A Guild Wars Wintersday Plus

The annual Guild Wars Wintersday has arrived.  We get the usual, awesome tidings of newly balanced PvP snowball fights (complete with hidden rocks and yellow snow), grentchs stealing gifts from the poor war-torn children of Tyria right in town, and fun PvE quests.  This all leads up to the finale between Dwayna, goddess of good holiday cheer, and Grenth, who would destroy it to determine what hats we can wear in the coming year.  And, we all know how important hats are.

ArenaNet surprised us all with inclusion of costume slots in our inventory.  They work similarly to Lord of the Rings Online outfit system where the thing equipped in the slot is what will show on the character but the stats derive from the actually equipped item.  Unlike Lord of the Rings Online there are only two costume slots in Guild Wars: a headpiece slot and a costume slot.

The headpiece slot works for all the festival hats players have amassed over the four years.  The costume slots works at this time for only the two new costumes, which are full bodied coveralls.  They are beautifully designed; evocative of both Dwayna’s holiday spirit and Grenth’s darkness.  And, they are $10 for the pair only on sale until mid-January.

The frivolity of the purchase can be compared to the recent World of Warcraft pet sale, where Blizzard sold pets for $10 each to play around with in its subscription game.  My final thoughts in reading the swath of commentary was ‘I don’t tell other people how to spend their money.’  I can barely tell my wife how to spend my money, for Grenth’s sake.  Blizzard offered what I considered a meaningless doodad, and if people wanted to buy it to show their IRL liquidity or to further stock their hidden menagerie, so be it.  I thought it colored Blizzard a little (more) greedy, but hey, if they can make money in this more-than-fair manner, rock on, capitalism.

Now, that one of my favorite MMOs has done something similar, I understand a little bit more.  It’s the same as buying a collector’s edition, but mid-stride instead of at the outset.  If I choose to buy the costumes from ArenaNet, I am really buying a piece of art.  Is it really so different from having won an exclusive cloak in Lord of the Rings Online (which I will never take off), or an ultra-coveted blue baby murloc in World of Warcraft?  How about a collector’s edition horse or emote?  I honestly, am not so sure.

Regardless, ArenaNet played the field well by adding in a great mechanic for free with the buyable one.  I haven’t bought the costume package yet, but I am folding pretty quickly.  I have played Guild Wars to the point where I’ve paid mere pennies an hour for almost two thousand hours of playtime.  If nothing else, I’ll just let my money do the talking and receive two fun costumes in return.

you are not your f—ing khakis

Full go-kill-yourself FTC bureaucrat disclosure: I received a christmas card from ArenaNet.

27 thoughts on “A Guild Wars Wintersday Plus”

    1. I dunno. I felt I gave them a pretty fair assessment. Even tempered my excitement a bit. [oblig] And, I don’t even get any kickbacks. [/oblig] =D

      1. You know re-reading it, I don’t feel I pimp it very much. I don’t mention them until paragraph 3, and ending paragraph 3 with the fact that they have to be bought is negative writing. I then basically call the product frivolous. Talk about collectibles in general, and end with my personal thoughts.

        Next time though, I will be sure to add another 5 paragraphs on how the sky is falling because ANet is selling content for microntransactions just to be a fair journalist.

        1. You got trolled.

          Or I guess I failed at internet sarcasm here.

          Naw, I blame you, you got trolled.

          (Edit: Read the other comments, and since you are not the only one to miss the sarcasm, I’ll accept blame. My comment was in jest because anytime I mention DF it MUST be because I need another soda from the cafe in promo money)

  1. Thanks for your in my opinion by far too positive view of the matter. Now let’s look at the dark side. For the sake of completeness I will add that the costumes are very pretty. “Wintersday Plus”, that is by far too positive for “ArenaNet explores the world of micro transactions and added another one to GW”

    Was this article some kind of justification for players to have spent 10 bucks on two virtual dresses? Note, it is not my nor anyone’s concern what people do with their money, this is too much of a debate at Guildwarsguru. Still, where shall this end?

    The game is moving towards micro transactions. The latest updates especially always coupled minor pieces of content or upgrades to existing mechanics with new payment options and a new micro transaction.

    This is the bad kind of how to implement Micro Transactions. The 5-10 bucks (I am from the EU, it is 9,99 EUR over there) for the costumes are QUITE A LOT for NOT THAT MUCH – while we can still argue that nobody has major problems to afford that. This is the evil MT. The MT that sucks money for nothing out of player pockets, in the end they wonder when and for what they actually spent their money.

    Now we are not there yet. I piss my pants though when I think about GW2 and its shop. Maybe I am wrong and a game designed from the very beginning around this business model does better than GW which has been converted to this kind of model fairly late.

    Now I do not hate micro transactions. I only see them rarely done right. And I just hate how they are poking around at GW1 like some not yet dead lab rat to see how much money they can milk from their customers with this or that offer.

    1. Okay ignoring the buyable costumes, you get an upgrade that you paid nothing for and was unnecessary for gameplay. So, that’s a plus. I guess I didn’t partition the buyable costumes from this upgrade enough in my post, but such is life. But, I like the costumes too.

