Sunday, May 27

Why ArenaNet Needs To Communicate Better With Guild Wars 2

How could you not love these models?
Guild Wars 2 is set to be the most hyped MMO this year and ArenaNet (ANet), the developer, have ensured that a lot of the hype is deserved. The game features a brilliant art style, a shake up of traditional PvE content, gameplay focused on skill, not gear stats, and much more. It may not be a WoW killer, nor a perfect 10/10 but I'm pretty convinced it will be a damn good game.

Recently ANet enabled early purchases of the game the ability to play in beta weekend events (BWE). These events gave a snapshot of the game and were meant to be roughly once a month, starting in March. The first BWE had the sort of problems to be expected, lag, crashing servers etc, but on the whole set good expectations for the release. So after this first event, fans were eager for the next BWE, expected in May. But it didn't happen. A few days ago ANet posted on Facebook, that there wouldn't be an event this month, and that they would tell us as soon as they planned another. Some fans were disappointed, some angry, some were happy to defend ANet. I was more in the disappointed/angry camp because ANet communicated poorly and misjudged how desperate fans are for more chances to play the game.

When its ready
See the BWE are primarily for stress testing and optimisation, they are not complete nor the only betas ANet are conducting.  We weren't really meant to be finding bugs and give detailed feedback. ANet have had internal (staff) and external testers (friends and family, along with selected outsiders) for years now. These testers are on newer builds than ours, they have been testing such content as Sylvari and Asura (2 of the playable races) areas for weeks and months. Those are the testers that are used for in depth quality assurance.

These BWE serve several purposes for ANet. ANet directly gets money (from pre purchases) before they've shipped the game. Fans can sing praise and spread hype and awareness about the game, without ANet needing to speed vast sums of money on advertising. We help them stress test the servers and help with optimisation, with the wide range of computers we use. In return we get to very occasionally play a demo of the game, every month or so. Thats fine.

What isn't fine is the poor communication. The first BWE event in April was announced these same week it occurred. The recent Facebook post confirming no BWE in May, should have been posted earlier. And improved foresight is probably beneficial to ANet as well, because boy have I seen many cranky fans, so hooked on GW2, that they don't want to wait any longer and are swearing off the game. So please ANet, whenever the next BWE is, can you tell us like a week in advance?