GW2: Full Steam Ahead

Guild Wars 2 is heading to Steam in November.

The details are sketchy at the moment, but it does appear that GW2 will have the same sort of account restrictions that Final Fantasy 14 had when it made a similar move back in 2014. Specifically, you will NOT be able to migrate your existing GW2 account to Steam, and you will likely be locked into the Steam ecosystem if you do end up spending any money. For example, you will need to purchase the expansions within Steam and not from other vendors or ArenaNet directly. 

Speaking of expansions, ArenaNet also teased a 3rd one coming out in 2021.

But that isn’t the interesting bit though, is it? Why is GW2 coming to Steam in the first place, 8 years after its launch? Are the financials in that dire of straits? 

Based on the above figures, things don’t appear too far off from their historical levels. Which, of course, is always a risk when it comes to NCSoft and their predilection to axing “just okay” titles (e.g. Wildstar, City of Heroes). If something happens to Aion, ArenaNet should start sweating.

In any case, perhaps we should not be surprised by the move to Steam. Like already mentioned, Final Fantasy 14 has been on Steam for quite some time. And if you missed it, even EA seems to have finally capitulated and are bringing over not only their hitherto walled-off Origin library, but even their EA Play subscription. At some point the math must have worked out: additional revenue from an expanded audience > Valve’s 30% (or whatever) cut on in-game purchases.

Interesting how nobody is heading to Epic… yet?

Having said that, I’m not entirely sure how successful the GW2 transition to Steam is going to be due to two systemic issues. The first is that GW2 is still using DX9, with no particular indication that it’s even possible for them to update. This is going to lead to some very negative Steam reviews (for what those are worth) for performance reasons. It’s 2020 and GW2 is still using single-thread drivers that came out in 2002.

The second is more insidious: ArenaNet’s insane Gotcha! paywalls. The Living Story updates that occur a few times a year are free… if you happen to log into the game and unlock them before the next one comes out.

Everyone else, including 100% of all Steam players, are going to face a screen like this one:

That’d be $20 for all of them

I suppose it could technically be argued that these are optional story content, but really the overarching plot in GW2 makes (even-) less sense if you are sticking just to the expansion pieces. You will be seeing completely new characters while your own character talks to them as if they have known them for years. Plus, there are certain maps and vendors thereon that make gearing up incredibly easy in comparison to the alternatives. 

Steam already has a lot of “F2P” exploitative cash grab titles available, and I don’t think GW2 does itself any favors so obviously slotting itself into that crowd. But a lot can happen between now and November, so perhaps we will see a surprise bit of competence from ArenaNet. Either including the Living Seasons for free (ha) for everyone or bundling them with the expansion purchases (which should have occured from the start). We’ll just have to wait and see.

Posted on August 31, 2020, in Guild Wars 2 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. “That’d be $20 for all of them”

    $16 actually, there’s 20% discount for buying entire season. But I agree with you in general, both performance and increasing story paywall were neglected for far too long.

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    • Where are you seeing the discount purchase? In the store? Mine is showing a sale “ending soon” that appears to be 1600 gems normally, which is exactly $20. I can’t see anything for Season 3 or 4, as I managed to log in during those and so acquired them already (except for like episode 4 of Season 4 somehow).

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      • I’m not sure spam filter will allow me to post the link, just look up “Living World Season Complete Pack” on GW2 wiki, it explains how the price works.

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  2. Being locked out of much of that Living Story content is a privelige not a punishment. I’d pay good money to have the time back I spent playing some of it.

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    • Eh… I mean, maybe. A lot of it is garbage, but it is story content within which the expansions make even less sense. Then there are episodes like Crack in the Ice (S3E3) wherein I have no idea what could replace it, in terms of easy Ascended gear for new players. Maybe some of the later episodes eclipse it?

      Regardless of quality, it remains a needless gotcha! moment where players are presented with a paywall of unknown value, even if they already bought all the expansions.

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