Guild Wars 2, Mount Skins, And Loot Boxes

In the ever-evolving tradition of not posting for months at a time, I bring to you today some thoughts and words about ArenaNet’s latest attempt to make money and to maybe talk a smidge about loot boxes in general.

You see, just yesterday (November 07, 2017) ArenaNet deigned to gift players of Guild Wars 2 the ability to buy some new mount skins. However, unlike the previous set of five spooky-themed mount skins that one could purchase for a modest sum of 1600 gems (20.00 USD), these new ones were blatantly thrown behind a loot box-styled “adoption license” where you’d have a chance to get a skin you want.  To attempt to make matters better, ArenaNet made it so you couldn’t get repeats, so once you unlocked a skin, you could try again and go from a one-in-thirty chance to a one-in-twenty-nine chance of getting the mount skin you want.

And then the Guild Wars 2 twitter feed began retweeting a huge number of pictures of players loving the new skins they had rolled to get.  As in, even noticeable to me who, 99% of the time, just ignores his timeline while handing out a passing like or sometimes a retweet.  And, to me at least, all those retweets numbering way above what I’ve seen in…ever…from Guild Wars 2’s twitter looked as though they wanted to make followers and players feel bad or guilty about not having those new skins that they were showing off other players having got.  As if saying, “Look!  These players got that cool new doge skin and the celestial griffon skin!  You can too!”  And that is where I take issue.

You see, ArenaNet is, smartly, offering a single adoption license, or a pack of 10 licenses for a better chance, or you could drop 120.00USD just to get them all, even the ones you don’t want.  Especially the ones you don’t want.  Again, this is where I take issue with how ArenaNet is handling the new mount skins.  The whole sale and the way it’s being marketed (and let’s not kid ourselves, it IS being marketed) may not seem as vile as some other game’s implementations of RNG-heavy loot boxes *COUGH*Shadow of War*COUGH*, yet it is easily exploiting those who are easy prey for this type of marketing all the same.

As a sidenote, please do not attempt to get on a high horse and then go about blaming those who fall victim to these sort of schemes.  They are machinations of the slimiest sort that are meant to chip away at one’s will until they pry your money from your weakening grasp. One more time, with feeling,

DO NOT 👏 BLAME 👏 THE VICTIM 👏 OF SCUMMY MARKETING.

It is also just as easy to say “but they are simply cosmetic items that you don’t need!” To which I reply with a slap across the face and the words “that’s not how the scheme works, you dolt, nor is it only about you.” These sorts of items are made and sold with the type of people in mind who like playing dress up, or showing off how good they look, or how much gold and money they spent and this latest trend of loot boxes  popping up outside the free-to-play realm has become a cyst in the gaming industry.

Back to Guild Wars 2; what also strikes me as more odd than stinging is that, ArenaNet could have easily made smaller backs of 5 (one skin per mount) and sold that for 2000 gems (25.00 USD) or just sold them individually for 400 gems per mount skin but they instead went with RNG boxes that, should you want only one skin, could only cost you 400 gems (5.00 USD) or you could be goaded into spending 9600 gems, just for a single skin and 29 other skins you’ve no interest in.

Now, I don’t want to flat out say “ArenaNet is yet another evil developer” but they are making it really hard to.  What makes it even more difficult to call them out is that I’ve met with a number of the creators and artists and team members who’ve worked on both Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 and I even got Mike O’Brien to sign my Guild Wars art book to apologize for Aura of the Lich! They’re not “bad” or malicious people and, at the end of the day, they’re still working for a company that needs to make money to keep on doing what they do to bring content to players.

The mount adoption license is not the way to do it, or rather, it is if you’re not worried about drawing ire from players who see what’re you’re doing with these pseudo loot boxes.

Stay lazy, portal pup riders.

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