Making a game is hard, making a game that people are willing to pay for and enjoy playing is even harder. One has to have a great concept that is appealing to a broad audience, a game mechanic that is polished so that the immersion is not broken when something buggy happens and over all it must give the players the feel that “This game was worth my money”. The main reason to make the players happy and excited is so that they will gladly give their money to the developer so that they can continue making games that players want to see and most importantly, play. This however is easier said than done when it comes to non-MMO games that you only have to pay for once. One pays for the game, plays it for 10-20 hours, depending on the genre and then either forgets about it or jumps into its multiplayer if it comes with one.
MMO games on the other hand have a difficult time when it comes getting to money. Even though a trend has emerged in the past year where games have gone free-to-play they are still dependant on gaining money from their communities though variety of means so that their servers can be maintained. This means a different approach is needed when it comes to designing the game. Or does it? What really is the puling power of a MMO that keep players coming back for more, is it the content, story, or community?
Guild Wars has been out since 2005, and even though it does not have the same player base that it had a few years ago it still has a fair amount of players enjoying the game. So what is the pulling power of these games, why are people still playing?
After spending some time randomly instant messaging people who ran past me as I stood still in Kamadan, I believe that and answer can be given to that question. There were some variety when it came to answers; “‘cause it’s the best free game I have played”, “Excited about Guild Wars 2, so I thought I would try this game out” and so on, but the one answer stood out amongst all the others. “I like to play with my friends and community”, and this is the answer most players gave me. I think this the biggest draw for both MMO and non MMO games with a multiplayer aspect to it. “If you build it, he will come” or in this game “If you design a good community, they will stay”.
One would think that communities and friendships in a game just happen and that it’s a natural occurrence when people are allowed to play the same game at the same time, but this is far from the truth. For a good and strong community to shine, the infrastructure needs to be there that allows players to communicate easy with each other. This is where ArenaNet has shown that they know what they are doing. They have built the proper infrastructure that allows easy communications between players and also with the developers and their in-game administrators.
Each year there are numerous events that are held in-game both by ArenaNet and the player community, if one wishes they can visit the official Wikipedia page for Guild Wars and ask the developers, community managers, and so on questions that they are happy to answer, unless of course they are busy
In a nutshell, the reason why players are still playing Guild Wars is due to the well established community that has grown around Guild Wars, and with Guild Wars 2 on the horizon this community will grow even bigger and better. I was however a little surprised that more people did not answer that they came back to the game because of the news that we are getting about Guild Wars 2, but I just guess that this is a statement for how strong the Guild Wars community is. The players who are really interested in Guild Wars 2 are still playing the original game.