Thoughts On The Heart of Thorns Expansion Pre-Order Conundrum

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I spend a few days working on this in order to show what I think of this issue. If you feel I didn’t clarify a point properly or something along those lines, please let me know in the comments! – Age

When I saw the price tag for Heart of Thorns I thought “ok… a little higher than I thought but ok”. Then I read that each expansion option includes the core game. Then I saw that the standard edition didn’t provide an extra character slot. That’s when I knew I should probably avoid Reddit and the forums for a bit. It’s gotten to a point where I heard that an ArenaNet employee got in-game mail about it. And it probably wasn’t a pleasant one. I’ve taken a few days to formulate my thoughts on this. I wanted this to be a short reaction post on the matter but it ended up being way longer than anticipated. So let me go over what I think about all of this. Any prices you see will be in USD.

First, why are some people upset about the expansion options? Well:

  • Reason 1: any Heart of Thorns expansion purchase comes with the core game
  • Reason 2: the standard version does not come with a character slot
  • Reason 3: The price is too high / There’s not enough info on the expansion to make a good purchase decision

There may be other reasons but those are the main ones that has got some people upset. I understand these points, I really do. In fact, my initial thought was “wait, I’m buying the game again?”. In my honest opinion, I think the price for the expansion is a little high; it could be $10 cheaper. But let’s break each reason down a bit.

Why Is The Core Free With Heart of Thorns?

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To understand the 1st reason, we have to first talk about depreciation. Depreciation is defined as “a reduction in the value of an asset with the passage of time“. Guild Wars 2 came out 3 years ago. The core game was $60 standard but has gone on sale in the past from ArenaNet themselves for as low as $10. It’s a pretty cheap game right now and might even be worth $10 at the moment. You see depreciation of games all the time; it’s part of the industry. Open up Steam for tons of examples. One great example is Skyrim, a very popular game that was $60 standard when it came out 4 years ago can now go as low as $5 when on sale.

Next up is something I like to call “value of time“. If you’ve been playing this game for a long time now, you’ve gotten way more out of the game than people just coming in. This goes for any game but let’s go into some examples. Veterans of this game has gone through Living Story Seasons 1 and 2, which is worth $40-$50 collectively alone in my opinion. Veteran players were there for event patches like Super Adventure Box, the first trek into Southsun and so on. Not bad for buy-to-play game if I do say so. Veteran players were one of the first to witness all of this content, free content I might add, for the entirety of 2-3 years before any players who bought the game later or right now. This “value of time” also supplies memories. If you’ve been playing for 3 years, there must be a reason why. Be it a guild, friends, or you just enjoy what the game has to offer. You’ve probably made some good memories over the years.

Now, the two points above make for valid reasoning of why the core game is a bonus for new players when buying Heart of Thorns. The expansion itself is worth $50. Deprecation of 3 years allows the core of Guild Wars 2 to be a bonus. This shouldn’t affect veteran players because they’ve gotten their “value of time” from the game already. For new players coming in, they’re going to start establishing their “value of time” just like the rest of use did at launch.

So Where’s My Free Character Slot?

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Alright, this one is a bit interesting to delve into. What about the standard version of the expansion not give you a free character slot? I’m 50/50 on this. When you buy a game and it comes with extra goodies, it’s done in order to prompt you to buy it. Game companies want you buy their content so these days they add bonuses in order to entice you. The Witcher 3 and it’s 16 free DLCs after the game’s release is a good recent example of this. Do they have to? Nope. You’ve already bought their game (and a damn good one at that); they could have charged you for them. However, CD Projekt Red chose to give these DLCs to their players for free as a thanks for buying the game. Free extra goodies for new games has become the norm and is just naturally expected nowadays when buying a new game. This mentality kind of clashes with the Heart of Thorns expansion options.

I know that when I buy an expansion, or any game really, I’m not entitled to anything free; although it’s a good move on a company’s part to make. I am entitled to the content that I bought and was promised to me though. Entitlement is “the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something“. This is exactly what some players feel about getting a free character slot for buying the expansion or because they own the base game.

