Here’s my two-bit take on the long-winded missive:
- Subscription games are designed to make you play a long time because that’s how they make their money
- Non-subscription games — and this includes single-player, offline games — are designed to give you an enriching, “fun” experience, since the developers don’t care (as much) how long you play
When we did a hit a while back on DC Universe Online — which is a free-to-play MMO — allowing players to pay to reset instance locks, I thought, “Why not?” Why do most MMOs have daily or weekly instance locks on content?
The answer: to slow you down and keep you paying your sub fee, which is something that a game with a monthly subscription requires to keep you feeding it your money. Games without monthly subscriptions, and offline games, don’t need to hold to this tenet, and so rarely do.
There could be some merit to the notion that these measures keep players “together” — i.e., making it so players don’t feel even more of a need to “keep up” by raiding every day, or even multiple times a day, to secure the best loot.
But then how does one explain PvP in most MMOs? You can run instanced or open PvP as much as you like, whenever you like, and obtain the best gear in a game at your own, potentially rapid, pace. And having superior gear — at least when compared to other players — should matter exponentially more in PvP than it does in PvE.
Of course, in eliminating these barriers, Guild Wars 2 also takes out the “power grind,” making it even less necessary to have artificial barriers to progress. Really, it comes down to this:
Playing a game = fun, at least in theory
so why should a game limit how much you can play, with daily or weekly cooldowns? The answer? Because they’re less interested in you having fun than they are in making money.
In that way, it’s easy to see what’s at the heart of Johanson’s post: that ArenaNet started with a foundation — “more fun” — and tried to adapt it to an MMO world, rather than deciding to make an MMO first and then figure out how to wedge concepts into it. That’s been a recurring theme from the company, which says it takes the good from previous MMOs and keeps it while taking the bad and throwing it out.
Maybe that’s an approach that more companies should take.