Stickiness and Guild Wars 2

gw2

I’ll admit that it’s been a long while since I even thought about Guild Wars 2. Other than listening through the (very good) expansion soundtrack, most of 2015 was spent entirely outside of that game’s influence. Heart of Thorns didn’t have a feature list that interested me, so I moved on.

And yet, there’s always those unexpected moments where you think you’ve outgrown something only to have a memory trigger a wistful twinge from deep inside your bosom.

I think it was this post by MMO Juggler the other day that did it. The author asked why Guild Wars 2 wasn’t proving to be as “sticky” as he hoped, a question that had popped up in my mind. After all, this was a game that, when it launched, I had elevated as a major prospect for an MMO home. I played it strongly for a couple of years, at least, and generally enjoyed my time in the game, leveling a few classes to 80 and getting a full world exploration clear. The Engineer was a terrific class, as was the Ranger and even the Necromancer (so many pet choices!). The game handled well, had stunning visuals, and for a good while there kept updates coming fast and furious.

But in the end I didn’t feel the sticky that I had in other games, and that became a source of frustration for me, especially since I couldn’t point to a single reason why. Maybe it was because of its weird endgame loot system that was less satisfying than it should’ve been. Maybe it was its bizarre-as-all-get-out speed dungeon runs. Maybe it was the lack of real personal housing (seriously). And definitely the game’s story and lore, which never connected to me the way it seemed to for others, didn’t help.

I guess when you’re not feeling as rooted in a game, it’s a lot easier to pull up your tent stakes and move on. When that happens, the game has to work doubly hard to get you back, usually by promoting new content and lassoing your attention.

But that was the issue, wasn’t it? Heart of Thorns went in a weird direction that, from my perspective, wasn’t capitalizing on Guild Wars 2’s core design or strengths. More dragon storylines? Jungle zones? Platforming? Mastery grinds? Raids? Guild housing? They couldn’t have made a more lackluster feature list for me personally than if ArenaNet sent scientists to my house to observe me for a year.

And I really haven’t seen much from the game or studio since the expansion. Is it just me or has Guild Wars 2 really started to run silent? Other than occasionally popping up to promote yet more esports stuff (yawn), there have been no good content updates since the expansion. Certainly, we’ve passed the era of ArenaNet’s famous “two week cadence” updates. Maybe the studio is pooling its resources to work on another expansion. I can’t deny that Heart of Thorns was pretty profitable, so that makes sense.

Maybe the next time around, the game will swing back to what made it truly special back in the day and add a layer of sticky to recapture this buzzing fly. I actually did try to reinstall the game the other day to discover that I totally forgot my password — and I don’t have the box serial code to help recover it. Maybe my account is gone for good? If that’s the case, then I can’t see ever coming back, since there’s no way I’m starting over from scratch.

Those of you playing Guild Wars 2 still, how’s the game holding up? What’s the community and mood like? What are you hoping to see from ArenaNet?

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3 thoughts on “Stickiness and Guild Wars 2

  1. Aywren March 4, 2016 / 11:45 am

    Feeling the same as you about GW2. And I was a BIG fan of GW1 since the start, so I was very invested in the world and story. It just fell apart for me during the whole Living Story stuff, though. HoT had nothing I wanted to spend my time doing, so it’s the first expansion pack that ANet has released in 10 or so years that I didn’t buy.

    I used to log in nightly for the rewards (free leveling!), but I’ve been forgetting to do that lately, too. Doubt the game will ever capture me again as I’ve moved on and lost faith in the development direction, and all my friends have left, too.

  2. carson63000 March 4, 2016 / 3:35 pm

    Your description pretty much describes my GW2 times. I haven’t logged in since before HoT released. Just wasn’t interested in anything that it was adding, and that pretty much killed my interest in the original game too.

  3. bhagpuss March 4, 2016 / 4:16 pm

    Well, I guess 4,500 hours played (on my main account alone – I have three accounts and I play them all every day) and 19 characters (14 of them level 80) suggests a degree of stickiness. Not to mention getting on for 400 blog posts written about the game and somewhere close to 10,000 screenshots taken…

    Oddly, I don’t attribute much of that stickiness to the curated content, which is ok but not especially more so than any number of other MMOs. Mostly I put it down to the almost perfect ease of play combined with the best character animations I have ever experienced in an MMO. Playing GW2 just feels smoother and more natural than playing anything else, which means it’s an almost zen-like pleasure and immensely relaxing. I also found Heart of Thorns to be much better than I was expecting and, contrary to many opinions, closer in spirit to the early months of GW2 than you’d imagine.

    That said, I don’t think I would have played as much as I have if it wasn’t for World vs World and Yaks Bend. WvW is infinitely replayable, extremely social and the closest I’ve had to an ongoing, ad hoc, open all hours virtual social club since the heady days of Lost Dungeons of Norrath back in, what was that, 2003? Add fierce server pride to that and you have a very addictive brew. And having a wife who plays GW2 even more avidly than I do doesn’t do anything to make it less sticky either.

    You are spot on about the ongoing lack of new content though. They’ve clearly had a complete change of policy on the “Living World” idea. Gw2 is much more about doing things you like over and over again now rather than being given endless new things to do. That’s probably a much more sustainable model long term. It does rely on having enough things people like doing but I think that for an MMO less than four years old it’s in a fairly good place as far as that goes. I see many, many names every day that I remember from two or even three years ago, so it’s sticky enough, I think.

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