Many MMOs sacrifice “quality” with mechanics to keep you playing as long as possible, says ArenaNet

Wednesday, 20th June 2012 14:34 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

ArenaNet believes when a subscription MMO is more focused on making money by keeping players “chasing something in the game,” as long as possible, it not only ruins the experience but the fun as well.

According to Colin Johanson, lead content developer on Guild Wars 2, the prime motivation of many subscription MMOs “run the risk of sacrificing quality to get as much content,” into the game to fill up the players time.

“You get leveling systems that take insane amounts of grind to gain a level, loot drop systems that require doing a dungeon with a tiny chance the item you want can drop at the end, raid systems that need huge numbers of people online simultaneously to organize and play, thousands of wash/repeat item-collection or kill-mob quests or dailies with flavor text support, the best stat gear requiring crazy amounts of time to earn, etc,” he wrote.

Johanson said ArenaNet has tried to avoid this by basing development of Guild Wars 2 around fun instead.

“If we chose fun as our main metric for tracking success, can we flip the core paradigm and make design decisions based on what we’d like to play as game players?,” he asked. “Can we focus our time on making meaningful and impactful content, rather than filler content meant to draw out the experience? Can we make something so much fun you might want to play it multiple times because it’s fun, rather than making you do it because the game says you have to?

“If your key metric for success of your game is fun, how do you make content that fits that goal, and how do you know if you’re succeeding? It’s easy to tell if a subscription-based game is hitting its metric of success, you simply look at the number of subscriptions; fun is much harder to define. To accomplish this, we’ve had to fundamentally redefine our development process of content in Guild Wars 2 around this concept of fun, and it starts with asking a very simple question that surprisingly isn’t asked that often in game development: “Are you having fun?”

Early-on, content-related design decisions made for Guild Wars 2 revolved around how “fun” impacts the gameplay. Loot collection was used as just one example: the rarest items in the game are not more powerful than other items, therefore players do not need them to be “the best.”

“If our model was subscription based, we might be spending all this time racing to add as much filler content as possible to keep players chasing the carrot,” Johanson continued. “Instead, as content designers with the goal of creating fun, we get to spend this time refining our content and making it amazing.”

You can read the entire blog post through the link, where Johanson explains ArenaNet’s design philosophy a bit more.



  1. GrimRita

    Odd this because Guild Wars 2 in most parts is just a grind. Although I didnt always feel like I was. However, some of the nearby events are nothing more than shit – go and fetch some apples, kill spiders, rinse/repeat for 20 minutes, collect LOOT.

    During most of the events and quests I did, I dont think I rated one above 3/5 for fun.

    Since WoW, the genre in general has lost its way by believing that copying this format will bring instant success. WRONG.

    Games like Eve, albeit smaller in numbers, is one of the few MMOs thats actually growing because players can decided what they want to do without any limitations(within reason).

    #1 3 years ago
  2. roadkill

    Too right M. Johanson! You guys rock on every level!

    @1 Yes WoW is the best. Douche-bag!

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Kalain

    I agree. It is grind just in disguise. In fact, I’d probably go as far as to say that it’s more of a grind than WoW is when leveling up.

    Several of the events/quests were completely forgettable and I just thought I was going through the same routine as every other fantasy MMO I’ve played. I just didn’t want to do the quests or the events, there was nothing there to make me go, woah. SWTOR’s leveling was so much more enjoyable than this, until I hit the magical 40 then it went a bit downhill.

    I’ll play this since I’ve already pre-bought it, but I don’t think I’ll be putting as much time into it as I’ve done in Lotro or even swtor.

    I would like a more open world, player driven fantasy game like EvE. One where you can make a difference instead of just being player number #434534.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. DSB

    The fact that progression takes so long is one of the major draws. No one likes to simply farm stuff, but if you make dungeons that are actually varied and fun, then it’s not really a problem running through it.

    At least that was what kept me going. Fun, coordinated encounters leading to the possibility of fat loot. People would be holding their breath every time if there was an item that would really complete their setup.

