Lead Game Designer Eric Flannum, while discussing the upcoming dungeon system in a recent interview with PC Gamer, revealed that Guild Wars 2 may be supported, in part, by microtransaction sales.
Updated with clarification from ArenaNet
In discussing Guild Wars 2's business model--which continues the stand-alone, subscriptionless model of the original that required players to purchase the game, but not pay a monthly fee afterward--Flannum told us that he believes subscription fees can cause a developer to get lazy, because they're making money whether they actually support the game or not. He continued, "The thing I would say [about not having a subscription fee] is that we actually have the continued support development model that encourages us to make cooler things than anyone else... If we have to sell you additional content like microtransaction content or anything like that, we have to give you something that you're going to want to buy. We have to earn your money."
"We don't get to say, 'Oh well, you know, we don't have to release this content this month, since they're all going to give us their subscription fee anyways. Let's just wait until next month and release this cool thing.' We're actually kind of bound because if we need income, if we need this game to make some money, we better provide things that people want to buy.
"There are not many subscription-fee games that have equaled [what we've put out for the original Guild Wars since Prophecy shipped] so I think our content model ensures that you're getting your money's worth, because as the consumer you have the option to say 'You know, I'm not going to buy that. That's not good enough.' Whereas the monthly fee [business model] takes it out of your hand. You better be getting something good every month for that--but that's just not the case with a lot of games."
We asked Flannum point blank if they would be releasing more dungeons post-launch that would be purchased as microtransaction purchases. Flannum confirmed to us that they're definitely open to the idea--and more. "Yeah, we're going to look at what the demand is. Look at what players want more of and we're going have to release that stuff, because that's the stuff that players are going to be willing to pay for, and that's the stuff that's going to make our company profitable."
ArenaNet has already revealed that they'll be selling Transmutation Stones, one-time consumable items used to customize your gear, in their cash shop. And although they won't confirm if traditional cash shop items like XP boosts and fast travel consumables will also be sold, Flannum's responses certainly makes it sound like there will be--if there's demand for it from the playerbase.
But for now, ArenaNet has only hinted that they might sell dungeon content as DLC and confirmed that they will sell the transmutation stones. [See below for clarification] What do you think? Would you mind paying for an extra dungeon here and there if it means more fresh content coming out for GW2 on a regular basis, or would you rather they stick with the one-time-only payment and slow down development between expansions?
Eric Flannum sent us a note to clarify a couple of things about their plans for Guild Wars 2 post-release content:
"We haven't decided on what exactly we are or aren't going to offer for money post-release. We're open to whatever our players seem most interested in. If, after release, you guys would like more story content, more dungeons, more events, more maps or whatever, it's something that we have to consider because ultimately making you happy is what makes us successful. Whether we release that in DLC (like the bonus mission packs in GW1) or whether we do it through expansions (Like Eye of the North) is yet to be determined. As to whether or not there are going to be items like XP boosts available in the in game store, I can only reiterate what we've said before (and will continue to say,) that we'll release details on it when they are available, and that our core philosophy of not requiring you to spend additional money to play the game and not making the game difficult or painful to play in order to encourage you to buy things from the store still stands."