As you may or may not know, fellow Guild Warriors, there’s trouble on the farm with ArenaNet’s publisher NCsoft. Another NCsoft title, the MMO City of Heroes, has been shut down entirely, and now there are reports that restructuring and realignment are taking place at NCsoft’s offices in Seattle, which includes layoffs. NCsoft as a whole has seen a 12% decline in revenue not too long ago. In other parts of the video gaming press, there’s been a lot of questions raised as to how this is affecting ArenaNet and if Guild Wars 1 or 2 are in danger. We here at Guild Wars Insider have put together a part news, part editorial, part Written in Red to put these fears to rest.
Let’s put this in a bit of perspective, first. For one, NCsoft Seattle, also known as NCwest, is not ArenaNet. ArenaNet is a wholly-owned subsidiary of NCsoft that happens to be in the Seattle area, and is insulated from the rest of NCsoft in just about ever aspect except publishing and distribution. The Guild Wars franchise is also the second largest piece of intellectual property NCsoft owns, behind only the big-in-Asia Lineage series. The almost 9 million in combined sales for Guild Wars 1 and 2 dwarfs all of the recently shut down NCsoft games, such as the aforementioned City of Heroes, Tabula Rasa, or even the North American Lineage servers. To put it another way, Guild Wars 2 and ArenaNet are in no danger because they’re wildly successful. Head of Global Community Martin Kerstein confirmed in a forum post that the NCwest layoffs are not affecting ArenaNet and that ArenaNet is actually still hiring.
Any speculation regarding the demise of Guild Wars 2 is simply unfounded because it just doesn’t make business sense. The absolute worst case scenario is that ArenaNet would either be spun off or sold off, and even then that chance is so miniscule that, at this point, it’s not even worth speculating. ArenaNet and Guild Wars 2 are the proverbial lynchpins of NCsoft’s North American and European operations. They’re safe. There is no reason to assume that the trouble at NCsoft will affect ArenaNet.
It may be more correct to question the future of the Guild Wars 1 servers. It’s a seven year old game and it has a sequel. We as a community shouldn’t be surprised when the day finally comes. At the same time, the way Guild Wars 1 was designed is radically different than other recently shut down NCsoft games, and that will go a long way towards lengthening the life of the game. For one, it’s not an MMO. ArenaNet uses the term Competitive/Cooperative Online Role Playing Game (CORPG). With how instanced GW1 is, it would really be quite similar to the Diablo series in structure if it weren’t for the very convincing elements of towns, outposts, and an interface that makes it look like an MMO. It probably has similar server requirements to the Diablo games as well, which means a tiny fraction of your average MMO. Couple this with the fact that the game is extremely bandwidth efficient (did you know GW1 is playable on 56k dial-up?) and you could probably move the Guild Wars 1 server software over to the Guild Wars 2 server cloud and never even notice a difference. Obviously this is all just speculation, but the technical side of Guild Wars 1 is truly a masterpiece, and I think that will go a long way in extending the life of the game.
In summary, Tyria is safe from the trouble at NCsoft. No matter what happens, ArenaNet is a very, very good game studio and they have the sales to prove it. You never throw that kind of thing away.