    I reckon this is just about talking the competition down, so the stuff that’s missing in GW2 will seem like a refinement and a deliberate choice.

    They’re not even close to being the first the focus on mechanics though. Champions Online was all about letting people fight in their own way. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but it would make balancing hell for any kind of endgame.

    @3 Funny, I’ve heard others say the same thing. It’s a little worrying. I was planning on making GW2 my next MMO, but if it doesn’t really go further than SWTOR, then fuck that.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. GrimRita

    @2 forgive me, where did I say WoW was ‘the best’ – pratt.

    @4 – have you played GW2 beta yet? Let me know if you want to. I am far from impressed with the grind since the last beta and the utterly shit auction house.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. DSB

    @5 Nah I haven’t man. It wouldn’t feel right to buy a preorder just to get a demo of the game.

    You got an extra key laying around? :P

    #6 3 years ago
  7. GrimRita

    Not an extra key but yr welcome to have a bash at the next beta weekend.When it gets closer, remind me and we will discuss. The more I play, the more I am coming away thinking I wont like it :(

    Not because of the pvp etc but I dont like the combat skills, auction house, grind, quests and the art style tbh. Apart from that, its good! lol

    #7 3 years ago
  8. roadkill

    @5 You took WoW as the norm. You probably compare every MMO with WoW. It’s like comparing every shooter with CoD. That shows two things: you’re either clueless or you’re a fanboy. Or both.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. Puggy

    Well, if you compare a game to another of the same genre, which one would you pick? The one with the most units sold (active Subs) or another one you decided to compare it to out of your own reasons?

    I for my part would stick with the one that makes most money, since obviously either people like it, or nobody knows how to cancel an active Subscription there. Either way, it is generating the most money.

    Actually I never doubted there to be grind in GW2, or in any game. To me it seems like some kind of ritual you have to pass in order to be acknowledged by the devs and community. If it is not hard (well, not hard, just… long and boring) most of the time to get there, people will complain. To say it with a certain Internet celebrities words: “It stops being boring and gets good after several hours into the game? Well thank you! Why don’t you hold your hand on a hot plate. The pain will be gone after some hours and you will start to feel good in a way too!”

    #9 3 years ago
  10. GrimRita

    @8 So by comparing this to WoW, that claim says I think WoW is the best one out there? Which shows two things – Clearly you’re an idiot, who cant read.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. roadkill

    @9 It’s easy. I would pick the best. And that’s not necessarily the one with the most subscriptions.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Puggy

    But who decides what is the best?

    #12 3 years ago
  13. roadkill

    Well I would say common sense but how do you measure that? Hmm.. I know, the average IQ of the players playing the game.

    edit: Grim you still haven’t denied loving the game, you’re just running around your tail so yeah I still think that you think that WoW is the best.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. GrimRita

    Ah assumptions. If you actually READ the story, its clear that Arena are aiming this at WoW(and almost every copy cat pile of shit that followed). WoW IS a pile of shit but when it arrived, it changed the face of MMO gaming by offering an easier way to play.

    Since then, almost every single paid 2 play MMO has tried to copy the WoW format. Its very stale. Hence why games like SWTOR has lost so many users – they dont want yet another WoW clone.

    Guild Wars 2 has lots of grinding dull generic quests from what I have played in beta, so Arena can promise all they want – who remembers WAR and the false claims they made? – Bioware said it wanted ‘heroic’ combat as it felt without the need for groups of heroes beating on a single enemy – when thats what they delivered.

    GW2 will end up the same in terms of grinding as every other MMO. I also believe that if Star Wars Galaxies was released today in its original form(pre-cu/nge) and offering a Sandbox approach to play, then it would probably do very well.

    It lasted 8 years as a paid 2 play game and was only shut down because EA didnt want it to compete with SWTOR.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. roadkill

    OK so you hate WoW. Then I don’t think that you’re a douche-bag anymore.

    #15 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.