Feb 15, 2012

GW2 on consoles - tempest in a teapot?

As you're probably aware by now, NCSoft, the parent company of ArenaNet and publisher of Guild Wars and the sometime-to-be-released Guild Wars 2 had their investor's conference call today.

Many sites listened in and seemed to focus on one specific comment: Guild Wars 2 is coming to a console near you!  Now, before you get the pitchforks sharpened and torches lit, ArenaNet has already been downplaying this, as evidenced by this forum post which was referenced by several tweets.

For those who have been following the development of Guild Wars 2, this is not news.  It was revealed several years ago that they were exploring the possibility of a console port, as Community Manager Regina Beunobra reminded us via this tweet: "It's been known for 2+ years that we've been exploring console. :-) We're dedicated to delivering the best PC experience possible. ~RB".

So what does it all mean?
 What we need to keep in mind is that this was a conference call for investors hosted by NCSoft and not ArenaNet. Part of the call's point is to entice investors into buying your company's stock and to that end, you want to give them good news.  What better news than to say that you're going to broaden the market for your product to include consoles and not just PCs?  This should remind us that it was a similar call a couple years ago that said a beta for Guild Wars 2 was going to happen soon.  So we don't have a huge history of accuracy here.
 As far as the conclusions that the game will be "dumbed down for consoles" -- that is purely speculation at this point.  For all we know, ArenaNet may have a prototype XBox 720 and, to aid "convergence", it may come with a keyboard and mouse as well as the D-pad!  Or maybe they're going to target Nintendo's upcoming platform with it's touchscreen controller that would allow them to put a full keyboard on the touchscreen and effectively turn it into a PC.  At this point, there aren't enough details about anything to draw any conclusions.  We don't even know if the PC and console versions would run on the same server.

All we know for sure is that ArenaNet has had a "small team" exploring the possibility.  We can also say that widening the market by including one or more consoles would generate more revenue and therefore, from a business sense, would be a good thing.  It could even be a good thign for PC gamers because a stronger cashflow would help by providing more money for staff to make expansions.

Instead of fretting about what may or may not happen at some point in the future, let's remind ourselves of what we do know:
  • There is a press beta this weekend with videos and first impression articles promised for Monday.
  • There will be fan betas in March and April
  • The game that has been shown at conventions for the past year-and-a-half is most definitely a PC title and plays as you would expect a PC title to play
  • ArenaNet would be daft to change anything core to "dumb it down" for consoles at this late stage in the development
Worrying about the effect that a possible (remember: ArenaNet has not confirmed a console release, it was only NCSoft) console port might have on the game at this point is a waste of energy.


  1. Since consoles are catching up (or already caught up) to computer performance, I'm not worried that anything will be "watered down" anymore. Or, at least in the near future, games no longer will be watered down. If the computer only offers minor enhancements that are not perceivable, then consoles have caught up.

    Going off-topic to rant...

    I'd love the new Xbox. I'm hoping it'll be the system that can "only do everything". You know, cover the liar slack that Sony loves to leave behind.

    I've never had an Xbox. I was a Nintendo fan-boy until the Playstation 1. Nintendo was too immature and Sony was the best (then). But the way Sony treats customers poorly, and makes you *need* to buy extra items to even work their systems (ahem *cough cough* PS Vita incompatible memory card only sold by Sony), and takes away features that the PS3 was supposed to have... I'm done.

    I love the game market/selection the PS3 has compared to the Xbox 360. But I love Microsoft more and the few exclusives each has are becoming a thing of the past.

    I constantly play friends' Xbox systems... I constantly complain about Sony... I might as well make the switch when the new next-gen system war begins.

  2. Consoles perhaps briefly caught up to PCs in performance when the last generation came out. However, it now seems that PC game development is being held back by developers cross developing for PC and console. They aren't "pushing the limits" as much on PC since they also need to develop for console. There were only 4 years between the Xbox and Xbox 360 releases. It been ~7 years already since the 360 was released. I have done perhaps one or two full PC upgrades since the Xbox 360 came out. Never before have I been able to run games on max settings for this many years in a row.

    The other problem with cross development is the UI. Some companies don't spend time making sure the UI is good for both PC and console. Bethesda and Skyrim being the best recent example of this. I doubt Arenanet would ever that that happen though.