Guild Wars was always way ahead of its time by being one of the first MMOs to go free-to-play right out of the gate. The much anticipated sequel is continuing that fine tradition of free-to-play, but it's also hoping to rewrite the book on microtransactions.
Mike O'Brien, president of ArenaNet and executive producer on Guild Wars 2, wrote on the new microtransaction model that the game will be utilizing. First off, O'Brien confirmed that the upcoming Guild Wars 2 beta will also be used to test the microtransaction platform they have built.
O'Brien, and essentially everybody who runs a FTP MMO, will tell you that microtransactions are the lifeblood of a FTP MMO. While using the traditional subscription model is definitely one way to go, games that have gone FTP from subscription have seen their profits jump dramatically due to an increase in microtransactions.
The first thing O'Brien wants to clarify is that Guild Wars 2 is going to be free and always will remain free. After you initially buy the game, and possibly even that sweet Collector's Edition, all the content in Guild Wars 2 will be free. He wants players to decide how much they want to invest in the game, instead of telling them what they should buy.
On that same note, he doesn't want to give players an unfair advantage with the content they do buy. What players pay for in game should only enhance their personal experience, and never become become a detriment to other players.
The best thing O'Brien says in the entire post is in regards to his view on DLC and microtransactions:
But it’s never OK for players to buy a game and not be able to enjoy what they paid for without additional purchases, and it’s never OK for players who spend money to have an unfair advantage over players who spend time.
Going into the actual economy in the game, there are three types of currency in Guild Wars 2 - gold, karma and gems. Gold is the in-game currency that every player has. Karma is used for unique rewards and can not be traded. Gems are bought with real money and support the microtransaction economy.
To make things fair, players can trade gold for gems and vice versa. This means that microtransaction items that can be bought with gems can also be bought with gold for players who would rather work within the confines of the game for all of their rewards.
As O'Brien points out, their system is similar to the economy in EVE Online. The key difference is that the economy will always be in the hands of the player, and not companies that deal in gold trading.
From a player’s perspective, RMT companies have all the wrong motivations: the more money they make from selling gold, the more they spam ads in the game, run bot networks to farm gold, and hack accounts to loot them for gold. Conversely, under our system, players have all the right motivations. If a player buys gold from another player, he gets the gold he wants, the selling player gets gems she can use for microtransactions, and ArenaNet generates revenue from the sale of gems that we can use to keep supporting and updating the game. Everyone wins.
We also like the tradability of gems and gold because it makes the rest of the game’s economy more compelling. We’ll have a player-to-player Trading Post in the game—it’s like an auction house but better—which we’ll discuss in an upcoming blog post. Because gems can be traded for gold and vice versa, we don’t need two different trading systems, one for gold and one for gems. In Guild Wars 2, everything on the Trading Post is traded for gold, but of course, somebody who wants to earn gems can just sell items for gold, and then convert the gold to gems.
O'Brien obviously has his heart in the right place and I'm sure many players will appreciate the focus on P2P trading, but I can't help but feel the system will be played anyway. I hope ArenaNet is prepared to combat hackers and farmers who want to break the system they have in place.
What do you think about Guild War 2's microtransaction model? Let us know in the comments or our Guild Wars 2 forum.