Guild Wars 2 gem store kerfuffle irritates community

Who is ArenaNet listening to?

There's been a kerfuffle between Guild Wars 2 community and developer because of a patch that made surprise - and unfavourable - changes to the gem Currency Exchange.

Gems are used to buy cosmetic and convenience items, and can be bought either with real-world money or in-game gold.

Pre-patch you could spend custom amounts of gold buying whatever the equivalent in gems. But post-patch you could not. Now you can only by gems in set quantities, 400 being the lowest.

Even if you only want an item worth 150 gems, you still need to buy 400. And if you can't afford it, well, you can always use real-money to make up the difference.

The knee-jerk reaction from the community was that ArenaNet was being greedy. Feathers were ruffled further when ArenaNet community lead Gaile Gray suggested people were "ranting", and then shared unconvincing bullet points explaining the reasoning behind the changes.

gem
The new gem Currency Exchange.

By this time Kotaku had put a thorough report together, bringing the issue to the wider gaming community's attention, and MMO site Ten Ton Hammer published an editorial scrutinising ArenaNet's behaviour.

With the spotlights on, ArenaNet reacted, issuing a statement to Kotaku that promised a new "Custom" option for the gem exchange process.

"It's clear that quite a lot of you would like to have greater flexibility in using the Currency Exchange," wrote Gaile Gray. "Our intention when we designed the new interface was to streamline large volume purchases, which make up the majority of transactions.

"In light of your feedback, we will update the Currency Exchange so that you can decide how you want to use it. We will keep the new streamlined system and also offer a new 'Custom' button on the panel that you can use to exchange any increment of gems or gold.

Nevertheless for some people in the community a bad taste lingers. Why weren't they given a heads-up about the changes? Why were the changes even made? And when they were "ranting", why didn't ArenaNet seem to be listening - why did it take Kotaku wading in before a proper reaction occurred?

One polite but aggrieved player wrote an open letter to Gaile Gray expressing their concerns:

"Please stop putting things into the game that you know will anger the playerbase," wrote cesmode. "This has happened far too frequently with GW2. This game that sticks out the most where a developer makes a decision not based on true player feedback (as this thread is evident of), knows what our reaction will be and does it anyway. ArenaNet sits back, watches the flames grow and then if it suits them, they make necessary changes or they address the community.

"Please... this needs to stop. Stop adding things on an impulse and actually solicit player feedback before doing so. This doesn't have to be regarding everything, but major changes like this, definitely. Claiming that the old system was cumbersome is bogus. If 30 pages of ranting and raging is not enough to disprove ArenaNet's claim that the old system was too difficult, then I don't know what will get through..."

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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