Over the weekend my brother asked me how Guild Wars 2 was ‘going’ and whether or not the expansion pack was any good. I bought Guild Wars 2 for him many moons ago and although he loved it, he spent most of his time walking around looking at the world rather than actually doing stuff. Despite the fact he only dipped his toes into the game, he still holds it in high regard simply for its beauty and kept one eye on the expansion pack. His question to me, after we’d chatted about the new maps and elite specializations, was how many copies it had sold. I couldn’t answer him and it made me wonder why, so long after the launch of Heart of Thorns, we still haven’t received an official press announcement declaring the number of units sold.

ArenaNet, like any development studio, are no stranger to a positive press release and for many years have released multiple that praise the success of the game and specifically, the number of units sold. Even in October 2015 they released a statement to coincide with the launch of Heart of Thorns declaring 7 million accounts had been made since launch and only several months after it went free to play. Why, then, has there been a distinct absence of such a press release praising the success of its first ever expansion pack?

One could argue that it simply hasn’t sold enough to justify a press release and although that could be true, isn’t it somewhat odd that a game of Guild Wars 2’s popularity (as detailed by ArenaNet) hasn’t yet reached a benchmark of sales they want to shout about? I thoroughly enjoyed Heart of Thorns but can also see why it might not have sold as well as anticipated. Many of the design decisions taken were somewhat odd, or game modes and the additions the expansion pack brought simply weren’t worth peoples time:

1. Guild Halls are laborious and ridiculously expensive and vastly inferior to the accessibility and fun of WildStar’s housing

2. Stronghold, while fun, falls far short of a competitive game mode that those who love PvP are used to.

3. World versus World lacked the population to accommodate such a map and many changes brought in, the playerbase, were far worse.

4. Gliding was only available in the jungle, making it a largely redundant feature unless you were explicitly in those zones.

5. Masteries were arbitrarily gating your progress, made worse when experience gains from events is so poor, resulting in players farming specific locations rather than participating in events (Citadel of Flame or the spider path).

6. The Living World update, though good, was incredibly short and the ending disappointing.

These issues, combined with various other factors (disappointing loot, Fractals still being poor, dungeons being neglected and no real changes to core issues) no doubt left many failing to need the expansion pack. If you only want an elite specialization or the opportunity to glide and explore the new maps, it certainly feels a heavy price tag.

The acknowledgement by Colin Johanson that ArenaNet, alongside working on the next expansion pack, will be going back to basics and rectifying what they already have instead of adding more to Guild Wars 2 will come as welcome relief to many. Such a move is long overdue and arguably, should have taken priority a long time ago. The game already has all the foundations, each area has simply never been received the time or attention it needed to be the best it could be.

With gliding finally coming to Tyria, combined with world bosses being redesigned or improved and balance patches that are on a predictable cycle, there’s every potential that the expansion pack will become a must have purchase. And perhaps when the World versus World update arrives, bringing with it a raft of changes that are hopefully for the better, even more so.

Maybe I’m wrong on all the above and Heart of Thorns has sold exceptionally well and ArenaNet simply aren’t revealing it. If I know developers and their PR companies however, they’ll always want to shout from the rooftops when things have gone well (just look at Blizzard’s sales for their expansion packs). Perhaps they’re simply waiting for the next NCSoft earnings call.

Why do you think ArenaNet haven’t revealed their sales figures for Heart of Thorns?

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Last Updated: Mar 20, 2016

About The Author

Lewis is a long standing journalist, who freelances to a variety of outlets.