Guild Wars 2 staff are reorganizing into ‘fully staffed content teams’ as ArenaNet outlines future content

    
39

Guild Wars 2 has been in a bit of limbo this winter. Following mass layoffs at ArenaNet, the cancellation of two additional games, and the revelation that no expansion was planned for 2019, the studio suggested it was redoubling its efforts on Guild Wars 2. Today’s letter from Game Director Mike Zadorojny will come as a welcome relief, however, as he’s once again delivering quite a bit of information about where the game stands and where it’s going – something even we’ve remarked has been noticeably absent over the last two years.

While Zadorojny says the “core pillars” for Guild Wars 2 haven’t changed – including that focus on horizontal progression and the sub-free business model – the team is restructuring.

“We are taking the opportunity now to reorganize ourselves into four fully staffed content teams with additional teams dedicated to supporting the core game like Skills and Balance, Rewards, WvW, and sPvP. Content teams will have more flexibility to decide what makes sense for a given release—for example, we could focus on expanding the boundaries and content of an existing map if that would provide a better experience than creating a new one. Ultimately, this will mean a relatively steady release of new content that will allow us to continue telling the story of Tyria in exciting new ways.”

Right now, the game’s in the midst of its Super Adventure Festival, to be followed by the season 4 finale this spring. It’s been delayed, by the way, and won’t make the two-to-three-month cadence, but apparently we can expect a new raid after it’s out with “additional small-scale open world content so all of our players will have something to celebrate with the release of the raid.”

After that, it sounds like the team is still set on releasing living world season 5 as a formal season. Zadorojny says the team is considering legendary runs and sigils, build templates, expanded cooking and jewelcrafting skills, and improvements for both WvW and sPvP. Beyond that? We don’t know.

“This sort of discussion of projects that we’ve kept under wraps until now is a departure from how we’ve been communicating for a while,” Zadorojny admits. “It’s our hope that through posts like this we can help clarify for you what our priorities and goals are for the game. And while this isn’t everything we have planned for the game, it at least gives you better insight into its development. The team is passionate about not only supporting Guild Wars 2, but continuing to grow it alongside all of you.”

Want more GW2 to feast on? One of MOP’s Guild Wars 2 columnists, Colin Henry, penned a speculative article this morning exploring where Guild Wars 2’s story could go in the absence of dragons.

newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Peter Olsen

I’ll be honest- I left because all there was, at the end of the day, was PvP in various configurations, and Fractals.

There’s no actual instanced content, that I can find [other than from the initial release, before they abandoned it] other than that.

Which wouldn’t be bad if there were open dungeons, but I don’t see those either.

Reader
kelathos .

I loved GW1, and enjoyed some time with GW2 but it is a fundamentally different game. The only thing Anet could interest me in at this point is a new game, if not a direct sequel then a spiritual successor. Give this “old” dog a new bone.

Reader
Dankey Kang

I hope the best for the team but they really do need to take class balance more seriously. Most of the players are PvE and there are so many specs and weapons that are just garbage or unfun to play in that game mode.

Reader
Sally Bowls

a welcome relief, however, as he’s once again delivering quite a bit of information about where the game stands and where it’s going

After reading Bhagpuss and Bree, I am somewhat walking back my initial agreement of the above. IMO, the fundamental question is “will there be an expansion?” and I don’t see that being addressed.

1) Do they think an expansion is not necessary? Having a different opinion as me is the quintessential definition of wrong.

2) Do they think that an expansion would be desirable, but there is not the budget for it?

3) Do they think that an expansion would be desirable, but that will take too long and they need to focus on things that will give them a short term bump? Which could be right: GW2 release expansions at half the rate as WoW and nobody calls WoW speedy. GW2’s fate may be decided before an expansion they had not yet started would be finished. It would have been far easier to convince NCSoft to “give us two years and a launch budget” a few years ago rather than now considering recent performance of GW2, MMOs and alternatives. Having an expansion well underway when the next big layoffs hit does little good; better to have spent the effort on Living Story and prayer.

So I am predicting a modified Bree / Tom Lehrer (“Now there’s a charge for what she used to give for free”) strategy. Continue doing what they have been doing, Living Story no expansions. But call them expansions. And charge for them. So [hopefully slightly] less content for considerably more money than in the past; welcome to 2019.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
TomTurtle

My personal narrative, which involves much guesswork, is that the game was working with less staff over time, which fits with the idea to move onto another season of the Living World rather than an expansion. LW is on a smaller scale and not as resource intensive.

Layoffs hit and suddenly the studio’s main focus is back on their moneymaker once more. They now probably would love to put out an expansion, but it’s far too close to the next season to do so without having had the proper preparation. That the blog post even makes mention of scrutinizing their plans for Season 5 says to me they don’t have so much confidence in those plans anymore, largely in part to the layoffs, and that there’s quite a bit of uncertainty moving forward.

