NCSoft chief financial officer Jaeho Lee revealed during a conference call that the company plans to launch the Guild Wars 2 beta during the second half of 2011. This indicates that the upcoming MMORPG could actually launch sometime in 2012.
Guild Wars 2 was originally announced back in 2007, promising a more unified MMORPG experience rather than a continuation of the current Guild Wars structure where players meet in public zones (cities) and then embark on private quests. Like Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online, the Guild Wars 2 landscape will play host to all visitors within and outside city walls in real time, but still keep the free-to-play model.
Now four years later, developer ArenaNet and its 150-member team is still sticking to its "when it's done" guns. But NCSoft may have finally broken the silence. "Starting from year 2012, we believe substantial growth will be driven by new blockbuster titles like [Blade & Soul] and Guild Wars 2," Lee told investors. "Also, Guild Wars 2 will go into beta testing stage in the second half of this year."
Can't get any clearer than that.
"Providing players with rich and rewarding gaming experiences is what we’re all about at NCsoft. This is a very significant year for us with some huge announcements," he later told VG247. "We'll have a major presence at Gamescom (Aug. 17-21) this year where we plan on stealing a few headlines."
What? No E3?
NCSoft may be anxious in getting Guild Wars 2 out on the market, as both Aion and Lineage have seen decreases in revenue due to "soft sales promotions." Lineage II actually grew quarter-to-quarter thanks to increased marketing, but overall, NCSoft's first quarter sales were down 7-percent year-on-year and 2-percent quarter-over-quarter. Net revenue is down 30-percent compared to this time period a year ago.
But will Guild Wars 2 breathe a little perkiness back to the company's earnings? ArenaNet’s Martin Kerstein indicates that the game will bring a new experience to a tired genre.
"What we try to do with Guild Wars 2 anyway is to break a lot of the existing conventions, like by getting rid of quests and basically totally focusing on dynamic events," he told RPS in a recent interview. "So you just run through the world and happen on stuff, and that stuff has an impact on the world. It’s not just there’s this one guy standing with an exclamation mark and you go there, he says ‘hey, those evil bandits over there have been threatening me for the last 15 years, like I told the other thousand people before you…’ Then you go there and they’re not actually doing anything. So you kill them then come back, so the guy says ‘thanks, everything is fine now’ but you turn around and the bandits are back…"
"Our dynamic events will actually have an impact on the world, so if you defend a village it’s safe," he added. "It’s more like a living, breathing world."
If NCSoft sticks to its forecast, we'll get to experience this living, breathing world sometime in the second half of this year.