B2P MMO Goes F2P

We kinda knew from an earlier leak already, but it’s now official: Guild Wars 2 is going F2P.

The F2P restrictions can be compared here, or just read this bullet list from Reddit:

  • Does not receive daily login bonus
  • Start with less storage than paid account : 2 character slots, 3 bag slots
  • No map wide chat interaction, can use local chat
  • Cannot post on ArenaNet forums
  • Can only start new whisper conversations once every 30 seconds
  • Can trade and buy common items on TP
  • Can’t mail items or gold to other players, can still send text-only mail to friends
  • Must be level 60 before entering WvW, other unspecified zone/level restrictions
  • They must play to level 10 before leaving the starter zones, to level 30 before using LFG
  • They can play PvP immediately but must get to rank 20 before using custom and unranked arenas
  • Cannot trade gold for gems
  • Cannot access guild vaults

The more I think about it, the more bizarre this announcement gets. First, has there ever been a B2P MMO that went to F2P? I know GW2 is highly dependent on its cash shop for additional revenue already, but this still feels like a weird strategy. Especially in terms of those “restrictions,” which are incredibly lenient when compared to similar offerings. I guess the WvW restriction might prevent easier zerg leveling/karma farming, but the scaling was so bad back when I played that you practically had to be 60+ to do anything of particular note anyway.

The second bizarre thing about this announcement is the timing. Remember two months ago when ArenaNet bundled the base game into the expansion box price and the internet lost its shit? Surely they knew they were going to announce a F2P conversion two months later… right? Maybe they wanted to wait until PAX for the press coverage, but that was still a lot of negative coverage right in the summer months that could have been avoided multiple ways. Perhaps them knowing F2P was coming contributed to their laissez faire attitude at that particular information rollout.

I’ll admit that I’ve been feeling a slight itch to maybe perhaps download GW2 again, especially after I stopped playing WoW. My game experience ended on a particularly sour note last time around, but it might of been because I wasn’t completely sold on the Elementalist playstyle. Plus, you know, since I bought the retail box years ago, I could start it up and be back playing with little issue.

On the other hand, ArenaNet’s commitment to “Living Stories” and one-time events means that I’m not even sure what, if anything, would actually be different a second time around. Lion’s Arch was destroyed and rebuilt, I think? Maybe they added a few more entries to the Explicit Schedule of Villainy? Who knows. For now, I’m much more likely to get into FF14 than GW2 again.

Best of luck to ArenaNet just the same.

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Posted on August 30, 2015, in Guild Wars 2 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I wonder if the F2P thing isn’t precisely because of the furor that surrounded the bundling of the base game with HoT. Assuming the plan is now to release a series of paid-for expansions this neatly avoids any future repetition of that PR disaster.

    While I personally don’t see a great difference between a B2P game and a F2P one the forums have been on fire over the conversion. An awful lot of “veterans” seem to see F2P players as a horde of crazed barbarians just waiting for the final $10 barrier to fall before rushing in to trash the game. It’s very amusing to see how players compartmentalize themselves like this. I’m sure Subscription players in other games would fail to differentiate between B2P and F2P as often as not.

    Long story short, game is either worth playing or it isn’t. Payment model doesn’t change anything.

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    • I sorta agree and disagree with your last two lines there. Part of the “worth playing” calculus in an MMO is centered on the (perceived) design direction. Will the game still be around in a year? Will going to F2P mean a renewed dev obsession with cash shop items to the near-exclusion of cool in-game drops?

      From a community perspective, F2P is also somewhat problematic. I actually always felt that GW2 suffered from the lack stickiness, in that there isn’t much of a reason to feel like you have to log on every day. With subscriptions, you kinda knew that if someone was still subscribed, that they would likely be there tomorrow. With F2P, there are going tens of thousands of people cycling in and out at any moment, even moreso than before under B2P.

      At the same time… you’re right too. If the game isn’t good, a subscription, B2P, or F2P scheme won’t save it. It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out for ArenaNet. An awful lot seems to be resting on the quality of their expansions, which… is quite the gamble with Heart of the Thorns, it seems like.

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  2. For the most part, those restrictions don’t seem to be intended to encourage buying a box: they just seem to be intended to restrict the spamming potential of a million throwaway F2P accounts.

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    • Yeah, it kinda feels a little unprecedented in the F2P conversion sense. Even the bag-slot restriction isn’t too terrible considering you can bank your trade goods instantly from anywhere.

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  3. F2P for the PvE side is quite restrictive, especially for bots and hackers (with the requirement of using the app or sms to log in system).

    Going through the Personal Story with just 3 bag slots (60 slots potentially) is enough to drive one crazy. Once you start spending money in gems (free accounts can’t convert gold into gems to avoid gold sellers and boters to gift gem store items), you may as well buy HoT – more character slots, more bag slots, more content.

    So Free players won’t last long on the PvE side – 60-100 hours.

    The play for free is mostly directed at PvP players. MOBAS are some of the biggest esport games, and they are all free.

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    • Is it 3 bag slots + backpack? Because that’s 80 slots potentially, but more realistically 20 (backpack) + 3×12 bags. 15 slot and then the 18, 20 slot are definitely more of an investment. If you are that invested in the game, I think you are right, should just buy it.

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