Those pre-layoff decisions may have bitten them in the butt considering how good a proper expansion can be for the health of an MMO. I share the worry that this will urge them to find new, potentially more aggressive ways to monetize the LW during the next season.

I just hope the shake-up has urged them to focus on an expansion, but you know, not excessively to the point of crunch happening, as we’ve been alerted to more and more in the industry as of late. That and I also hope that yet another development team restructuring accomplishes something good. It’s disconcerting to see it happening once again.

Mordyjuice
Reader
Mordyjuice

Oh boy, it’s going to be that content draught we had after Heart of Thorns while they were ‘reorganizing’ then too.

Slivers of added maps and more ‘fluid and frequent ‘ content drops just tell me they’re backsliding into Season 2 with Drytop. We’re going to get content drops like the filler content we get between episodes to distract us.from getting less Episodes.

You can probably kiss expansions good bye too.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
squid

“fully-staffed content teams”

Yeah. Ok. Sure.

Reader
Bhagpuss Bhagpuss

If they don’t announce an expansion for 2020 I guess I’m done. If I’ve learned one thing from the last seven years it’s that a continual drip-feed of small content updates at widespread intervals just doesn’t work for me. Season One of the Living World, while flawed, had a fast-enough cadence to hold interest and Heart of Thorns was a good, full year’s worth of content but since then it’s been slim pickings indeed.

Above all, I want a “box” (digital or physical) that I can buy. The act of paying money for it is, I’ve discovered, rather significant. Free content is nice but it’s like eating candy whereas a good, solid expansion you have to pay for feels like a meal.

Then there’s the anticipation. I want to read about it several months in advance so I can build up my excitement. When it eventually arrives I should be ready to tear off the (imaginary) wrapping and gorge on sufficient new content to keep me satiated for a minimum of a couple of months (preferably more like half a year). I’d like one of those every year but I would grudgingly accept every other year. That’s pretty much the baseline requirment for an active MMO.

Short of that an MMORPG risks becoming one of those background games, something to log into once in a while, as and when I happen to read a PR piece or news item about something new happening. GW2 is at that status now and likely to stay there – or slip further – and nothing in the announcement suggests that’s likely to change this year.

latorn
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
latorn

100% Agree with this.

It was so disheartening to hear they planned to move from Season 4 directly to Season 5 without any kind of expansion between. I don’t buy skins and junk from the gem store, but would certainly be willing to pay for content in the form of an expansion!

Reader
Sally Bowls

I agree. And even if we could get by, the market and press (strike that, i’m old; make that content creators) gives a lot more attention to Expansions.

I am not sure of anything better than the old CCP cadence: they would cut features but they got a named expansion out every six months.

I mostly agree with you on paid expansions. Yet there is a big downside, SWBF2 changed monetization from SWBF1 because paid expansions segregates the playerbase and seperates friends. “you have to pay $30 to join me in my F2P game” can get some pushback from friends; there are so many games that only want $X from me. WoW can ask people to pay for an expansion and get 3 to 4 million to pay up in the first week. Are there enough Serious GW2 people to make that work now? Hope so; there used to be. But GW2 and I are not aging well.

Then there’s the anticipation. I want to read about it several months in advance so I can build up my excitement.

I discuss enough negative realities so try (albeit frequently fail) to resist going into negative speculation, but for me, the biggest, reddest, flashing warning sign for the health of GW2 was the PoF launch. Going from a PAX announcement with ten month lead-in to PoF was a big change. If NCSoft valued the product, they would have had a marketing budget and they would have made a bigger deal about it.

Reader
Anton Mochalin

I’m not a “Serious GW2” person and I’m so happy I play GW2 casually and don’t care about “content draught” (and story in general). Seems like I’m having so much better time with GW2 than you. When I’m done with F2P content I’ll buy Heart of Thorns. I guess that’ll be next year or in 2021. Meanwhile there are so many things to do in GW2.

Reader
Sally Bowls

I was not talking about myself personally. (I am not playing GW2 and probably won’t until there is an expansion.) I think for the market in general Bhagpuss and Bree and the others are right; you really can’t have a Top 5 (Bree is an easy grader; top 10 is more accurate) MMO without expansions.

If I were going to have a not-top-10 MMO then I would be worried of NCSoft’s track record, especially now that they are a mobile company.

Reader
Anton Mochalin

Not a single NCSoft’s mobile title is in Top 10 but they still make tons of money with mobile games. NCSoft is one of the oldest and most experienced publishers in MMO space and they surely have all the data down to your last login date and the exact dates of your purchases with them. So if they don’t push for a new expansion that could mean they’re making another bet.

GW2 is really very good for casual play (like 3-5 hours a week) and also hardcore GW2 players quite often mention PvP among their main activities in-game. MOBAs like DoTA show us people can spend thousands of hours playing on the same map if the game mechanics and the variety of builds are done right. And if you’re into cosmetics people are much more likely to see your new outfit in PvP. And we know a significant amount of GW2 revenue comes from cosmetics in the cash shop.

