The History of Arena Net and Guild Wars
Kenneth Ho11 mo ago
Creators of the Guild Wars franchise, ArenaNet is a much loved and well respected game developer and publisher. However, due to remaining in the niche of fantasy MMORPGs, they’re not a household name like some of their competitors, such as Blizzard. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t made some great games, filled with innovation.
In this article, we’ll take a brief look at the history of ArenaNet and the development of the Guild Wars franchise.
ArenaNet was founded in 2000 by three former Blizzard Entertainment employees: Mike O’Brien, Patrick Wyatt, and Jeff Strain. The trio had worked on several successful games, including Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft, but they were looking to start their own studio and create something new.
The team’s goal was to create a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that would be different from the existing games on the market. They wanted to create a game that focused on player skill and strategy rather than grinding for experience points and loot.
And that’s exactly what the original Guild Wars delivered.
Development of Guild Wars
In 2002, the team began working on their new game which would solve these problems. They called it Guild Wars. The game was designed to blend vibrant, cooperative player vs environment (PvE) gameplay with competitive player vs player (PvP) arena combat.
One of the most important features of Guild Wars was in its payment model. It did not require a monthly subscription fee, unlike other popular MMORPGs at the time. Instead, players would purchase the game and play online without any additional fees. This model was a major departure from the subscription-based business model that dominated the industry in games like World of Warcraft.
By 2005, Guild Wars was ready for release, and it released to great critical acclaim. The game was praised for its beautiful graphics, engaging storyline, and innovative team-based gameplay mechanics. The game’s unique business model was also a hit with players who were not willing to spend large amounts of money on subscriptions, because of this the game quickly gained a large and loyal following.
Expansions and Guild Wars 2
Following the success of the original Guild Wars, ArenaNet quickly got to work on several expansion packs, including Guild Wars: Factions, Guild Wars: Nightfall, and Guild Wars: Eye of the North. Each expansions took players to a new region of the Guild Wars world, while also introducing new playable professions and expanding the game’s story and lore in the process. These three extensive expansion packs helped to keep the game fresh and engaging for players.
In 2012, ArenaNet released a sequel to Guild Wars, which was, unsurprisingly, called Guild Wars 2. Keeping with much of the design philosophy of the first game, Guild Wars 2 sought to innovate on combat, providing players with a much more engaging and active form of combat focused on positioning and consistent player movement. The game was designed to be even more immersive and engaging than the original, with a massive open world, dynamic events, and a complex storyline that changed based on player choices.
Guild Wars 2 was a huge success, and it cemented ArenaNet’s reputation as one of the top MMO developers in the industry.
Since the release of Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet has continued to develop and expand the Guild Wars franchise. In 2015, they released the first expansion for Guild Wars 2, called Heart of Thorns. This expansion added new areas, a new profession, and new gameplay mechanics to the game.
This was followed by Path of Fire in 2017, which made a huge change to the game by adding mounts. These ranged from speedy land-based mounts to the impressive flying Skyscale which really revolutionised player movement throughout the entire world (as mounts could be taken outside of the expansion areas).
This was furthered by the End of Dragons update in 2022, which released more mounts, more profession masteries and took players back to the region of Cantha, which first featured in Guild Wars: Factions.
Changing the MMO Landscape
Over its two games and many expansions, the Guild Wars franchise has had a significant impact on MMORPGs. The game’s innovative business model, which eliminated the need for monthly subscriptions, was a notable pushback against the domination of subscription models. And it has stayed that way to this day.
It also helped to introduce new gameplay mechanics, such as the ability to switch between multiple professions and the use of customizable skill sets. Allowing players to avoid the frustrating levelling grind associated with most MMORPGs, like World of Warcraft and more.
Yet, in recent years, ArenaNet has faced some challenges, including layoffs and a decrease in player numbers for Guild Wars 2. However, the company has continued to innovate and develop new content for the franchise, and it remains a major player in the industry.
Many fans suspect that ArenaNet might be working on their next full release, seeing as it has been over 10 years since Guild Wars 2’s release.
As the gaming industry continues to evolve and grow, it will be interesting to see what new innovations ArenaNet brings to the table. Despite their current troubles, fans believe that ArenaNet will continue to be a major player in the industry for years to come.