ArenaNet’s Guild Wars series has done very well for itself despite lacking a subscription fee. A lot of that success can likely be attributed to its stand-alone expansion strategy, which allows players to experience three different campaigns without requiring previous installations.
However, an interview with Eric Flannum, Guild Wars 2′s lead designer, at Gamerzines has revealed that ArenaNet plans to abandon the stand-alone expansion idea for its sequel. Flannum believes the three campaigns spread across Guild Wars’ Prophecies, Factions and Nightfall games “split our player base unnecessarily” and caused the development team to waste time on redundant concepts like tutorials and rehashed skills. Instead, Guild Wars 2 is likely to focus on a single, well-developed campaign that all players have ready access to, much like the early days of Guild Wars 1′s release.
Still, ArenaNet has not entirely ruled out the idea of expansion packs altogether, but hints that additional content, like new classes and regions, may be offered solely through the digital in-game store. The interview alludes quite slyly to the idea that the popular conception of retail expansion packs will be entirely absent from Guild Wars 2, reducing the entire sequel to a micro transaction nightmare reminiscent of a bad EA boardroom meeting, but I wouldn’t blow the panic whistle based on one interview.
Still, it’s alarming to think we may not experience the joy of lifting that boxy goodness – as packed to the brim with new content for thirsty gamers – off store shelves, but ArenaNet has broken MMORPG conventions with much success so far. Perhaps this is the future of MMOs, so into the future we bold go.