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Guild Wars 2: Making MMOs more social

NCsoft said on Friday that early access to Guild Wars 2 for those who pre-purchased the PC game will be able to start playing on Saturday, August 25, as part of the Headstart Program. Everyone else won’t be able to log into the MMOG until Tuesday, August 28.

“Five years ago we set out to develop a game that finally fulfilled the promise of online worlds,” said Mike O’Brien, president and co-founder of ArenaNet. “We questioned everything that had previously been taken for granted and we never settled for ‘good enough.’ Now, we’re finally ready to introduce Guild Wars 2 to gamers who are looking for the next evolution in online gaming.”

Back in March, Massively posted an excellent article on the differences between Guild Wars 2 and its predecessor, breaking them down to Lore, Creation, Progression, Death, Gear, Content, Grouping, Interface, Economy, Gems, Guilds PvP and Endgame. The biggest difference is in the setting itself, taking place in Tyria 250 years later. The land is a bit more technologically advanced, introducing elements like pistols and turrets.

Part of that equation was the decision to keep Guild Wars free-to-play, meaning there are no monthly subscription fees. Up front, the game will cost at least $59.99 (depending on the version you want), but there will be no regular bill – only micro-transactions in the game that players can use to enhance their characters.

“Free-to-play is growing as subscriptions go down,” Turetzky said. “Customers in the West are accustomed to new business models through mobile games. With all the alternatives out there, and the reduced barriers to entry in the market, we’re seeing a forced shift to alternative business models.”

Other changes are far more creative. “The game is designed for people that have been turned off MMOs in the past,” said Whiteside. Designers thinking about the MMO wanted to bring “back the magic of what it used to be,” he said, referring to the feeling of booting up the game and being pulled into a community of players from all around the world.

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