Earlier this week ArenaNet announced preorders for Heart of Thorns, the first major expansion for Guild Wars 2. Then all hell broke loose over the upgrade's $US50 base price tag.
For some players, as seen in the ArenaNet forums and in the Guild Wars 2 subreddit, it's a simple matter of the price itself -- they feel $US50 is too high a cost for what players know is coming with the expansion pack. It doesn't look like a whole lot on paper -- advanced progression, a new weapon for each class, a whole new class, guild halls, fresh competitive modes and what sounds like a single massive jungle zone comes across as a bit light for half a hundred dollars.
That said, Guild Wars 2 is a massive game that ArenaNet's been regularly updating for nearly three years now at no additional cost to players. They have been running off largely cosmetic purchases from the in-game store and the initial purchase price of the game for ages now, and could probably use a hit.
Others see the pricing unfair for a different reason entirely. Up until recently, players were under the impression that the core Guild Wars 2 game would be required to play Heart of Thorns. Up until it was quietly changed, an official FAQ for the expansion listed the original game as a requirement. Then along comes the preorder announcement, and $US50 gets purchasers both the original game and the expansion pack.
What if players already own the original game? Well they get the expansion pack, and that's it. No gem bonus, no additional character slot so they can play the new class without deleting a character of dropping an additional $US10 on an extra slot (the deluxe version and above do offer the slot). A lot of existing players feel slighted and somewhat cheated.
Players that have purchased the original game (which generally runs between $US10 and $US20) over the past month have reported some success in getting their money refunded -- a process which also closes their account.
I've been swarmed with emails and Tweets about this situation since late Tuesday night. I've gotten messages from folks in the vocally pissed group, as well as at least one player who said the entire situation is "probably the biggest entitlement syndrome I personally have ever seen from a community against a company that has went of it's way to offer free content and make it's player base happy."
ArenaNet hasn't been able to respond to my inquiries, likely due to the whole E3 thing, where it also debuted a video covering its upcoming guild halls system. I am sure everyone would be quite happy with if they weren't busy being angered or upset by this other thing.
I doubt ArenaNet had malicious intent when it and parent company NCsoft set the pricing for Heart of Thorns. Including the original game with an expansion pack is a normal practice for traditional MMOs, though it normally starts happening further on down the line than the first major release.
I'm hopeful that once the E3 smoke clears and ArenaNet gets a moment to sit and think about the issue, they will come up with a way to keep everyone happy. They took care of that gem thing, remember? gem thing, remember?