      And “moving towards microtransactions” – chicken little a bit? It’s the exact same deal as WoW’s pandaren and lil’LK. We can talk about how evil /they can be/, and then completely ignore what they are doing.

      I stand by my MMOs are allowed to sell “collectibles” line of thought. The only difference between this and an EL tonic or CE mini is the way that it is earned (and not much different from a CE mini, tbh).

      1. If the company wants to sell stuff *that doesn’t affect gameplay*, more power to ’em, I say. Prime that revenue pump, ArenaNet!

        Also, it wouldn’t work if people didn’t buy them in the first place.

  2. A blogger posts his opinion and thoughts about a new piece of merchandise available for a game he enjoys. Commenters get up in arms and claim it’s just promotional and whaaaaaa /cry. Unsurprising.

    People need to stop trying to read this as an add read it as someone who’s general feeling towards the collectible microtransaction has changed when it’s regarding an IP he enjoys. It’s not about trying to sell anyone else.

    I didn’t see an attempt to delve into the righteousness vs vileness of microtransactions or explain why U GO BAI NAO!1!, so I don’t see any need to get the lynch mob. I’m certainly not interested in the product Rav’s talking about, but he is. I don’t see a problem there and I’m not grabbing the torch and pitchfork.

  3. Some comments here seem remarkably ignorant of economic reality. Why shouldn’t game companies produce new, entirely optional artwork such as these costumes and offer it for sale? This is the very best kind of microtransaction. It does not effect combat. It gives roleplayers something new to consider. I’m glad there’s a market for such transactions in an older game like GW. If it keeps people interested in it, and helps keep the game going, it’s a good thing.

    On that note, I really, really wish Mythic would learn from Guild Wars MT’s and DDO’s business model and find a way to transition WAR to a FTP plus MT model with a subscription option. But I think EA lacks that kind of forward thinking and will simply let the game languish for lack of resources.

      1. I can think of at least six people in my gaming circles who’d jump back into WAR today if they could play (beyond the Endless Trial) without a monthly subscription. And I bet many would buy extras like extra PVE instances, rare dyes, vanity pets, fancy mounts, etc.

        Many games may end up becoming a platform upon which people purchase their own gaming experience. In a way GW has partially realised this with the extra mission pack, the makeover pack, and other MT. WoW is trending in that direction. DDO is there already. (Talk about another fading game that’s seen new life, and a new server thanks to MT!) And I think WAR, AoC, and others ought to follow suit.

      2. If WoW went that way, I’d activate my copy of the game that I presently just have sitting on my hard drive for the mapviewer…

  4. I don’t have a problem with what wow and gw are doing so far. For that matter, I don’t see anything wrong with 3rd party gold sales (aside from spam). However, I am worried about the effect that item sales will have on future game design.

    For myself, $10 is too much for an in game item. Worse, I would rather get the items by playing the game than have them appear in my inventory. Unfortunately, there is a huge incentive to add such items. They are getting $10 per person for two pieces of artwork. Contrast that to paying $60 for thousands of pieces of art, a game engine, story, game rules, etc. The margin on item sales is huge, even if the market for them is probably smaller.

    Given that margin, there is a strong incentive to make design choices that will drive item sales. If they are selling cosmetic items, it makes sense to save the best artwork for the item store. If they are selling items which reduce downtime or repetitive gameplay, it makes sense to have the baseline grind be worse. These decisions probably make good business sense, but they result in a game that is less appealing to me personally.

    I’m not saying wow or gw are there yet, they clearly aren’t. But some of the “free” to play games are. There are clearly other people who are not attracted to item store games, but I fear we will be a less attractive market than the ringtone crowd.

  5. Presumably, the appeal of the limited edition and exclusive cosmetic items is because they are rare and hard to obtain by the hoi polloi, besides being pretty.

    Here, will $10 clothing prove as exclusive, and whatever would it indicate in-game? Instead of showing your dedication to the game (and fortunate real life locale) by attending a con, or one’s simple fortune at winning a lucky draw, one proves one has disposable income that one is willing to spend on an art asset?

    Would people spend RL money to get an art asset displayed in-game with their name on it, I wonder, and how much would they be willing to pay?

    Full disclosure: I think the GW costumes are awesome and I’m swaying off the see-saw myself, but it doesn’t stop me musing about the psychological desire and justifications produced. I guess companies are finally finding out how much crazy gamers are willing to spend.

    1. You don’t have to be a “crazy gamer” to spend money on art. I play Guild Wars for, among a few other things, the artwork. ArenaNet employs some of the best artists in the business, so I take any chance I get to help pay for Daniel Dociu, Kekai Kotaki, etc. Remember also that the company hasn’t gotten a big payday on a release in a while… If a few MT (and $10 ain’t that bad) keeps the ship afloat until GW2 comes out, then I’m for it.

