Get a move on, little GW2 doggie, and launch already!

It’s been popping up more and more in conversations I’ve been having/witnessing and blogs I’ve been reading that the balance between excitement and exasperation for Guild Wars 2’s progress has shifted for the worse.  It’s not that we’re not already in love with the game — we are (Royal We) — or that we don’t want it to succeed — we do (universal we) — but that it’s starting to feel like ArenaNet’s biggest problem is being launch-shy.

As Wilhelm aptly puts it:

“Unfortunately, one of the old school problems ArenaNet is having is getting to market.  One of my caveats for the game was that it might not ship in 2011.  If I were writing a 2012 MMO Outlook… and I just might… I would probably say the same thing, since it seems possible that it might not ship in 2012.”

I agree; I’ve been saying so for a while now. At the pace ArenaNet is going, it just doesn’t feel like we’re tracking toward release so much as poking around at great ideas every so often.  I mean, wasn’t there supposed to be a Guild Wars 2 beta started by the end of the year?  One month to go for that, devs, but I’m not going to hold out hope.

I mean, what do I know.  ArenaNet is as tight-lidded with its info and internal development as any other big-name developer I’ve seen, so they could totally be on the cusp of beta/launch and are just not letting us know until the moment of their choosing.  But… I don’t think so.  I don’t think beta is going to happen next month any more than I think we’ll see launch next spring… or summer… or even fall.  And again, I have no idea how much is left to be done, but I wonder just how much ArenaNet’s dragging its feet due to being too perfectionist and too afraid to pull the trigger.

It’s easy to understand why.  ArenaNet’s been hyping itself up to such an incredible degree about how GW2 is going to buck the trend and do MMOs the right way, but there’s always the danger of overtalking what one can deliver.  Plus it’s a sequel to Guild Wars, which carries with it a tremendous amount of expectations (and an established community as well).  Plus plus, even though it’s not a direct competitor for most MMOs’ business models, it is going to compete for play time nevertheless — and if it doesn’t release at the right time, it could feel the ramifications for years to come.  While a great success and a terrific game, Guild Wars was nevertheless overshadowed by releasing too close to World of Warcraft.  Is ArenaNet adopting a “wait and see” approach with SWTOR and the fallout there?  I can imagine a scenario where a mostly finished game is being held back until marketers and accountants and analysts can identify when the SWTOR tsunami wave finally breaks to allow other titles into the market without being overwhelmed.

Of course, this is just speculation and brain-dibble, but the fact is that that’s all I have to go on since ANet isn’t really being that forthcoming about what the heck it’s doing.  Considering just how many gamers’ hopes are riding on GW2 living up to its promises, it’s a disconcerting feeling.

20 thoughts on “Get a move on, little GW2 doggie, and launch already!

  1. Wilhelm Arcturus November 28, 2011 / 1:55 pm

    Part of the problem, when it comes to frustration, is that ArenaNet started banging the marketing drum kind of loudly a bit too early with things like their race introduction weeks. When was that, mid-summer? And yet there is no good fee for when anybody will be able to get any real hands on the the game.

    Fate strums a mournful tune for those whose campaigns peak too soon.

  2. bhagpuss November 28, 2011 / 2:35 pm

    ArenaNet recently re-iterated quite forcefully that GW2 will go into beta in 2011 and the FAQ still confirms it. I’m as dubious as you are about that. They haven’t even invited applications for closed beta yet.

    When I blogged about it, Randomessa posted a link to this very interesting Eurogamer article http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-09-27-guild-wars-2-closed-beta-2011-for-sure . That information goes back to September, and anticipated a beta beginning by early November. November ends in a couple of days and still no sign of a beta.

  3. Rinvan November 28, 2011 / 2:39 pm

    Yes the wait for GW2 seems to go on forever, I have been waiting since I got tired of the first game in Dec. 2008. It would be really great if the game launched in the spring of 2012.

  4. Vort November 28, 2011 / 2:39 pm

    I’m still holding out for GW2 over SWTOR. TOR just didn’t I’m press me that much, good game, but not that impressed. I really hope the long term predictions are wrong for GW2.

  5. Buhallin November 28, 2011 / 3:18 pm

    While I love most of what is suggested and/or promised with GW2, the technical hurdles of what they’re doing cannot be overstated. Dynamic, dependent, flowing events with persistent world changes on a map several times larger than any other MMO, a deep personal story with choices that actually influence gameplay, huge, artistic visuals, and all in a system fast enough to maintain a gameplay that will be nearly twitch in its action level with all the positional abilities? And all of that on a budget that isn’t intended to be supported by subscription fees?

