by Mike O’Brien on August 29, 2015
Today we’re happy to announce that the Guild Wars 2 core game is available for everyone to play for free. With Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™ launching soon, there’s no better time to introduce the game to your friends.
Our Business Model
Guild Wars 2 has the simplest of business models: buy the game and play it as long as you want with no monthly fees. We’ve been championing this as a great business model for MMOs since launching the first Guild Wars® a decade ago. We continue to believe in buy-to-play. It’s good for gamers and good for developers.
This business model has been fantastic for Guild Wars 2 and our fans. Since launching three years ago—almost to the day, today—we’ve sold more than 5 million copies of the game. And we’ve delivered more than 40 major content releases, with world-changing events, Living World episodes, and feature packs, all free of charge.
Expansions are the one place where the buy-to-play model gets a little tricky. When you’re coming in as a new player to a game that has a bunch of expansions, what exactly should you buy in order to play with your friends? The base game and also every single expansion? We’ve seen examples in the industry where that kind of thing has gotten out of control. It doesn’t seem right, and we want to do better. As we get ready to ship our first expansion for Guild Wars 2, we want to ensure that we keep the business model friendly and simple. So let’s be clear that when we say Guild Wars 2 is buy-to-play, we’re only asking you to buy one thing: the current release, Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns.
To accomplish that, we’ve already included the core game as a free bundle for anyone who buys Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns. And today we’ll go a step further: we’re making the core game free for everyone. For anyone who’s been curious about Guild Wars 2, now you can just go to guildwars2.com, download the game, and start playing.
If anyone can play Guild Wars 2 for free now, does that mean we’re switching business models to free-to-play? Are we going to be one of those games that aggressively monetizes free players through microtransactions? Absolutely not. Guild Wars 2 remains the same game it always has been. We’re making the core game experience free because we’re confident that anyone who loves Guild Wars 2 will buy Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns.
Getting the Details Right
A game like Guild Wars 2 lives and dies by its community. Our goal is to protect our current community but also to make it as easy as possible for you to introduce the game to your friends, to recruit new players into your guilds, to challenge new players to Player vs. Player matches, and so on.
It’s trickier than you’d think to accomplish both objectives. We have to ensure that free accounts can’t be used to abuse the game or its current players (through botting, cheating, spamming, or RMT) while still making sure that free accounts get the authentic Guild Wars 2 experience.
Here are the changes we made for free accounts.
First, free accounts start with fewer character slots and bag slots than the paid version of the game. But they still get the full complement of slots as soon as they buy Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns.
Second, free accounts have some chat restrictions and economy restrictions so that they can’t be used to disrupt the game for other players. Free accounts can use local chat and whispers, but not map chat. With whispers, they can both start new conversations and reply to existing conversations but are limited to starting new conversations no more than once every 30 seconds. Free accounts can buy and sell common goods on the trading post. They can’t mail gold or items directly to other players, trade gold for gems, or access guild vaults.
Third, free accounts have some restrictions to prevent them from skipping ahead to places where they could be used to disrupt the game. They must play to level 10 before leaving the starter zones, to level 30 before using LFG, and to level 60 before using World vs. World. They can play PvP immediately but must get to rank 20 before using custom and unranked arenas.
We’ve found in testing that it’s hard to read a list like this and know how it’s going to feel in action. All these changes are live today, so we invite you to see for yourself. Test with a free account and see that it’s the same Guild Wars 2 you know and love; test with a veteran account and confirm that the community is protected.
We have an exhaustive FAQ covering these changes and other topics related to the free game, so check it out if you have additional questions.
A Call to Action
Guild Wars 2 is famous for having the friendliest community in online gaming, and that community continues to grow. With Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns on the horizon, of course the game was going to have an influx of new players. And now, with this change, it will have a larger one. I ask you, the game’s veterans, to be the friendly faces that will welcome all these new players to the game.
To celebrate this special three-year anniversary of Guild Wars 2, we’re giving current players an all-new Royal Guard Outfit. Wear it with pride whenever you want to show that you were there early on, and that you’re someone that new players can go to for help.
Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns is full of end-game content, including Masteries, Fractals, Stronghold, and our newly announced challenging group content, raids. It’s coming on October 23, just 55 days from now! This is the perfect time to bring new players into your guild, to help them level up and master their professions, to practice coordinating as a team, and to prepare for all the challenges that the jungle will bring.