Guild Wars 2 community clashes over Icebrood Saga announcement disappointment

    
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It’s been a tumultuous couple of days in the Guild Wars 2 community following the announcement of the Icebrood Saga – saga, not season, as ArenaNet is apparently moving away from strict seasonal episodic structure in favor of more varied types of content for this arc of the game.

On Friday, the team staged an event in Seattle on the first day of PAX to announce the saga. The degree of success of that event is of course a matter of opinion; our staff watching it was intrigued by some of the reveals, but the overhaul mood was a bit confused, as many of us wanted more from the arc in lieu of a proper expansion. But the more vocal parts of the community took that sentiment to an extreme, with a stack of Reddit threads and memes echoing disappointment – and much worse. Here’s one of the benign ones with over 3K ups as I write this:

Anet’s Announcement in a nutshell from Guildwars2

Apparently things took a nastier turn along the way, ramping up past grumping about NCsoft and ArenaNet’s leadership and heading into much more abusive territory. There were even multiple threads mocking what NCsoft VP of Marketing Mike Silbowitz wore onstage (both still there as of this morning). While at least one former ArenaNet dev took the playerbase to task for expressing feeling “let down,” Content Marketing Manager Rubi Bayer (who vets will recall once worked at Old Massively alongside many of us) posted a couple of threads on Twitter explicitly addressing the more toxic and abusive elements of the gaming community.

The commentariat was mixed about Bayer’s rather sensible comments, with some posting agreement and some alluding to last summer’s GW2 dev/community fiasco. But ArenaNet staff addressing the particularly vile vitriol rather than other feedback then turned the conversation in a familiar direction of late, at least for those of us who watched the Apex Legends team effectively dodge well-deserved criticism when a group of toxic trolls inevitably took it over the line and shifted the narrative. Reddit in particular now has a crop of threads with criticism specifically for the companies involved here.

“This is now the 3rd time within just a month I’ve seen a developer (as in the company) put out some kind of copy and paste statement that plays the victim and reads: ‘We know people are disappointed but we’re all human too so could you please all stop being so toxic and abusive because we’re the poor victims in all this while taking your money,'” one heavily upvoted thread argues.

“Let me be perfectly clear. YES these are humans and under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should ANYONE send any kind of insults or abuse or threats or anything at developers, or anyone in general really. That’s just not okay and we all need to treat each-other better. But I’m on the internet A LOT and I see maybe 1 in 40,000 people (obviously BS numbers but it’s very very low) who say something TRULY offensive. The other 99% is people expressing legitimate criticism or feedback or suggestions or who are just genuinely disappointed or want to know what happened to X or Y which was promised…years ago. It is NOT okay for developers to use that 1% as some shield or cop out, as a reason that they don’t have to engage with or respond to the other 99% of their community that just want answers or some basic dialogue. These people are your CUSTOMERS, engage with them about the product you are trying to sell to them. Be upfront about whats going on in your studio and REALISTICALLY when and of what size content can be expected. It’s not fair, and even downright disrespectful for developer (game companies) to keep writing off EVERYONE on the actions of a very small % of bad apples.”

So, what exactly is the non-toxic criticism? In particular, players single out the perceived ongoing lack of communication and structure and a proper roadmap chiefly over the last two years; we not only don’t know the scope of this saga, but we have no idea what’s next after that either, which is why so many people resort to datamining to figure out what’s inside ArenaNet’s head from week to week. But there’s also concern over lack of new content in the realms of elite specs, fractals, PvP, WvW, and raiding. Heck, people are disappointed about rewards too and were a bit miffed that Anet/NCsoft rented a theater for a blog’s post worth of content – and merch marketing – arguing that the countdown itself was better than the reveal. Even Wooden Potatoes refers to the game’s “weird and gloomy future” as presented at the event.

It’s not all toxicity and grumpiness, however; some folks have pointed out that expectations were way too high in a year when a third of the studio was handed pink slips and that the presentation was in line with the new studio’s realistic outlook (I’m still raising my eyebrows at the “four content teams” thing). And plenty of gamers lit into the trolls hassling the rank-and-file devs too.

