Why is ArenaNet Running Its Own RMT Operation for Guild Wars 2?

By Frank Lewis,
ArenaNet president Mike O' Brien explains that instead of selling expansion packs at a breakneck speed, as it did to support the original Guild Wars game, it will instead source more revenues from its microtransaction store for Guild Wars 2.

Mr. O' Brien said the average Guild Wars player could not keep up with the amount of expansion content coming out, in an interview with GamesBeat late last month. This convinced ArenaNet to find another way to keep funds flowing in without hurrying fans through the game.

"I mean, we literally got to the point where we could release an entire new campaign - with a new storyline, new professions, and new game mechanics - in just six months. That pace was great for the hardcore players who could consume content that quickly, but it left a lot of other players behind and didn't give the world time to settle from one campaign to the next," he said.

"So we shifted the focus of our business model during the Guild Wars life-cycle from supporting the live game through constantly releasing new expansion packs to supporting the live game through microtransactions," he added.

Competing Directly with Third-Party RMT Companies
Mr. O' Brien said that ArenaNet also chose their new microtransaction system to discourage fans from selling currency to third-party RMT companies.

"A player can trade gold to another player to get something he wants from the microtransaction store, but he can't trade gold to earn pure cash, so there's no business incentive to trade gold," said Mr. O' Brien. "They understand that this system takes power away from RMT companies and puts it in the hands of players. And, again, many of them have already used a similar system and appreciated it in EVE."

But Mr. O' Brien failed to note that third-party RMT trading has continued to flourish in EVE Online even after the introduction of PLEX, with EVE ISK prices hovering around the price rate of $10-$12 per 400 million ISK.

The Guild Wars 2 Microtransaction Model
What kind of will be sold in the microtransaction store? Mr. O' Brien has said in a separate developer blog post that RMT items will consist of "items that provide a visual distinction," "account services," and "time-saving convenience items."

"We recognize that customers paid $60 for the game and they have the right to play the full game. So the microtransactions we offer are non-essential additions to the game and convenience services for players who want to trade money for time," Mr. O' Brien said to GamesBeat.

There are two ways to obtain RMT items. The fast and easy route is to directly purchase gems from ArenaNet, and then spend the Gems on the microtransaction store. The second way is to grind for Gold, the main currency earned from completing quests and looting monsters, and try to purchase Gems from the auction market.

Guild Wars 2 patterns its microtransaction system after the PLEX system of EVE Online, said Mr. O' Brien.

"Just like we're doing in Guild Wars 2, they allowed players to trade microtransaction currency, which meant that players who wanted microtransactions but were short on cash could earn them through the game, and players who wanted in-game items but were short on time could trade for them using microtransaction currency," he said.

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