Sometimes a game doesn’t even have to be in the expo hall to have just as big of an impact at industry events. That was absolutely the case with Guild Wars 2 this weekend during PAX Prime; a game that wasn’t even on display but had everyone talking regardless.
From the time I stepped off my plane in Seattle last Thursday, I was intent on finding some way of covering GW2 from the event. As it turns out, I didn’t even have to work all that hard to do so, with GW2 having perhaps the strongest presence of any game this year.
Read on to hear a tale of how Guild Wars 2 is already having an impact on the industry, intimate gatherings with the devs, and plenty of images and anecdotes from the hottest party of PAX Prime 2012.
The GW2 Effect at PAX Prime – Day One
While my event schedule for PAX this year was thankfully a bit less aggressive than in previous years, I still managed to meet up with the teams behind countless games. (You can follow my coverage from PAX over on the Ten Ton Hammer event page) A goal I’ll often have when donning my Clark Kent disguise at events is to come up with at least one question that I can universally ask during each of my appointments. As it turns out, this year I didn’t have to.
Every single developer I spoke to brought Guild Wars 2 into the discussion at some point. It speaks volumes about the impact GW2 is already having on the industry that it was the most discussed game at PAX, and it wasn’t even being shown at the event. The response from other development teams was highly positive, with many even inadvertently going into fan mode and sharing anecdotes about the race and profession they’re playing, or favorite aspects of the game they've had the chance to experience so far.
Walking the show floor each of the three days, you could hardly go 10 feet without seeing someone wearing a Guild Wars 2 shirt. As time permitted, I stopped and exchanged stories with many of them, asking what they thought of the game so far. The response was a staggering amount of praise, and recognition that ArenaNet has truly created something special.
Following the first day of the event, I had the opportunity to meet up with our friends over at MMORPG.com for an intimate gathering over food and drinks. Numerous members of the ArenaNet development team were there, and I had the pleasure of talking about the launch and future plans for GW2 with many of them, including Jeff Grubb and Colin Johanson.
I also learned that night that plans are already in the works for the first major in-game event. While I can’t share too many details at this point, keep two things in mind here. First off, if you played during the beta weekend events, you’ll recall that there were some massive ending events that spanned entire maps in the game. The second is that when I made mention of fond memories of the Mad King Thorn event in Lion’s Arch for Halloween, the team’s eyes lit up while noting that the first major holiday following the game’s launch is just around the corner…
The GW2 Effect at PAX Prime – Day Two
With a second full day of developer appointments under my belt, I made my way to Pink Ultra Lounge at 6pm sharp when the doors opened for the Guild Wars 2 party. Reaching the top floor of Pacific Place, I was floored to see a line that wrapped around the top level twice, with a solid wall of people still filtering in behind me. According to some of the devs I spoke to, some fans were already lined up in front of the club as early as 9am to make sure they could be among the first to get in.
Thankfully I was on the guest list for the event, so eagerly made my way inside right when things kicked off for the evening. Within minutes, the club reached its capacity and remained packed for the next four hours. It was amazing to witness so many elated fans getting a chance to spend an evening with the ArenaNet team who was just as excited to hang out with the people they’ve put so much work into the game for in the first place.
On a personal level it was great to be able to shake the hands of each dev in attendance and thank them for creating such a fantastic gaming experience. I was also able to catch up with many of our friends on the team and listen to stories about the launch from their perspective. Getting to shake Mike O’Brien’s hand and see the giant smile on his face at the fan reception of the game was one of those priceless moments I won’t soon forget.
While many of the devs have had a much higher public presence during events or videos such as the infamous MMO Manifesto and were instantly recognizable, it was great to meet many of the game’s unsung heroes such as members of the QA team who helped make GW2 the amazingly polished game we’re playing today.
With the party in full swing, numerous fans won some awesome swag such as a collector’s edition of the game, or the killer new SteelSeries peripherals for GW2. Everyone there also walked away with an exclusive tee shirt, in-game shirt code, and poster (shown below being signed by Kristen Perry).
The devs were also armed with sharpies, and spent the evening talking with fans while they signed their swag.
Speaking of swag…
I had two copies of GW2 signed during the party which we’ll be giving away later this week along with one of the shirts and in-game shirt codes. Be sure to keep your virtual dials set to GW2Hub this week for the full details!
The GW2 Effect at PAX Prime – Day Three
Thankfully the third day of PAX was somewhat low key, and I had a bit more time to walk the show floor and double back to snag some additional hands-on time with a few of the better titles at the event. With another PAX under my belt, I was able to meet up with one of the newer additions to the ArenaNet family for dinner.
Ten Ton Hammer alumni Eric “Dalmarus” Campbell recently joined the ArenaNet community team, and they’re truly lucky to have him. I worked closely with Eric on previous community sites for Team Hammer before he made the jump to the developer side of the MMOG fence. In fact, his forum handle will probably be familiar to any of you who played SWTOR. If you see Dalmarus on the official GW2 forums, be sure to tell him Sardu said hello!
The GW2 Effect at PAX Prime – Epilogue
With my bags mostly packed (and by packed, I mean stuffed full of swag from the event) I’ll be making the long trek back to my secret underground laboratory in a few hours. We have a lot of amazing things in store for you this week including an exclusive giveaway, an extra special edition of our Community Spotlight series, and plenty of in-depth guides and hard hitting features about the state of the game.