Last night, during the E3 PC Gamer presentation, prepurchases for Heart of Thorns began. There were several moments of unbridled happiness. And then the internet began to burn.
So, let’s see what we have here. For starters, here is the current pricing scheme:
$50 is on the steep side for an expansion, but not out of the realm of reasonability. Most expansions these days hit around $40. It’s worth noting that the Ultimate version is the default version selected, and I find it rather shady that the others are greyed-out – generally items being greyed-out means that they are unavailable. It would have made more sense to have them look normal (black text, colored box art) but the nameplate box not colored in unless you’ve selected it. But that’s marketing for you, and I’ve always found most marketing practices on the slimy side.
But here’s the first major point of contention – Heart of Thorns comes with the base game included. Okay, I’ll admit – I was minorly annoyed at that at first, for the reason of “why am I paying for something I own already”. Once I got over that, I realized that it is, to an extent, a smart move – they are phasing out the base game being available by itself, and from now on new players will get both the base game and expansion. This makes it more accessible for new players to get playing and not have to worry about if they have the right stuff or not.
What does bother me about it is that there was absolutely no indication that this is how the expansion would be sold. Up until last night – after prepurchases had been open for some time – the FAQ indicated that buying the base game first would be required – as is logical, as that’s how most expansions work:
It’s also worth noting that other parts of the FAQ have not been updated yet:
Now, the big problem in this is that a lot of people have bought the base game recently, in anticipation of the expansion releasing. They did say they are going to do refunds for people who purchased the base game recently, but even with that, it leaves kind of a sour taste. How far back is “recently” going to go? Will it just be players who bought the game in the past month or two? Is someone who bought the game in March for $40 going to be denied? I feel like a lot of this could have been avoided had they announced more info ahead of time, and if they were much clearer about it.
Realistically, I don’t care that the expansion comes with the base game. I bought the CE, for $150, at launch. I’ve spent more than I care to think about on gems. I have 18 character slots in the game. I’ve gotten my money’s worth there. I feel like an expansion-only option would be a good idea, for existing players, but oh well. But this does potentially hurt a lot of newer players, and I feel like more explanation upfront could have helped immensely here.
The other big thing that bothers me, and I feel is the source of much of the unhappiness, is the fact that if you’re an existing player and you buy the standard edition, you most likely need another character slot if you want to play Revenant. This means that for many existing players, you have the option of deleting an existing character, or buying a character slot – which makes the expansion realistically cost $60 or more.
And yes, I get it. You can convert gold to gems for a character slot. Frankly, though, that’s pretty unreasonable, as right now 800 gems is about 150 gold. Most people are not going to take that option, as 150g in-game takes much longer to earn, unless you get exceptionally lucky, than $10 out of game.
See, this just really annoys me. A new profession is being released – one that many people are eager to play. A new profession is a major part of the new expansion. And it’s one that players are going to be forced to pay more in order to play. And I also believe that this is where the whole feeling that new players are getting a better value than existing players is coming from. They are getting the base game, with five character slots, and the expansion as well. We are getting the expansion, without so much as even an extra character slot to make our new characters with. Hence, for existing players, the perceived value is much lower, and that’s where a lot of the anger is coming from.
Let’s also look at it this way – the base game has gone on sale for $10 three times this year so far. As that’s the lowest it has been, it has a value of $10. A character slot costs 800 gems – which also happens to be $10. If they had simply made it so that new accounts get the base game, and existing accounts get another character slot, then much of this would have been avoided. Sure, people would still grumble about how they paid $60/$40/whatever for the base game that new players are now getting for free, and people still would have griped about $50 being high for an expansion. But for the most part, most people would be fine with it.
As far as the price itself goes? Yes, $50 is high for an expansion. Most expansions now are in the $30-40 range (people point out WoW’s latest expansion being $50 is rather dishonest because all other WoW expansions were $40). But considering the amount of play I’ve gotten out of GW2, I feel that $50 would be worth it. It’s the fact that, for many players, that $50 becomes $60 just to play all of the new content, that doesn’t sit well with me.
I feel like this all has been a bit of a fumble. Let’s hope that they listen to the feedback – the reasonable feedback, anyway.