Reader
Bruno Brito

ardcore GW2 players quite often mention PvP among their main activities in-game.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA++++

Reader
Anton Mochalin

“PvP is the most fun, best aspect of GW2” – WoodenPotatoes, GW2 YouTuber with 135k subscribers, most popular GW2 Twitch streamer

Reader
Bruno Brito

Also a man who never even been through a world GW2 championship.

Go ask Nike, Helseth, Phantaram, or Teldo what they thought about GW2 balance.

While at it, stop thinking popularity means anything other than being popular. WP is a good guy, but he’s not in any way shape or form the best player in the GW2 community.

Reader
Anton Mochalin

All PvP games have problems with the balance and the more you play the better you see those problems. Yes I totally believe what you say about “pro” GW2 PvP players not liking the balance and whatnot. But they’re still GW2 players.

Anyway WP plays a lot of GW2 and considers PvP the best part. Other YouTubers I respect which play GW2 like its PvP. I also know that my casual playstyle will take years before clearly seeing any pvp balance problems.

I have 1000 hours played in Smite and have seen balance problems at least for half of that time. Still having a lot of fun even clearly seeing that Smite is dying little by little with no hope to be revived.

Reader
Bruno Brito

But they’re still GW2 players.

They WERE GW2 players. Teldo moved after the issue with the first international. Helseth left. I think Nike still plays. I don’t know what happened to Brazil, but i wouldn’t put past him to also have moved. Phantaram probably left too.

Anyway WP plays a lot of GW2 and considers PvP the best part. Other YouTubers I respect which play GW2 like its PvP. I also know that my casual playstyle will take years before clearly seeing any pvp balance problems.

That’s good and all, but your anedoctal experience isn’t relevant for how the game is faring. And it’s faring BADLY. GW2 has one of the WORSTS powercreeps in MMO history, and it’s behind TWO paywalls. There’s a reason why the studio cannot use GW2’s profits to finance anything else, which means Anet now is to die on that rock. They either change GW2 drastically to improve gameplay, which is a huge stretch, since this is how the game has been for seven years, with the same bugs, or they, again, die on that rock, and GW2 is exactly what you see.

I have 1000 hours played in Smite and have seen balance problems at least for half of that time. Still having a lot of fun even clearly seeing that Smite is dying little by little with no hope to be revived.

Smite is pretty balanced right now in S6, with the exceptions of Arthur and Merlin. Other than that, comparing Smite balancing to GW2 is asinine. Both have balancing issues but Smite didn’t neglect two portions of their game to “improve” ( put raids ) on one.

I never said that WP isn’ t a good youtuber nor anything like that. But you using his experience as something to die for is naive. The studio just laid off a shitload of people because the game isn’t profiting enough for them to create anything else, because they left several areas of it rot with neglect. Dungeons, WvW, PvP. Anet always invested on them in the completely wrong way. And at it’s core, not even just balancing issues, the removal of the trinity made GW2 a defective game.

You can contest this all you want, it won’t make it less true. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a game either. But your enjoyment won’t make GW2 less neglected or Anet less incompetent at balancing.

Reader
Anton Mochalin

We were initially discussing GW2’s new content strategy – should they focus on releasing a new expansion or do smaller content updates but more often. And what I was saying is that maybe NCSoft looks at the numbers and sees that expansions don’t actually get the boost justifying the effort. Maybe they even see it not only in GW2 numbers but also in Lineage numbers, B&S numbers etc. Maybe they see that people just come to play some PvP and do some fractals from time to time, not too often, but still buying cosmetics sometimes. So GW2 for them can be less like a blockbuster movie with expensive tickets and more like a resort with nice scenery and nice people where people spend much more money on drinks and spa than on movie theater tickets. Maybe NCSoft even already knows that there’s never enough of expansions, the “active” playerbase finishes an expansion’s content in the week after release and then resumes whining about content drought and lack of balance. And “less active” playerbase waits for a discount or doesn’t care about expansions at all.

Re. Smite – like most players (= most revenue for HiRez) I play Arena plus some Clash or Joust very rarely. Haven’t played a Conquest match for a long long time. And I can say Arena is all about mages, playing other classes is still fun but one has significantly less impact when playing them. Yesterday I had a team of 5 mages twice and both times we won. So yeah that I guess can count as a balance problem. Still had a lot of fun.

Reader
Anton Mochalin

Just had another 5 mages team. Won again.

Reader
Goettel

“we could focus on expanding the boundaries and content of an existing map if that would provide a better experience than creating a new one”

Here’s hoping that means adding worthwhile meta events to existing maps.

Reader
Bruno Brito

Six years, Anet.

I’ll believe it when i see it.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

build templates

OH GOD FUCKING PLEASE. I would be so happy if this was a thing, doubly so if it also included saving gear loadouts. Arc gear manager works fine, but I always much prefer native options.

Reader
Dankey Kang

Yeah it would be perhaps the single best thing they could add to the game.