Guild Wars 2 is going free. That's free, not free-to-play. "We’re not using the words free-to-play with Guild Wars 2," says ArenaNet president and co-founder Mike O'Brien when I talk to him about the changes via email. "We believe in buy to play, and we know that when people describe something as free-to-play that comes with expectations." Those expectations are that free-to-play games require heavy microtransactions, but O'Brien say that Guild Wars 2 will remain the same as it always was - and the expansion, Heart of Thorns, will still have an entry fee when it releases later this year.
Here's a trailer announcing the game's shift to free:
Guild Wars 2 [official site] already has some microtransactions in it, of course, but it seems as if the decision to take Guild Wars 2 free is more likely about keeping player numbers high. Especially, since Heart of Thorns adds a lot of endgame content, in those earlier areas of the game that risk becoming depopulated. Of course, new players coming into Guild Wars 2's base game also means new potential high-level players who might, down the road, decide to purchase the expansion.
Alongside the announcement of Guild Wars 2 going free, ArenaNet have also announced that the expansion has raids. Here's a trailer for those:
After pricing plans were announced for Heart of Thorns back in June, ArenaNet took flak from the community for not offering any discounts for players who owned the base game. Perhaps for this reason, O’Brien stresses that Guild Wars 2 going free isn't about money. "If people are expecting we’re going to go in and heavily monetize free players now, that’s not what this is about," he writes. "This is about making the base game available for everyone to try because we believe that when people love Guild Wars 2 they’re going to buy Heart of Thorns. We’re not changing the way people purchase cosmetic items or adding a bunch of new items in the store. Guild Wars 2 will remain the same game it always has been."
Heart of Thorns is due for release on October 23rd. Fancy getting in on the game before that? We've a lovely RPS Guild Wars 2 community that can help.