The Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns pre-purchase program began last week, but it did not begin well. As Phil laid it out, many players were "rightly upset" to learn that the expansion, which costs $50/£35, includes the base game at no extra charge. That's a good way to attract newcomers, but it doesn't do anything for long-time supporters. Complicating things even further, the pre-purchase FAQ released in January stated that access to much of the Heart of Thorns content will require Guild Wars 2. Some players took that as meaning that they'd need to buy the core game in advance of the expansion, which then left them facing the prospect of paying for it twice.
To address that "frustration and confusion," the studio announced today that veteran players—those who registered Guild Wars 2 prior to January 23 of this year—who upgrade to Heart of Thorns through the pre-purchase program will have an additional character slot added to their Guild Wars 2 account. Anyone who purchased Guild Wars 2 directly from ArenaNet between January 23 and June 16, when the program began, will automatically have the purchase price of the game refunded if they pre-purchase Heart of Thorns.
Refunds will also be issued to anyone who purchased it during that period and just want to stop playing, as long as the refund is requested before July 31. Unfortunately, gamers who bought Guild Wars 2 from a third party during the relevant period aren't eligible for a refund from ArenaNet (although they may be able to get one from the seller), but they will get the extra character slot.
"We believe that to keep the game dynamic and vibrant with a constantly growing community, it should be as easy as possible for new players to get into Guild Wars 2. For Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, we didn’t want the core game’s price to be a factor in a new player’s decision to begin playing Guild Wars 2," ArenaNet explained. "In the future, if we release further Guild Wars 2 expansions, we plan to offer all of the prior expansions, the core game, and the latest expansion for one single purchase price."
The Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns expansion is available in three flavors running from $50/£35 to $100/£80.