The fourth quarter results are in for Guild Wars 2: 34,903 million Won.
What does the above tell us about the health of GW2? Well… there might be cause for concern.
Revenue for the two quarters encompassing Heart of Thorns was 67,888 whereas Path of Fire is 55,048, a decline of about 19%. A more concerning factor, IMO, is how these last two quarters encompassed the release of mount skins in the Gem shop. Based on anecdotal evidence, e.g. in-game observation and Reddit threads, the mount skins have been one of the most lucrative additions to the Gem store in months. The Gliders released in HoT were cool-looking, but only seen when, you know, actively gliding. Meanwhile, people are on their mounts a good 90% of the time these days. There are 50 total mount skins, and even if ArenaNet severely bungled the distribution thereof, it’s clear that they are hot items.
Despite that, the 4Q17 results barely moved from where they were in 4th Quarter 2013.
Having said all that, the situation is not dire per se. If you enjoy GW2 as I am at the moment, there is no particular reason why you could not continue for quite some time. Even with a lower player population, you are unlikely to notice a decline, as players are funneled together into event zergs, and the Diablo-esque loot (99% useless) pinatas keep the dopamine high.
What we are likely to notice is exactly what we are seeing today: a renewed focus on fiddling with Gem Store items and services. The Mount skins were a start, but have continued into the Black Lion Chest “upgrade.” The Fashion Wars endgame remains largely P2W, with rewards for actual content-clearing relegated to the junior varsity artists. And everyone is fine with that since there is no “power” being sold… only motivation. And besides, if you farm enough gold and convert it into gems, you can reap the rewards yourself!
The funny thing about it all is the fact that while you can purchase Gems with Gold relatively effectively over time, the biggest cut for GW2 is actually the Gem to Gold conversion. For example, as of the time of this writing, the conversation rate is 100g = 356 gems. However, if you wanted to buy gold, the conversion is 19g per 100 gems. So, basically you get only 2/3rds of the value buying gold. This means that ArenaNet should probably be encouraging more tradable (and thus sellable on the AH) items, rather than a laser-focus on Gem Store exclusives.
As an example, the legendary greatsword, Twilight, is currently selling on the AH for 2750g. If I really wanted that item right now, I would have to buy 14,474 gems and convert it to the necessary gold. That’s $180.92 worth of gems as of today. Or I could decide that that is absurd (it is), and start off on a journey to craft the Legendary myself, which could be a year-long endeavor that requires touching every part of GW2’s content.
Or, you know, buy an similarly cool-looking greatsword (or bow) skin off the Gem store for like $10. Either/Or. It is becoming increasingly apparent which one ArenaNet would prefer.
Posted on February 9, 2018, in Guild Wars 2 and tagged Cash Shop, Endgame, Fashion Wars, GW2, P2W, Revenue. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.
I’m not sure why you ignore that price of expansion was significantly lower this time ($30 PoF versus $50 HoT), which places estimated number of sold copies higher than HoT, even considering that some part of the revenue is tied to gem store.
I would indeed assume that more people bought PoF than HoT due to a lower price-point, and better features besides (Mounts improve all GW2 content). That said, we don’t know how many boxes were sold, and that would just give us a floor number in any case – there are X amount of F2P players who buy nothing. And nevermind the people who bought the HoT+PoF deal, which obfuscates the numbers without even considering the Gem store.
So, really, we’re left with revenue, which should track more closely with population than the alternatives. And revenue is down, even from an expensive HoT box that fewer people should have bought to begin with. If revenue falls too far, it won’t matter how many people play GW2 every day, the game gets shut down.
“If revenue falls too far, it won’t matter how many people play GW2 every day, the game gets shut down.”
Shut down by whom? ANet isn’t going to shutter GW2. Guild Wars is the only thing they do. They might put it into maintenance mode someday, as they did with GW, but only if they have something to replace it, which would presumably be GW3, by which time we, as players, would probably be very happy to move on anyway.
Anet is a wholly-owned subsidiary of NCSoft so NCSoft could repurpose Anet at any time, but again, since ANet does nothing at all except manage, publish, operate and create content for the Guild Wars franchise that seems very unlikely. They could sell or close Anet, which seems less unlikely but still unlikely.
Closing City of Heroes while it still had 100k player sand was in profit gave NCSoft a reputation for ruthlessness but the continued existence of WildStar suggests that was an exceptional decision. In any case, even at the most pessimistic interpretation of the figures, GW2 is a very long way from being City of Heroes, let alone WildStar. It would have to lose a lot of traction in the marketplace before it even looked like there was a any kind of issue over its ongoing existence. It made SuperData’s charts this month after all, which, while it may not be the solidest of datapoints, certainly isn’t something that suggests terminal decline.
As a player I have no fears for the medium or even long term existence GW2. What interests me more is just how long ANet would want to keep the game as their primary means of income. While the servers aren’t likely to shut down in the next three years, nor probably the next five or even ten, you’re right that it will become increasingly arduous to extract value from an ever-diminishing pool of customers. At some point they will surely need to begin planning a new project and we keep coming back to the fact that all ANet does and all it has ever done is make Guild Wars products.
They have said that they expect GW2 to last ten years at least but they are nearly six years into that. MMOs on the scale of GW2 take 5+ years to develop. If they aren’t already working on a sequel they surely have to start doing so very soon. And once they announce that they are it will have a stifling effect on GW2 so of course they will want to leave it as long as possible before letting anyone know. Assuming, that is, that NCSoft is interested in staying in the MMO business in Western markets into the mid 2020s and beyond…
Right, NCSoft is really the only mover that matters here, and indeed I was thinking about City of Heroes when I wrote that. Star Wars Galaxy was another high-profile closure, but I’m sure there was more of a licencing issue directing that (e.g. SWTOR’s release) than a “profit, but not enough profit” situation. The continued existence of Wildstar is indeed a conundrum, especially given the fact that it does not even warrant a space in their Financial Report any longer. I’m guessing there is some sort of contractual obligation in there somewhere.
As far as concern is… concerned, I too am not worried about GW2 suddenly closing up shop in the medium-term. What I am concerned about is what declining revenue is going to mean in terms of the game’s design. Are they going to burn the candle at both ends, with faster expansions and Living Story releases? If so, that could be a good thing! More content is good. Or maybe it means more shovelware and effectively using the Gem store to deliver content. Imagine if active players no longer got the Living Story releases for free. 200 gems isn’t much to ask for an active player, right?
That sort of thing is why any of this matters. The closure of an MMO is not necessarily the worst thing that can happen to it.