ArenaNet's game director lays out price cut, update schedule and more to come for GW2
Colin began by stating how the game “is in a really solid place” at the moment and the price drop comes at a traditional time in the cycle of the game. With the game performing so well the reduction is not a big one but the team is looking forward to getting more players in game because of it.
The most immediate question that was on all of our minds regarding the announcement was whether the ArenaNet team thought the permanent 10 dollar price drop would make a big difference; after all, the game has been available for quite a bit cheaper in previous sales. Johanson responded that reactions have been swift and positive:
“I have seen comments already this morning where people have said “Oh I’m going to check it out now because of the price drop. I was waiting for this.” I think it can have the effect to drive initial players into the game. On top of that it’s something retailers really want as well, to drive stronger traffic into stores, to allow them to better pitch the product to customers to sell the game when they’re coming into their stores. It’s definitely something they’ve asked us to do.
We’re really working with two audiences there and it can be effective. But we’re really in a good spot so we don’t need to do anything drastic.”
That “good spot” includes over three million box sales so far. To put that kind of success into perspective: that number does not include China, Korea and other countries; which is a pretty hefty untapped market. Johanson noted that Guild Wars 2 has been repeatedly sitting atop the most anticipated game lists in China even though it has only recently had a very small beta. So expect that already impressive 3,000,000 figure to become much, much bigger soon.
Guild Wars 2 has seen new content at a pace pretty much unseen in MMOs before, with additions arriving every two weeks recently. I asked Colin whether we can expect to see this cadence continuing in the future.
“We’re really happy with the cadence we’re rolling out right now. It’s something that our customers have responded to really positively. Our World vs. World population has been steadily going up and recently hit population numbers that are equivalent to or over the same numbers that we had in October last year, which is really exciting for us. I think the World vs. World community is responding really well to these updates.
Every time we do one of the Living World updates we see a ton of players pour in and go to the different areas where content is available and that’s really exciting.
Our [Structured] PvP is starting to grow as well. We had three consecutive weeks in a row where we had 4% growth in PvP players which is higher than the normal growth that we see. We’ve seen a lot of tournaments sprout up around the support we’ve been able to give on a consistent basis.
It’s definitely something we’re looking at; can we continue to support and update the game on a cadence this aggressive? We felt like once a month was really strong and, if we can get faster than that, it’s even better for our customers. It’s something we’re working very seriously on as a company right now.”
Such a turnaround on content is a huge undertaking; I wondered what the main impetus was for ArenaNet to move to this schedule for content production.
“A lot of it was fan and community driven and data driven. We were looking at what our players were doing in the game; we were looking at the feedback they were giving. In particular a lot of the feedback about the Flame and Frost experience and the updates we’ve been doing so far was that they were really enjoying that content; they found it fun, but they wanted even more, they wanted it to come slightly faster. They wanted a stronger cadence of releases. We felt we could do that as a company and we wanted to craft a niche; we wanted to do something that no one else in the industry was doing.
With Guild Wars 2, from the start, we’ve wanted to provide something that you’re not going to find in any other game. I think that the idea of having these very regular releases where the storyline is constantly changing and shifting, where the content is changing, where the world is changing based on these experiences.
I don’t think there’s anyone out there doing anything like this. I think if we can do it even faster and change the world more and provide more regular updates, there’s just that much more market for us to get out there and get people excited about the game.”