    The question in my mind really isn’t when GW2 will release – it’s whether it will release at all.

  6. Msenge November 28, 2011 / 3:21 pm

    I see them absolutely going to have a closed beta by the end of this year. The only thing is that it won’t be the closed beta lots of people are imagining. I see them holding a really small closed beta to start out with (small in the number of testers involved not small as in period of time in testing). They’ll probably start off with the kinds of numbers they had in alpha testing (which might involve the same people as well).

    They might even start having sign ups for the testing process at the same time but I don’t see them letting them in until some later time next year when they start to ramp up to a bigger closed testing phase. Once they feel they’ve squashed most of the bugs found in Closed Beta then they’ll open up to the Open Beta and then release.

    My only hope is that they don’t keep trying to add stuff to the game causing them to have to prolong closed beta forever till they’re
    happy with their product and release.

  7. Ravious November 28, 2011 / 4:10 pm

    They’ll be in closed beta like they promised.

    The thing people have to get used to is ArenaNet is handing fans “cake.” They show what they’ve done. So it feels like marketing hype, and for sure it’s marketing… but they could just go in to stony silence.

    I think after the holidays have fallen and people have recovered, things will be clearer.

    There’s also no reason to scream and shout when clearly it is TOR’s time.

  8. Utakata November 28, 2011 / 4:54 pm

    My bet is you’ll see a lot more info coming out about it after the New year. It is when all the buzz about the newly minted SWTOR has died down (as this article mentions). And new info about WoW’s MoP expansion will likely trickle to a crawl (as it is already doing).

    Keep in mind, they only have one last profession to announce and rest will be mostly tweaks and improvements. But I do think the product is now on it’s way to completion least in the Alpha Stage.

    The only big hurdle really is the announcement of the particulars of their business model. Which ArenaNet has already hinted at…though reception of it was cold. Such as an expanded cash shop and piecemeal dungeons. But least for me that is a make or break deal of the game. As in, whether I will feel like a second class player for just getting the box. Or will there be other ways ingame that you can work on this as it is with GW’s currently. Only time of announcements will tell on that. And I think it will be the latter.

  9. Syl November 28, 2011 / 5:14 pm

    What’s mostly a bit of a let-down right now is how quiet the site has become. as others have mentioned, maybe Arenanet should’ve waited a bit with all the pre-launch hype. If you can’t keep the pace up, don’t do it.

    Other than that though, I am unchanged in my opinion: let it take as long as it takes. anything but a half-boiled game please, the disappointment would be too much to bear. if they deliver on half of what they’ve already promised, I am happy to wait until winter 2012…although an ETA would be nice to have sometime. 😉

  10. ScytheNoire November 28, 2011 / 5:41 pm

    No, don’t get to market too soon. I got a whole lot of SWTOR to play. Although I’m not sure GW2 will be all it’s hyped up to be. Want to play Beta before buying. I think it might end up disappointing.

  11. ArcherAvatar November 28, 2011 / 5:52 pm

    I think the small, closed beta testing ANet will be going into at the end of the year is going to be more “old school” than what folks have grown accustomed to…

    Probably just enough folks for 3 servers (given the format of the WvW area of the “Mists” it would need to be at least that for true testing to be done.)

    However, we (the public) may not even hear about that phase of testing until it’s basically completed. This isn’t going to beta testing (PR and marketing for the game) this is going to be beta testing (let’s get a few folks in here and get this sorted… squash some bugs and really test out some mechanics and systems.)

    Just because ANet have released significant amounts of information during some of the conventions (where it can do the most good for PR and marketing) doesn’t mean they’ve been entirely forthcoming with full disclosure on the state of the game… that’s obviously caused some concern on the interwebs, but whether or not that concern is at all warranted is yet to be seen.

    There seems to be a whole lot of “worse case scenario” thinking going on right now (which I personally put down to the usual holiday season emotional dulldrums) but it’s based on absolutely no hard information whatsoever.

    ANet are not legally obligated to announce when they start any particular phase of testing… heck, they may have already started the small, closed beta test at the beginning of November… none of the commenters here would know one way or the other. Regardless of when it begins, chances are we won’t hear a great deal about it until it has already concluded or is near to completion.

    It’s *TESTING* not the usual PR oriented BS that many Open Beta tests have become in recent years.

