…Of course it isn’t. Of course they don’t just give away stuff for free. Well, they do – but not in the way one might think. They’re way more devious than that.
If there’s something to be said for GW2 by now, then that it’s a master of opposite effect. Scores of players who never knew the word journey before are suddenly confessing to putting on that explorer’s hat every night, looking to climb mountains or swim down the deepest caves, for another vista, a point of interest, a jumping puzzle – or just one more stunning land mark discovered. Because the world is vast and beautiful like that and the next bend of the road is rewarding. To anybody.
Players proud to be die-hard soloers, sick and tired of stale grouping mechanics, find themselves partying up with strangers on a regular basis, chatting and cooperating more than ever – even crossing half a zone just to get a fallen player back on his feet. Finally, an ally. Not somebody to race to that next node.
Those sworn off questing permanently still enjoy the more random, dynamic events that spawn around heart areas, following narratives up to the big baddie at the very end. Maybe there’s a chest, maybe not – either way it’s fun and while it’s still questing, it lacks the orchestrated linearity to actually feel like it.
Then, there’s people like me – done with the holy trinity. Done with setup gripes and inflexibility, to a point where the idea of tanking or healing has become appalling. Lo and behold, GW2 brings back some of the fun about these jobs. Why? Because roles aren’t strict and nobody expects you to stick to one of them.
“Hear me, I am a fickle creature! I don’t want what I have and I crave what I have not! That which I am forced to do, I loathe – that which I choose freely, I cherish. I am homo sapiens!
The ultimate move
So, by that same rule of reverse psychology, how would a smart MMO developer (with the whole package) go about his B2P (or F2P) business model, getting his audience to spend a little more than just what they “have to”?
….But of course –
“No need to buy them, Gw2 will feature consistent free content updates and in-game events going forward. Our goal is to make it so you get more from Gw2 for free than you get from a game you pay a subscription for.
On top of a large amount of free bonus content, we will be expanding on offerings in the Black Lion Trading Company going forward, as well as be doing large-scale expansion content down the road.
We’ll cover a lot of the details on the kind of support and plans we have in place over the next month or so on the Gw2 blog and with our press partners.
We do appreciate that you’d like to buy lots of new content, but we’d prefer to give a lot of it to you for free, cause that’s what we think a responsible MMO company does!”
“Thanks for the response and I’d just like to say that the attitude you just described is why you guys are my favourite games company! It’s also why I’ve bought bank space, dye packs and 2 character slots already, even though I normally spend nothing in cash shops & never buy dlc.”
Of all the comments and articles on GW2 I have come across these past two weeks, this forum conversation is the most remarkable, awe-inspiring and uncanny one of all. Love or hate this MMO, think of ANet whatever else you like – this is free-to-play marketing done to perfection. This is convincing your audience that they’re making such a superior deal, they might as well re-invest those imaginary savings! And all delivered with an air of casual frivolity. My god ArenaNet, you do know what you are doing!
In that same spirit of effectiveness, I wish you all the most horrible weekend and many awful adventures in Tyria! I know you will have lots of them.