Guild Wars 2, however, is going about this progression in a different way than most games. Without vertical gear progression, ArenaNet has changed the nature of their system, allowing players to engage with a wide array of content that is available to players of all power levels. O'Brien explains, "Guild Wars 2 isn't about vertical gear progression. It's about being out in the world. We don't want the gear grind. The gear grind prevents players from playing together, and fragments the community. We would rather give people more different things to do and give them non-mechanical rewards."
This has been done for a number of reasons. The developers at ArenaNet don't want GW2's world to be filled with the "empty husks of things that players used to do years ago." Though names were left out, as a classic WoW raider, I could definitely empathize with their position, having seen some of my favorite dungeons and quests skimped over as players completed the mad dash to max level. Instead, the goal of the Living World is to have content to feel consistent, reliable, and constantly growing. O'Brien revealed that one of the key design metrics that ArenaNet measures itself by is the growth of the game's world - after a year of updates, the world should feel like a different world because of actions of the players, and everything that has gone on during that time. Rather than simply moving the players to a new continent every six months, the developers want to build onto the story and world that the players already know. Given the substantial changes that have occurred during the first year of the game's release, this insight makes it clear why they've made such a big deal of celebrating the game's success.
Looking forward, O'Brien remains confident of Guild Wars 2's success. The free trials that were available August 23rd-25th were a large success for GW2. Though no numbers were mentioned, he did say that their conversion rate was higher than the industry average, and that lots of free trials were upgraded into the new Heroic Edition of the game. O'Brien also affirmed that Guild Wars 2 is not planning on releasing any expansions, and will continue to focus on releasing new content for the game via Living World updates. By adding new zones, ascended gear, and a constant stream of new and enjoyable activities to complete through the Living World, the developers at ArenaNet feel that they have no need to release an expansion pack.
Though this isn't exactly news, it speaks loud and clear to the success that the game has been having with its current model. Because GW2 only has an up-front cost and no monthly fee, one would expect that regular expansions would be the best way to maintain revenue. However, between the continued success of the original game and their well-balanced microtransaction shop, it seems that ArenaNet has had the rare fortune of being able to follow their hearts instead of their wallets. According to O'Brien, "Our model is sustainable; we don't need to keep making new paid content in order to give players content."
Innovative and game-altering events are being released in a constant stream, and with more than 3.5million copies of the game sold, and a clear sense of direction, Guild Wars 2 is definitely a game that new and old MMO players can satisfyingly sink their teeth into.