heart of thorns

Guild Wars 2‘s first expansion.

Guild Wars 2 pushes out underwater balance patch while players cross over 119,431 years /played

Just a heads up that Guild Wars 2 is putting out a small patch today to balance a few issues in the game: “Since the last update targeted underwater balance and the deadeye in particular, we’ve been listening to your feedback and are addressing some of the issues raised about each of those. There has also been a broad effort to target outliers traits and abilities on each profession.”

While you patch up, you might as well check out some interesting game stats from Analytics Lead Chris Cleary, who answered some specific player queries on the game. Among the stats, Cleary confirmed that 58,349 legendary weapons have been crafted since Heart of Thorns, players collectively have put in over 119,431 years of play so far, and only 11 confetti infusions have dropped over the course of Living World season 4.

Of course, if you showed up to this post looking for the Twitter/firing fracas, then you’re in the wrong place. We’ve compiled all of the news for this past week’s mega-story in the original post.

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The Daily Grind: How early should an MMORPG’s hype cycle begin?

GIbiz put out an interesting piece this week looking 10 years into the past to see where the buzz was in the game industry back in 2008. It’s worth a read overall (that was the year some rando company called “Riot Games” snagged $7M in funding for something called “League of Legends” – pff, that’ll never go anywhere, amirite), but the segment I want to highlight this morning is the one about the industry hype cycle.

The long-ago author wonders just when the hype cycle for video games should begin, at least in terms of maximizing profits (and presumably not annoying consumers). He compares the Assassin’s Creed franchise to Prince of Persia, noting that the former’s hype cycle was twice as long as the latter’s – and performed significantly better. After all, we’re still talking about AC here in 2018!

It seems a fair topic for MMORPGs as well; for example, World of Warcraft expansion announcements and hype lulls, the difference in buzz lead-up between Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns and Path of Fire, and the seemingly interminable Kickstarter MMO dev/hype/funding cycles are perennial subjects here.

How early should an MMORPG’s hype cycle begin? How long before the planned launch of a game or an expansion – or even a Kickstarter – do you actually want to hear about it?

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ArenaNet on Guild Wars 2’s living story, Heart of Thorns vs. Path of Fire, security, and momentum

Though ArenaNet was technically at E3 this year, the group representing Guild Wars 2 was chiefly a marketing and business one, so they carted our interview questions back to team members more suited to answer. ArenaNet Brand Manager (and former Massively columnist) Lis Cardy, Design Manager Crystal Reid, Systems Team Lead Irenio Calmon-Huang, and Game Director Mike Zadorojny weigh in on the living story, security, gaining “momentum,” and more, just in time for the launch of the next episode later today. Let’s dig in.

The ever-living story

While I haven’t personally played much GW2 since the arc about the fall Lion’s Arch, I’ve liked the concept of an ever-evolving story. It’s actually what got me into MMOs thanks to the Asheron’s Call series’ monthly updates. When I asked how the ArenaNet team felt players were reacting to the current living story, especially in terms of pacing, Mike Zadorojny said the studio has “seen players become more engaged with the releases.” Apparently, they’re happy to see the connections players making to the stories and characters they’ve developed and especially with the discussions across Reddit and the forums.
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Grab Guild Wars 2’s expansions for 30% off this week – Bless refugees, they’re talkin’ to you

You might think that it’s a little weird to assume folks who bought Bless and refunded it have never tried Guild Wars 2, but that isn’t stopping the Guild Wars 2 community from trying to attract those fleeing what we’ve been calling the Bless Mess.

According to MMOBomb, which covered the hoopla earlier this week, the campaign is partly thanks to YouTuber TheLazyPeon, whose recent videos slam Bless and praise GW2. In fact, some Redditors are calling Bless Online the best marketing campaign Guild Wars 2 has had in a long time, which isn’t really a compliment to anyone, but we doubt Anet minds too much. Other players have set up camp at the newbie spawn to welcome new players.

We suspect the big sale might also have something to do with it; according to Dulfy, using the code WelcomeToGW2 through the official store will get you Path of Fire and Heart of Thorns for 30% off. In fact, if you use our affiliate link, we get a tiny commission if you buy something. If you’d prefer not to do that, here’s the link straight to Anet. Cheers!

