A few weeks ago my esteemed colleague and galactic squid racer extraordinaire, Xerin, penned an interesting article titled To Market, To Market that focused on the metrics for success in Guild Wars 2. In his original post, Xerin addresses a number of questions that arise based on the lack of a subscription fee and other important factors:
"If a games success is now based on selling millions of units and a subscription based product is gauged on active subscribers, how are we to assess ArenaNet’s inevitable success? With no subscriptions, would selling 1 million copies or less be seen as a failure? Or are expectations even higher?"
Apparently this was a topic that resonated with our friends over at ArenaNet, as the newest post to hit the official blog addresses that very same subject. While strong box, digital download, and micro-transaction sales will obviously be an important factor, in his new blog post Colin Johanson tackles the biggest metric of them all when it comes to gaming in general: is it fun?
According to Colin, this simple question has been at the heart of the development culture for GW2 from the very beginning:
This metric of success impacted a lot of our early content-related design decisions for GW2. Some examples include:
- Fun impacts loot collection. The rarest items in the game are not more powerful than other items, so you don’t need them to be the best. The rarest items have unique looks to help your character feel that sense of accomplishment, but it’s not required to play the game. We don’t need to make mandatory gear treadmills, we make all of it optional, so those who find it fun to chase this prestigious gear can do so, but those who don’t are just as powerful and get to have fun too.
- Fun impacts decisions. Every time you finish a dungeon you get tokens you can trade in for reward items that you want, rather than having a small chance of getting it as a drop, because it’s more fun to always get rewarded for finishing with something you want to have!
- Fun impacts development. Explorable dungeons have multiple paths you can take and random events in them. Because of this you don’t feel like you need to play the same dungeon over and over again if you want to chase the prestigious rewards at the end, but can instead mix up that experience to keep it fresh and fun.
- Fun impacts customization. The event and personal story systems allow you to get a sense of customization from your characters. Playing through the game, each character can experience completely different content, and the world can always stay fresh and new in the pursuit of new story lines, and an ever-changing dynamic event world. It means going back to a place you’ve already been with a character can be fun, and it means making a new character on an entirely different personal story chain can be fun as well.
- Fun impacts gameplay. The pursuit of fun in content led us to make many gameplay decisions, including: Everyone who helps kill a creature gets experience and loot, so you’re not competing with other players; everyone gets rewarded for events with karma they can spend to buy rewards they want, rather than get a random roll of stuff you might not; content that scales in difficulty, so if more people show up, there is still stuff for you to do; everyone is able to revive one another, so you view other players as assets that can help you achieve your goals, rather than people who might get in your way; and the ability for everyone to harvest from resource nodes and get the rewards in the world together, rather than racing other people to them who might steal it from you. All of these things are just more fun!
The quest for fun doesn't end there though. The massive beta weekend events have been instrumental in helping ArenaNet determine how much fun players are having in-game. One of the tools being used to determine the fun factor for various aspects of the game are the mini-surveys that appear upon completion of various parts of the game such as events, dungeons, PvP matches, and personal story missions.
Even if you don't provide feedback through other channels, you should absolutely make sure to take a few moments to fill these surveys out as they can have a direct impact on the game's development between now and launch.
Be sure to head over to the official ArenaNet website to read the rest of Colin's latest and greatest blog post: Is it Fun? Colin Johanson on How ArenaNet Measures Success.