I see comments here and on the general Guild Wars forums about the MMO being “dead.” The game will, as far as we know, have no further commercial updates, such as their three campaigns and one expansion. However, with ArenaNet still selling units (over 200,00 between 9/08 and 12/08), heading towards a whopping 6,000,000 units sold likely sometime this year, and the Guild Wars Live Team feverishly adding updates and content to the game. It is far from being proclaimed “dead.”
After the shareholder’s report released Friday, there were many interesting things that happened through the Guild Wars community and news sites.
The first thing I found really interesting was the disregard for Aion. The report gave us a fairly tight window for a U.S. release of the MMO. Massively left Aion out of the subject line but mentioned Guild Wars 2 in the subject line and used the Guild Wars 2 logo in the post. Ten Ton Hammer also overlooked Aion’s release window and focused on the Guild Wars 2 “delay.” I think this should be pretty telling about NCSoft’s 2009 offering. Aion marketing has their work cut out for the western world.
The second thing of interest was the an open letter from Mike O’Brien, Guild Wars 2 overlord, in direct response to the community reaction caused by the released report. He stated that Guild Wars 2 would be released “when it’s done.”
I think it was a good letter, and is smoothing over the reality that Guild Wars 2 is not really on the horizon yet. It is on Valve-time. I am really happy that ArenaNet is in a position to seemingly afford such a luxury. Guild Wars Factions, Nightfall, and especially Eye of the North were on very tight development schedules, and the feeling of a rushed schedule came through sometimes (even though some were outright delayed). What would the series have been like if ArenaNet was on Valve-time from the start? I digress…
However, this was not what we were led to expect with Guild Wars 2. Somewhere ArenaNet shifted gears into a long development time, and they forgot to make sure their community was on board. All we knew was that the originally stated plan was out the window. I think what Chris Chung said in the conference call and Mike O’Brien’s letter are definitely smoothing out that gear shift.
not everything is a trap
NCSoft released their quarterly earnings report for the last quarter of 2008 today. The company’s sales and profits seem to be on the upswing, but the bad news is that according to the product lineup, we will not be getting Guild Wars 2 until 2010-2011. This makes sense for the company as a whole if they want to push Aion in the U.S. at the end of this year, even if ArenaNet is calling their own shots.
Things could of course change, especially with the leadership and corporate shakeup going on at NCSoft West, but Guild Wars 2 is very unlikely for 2009 with the little information we have. For some good Guild Wars news, it is pretty likely that they will have sold 6,000,000 units by the end of next quarter further solidifying the success of a great business model.
EDIT: After listening to the conference call it seems that the internal expectations of what Guild Wars 2 would be really took off during development. They did intend to make a ‘sequel’ at the start, but it has evolved in to ‘a whole new game.’
Regina Buenaobra, one of ArenaNet’s Community Managers, took some time to clarify an ethereal post I wrote about the crumbs of Guild Wars 2 information found in the stockholder’s conference call.
The Kill Ten Rats / Massively posts make it appear as if NCsoft has a lot of direction over our marketing strategy, when this isn’t the case at all. The GW2 marketing strategy is determined by ArenaNet, not by NCsoft. The formation of NCsoft West ensures that all studios owned by NCsoft have the freedom to determine their own marketing strategies, in fitting with what they think is best for the games that they develop. NCsoft developed Aion, therefore NCsoft is determining Aion’s marketing strategy. What ArenaNet decides to do with GW2 is independent of what NCsoft wants to do with Aion.
I find the clarification heartening, but for a different reason than the obvious. To be honest, I have lost a lot of faith in NCSoft. After Auto Assault, Tabula Rasa makes strike two, but my problem is not the death of the games. Rather, it is how they lived and died. I do not think either should have been a part of the $15 flatline from the start, and I definitely think that there were other options than shutdown. Options that may have retained more consumer confidence, perhaps.
So, I remain in this fearful dichotomy of my favorite developer being corrupted by its Korean overlord. Regina brings a kind of salve to this fear. Especially if ArenaNet is further layered away from shareholders by NCWest. Now, back to writing more so-called articles.
…a reasonable amount of trouble.
This is not recent news (the NCSoft conference call was held on, I believe, November 12, 2008), but I had not seen this on the ‘sphere or Guild Wars fansite forums. Thanks to Sente for the tip on the Guild Wars 2 tidbits in the conference call. Continue reading Guild Wars 2 Crumbs: NCSoft Conference Call