Flameseeker Chronicles: Chairs and other oddities in Guild Wars 2’s cash shop

    
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I love MMO cosmetics, and Guild Wars 2 has a great selection, from armor skins and outfits to gliders to minipets to mount skins. I don’t mind dropping a few bucks on cash shop cosmetics from time to time because it’s a great way to support the game, and I find value in it. I know some people who think spending money on this kind of fluff is dumb and wasteful, but I figure, if I get as much enjoyment out of running around Tyria dressed like a cowboy as I do out of going to a movie that costs about the same, then it’s money well spent. A movie lasts two or three hours, but cosmetics last as long as the game does.

But there’s one category on the Black Lion Trader that I really don’t get: chairs.

Let’s not forget that chairs literally started as an April Fools’ Day joke in 2018. ArenaNet added sittable chairs all over the world, along with an achievement to sit in every chair type, granting a summonable chair for your account. It was a weird, cute little gag. It could even be a nice immersion thing: I don’t stand up all day, so why should my character?

But then the studio started adding chairs to Black Lion Chests and the cash shop. And they aren’t just different styles of average-looking chairs. They are, almost without exception, giant, flashy thrones. I rarely see anyone use them, but when I do, it’s mostly people apparently seeking attention by parking their giant, floating Inquest Overseer chair or neon Super Adventure Box chair right outside the bank or trading post in Lion’s Arch, either AFK or… waiting for someone to ask them how they got that cool chair, I guess?

This would be another thing entirely if Guild Wars 2 had housing. I’ve spent cash shop currency on housing items in other games. Not as much as on outfits or mounts, but a few dollars here or there. I would consider paying for some of the chairs, and/or matching decorations, for a house, or even a guild hall if I were a decorator for one, but not to just plunk down in random places in the world.

I’m no expert, but I would imagine that they’re one of the easiest cosmetics to make. Most of them are basically just a static model, with little or nothing new to animate. It’s not like gear pieces, which have to be checked for interactions against every other compatible gear piece for every race and gender with a wide variety of animations. Some of them, like the Skyscale Chair (which is the only chair I’ve even remotely considered buying because it’s totes adorbs, as the kids say), are even built using existing models. I guess in that sense ArenaNet need a lot fewer people to buy them to make money.

Chairs aren’t the only thing in the cash shop that mystify me. Travel toys, like the Magic Carpet, Riding Broom, and Sonic Tunneling Tool, are equally nonsensical and rarely seen, especially since the advent of mounts. The Salvage-o-Matic actually loses you money, and when you can teleport to the PvP lobby or guild hall to buy salvage kits and return to exactly where you were, the argument of convenience seems pretty weak. Similarly, the Home Portal Stone is a lot less appealing when you realize that there are portals to Lion’s Arch in both the PvP and WvW lobbies, which can be accessed instantly from anywhere.

Not long ago, I would have lumped cosmetic gathering tools into this same category, but the fact that the visual effects have been unlinked from tool glyphs and made available account-wide makes them a lot more tempting. This just goes to show that some items just need a good rework to drive sales. For instance, I’m not really that keen on buying any of the array of musical instruments, but if ArenaNet added a proper music system, like the one found in The Lord of the Rings Online and other MMOs, I would totally be up for buying a few.

Another item that comes to mind is upgrade extractors. Why would I buy a consumable extractor when I could sell those gems (currently, the 700 gems it costs to buy 10 extractors would swap for nearly 170 gold) and buy whatever upgrades I want for multiple characters? With legendary upgrades coming, this is only going to become more useless. I would suggest that ArenaNet replace these in the store with the endless version, which is currently available only from lockboxes. Or better yet, just start selling consumable upgrade extractors at vendors like the original Guild Wars did.

I do appreciate that, unlike most cosmetics in Guild Wars 2, several chairs are awarded for in-game achievements. And they’re not just bland, straight-backed chairs, either; one of them lets you lounge about on a literal pile of gold treasure like a dragon. I think that cosmetics can be a great incentive for player engagement, and I wish there were more outfits, glider skins, and mount skins that were unlockable this way.

I’m not calling for chairs or any other items to be removed from the game, mind you. I’m just questioning how many people buy them – and whether there isn’t some better way for ArenaNet to spend its development time. Just because I rarely see them doesn’t mean that nobody is buying them. I don’t have the metrics that ArenaNet has, so maybe these things are more lucrative than I imagine.

I’m also not trying to criticize anyone who buys chairs. You’re free to like what you like, and I don’t have to get it. If that’s you, I would be genuinely interested in hearing what you do with your chair and why you chose to buy it over other cash shop cosmetics.

Where do you stand (er, sit?) on this issue? Have you ever bought, or would you consider buying, a chair in Guild Wars 2? Or are you as confused as I am about why these exist and who buys them?

Flameseeker Chronicles is one of Massively OP’s longest-running columns, covering the Guild Wars franchise since before there was a Guild Wars 2. Now penned by Tina Lauro and Colin Henry, it arrives on Tuesdays to report everything from GW2 guides and news to opinion pieces and dev diary breakdowns. If there’s a GW2 topic you’d love to see explored, drop ’em a comment!
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