A few days back we brought you part one of an interview with Guild Wars developer ArenaNet in which it talked about its MMORPG sequel Guild Wars 2. Today we bring you the second and concluding part of the interview, ArenaNet continuing to blab about its sequel as well as talking about forthcoming Guild Wars expansion Eye of the North and giving us its opinion on MMORPGs on console...
In Guild Wars 2, you only have one character for both PvP and PvE this time around...?
Jeff Strain: You can still create multiple characters, but you don't have to make the choice about whether this particular character is a role-playing character or a PvP character. You're character, regardless of experience level, can choose to participate in any of the three forms of play, including the competitive e-sports style of play.
You've said you're expecting to go into beta with Guild Wars 2 in 2008 - does this mean you're hoping for a 2009 launch?
Jeff Strain: (laughs) No, we haven't made any statements about when the game will actually launch. The important part of going into beta is really to get meaningful feedback and still have the time to incorporate that feedback and make adjustments. We're not giving any kind of ship date but we are very confident that we'll be in public beta towards the latter half of next year.
Does it surprise you that no one has followed in your footsteps with the subscription-free model?
Jeff Strain: I think that in some ways, everybody was waiting to see if it would be successful. And obviously it's been overwhelmingly successful for us, but I think that... We have seen some announcements from other companies, like I think about half a year ago Sony announced that they were working on a no-subscription-fee MMO, but we never heard anything else about it. I think that in some ways Guild Wars has been so successful that it's kind of THE no-subscription-fee MMO and it would be hard to assault it at this point.
But having said that, it is kind of surprising. One thing we do hope to see is that there will be more innovation in the MMO market, that people will be willing to go out and explore different business models and explore different designs. We kind of hope that we won't continue to see a bunch of World of Warcraft clones or Ultima Online clones year after year. Hopefully, the success of Guild Wars, both in terms of its design and its business model, will inspire other companies to go take some chances and do some different things.
Ben Miller: The business model doesn't just stand alone. In order to support the unique business model that Guild Wars has, you need the technology to back it up. And I think that's something that in past maybe we haven't talked enough about, but the client server architecture of Guild Wars is so efficient that it is entirely cost-effective and profitable to run the game and the service without charging a subscription. A lot of companies I think are interested in that, but they don't have the technology to support it.
You got the Eye of the North expansion coming out for Guild Wars later this year - but what's going to happen to Guild Wars after the expansion comes out now that Guild Wars 2 is coming?
Jeff Strain: We'll continue to support it with live content, we'll continue to have holiday events and support the tournament infrastructure of the game. It's obviously very much in our best interests to keep Guild Wars players happy, because we think most of those Guild Wars players will be Guild Wars 2 players. Between now and the release of Guild Wars 2, Guild Wars will be fully supported by us as a development team.