I just got back from a new discussion with other Alliance leaders. As the number of players increases, so do the problems that we face. And that’s because the only criteria for admitting new members into the guilds that make up the Alliance is nationality – there’s one guild where this doesn’t apply, and for good reasons, but it’s a long story so I won’t go into further details. When nationality is the first thing that interests you as a guild leader when accepting new members, some questions inevitably arise as to how all the guild and Alliance players are grouped, so that the best players can have worthy teammates but without leaving newcomers to fend for themselves. And you also have to deal with the fact that some players are more interested in PvE (Player vs. Environment) while others in PvP (Player vs. Player).
It’s been two years since E3 2004, when ArenaNet – founded by ex-Blizzard members – showcased Guild Wars for the first time. Like many others, right from the first alpha-test, we decided to create a guild, in which only three original members are still present today. However, the Alliance counts approximately 300 players split up into seven guilds (out of a maximum number of ten) guilds which are in turn differentiated into PvE and PvP guilds, for beginners and advanced players respectively. This guild specialization in the Alliance faithfully follows the structure of ArenaNet’s game, which appeals to two distinct types of players: those who want to complete missions with henchmen (AI) or other players, and those that want to fight alongside their teammates, with their ultimate goal being the advancement in the game’s ladder – the global guild standings.
Another aspect that differentiates Guild Wars from other MMORPGs is the lack of a monthly fee – you only need the initial purchase to play the game. The fact that Guild Wars sold more than one million units in the first six months since its launch in April 2005 had many thinking that the monthly fee that Blizzard receives from millions of World of Warcraft players might not be justified. Especially considering the cost of the Internet connections and servers they had to provide for a smooth online experience. Once Guild Wars was released, ArenaNet intended to launch an expansion pack every six months, with enough content to convince veteran and new players alike to pay a sum which, if divided by six, would have been equal to the monthly fee for other MMORPGs. As such, the first expansion, named Factions, should have been released last autumn, but something happened and the release date was pushed back six months – a full year after the release of Guild Wars. ArenaNet did however release two large PvE zones last summer, as well as a series of extra features, among which the Observer is the most important – think of it as a TV system where you can watch all the matches between the Top 100 guilds in the ladder. On the other hand, like ArenaNet admitted, the production studio is split in two compartments, each working in parallel on the next expansions, which have a development cycle of one year. Considering that Factions was released a year after Prophecies (the name of the original game) I very much doubt that the next expansion will be released this autumn, in the attempt to stick to the six months release schedule.
Moreover, even though Factions was initially announced as an expansion for Guild Wars, it was transformed into a stand-alone game (Chapter), thus attracting new players to the franchise. If it would have remained as an expansion, in order to play Factions you would have had to buy Prophecies as well, which could have been a huge break in increasing the number of players. This is why those who own both Prophecies and Factions enjoy certain bonuses, since they paid for the game twice. However, regardless if you have Factions or Prophecies, you won’t be at a disadvantage to players in the same situation (with a few exceptions) since both games have the same principles and game mechanics – these have already been explained in our Guild Wars review.