We’ll have our more detailed examination of what was in the reveal – and what was missing – tomorrow after the holiday in Flameseeker Chronicles, so stay tuned for that.

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Ian Wells

When discussing toxicity, I go by debate rules. If your argument relies on hyperbole, “slippery slopes,” inequivalent comparisons, and/or ad hominem (and I can’t believe I have to lump death and rape threats into this), then your argument is both invalid and toxic.

You may think your little hyperbolic comment about how Dev-A is like Mussolini is totally innocent, but that only feeds the hotter flames and is known as “inciting a riot”; if you can’t get that through your head you have no right to open your mouth.

Veldara
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Veldara

Threats? Forgive me if I have my doubts but I saw nothing of the sort throughout my lurking of the subreddit since the beginning of this. That being said it could have been directly sent to the devs but I really find it hard to believe such a thing to be happening with a community like GW2.

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Ald

I can only speak for myself but I wanted an expansion with new lands, elite specs, and possibly new playable races.

I don’t care much for story in an MMORPG. I’d rather have new systems to play with and maps to explore.

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DargorV .

TBH Anet has a track record of not listening anyway, I’m surprised they’re even answering the threats and “ohlol have you seen what he’s wearing” crap. Actually, they’re moving on this, showing the playerbase that doing those toxic things actually has an effect, unlike constructive criticism and feedback.

Slow clap, Anet digging their own grave as usual

Anyway, don’t they have yet another cash shop mount skin to work on?

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

I know I’ve been a critic, I know I’ve had my issues with toxic anger; I’d like to think I’ve grown a little because every time I go to GW2 Reddit I be like.

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Bruno Brito

What did i say? This was going to bite them in the ass, and i knew it.

That being said, i can’t believe i have to reiterate this shit, and believe me, i love to fling crap at Anet for being a mediocre developer who cannot realize the issues within their game:

WE DON’T NEED YOUR DEATH THREAT BS IN HERE. We already have a ungodly ammount of issues with law, order and the state of gaming without the childish psychopats who keep threatening and swatting people. For the love of god, go do something productive when you’re angry, break ice, take a cold shower, masturbate, i don’t care. But can we stop this crap already?

No one wins from this shit. Anet now has a LEGITIMATE reason for not saying anything ( fearing for their employees ), and the community has issues going unsolved. All because some shitstain couldn’t fucking contain his antisocial anger.

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Armsbend

“break ice”

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Greaterdivinity

I full kinda lucky I went in basically expecting another LS season without much more and that seems to be what we got.

I get where folks are coming from, but personally I’ve haven’t treated GW2 as a “main’ game for years, so the lack of another meaty expansion isn’t too bad for me. Hopefully Anet can figure out a way to address this, it feels like “Anet sucks at communicating” has been one of the biggest complaints since forever.

I really don’t know why they went to all this expense for a LS season announcement though. Seems like a poor RoI compared to previous major reveals for proper expansions. We knew it was just going to be a LS season…but Anet really hyped it up and did a poor job of managing expectations.

And that’s been a problem since long before the game even launched : /

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Anton Mochalin

This is so strange. ArenaNet was going to make an announcement on the Living World. It posted an invitation with the Living World logo. Everyone in the playerbase knows what Living World stands for – those episodes grouped by story ark each about an elder dragon. ArenaNet has previously stated clearly that no expansion is coming this year. The date of the announcement came and ArenaNet provided the details about the new story ark calling it “saga” meaning it is supposed to be somewhat different from what was called a “season” before. A trailer and an actual cutscene were shown, the new dragon was named and the overall geographic location was mentioned. ArenaNet has also provided some details about several smaller things. Being upset about this is like being upset about Big Mac not being a pizza slice when you’ve actually ordered a Big Mac.

And I still don’t get why MOP keeps calling ArenaNet firing two devs who were rude towards players a “fiasco”. A questionable decision, maybe, but “fiasco”? “Fiasco” is basically a “total failure” – what did ArenaNet failed to do in that case?

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Bruno Brito

what did ArenaNet failed to do in that case?