If you’re coming back to the game, why not check out our own Flameseeker Chronicles column?

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PAX East 2018: Guild Wars 2 game director Mike Zadorojny on Path of Fire, monetization, and more

It’s not every day that you walk into a building dominated by an enormous griffon, the enormous statue replicating the mount in Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire. You could, of course, argue that the griffon is functionally an upgraded version of the glider from Heart of Thorns, but that just brings you back to the idea that Path of Fire is closer to what people wanted from Heart of Thorns in the first place. It’s a bigger expansion for people not interested in the rather narrow focus of the jungle.

Which makes sense, since according to the game director, Mike Zadorojny, the focus of what the expansion was meant to be about was radically different between the two expansions, and Path of Fire was closer to an expansion of the base game.

I had the chance to sit with Zadorojny and chat about various issues of both current development ant future direction, although we did not have that chat on the back of the griffon. (There were people waiting in line.) But considering the nature of the griffon and the talk, it might have been appropriate.

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Global Chat: RIFT Prime numbers

RIFT’s new Prime progression server certainly has recaptured or recruited many MMO bloggers to the game as of late, and it is all anyone seems to be talking about. So how’s the word out on the web?

Nerdy Bookahs observed that Trion “chose a perfect time” to release the progression server. The Ancient Gaming Noob initially felt conflicted but soon fell into a groove: “There was the feeling of life in the game, with lots of people around and public groups to join and things just happening everywhere.” And GamingSF said that he’s “coming along swimmingly” on the shard.

It wasn’t all kudos and praise. Endgame Variable hedged his outlook by saying that RIFT Prime was “fun, but I don’t think it will last very long.” Inventory Full felt disillusioned with the way the original game was handled and said, “RIFT simply doesn’t have the depth or breadth of content of either of the EverQuest games, nor the nostalgia factor.”

Read on for the MMO blogosphere’s thoughts on other topics, including inventory woes in Guild Wars 2, the classic multiplayer dogfight sim Air Warrior, and the early access release of Project Gorgon.

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NCsoft Q4 2017: Guild Wars resurges as Blade & Soul and Lineage M drive profits

NCsoft has money to cheer about this past financial quarter, as it posted another year of solid growth. Revenue and operating profit were up 87% and 86% respectively year-over-year, though of course the quarter doesn’t quite compare to the blockbuster that was Q3 last year when Lineage M hit Asia.

Lineage M continued to drive good mobile sales for the company even after its shine wore off, accompanied by Aion, Lineage, and Lineage II, which are down YOY for the quarter and the year. Blade and Soul is outperforming everything but mobile at this point and this quarter held even YOY, at least globally.

And as for Guild Wars 2? Well, no surprise there: The Path of Fire expansion was quite a boon, more than doubling the game’s quarterly revenue YOY and pushing total revenue past 2016’s (though not past 2015’s, when Heart of Thorns launched at a price two-thirds higher). (Recall that SuperData just included GW2 on its top 10 list of premium PC games by revenue [at an annual figure slightly higher than what’s represented here] and that Q2 last year was the game’s worst quarter ever, so this is a comfortable comeback.)

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Guild Wars 2’s lunar new year patch is here with some big class balance changes too

Happy Lunar New Year! Guild Wars 2 has trotted out the requisite new year’s event in celebration of the year of the dog, though this year, ArenaNet has rejiggered achievement categories, added a new firecracker event and seasonal race in Divinity’s Reach, and updated Dragon Ball arena. Head to the Crown Pavilion in Divinity’s Reach for the festivities through February 22nd. Oh yeah, and zodiac weapons are back (plus the latest harvesting tool is literally a dog)!

Of course, today’s patch does more than paint the town red; it also patches in the planned alacrity and boon changes, boosts credit given to support players for supporty things, reimagines the Mesmer, and adds assorted buffs and nerfs (mostly buffs, actually) in the service of balancing the rest of the classes, particularly some of the unloved elite specs. I’m sure someone will find something to gripe about, but so far, the response on Reddit is more or less content.

