What happened to Guild Wars 2 on console?

"We did experiment..." developer ArenaNet answers.

Not long ago, in February 2012, publisher NCSoft said during a conference call that Guild Wars 2 was "in the preparation stage" for console.

But we heard nothing else, although I did spy an Xbox 360 dev kit in ArenaNet's HQ in Seattle during a studio tour in March 2012.

The August launch of the flagship PC version of Guild Wars 2 whizzed by to a fanfare of acclaim and commercial success, but what happened to preparing for consoles?

evidence

That's ArenaNet and that's an Xbox 360 dev kit, photo taken by me.

"Development for console was something that we did experiment with and try and see [if it would work]," lead content designer Mike Zadorojny told me last week.

"But we were always committed to making sure that we were PC platform first. And especially as we move towards this living world strategy where we're trying to release content as fast as we are - trying to do that on a console is extremely difficult."

In other words, the infamous red tape surrounding the consoles' online networks got in the way. ArenaNet wouldn't have the freedom to update and patch its online world at will, and that's what put ArenaNet off. "Yes," nodded Zadorojny.

But there are signs of change as new consoles approach, flexing more power and online policies designed for the future.

In March 2012 developer CCP told Eurogamer that Sony removed its PlayStation Network policies so free-to-play MMO Dust 514 would work on PlayStation 3. And only last month Sony announced PC MMO Planetside 2 would be released on PlayStation 4.

There's The Elder Scrolls Online, now an Xbox One and PS4 MMO as well as PC. And it's planned as a simultaneous launch on all three platforms this coming spring - unprecedented for an MMO project of its size.

"I'm curious to see..." pondered Zadorojny. "The outstanding question is how fast can they iterate and develop new releases and content patches after the launch, because that is going to be the big challenge.

"For us, we just develop so fast for the PC that it's very easy for us to have these new ideas and bring them out and put them live in such a short, rapid development cycle. It's easier for us to do it on PC than on Xbox One or PS4.

"The other side of it," he added, "is that since we don't have a monthly subscription that's a barrier to entry as well." He's referring, of course, to the Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus fees you have to pay to play games online.

But assuming the next-gen consoles offer open platforms, and subscription fees and red tape are no longer an issue - could Guild Wars 2 ever come to console?

"I don't think we would ever say no," Zadorojny hesitated, "but it's not something that we're actively pursuing - we are dedicated still to the PC experience and making sure that everything we're doing has a viable strategy."

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