With their digital sales “embargo” recently lifted and a somewhat bizarre, misbegotten trailer airing two weeks into official launch, ArenaNet have inspired a great deal of raised eyebrows in the community lately, and many sarcastic comments along the line of Syncaine’s –
“Since they sold more boxes ‘than expected’, I’m guessing someone lost a bet at Anet and their kid’s art project was made the release trailer, in the hopes of curing some of the overflow issues and reducing WvW queues. I think the trailer will prove most effective in this goal.”
While you can argue how smart a move a temporary stop of sales is, or guess at all motivations involved, I have to say I am a little puzzled by the way ANet prepared for this launch and their very obvious underestimation and miscalculation when it comes to GW2 sales and the impact of their game in general. Have ANet, used to their own faithful “cult” following for years, been somewhat out of touch with the greater MMO playerbase out there during development? Considering the latest trailer, a cynic might suggest a certain lack of relation might be involved….
In any case, it’s all a little surprising to me given the high anticipation for GW2 well before its launch. I’m not talking about die-hard GW fans here but a much wider audience that has been intrigued at the very least for about two years now, being vocal on forums and blogs. During that time ANet gave me the impression of following things closely, with a clear focus on target audience and market share: when the development progress of GW2 finally became more public (which was not the case for at least the first half of the development process), they got out there and communicated in no uncertain fashion what (or rather: whom) they were after and where they were going with GW2. In case you’ve never seen the humorous comic strips released on their official site in 2010, I suggest you have a look sometime.
ANet went for a bigger fish with GW2 and it’s always been clear that this MMO was going to target a much wider, more mainstream MMO audience than GW did. It’s obvious too where ANet expected a good chunk of that target audience to migrate over from. Unlike Bioware or Funcom, they were wise enough to stick to a business model that allows for a more seamless and unproblematic integration of a new player in today’s much-contested MMO market – “Buy-to-Play? Wait….you mean I get to play the rest of the game for free? Sure, why not!”
Smart move. Mission accomplished. Apparently more than expected.
Which only leaves me with the initial question of this topic: how come? Did they not actually anticipate this game to break 1 million sales so early on? And what do we do with this information – make happy toasts to over-achievement or brood over all the implications and potential capacity issues yet to come? You tell me.