Is it Time for Guild Wars 3?
So by now I’m sure you’ve all heard about the drama concerning ArenaNet laying off 143 of their employees – which is the studio directly connected to Guild Wars 2.
But for those of you that haven’t – allow me to quickly address the topic and bring it to your attention now.
On February 21st of this year Kotaku reported that ArenaNet – the studio in charge of both Guild Wars – the original, and Guild Wars 2 was about to suffer “large layoffs.”
They stated that they’d acquired a memo from NCSoft’s CEO himself stating that ArenaNet just wasn’t “sustainable” and that the “live game business revenue is declining.”
This wasn’t untrue, as ArenaNet’s fourth quarter financials were down quite a lot in 2018.
Fast forward to February 25th, and it was confirmed that ArenaNet would be laying off a large part of the Guild Wars 2 studio while canceling several projects they had under development.
To add insult to injury, the 4 days leading up to the layoffs, the corporate execs never told anyone who was actually leaving the studio and who was remaining, which is very unprofessional and I’m sure at the time caused a lot of alarm for every single dev working at the company.
But whatever, corporate doesn’t care about the developers – that’s no surprise.
As mentioned, there were 143 people laid off at the time. That is insane. That day the Guild Wars 2 team lost a lot of good people.
Now let’s fast forward 2 more days to February 27th, where after a surge of players freaking out wondering what the plan was for the game going into the future, Game Director Mike Zadorojny stepped forward with a statement.
He mentioned that “The Guild Wars 2 team is still committed to bringing content and feature updates to the game.”
“Our long-term plans for the game like World Restructuring and large-scale improvements to quality of life are still in the works.”
And that’s the situation with the layoffs and where we’re at currently. Out of a studio of 400 devs, 143 were laid off leaving just 257 working on the game.
Granted, it was mentioned that NCSoft was restructuring their teams and moving some people back to ArenaNet who had been moved away from the studio in the past.
One final note on the subject was that Jessica Price, a former narrative designer working at ArenaNet that some of you might remember got fired last year had a little spice to add to the topic.
According to her, ArenaNet was working on two new projects, one of which was cancelled while she was there. Guild Wars 2 was supposedly suffering due to the shift in attention – with less content being actively worked on.
In her own words, “For those of us working on Guild Wars 2, our mandate was essentially to make it look like there was the same level of resources devoted to Guild Wars 2, when they were actually steadily moving people off of it onto other projects.”
So here we are, at the end of 2019, wondering where we’re going in the future.
I’ve played my fair share of Guild Wars 2. This channel was built around it initially, with my sister Wiggy and I doing 4-hour livestreams 3 days a week dedicated to it.
We poured hundreds of hours into the game and we enjoyed every minute of it. And Tybalt. Tybalt is bae.
But, I’ve noticed a growing percentage of people wondering if it isn’t time for a Guild Wars 3?
Guild Wars 2 was released in August 2012.
Living World Season 1 began in January 2013 and concluded in March 2014.
Living World Season 2 began in July 2014 and concluded in January 2015.
It went free-to-play in August 2015.
Heart of Thorns, its very first expansion pack released in October 2015.
Living World Season 3 began in July 2016 and concluded in July 2017.
Path of Fire, its second expansion pack released in September 2017.
Living World Season 4 began in November 2017 and concluded in May 2019.
The Icebrood Saga began in September 2019 – and that’s where we’re at currently.
So, Heart of Thorns in 2015, Path of Fire in 2017, but no expansion details for 2019, and no announcement of a potential expansion to look forward to any time in 2020 thus far.
That’s a little disconcerting, especially considering the fact that people have been criticizing the game for their slow updates recently.
Then it was revealed that before his departure, Mike O’Brien, the former Game Director for both the original Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 and a handful of developers were actually prototyping Guild Wars 3.
Yes, if he had it his way Guild Wars 3 would’ve already been in development by this point, but unfortunately, his ideas failed to get the seal of approval from NCSoft.
And we know why after their statement earlier about it being “sustainable” and “revenue declining.”
But just because his idea didn’t get approval from NCSoft doesn’t mean that a Guild Wars 3 is totally out of the question. Maybe he was thinking too grand. Maybe his concept was too ambitious.
There are any number of reasons why NCSoft at the time chose to turn down the potential for a sequel, but then I, along with a lot of the community am left to wonder.. so then, what?
I just got back into playing Guild Wars 2 with Mrs Stix – who’s playing through the game with me for the first time. We’re somewhere in the level 30 to 40 range and are looking forward to maxing out to see endgame eventually.
But.. the population is declining, revenue is declining, the lack of updates. I can’t be the only one concerned with this.
While the expansions are all paid expansions, the fact is that Guild Wars 2 is one of the last good free-to-play MMORPGs left.
A new expansion might be in the works, and I’ll admit that it’ll boost activity and revenue in the short term, but I don’t think it’s enough to save the game from growing stagnant.
But at the same time I don’t want the game to shift their priorities to a completely different game – because that would kill the current iteration of the game.
Which means we’re left with quite the conundrum. See, the studio is much smaller now than when they did expansions in the past, which means, naturally, content is expected to be produced at a significantly reduced rate.
However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over my career playing MMOs it’s that the community expects regular updates, and if content isn’t coming at a speed the playerbase deems adequate, they won’t stick around.
Yes, we’re an awfully fickle lot aren’t we? But it’s understandable, there’s no point in re-running the same content repetitiously for no reward.
But what would Guild Wars 3 look like? What should it look like? When I Googled around I saw that a lot of people would much rather a sequel returning to their roots in the form of the original Guild Wars game.
For those of you that want this, why do you feel that way? What about Guild Wars would make Guild Wars 3 better than if Guild Wars 2 were to just improve their current systems?
See, for me, I think that Guild Wars 2 is.. well, when I played it full-time back in 2016 it was a very different game. It made more sense to me back then.
But I’ve always been of the opinion that the action combat system – with the weapon you have equipped having a direct impact on what skills you have access to is a pretty damn awesome addition to combat.
It makes swapping between the two weapon types you have that much more necessary, even if I suck at it.
The more realistic graphical style – the beautiful landscapes, the open-world-albeit with segregated zones – I think ArenaNet did great with Guild Wars 2. But I feel like improvements could be made.
While a Guild Wars 3 is probably unlikely any time in the immediate future, I still think it’d be awesome to see an announcement from NCSoft, or, heck ArenaNet that they’re even entertaining the potential for talks of one.
It doesn’t need to be a confirmation – but I think the community would shit a brick if they learned there were even open-discussions on the topic of a 3rd Guild Wars game – however the game turned out.
But, disregarding Guild Wars 3, if they decide to announce a new expansion sometime next year – which is a possibility but is more unlikely due to the downsizing of their studio, what would you want from it?
Final Fantasy XIV released the masterpiece that is Shadowbringers, the Elder Scrolls Online pulled off an epic Elsweyr expansion, World of Warcraft.. well, they put out Classic WoW.
It’s about time we had some new life breathed into Tyria, yeah?