      1. Agreed, Ryan. GW has some of the best artists in the industry. Keeping them and their families fed is Good Business in my mind. (Then again, I’m partial, since I’m also an artist in the industry… who isn’t as good as those guys, but has a family to feed nevertheless.)

  6. Someone tell me how:

    – Arena.net sells an art book to look at and have at your coffee table or whatever: Laudable.

    – Arena.net sells a piece of in-game art your characters can wear: They are robber barons.

    1. The art book is a physical object, tangible, and yours till the end of time, or the end of its physical existence, rather. Contains multiple pieces of 2D art in ~128 pages. Cost: $30 + shipping.

      The in-game art is digital, exists in the form of bytes, and is yours till the Arena.net servers come down and stop supporting Guild Wars. Contains four 3D costumes. Cost: $10.

      Also costing $10 are varied objects such as a LOTRO’s founder price monthly subscription, a City of Heroes costume pack (with a special power included), Team Fortress 2 on a sale weekend, a modern game’s DLC, old classic games, and with some hand-waving of pocket change, lunch or a movie ticket.

      Is one or the other somehow worth more, and ascribed more value towards? And why?

      1. I also find it a bit ironic that a common justification people use in paying for art-based microtransactions is that they enjoy the game and thus they are supporting the game company and paying for other things that aren’t being charged for.

        Does that imply that they actually feel the $10 price for in-game art is somewhat inflated and wish to ascribe a portion of that $10 somewhere else?

        It’s like buying virtual weapons at a charity auction. Oh, it’s -really- for charity! Therefore, I can spend thousands of dollars and not feel guilty paying the price? Why not simply donate that sum to the charity in the first place without going through the rigmarole of obtaining the virtual desired artifact?

        Oh, by the way, Torchlight is also at $10 this weekend for those still fencesitting. :)

        I suspect however that even after I engage in a week or three of virtual $10 comparisons, I will end up caving in and picking up the Limited Edition twopack (yay marketing speak, just wait as 6 months later, they slash individual costume prices to $3-4.) before January’s out. *sighs* The Grenth costume is still so unspeakably awesome.

        1. That’s a good point. $10 on it’s own is a bit much for me to have 2 costumes. $5 on the other hand seems cheap for the both.

          Anyway, I go to this food truck occasionally in Northern Virginia that sells Chicago-style Italian beef for almost $10 a sandwich. It’s more expensive than I would normally pay for a good Italian beef, but the fact that I like that they are stubbornly bringing Chicago-style food to NoVa means more to me… and I show it with my money.

    1. There is more than that to it. IMO, if it is 2 or 10 bucks is usually not the deciding factor for those who decide to buy it or not.

      People who bought Guild Wars loved the idea to pay once and never again. Free updates, free to play till the servers go down.

      This changed and is getting worse. They use the aging GW1 as a micro-transaction testbed for GW2.

      Now storage slots, char slots, costumes, etc. etc… more and more is no longer part of the game, simply cannot be got in the game, it is all “optional” and you can buy it if you want – for real money.

      My beef with micro-transactions is that they are not much – I can easily shell out the bucks for this stuff. Nothing wrong about that so far.

      But I am sure I am not the only one who played MT based games that sooner or later realized he paid more than for a several months subscription of let’s say World of Warcraft!

      Imagine that – new costumes on every holiday. Shop now, my Lord, says Evony. ;) Or let it be. Nobody forces you to anything, after all – that is the usual argument. Or supporting the great cause of ArenaNet.

  7. Just the idea that the normal masks and hats can use the new headpiece slot,so I can wear masks I have already collected for free, without having to worry about signias and losing armor is a wonderful thing. Even if you don’t buy the costume, you have the upgrade. At the moment, you can buy the Guild Wars Trilogy for $49 US and get Eye of the North free. That comes out to a bit more than twelve dollars a game and GW is an old game. It’s not going to be selling like it was years ago.

    So the company ventures into new areas to buoy up profits. Maintaining games and staff are a never ending expense. The profit made two years ago, isn’t paying the staff today. And while Arena.net is a good company, they’re in business to make money. That is what companies are in business for. If they’re an honest company that puts out a good product, they’re ENTITLED to make money.

    I don’t see this as buying art. People become attached to their characters and they become vested in them. This is perfectly normal. It happens all the time. These costumes better suit some of my characters than the elite armor I’ve already bought.

    Which is another point no one mentioned. I have a NUMBER of characters, both male and female. I’m not getting two costumes, but many. My paragon uses the Male Dwayna costume, I put the female one on a mesmer mule, my main is wearing the grenth costume, but using the mask he got for free over Halloween. For ten bucks I’ll buy more, if I happen to like the designs.

    People pay huge amount of moneys for hobbies and Guild Wars is my hobby. When I break down the amount of money spent over the time I’ve spent playing, it’s far far cheaper than cable television would be, never mind going to the movies. It’s cheaper than any other game I’ve ever bought.

    I’m not talking about giving charity to a company. I’m talking about paying a company for my entertainment. Anet is selling four games for under fifty bucks at the moment. I hardly think anyone is in the position to call them greedy.

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