A decent outcome.

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Matthäus Wey

Let’s just say friends of yours invite you for dinner and they booked a really cool location and talked about it all month. Then on the night of the big feast, they serve you McDonalds (which isn’t bad but nothing outstanding either) and send you home after roughly 30 minutes.

At least I’d be pretty confused too.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

Except they told you that you were getting Mc Donalds.

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Anton Mochalin

I don’t care much about story aspect of multiplayer games and I definitely don’t play GW2 for the story but the story is actually good. I’ve heard about a lot of people which only come back to GW2 when a new story episode is released. They don’t try to get new mounts, take part in new raids etc – just play for those 2 hours it takes to finish an episode’s story and then leave to play other games or do whatever they did till next episode arrives. And it was very clear that the announcement on 30th would be mostly about Living World.

Godnaz
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Godnaz

Quickly regarding the content announcement. I had little expectation so I am not particularly disappointed. I don’t think they needed to lease a performance hall to make this announcement.

Semi-rant;

As a former moderator of the GW2 subReddit who had no problems distinguishing trolling toxic behavior from legitimate criticism, I can tell you having to read all of the reported posts you realize that ArenaNet does not have a mouthpiece to stabilize that community.

They don’t have a public figure who has permission from GM Mike O’Brien that can spin things positively or even come clean with the truth about why the company is unpredictable with its content release cadence, veering story arch, game mechanics, support for game modes and have no road map they are willing share with that community.

Commentors in that sub are correct when they say any positive criticism is generally shot down, even deleted in the official GW2 forums and Reddit is the only place they can express concern and frustration. Some of those Reddit threads get reported as violations and are aggressively protected by game supporters who don’t want to read criticism or concern. Some so vehemently stounch protectors of GW2, they become toxic themselves in order to misdirect and get the thread locked.

As a former moderator of the GW2 subReddit, there is a reason why I’m former. It’s a thankless responsibility and one that is more about giving a place to people who aren’t trolls or toxic but passionate and concerned GW2 players.

Nevermind the lack of content continuity and direction. Nevermind that it is truly a casual simulator in a fantasy realm setting. The communication from ArenaNet is bad, really really bad. And those who have stuck with GW2 deserve better than what ArenaNet is providing them.

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McGuffn

Do you have a theory why the roadmap they released a few months ago isn’t sufficient even though there’s stuff on it that we haven’t gotten yet? That’s the craziest criticism I’ve seen come out of this.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

As one of those toxic people you had to police, I went by many names Oldirtbeard, Raids_For_Casuals, and finally me (because I’d get down voted into oblivion so many times I’d literally have to come up with a new Reddit Profile, always GW2 though never any other game) you have to admit that GW2 Reddit is going over the top at the moment; I mean if I’m looking at that Dumpster fire saying is this ‘$#!t for real’ then your looking at a melt down equivalent to the 1990s LA Riots (who knows maybe Dr Dre will release an album called The Chronic Living Story 3.0).

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Skoryy

I’ll repeat something I mentioned elsewhere:

“Having the announcement reactions happen right as we’re having gamedev #MeToo has been really really really eye-opening. I mean, transplant some of this ‘your game is dead without us’ talk into a personal relationship. Sound familiar?”

I’ve thought on it more, and I can’t just stop thinking about it. I mean, I completely understand if you were underwhelmed or disappointed. Having a staged event for a living story chapter was kind of a bit much, honestly. And yet, over and over this is the attitude I got out of Reddit:

“We love the game! We’re not toxic jerks, we’re Nice Guys. And we want to know exactly what you’re doing all the time and if you don’t do exactly what we want you to do we’re leaving and you’re dead without us.”

Is this constructive feedback or domination and abuse?

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Arktouros

Is this constructive feedback or domination and abuse?

Really more of a social ‘faux pas’ than anything.

As in any kind of relationship there’s some hard truths in it. It’d be like if a game developer told us to shut up crying about their cash shop, they have the data, they know we’re not going to quit the game and probably end up spending money regardless. I mean that’s not wrong, but you 100% know we’d be absolutely outraged at hearing it.