Friday, August 28, 2015

GW2 Goes F2P...Or Does It?

Right after I finished yesterday's post about the new Daredevil specialization for the Thief this dropped into my Feedly. Not an hour before I'd been at Claw of Jormag, where map chat was busy with arguments over whether GW2 was about to go F2P and, if it was, whether the sky would fall.

With the full authority of ignorance I opined to Mrs Bhagpuss that it would make no sense for ANet to start giving the base game away. What would be the point? Apparently there was some rumor going around but you know how these things are. People will make up anything.

Well apparently it's more than a rumor or so IGN reckon:

That's the tweet that started it all. Now deleted at source, as is the official ANet trailer that appeared briefly and which I haven't seen. Supposedly, that suggested the plan was far more sweeping than just another version of the extremely limited Free Trial that that_shaman datamined last year.

There's a substantial reaction thread on the forums but it's by no means a threadnought...yet. Anet themselves have said nothing although there's hardly anything unusual in that. Their Big Announcement is only a day away in any case and with the cat at least poking its head out of the bag the best way they have to maintain tension is neither to confirm nor deny.

The timing of this announcement is interesting. As of today all new accounts for GW2 will require SMS or similar authentication. The requirement is waived for all accounts made before that date. I would imagine that would be a useful control tool for eliminating or pursuing  botting accounts.

They shall not pass!

The two big fears in the community at present seem to be a vast influx of bots, trolls and hackers and the complete collapse of the economy. Somewhat ironically in my opinion, given that GW2 is a B2P game that has had two extremely cheap box sales already, the feeling seems to be that F2P players are entirely different in attitude, ethics and morals to the people already playing.

That last seems to me to be mostly fear of the other. Having played a multiplicity of MMOs under just about all payment models for years now I would say there's very little to choose between any of them in terms of the communities. If pushed I'd say subscription games tend to have the most difficult and abrasive communities and not only for a new player.

On botting it should be remembered that GW2 had an absolutely appalling problem with bots during the first three months after launch. Mrs Bhagpuss and I went on holiday at the peak of the infestation and talked seriously about whether we would leave GW2 when we came back because the botting issue was making the game unplayable.

You've ruined your own lands...

That was when the game was only available at full price. ANet claimed they were working on a solution and it turned out they were. By the time we returned from holiday most of the bots were gone and within six months they were all gone. I haven't seen a single bot in about two years.

So, I can't see the payment model change bringing in waves of bots. As for the economy the issue there appears to be the daily log-in rewards, which can be used to obtain items, mostly crafting mats, that sell for a lot of money on the Trading Post. The fear is that people will create scores of F2P accounts, nab all the log-in rewards and crash the market.

I'm pretty sure GW2's in-house economist John Smith will already have thought of that one. If the base game does go fully F2P I imagine we have yet another revamp of dailies to look forward to.

For now I feel sanguine about this. I have three accounts and only one of them is going to get Heart of Thorns added to it. I'll have the option of playing with or without F2P players around me but I imagine most of my time will be spent down there in the base game with the unwashed hordes so how they handle the changes will very much affect me.

The devil will, as always, be in the details. I guess we'll find out tomorrow whether the sky really is about to fall.


  1. Haaa! "Threadnought"! I'd never heard that before. If it's yours, it's most excellent!

    (Oh yeah, the rest of the post is good too :D )

    1. I'd love to take credit for it but I think it's been around in general use for a while.


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