNG”) involved seem to be making sure some players open dozens and dozens of Black Lion Chests to receive no fiery, golden ticket. Of course those few blessed that opened one or two chests and received one or two Tickets have a valuable thing they can’t trade away.
I have two thoughts. First, these are by far a luxury in the most unnecessary sense. They are beautiful weapons being very evocative of the abrasive alliance between the dredge and the Flame Legion. There are also other fire weapons, and plenty of other neat weapons to chase after. For instance, this very month there are Super Adventure Box skins that have been added to the game as well, which are very easy to get or simply buy from the market. I feel no pity for those knowingly chasing after Fused Weapons. A simple reading, something required of intelligent people ready to gamble, shows that it might take upwards of 50-100 chests to receive a single Fused Weapon.
On the other hand, I feel that ArenaNet is on the low cycle as far as making their customers feel good. These new skins are untradeable and owned by the RNG. Wintersday was the high point since customers could buy a Winter’s weapon directly from the gem store. It probably also made the least amount of money for ArenaNet. Halloween 2012 and The Lost Shores both had their skins in an RNG chest, but they were tradable skins and had a gem store chest made especially for the month. I feel that those two RNG skin methods felt fair. I know players still opened dozens of chests to get the Greatsaw Greatsword skin, but they could buy it on the Trading Post. They still can, in fact.
I don’t like untradeable things. It’s one thing, I concede, if the untradeable thing is tied to a game-based action, such as running a dungeon. It’s another if the untradeable thing is made untradeable for the sole purpose of requiring people that want it to pay more. Hopefully ArenaNet goes back up from here.
Unbreakable Mining Pick
Getting away from that nasty RNG, for $10 or 800 gems worth of gold a player can buy a Molten Alliance Mining Pick. This baby is the definition of a luxury convenience as a mining pick that doesn’t break. It also comes with a nifty molten effect when mining.
While it is controversial in the sense that players can pay to get rid of a small gold sink, it is really not worth it in my opinion except to own something unbreakable. The gold cost of the Molten Alliance Mining Pick is over 500 top-tier mining picks. I would personally save exactly one inventory slot as I always carry on backup of each gathering tool. To compare, another whole bag slot costs half as much as the unbreakable pick.
It is a neat limited-time offer. Players can own something that will forever remind them of the good ol’ Flame and Frost days as lava spews forth from their ore. There are two blemishes to an otherwise decent offering though. First, the item becomes soulbound to a single character on use. I feel like this is another bottom-of-the-barrel cash grab for ArenaNet to make sure the hardcore shell out for all their characters. I honestly feel the inconvenience of transferring the pick to another character would be enough for many hardcore to buy a few picks anyway. The other thing is whether this will be useful when undoubtedly Guild Wars 2 adds another tier of ores. This might be a long time, but there is no guarantee this unbreakable pick can break anything.
There are brand new rare dyes in the Flame or Frost dye kits. There are Super Adventure Box mini-packs that give buyers three specific Super Adventure Box minions. A Communal Boost Bonfire seems nice for a large group of players banding together to get a really nice boost to karma, experience, or magic find. And finally, players can change their names, which has been a much requested feature. These are all good offerings, but they also aren’t very exciting. I’m sure across the active playerbase many were bought, but no where near the order of magnitude of the Black Lion Chests or the Molten Alliance Mining Pick.
Controversy – especially controversy which can be argued on both sides by the players – is going to drive money towards ArenaNet. New dyes or minis that are simply picked up in the gem store are not going to break through a lot of the noise. And it is very good noise this month generated by the Super Adventure Box and Flame & Frost content. It is also quite a balancing act because controversy will undoubtedly drive some players away. Stagnation does too.