    Having said that, I’m old and my health isn’t getting any better so… I do hope they are on track for release of the game in the spring or summer of 2012…

  12. Green Armadillo November 28, 2011 / 6:38 pm

    The single worst thing that can happen to a modern MMO is to launch before it is ready. The GW business model means they won’t have mass cancellations, but the pressure that every purchase is effectively a “lifetime subscription” only increases the impact of word of mouth on fence-sitters. Also, with the amount of time this thing has spent in development, Arenanet has to be planning on recouping costs through expansion sales, which won’t be pretty if the game launches poorly.

    That said, they may be victim of some combination of their own hype and development scope creep. Wasn’t this thing originally the next expansion to GW1? And now they’ve been hyping it as the MMO-saiah for almost half a decade, to the point where people are believing an unsustainable level of hype?

    Given how past saviors of the MMO genre have fared, this could end poorly.

  13. Moxie November 28, 2011 / 6:42 pm

    I think that Arenanet is being a bit launch-shy, but with good reason. Look at it this way: SWTOR is getting ready to release this month. WoW’s MoP will likely launch in the spring/summer of 2012. The only other “major” rumored-MMO that we know of is Blizzard’s Titan project… which probably won’t even be announced until 2013, and will likely take another 2-3 years to launch.

    That’s a nice long dead spot for GW2 to make it’s mark and gain a good following, if they launch in late 2012/early 2013. They’re probably still sizing up what is coming in MoP and SWTOR, and trying to make sure that their launch product is just as if not more competitive than at least those two games.

    Patience, young grasshopper. 😉

  14. Zed November 28, 2011 / 6:55 pm

    I’d say a beta test will start small, closed, and at the very tail end of this year. It won’t open up to substantial numbers of players until quite a ways into 2012, perhaps even summer or autumn. NCSoft has GW2 pegged for release 2nd half of 2012 so I would not expect it before then. While it could slip out of 2012 entirely I don’t see any reason to seriously expect it at this point.

  15. sean November 29, 2011 / 5:34 am

    GW2 is the Duke Nukem Forever of the MMO world.

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news to those of you still holding out hope for the appearance of The Ideal Game. The combination of small budget (no sub or cash shop = very small revenue stream for an MMO) and grand plans never, ever, ever ends well for a commercial operation. I just don’t see how anyone can or could rationally expect anything else (emotionally, of course, we all want Our Ideal Game to exist, even as we know it’s impossible).

    I don’t know who owns ArenaNet, I was under the impression it was Blizzard; but unless it’s being treated as a labour of love/ work of art (and thus, not subject to requirements of profitability), it only has two possible outcomes: AoC-style release-early-and-crash or The Agency style never-make-it-to-release.

    There is no outcome where ‘no revenue model + enormous budget = success’ outside of vanity projects and patron-driven art.

  16. Lenn November 29, 2011 / 11:17 am

    @sean
    ArenaNet is owned by NCSoft. I doubt that powerhouse would treat anything under their banner as a labour of love. The fact that they are backing the game and have trust in it speaks volumes.
    Furthermore, GW2 will have a cash shop. No subscription plus cash shop has been working for the first Guild Wars for years, so there’s no reason to assume it won’t for its sequel.

  17. muckbeast December 1, 2011 / 3:09 am

    The 600 pound gorilla, SW:TOR, has made it so no serious MMO can get any real news now or within the next 3-6 months.

    GW2 pretty much has to wait until spring before doing serious beta testing or even thinking about a release. Otherwise, they’ll be competing with SW:TOR for coverage and for people’s interest.

    By spring/summer, people will be ready to try something new, and after a few months of sci-fi may really be excited for fantasy again.

  18. PaulB December 1, 2011 / 4:10 am

    I was going to skip SWTOR in favour of GW2 but I got tired of the endless waiting post convention season. How can they still have not revealed the last class, unless they’ve had to go back to the drawing board? I also hope the delay includes working in the valuable lessons from Rifts public event systems good and bad sides. Here’s hoping GW2 when it finally launches can get it right!

  19. Boggy Tumult December 13, 2011 / 12:27 pm

    I played the short brief online beta a while back, and was very underwhelmed. The art style is not to my tastes and the game play was lackluster.

    A bunch of canned randomly permuted personal story cut scenes is not what I am looking for in an MMO.

    GW2 is starting to be the Duke Nukem of MMOs. I think the reason they don’t produce is that all the ‘revolutionary ideas’ they want to do, are just not as easy as they thought. I suspect they are finding that without the basic MMO lynchpins, balance and group play fall by the wayside. It is starting to look more and more like strictly solo PVP venture.

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