Yes, I’ll admit it, it’s sad that the standard edition doesn’t come with a free character slot. I really think ArenaNet missed out on a good marketing move. However, when I look at the other options, I feel that ArenaNet don’t necessary give out a free character slot at all. In fact, if you look at the other expansion options and put the extras in terms of gems, players are getting a character slot in the deluxe and ultimate versions at a discount price. In the end, and I hate saying it because it’s usually negative for gamers when mentioned but, I can see it being a business decision. Less money would be made if everyone got their free Revenant slot.

Now, I know players might reference GW1 since we got 4 slots with Prophecies, Factions or Nightfall and 2 extra ones for each extra campaign we got. I feel this is an example players can use but it’s a debatable one. The GW1 campaigns set a mindset with players that in GW2 we would get a free character slot if an expansion came out. Then again, GW1 wasn’t your standard MMO because the campaigns were standalone. Eye of the North was the only legit paid GW1 expansion and that expansion gave no extra character slots. Again, it’s a debatable topic, so I can’t say either way if the campaigns are a good example to use or not.

Just in case ArenaNet don’t cave and you begrudgingly buy the standard expansion, you can convert gold to gems for your character slot. If you are a legit Guild Wars 2 veteran, as so many players complaining claim to be, you should be able to farm gold (or mats for gold), convert them to gems and buy a character slot. Right now the conversion rate is around 141 gold for 800 gems which is the exact amount of gems needed for a character slot. There might even be a character slot sale coming up. In fact, farming for gold for my character slot is what I’ll probably do for my alt account when I get Heart of Thorns for it.

Decisions, Decisions

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Now let’s talk pricing. Again, I did think the price tag for Heart of Thorns is a bit high. Probably because I don’t have the full Heart of Thorns picture. Yes, I’ll give it to people that a good illustration of the scale the of expansion content would greatly help in determining whether a person should buy the expansion or not. A good example is this “challenging content” that we were told about but got no info about.

I heard that some players are trying to convince other GW2 players to not get the expansion. My response to that is this: If you’re on the fence now due to any of the 3 reasons I stated above then you are well in your right to be. If you think the price is too high to warrant buying the expansion then that’s ok. If you think you should get a character slot with that standard edition you wanted to buy then that’s ok. If you want to buy the expansion and don’t care what anyone thinks, then that’s ok too. But please don’t let an angry internet mob be the thing that turns you off a game if you really want to buy it. Take the facts known about the game, process it, and make your own decision on whether to buy the expansion or not. You can always wait too and see how it all pans out.

TL;DR Summary

To conclude, let’s sum up my thoughts based on reasons 1, 2 and 3:

Reason 1 Response: I don’t think veterans are being screwed with the core game being free with the expansion. The bonus of the core coming with the expansion is to entice new players in. If you’ve played this game for a good while, you’ve gotten way more out of the game than $60 (or $10 if you’ve joined in the last year-ish). It’s not worth being mad about. I say the only people that got screwed are people who recently got the base game (like a few months) in order to play Heart of Thorns. In this case, I do feel bad for you. You may be able to get a refund if you contact support.

Reason 2 Response: I think ArenaNet probably should have given everyone a free character slot with the expansion as it would have been a good marketing move. Probably for business reasons, this wasn’t to be. I accept that. Perks are nice but I’m paying for expansion content only. In the end, if you buy the standard version and want the extra slot, you’ll probably have to shell out a few more bucks or spend some time farming for gold and getting your slot that way.

Reason 3 Response: I don’t believe players are getting screwed with the price as I think ArenaNet will have plenty of content to make the price worth it. But it’s up to you and you alone to determine if it’s worth buying the expansion or to wait and see.

I feel ArenaNet needs to do some sort of damage control. I’ve heard nothing about them making a statement or anything like that. In fact, they’ve proceeded with pumping out blog posts like this problem doesn’t exist and that’s not good. Reacting quickly with something that will calm people down shows that you care about your players’ opinions. Maybe they’re thinking about what to say still; after all any possible additions or changes to the expansion options that will work for everyone will probably take time. I feel a question most players really need is this: are we going to get $50 worth of content from this expansion? I personally think so but that’s a topic for another time.

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Posted on June 19, 2015, in Games, Guild Wars 2 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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