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Choose My Adventure Year in Review: DC Universe Online, Shroud of the Avatar, Guild Wars 2, and Secret World Legends

As our review of the past year of Choose My Adventure rolls onward (a bit longer than originally planned), we enter what I think of as the trifecta of disappointment. Why? Well, the word “trifecta” is fun to say. Try it a few times. Also, because the were three titles among the back end that were pretty notably disappointing.

There are always going to be titles with Choose My Adventure that don’t connect as much with me; after all, the games that I play on a regular basis are not chosen based on a random number generator. But these titles in particular are disappointments, each for their own reasons. And then, in the middle, there’s a game that is far closer to “not mine, but not bad,” which is a different matter altogether. Life, in short, is a rich tapestry.

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Perfect Ten: The best MMO updates and expansions of 2017

Last year was positively stuffed with updates, expansions, and cool stuff. A lot of years I struggle to remember which major updates happened in the past year, due partly to my own faulty memory but due largely to the simple fact that not a lot of them really stuck out for me. This year? We were awash in updates. Some games literally gave me multiple choices about which update I thought was “the best” just because, well, there were so many.

So the list that follows is, honestly, a fragment of what could be chosen. At least one of them is something you will probably disagree with. And that’s fine, because thankfully, last year (as mentioned) contained tons of great updates for people to enjoy. So without further ado, let’s delve into the best updates of 2017 and gush for a bit about how many cool things got added to games last year.

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Perfect Ten: The healthiest live MMORPGs at the end of 2017

As Counting Crows told us, it’s been a long December, although the fact that it has also only just started being December speaks to something unpleasant in the makeup of this particular month. But it also means that this is a good time to check in on the overall health of various MMORPGs and see which ones look to be in the healthiest state at the end of the year.

This is, I hasten to point out, not a scientific process; last year I pointed to Marvel Heroes as a not-quite-MMORPG title that was still in a very healthy and robust place, and it later turned out that this was entirely not true and had been built upon a foundation of lies. But we’ll cross that bridge if and when we come to it in 2018. What are the healthiest games running right now?

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Jukebox Heroes: Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire’s soundtrack

I feel comfortable in saying that I hold the Guild Wars franchise’s soundtrack in high regard. There’s excellent music across the board from a variety of composers, and in my opinion, it has only gotten better over time. The Guild Wars 2 Living World season 3 and Heart of Thorns scores knocked it out of the park, and I could not wait to listen through Path of Fire when it released earlier this year.

That is why, to continue using an awkward baseball metaphor, I was let down when this expansion’s score was a mere double instead of a home run. It’s not bad, mind you, but it’s certainly not as great as the previous expansion or what the team has been putting out in the meantime. Perhaps some of this stems from the desert theme, which I’ve always found to inspire somewhat stereotypical “desert music” that sounds samey and not that thrilling. Guild Wars: Nightfall was my least-liked score of the original game for this reason as well.

Again, I want to emphasize that I don’t hate Path of Fire’s score, I just don’t like it as much as what’s been done before. This time around, four composers put together the album: Maclaine Diemer, Wilbert Rogett, Brendon Williams, and Stan LePard. This team did produce several highlights that I prefer to mention rather than talk about what didn’t work, so let’s give those pieces a listen!

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NCsoft’s 3Q 2017 financials: Lineage M drives record profits, Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire isn’t too shabby either

NCsoft had an exceptionally good third financial quarter this year, reaching a record high in sales and operating profit for the company, and it’s almost entirely thanks to the mobile MMORPG Lineage M, which didn’t even bleed the rest of the Lineage franchise as you might have expected (Lineage and Lineage II held remarkably steady this quarter compared to last, as did Aion and Blade & Soul).

Good news for Guild Wars 2 as well; NCsoft notes that ArenaNet’s flagship brought in over $20B Won, “an increase of 49% [quarter-over-quarter], driven by the second expansion pack sales” that saw US and European sales figures in particular increase 13% QOQ “on the back of Guild Wars 2 performance.” $20B Korean Won is about $18M US. So Path of Fire at least performed well enough for NCsoft to gloat about it, twice, and it’s a big boost to GW2, especially considering Q2 2017 was the game’s worst ever – but it didn’t top Heart of Thorns’ huge showing two years ago.

Before you ask, no, we don’t know how well WildStar is doing; NCsoft doesn’t report it separately anymore. But it’s still flying. That’s enough.

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