The game was launched exactly three years ago and until now users had to buy it before they could play it, but it didn’t require a monthly subscription like other popular MMOs such as EVE Online or World of Warcraft. Now, the base game is accessible to anyone for free, as the developer prepares to launch its first major expansion, Heart of Thorns, this September.
Users will still be required to buy the expansion when launched to access its content. Responding to concerns that the game will become heavily monetized to sustain its new business practice, ArenaNet executive Mike O’Brien told popular gaming site GameSpot that players should cut that off their list of worries.
O’Brien said that the current system of microtransactions – which allows for purchase of cosmetic items only from an in-game shop – will remain as it is, and the only other pay barrier content-wise in the entire game will be the one related to the upcoming expansion. This atypical for games that go the free-to-play route, as they usually offer the core game experience for free and lock further content/features behind pay walls.
However, there are going to be a number of differences between free accounts and those made from a paid copy, with the standard paid edition still remaining purchasable. For example, free accounts will have only two character slots compared to the five of the paid accounts, and will also have some restrictions related to the chat and in-game mail system, such as the possibility of starting whispering conversations only once every thirty seconds. O’Brien said that these restrictions were put in place so that free accounts would not be able to abuse the feature and disrupt the game for other players – such as gold farmers aggressively promoting their services or other types of spam.
ArenaNet also announced today that the upcoming expansion will bring the long-awaited raiding feature to Guild Wars 2. This will allow max-level players to form groups of up to 10 people and take on harder challenges in instanced zones, though the developer did announce that it was looking to tweak the item grinding formula from other MMO’s. The feature was long-requested by players as many argued that Guild Wars 2 lacks in end-game content (plainly spoken, stuff to do after you reach max level) – until now, the game supported only 5 player dungeons of various difficulties.
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