During a panel at PAX Prime in Seattle, ArenaNet President Mike O’Brien officially announced that Guild Wars 2‘s core game will become free to play starting today. The MMO will be free to download to everyone as soon as the panel ends at 11:00 pacific time.
While Guild Wars 2 was already buy to play before and the core game was already bundled with the upcoming expansion, not requiring any kind of subscription in order to keep playing, it still had a price of admission in the form of the core box. Now gamers will be able to enjoy ArenaNet’s world without any initial barrier.
O’Brien mentioned that ArenaNet still believes in buy to play, but it becomes a little tricky when expansions are released, as people get confused on what to purchase. That said, the business model is not changing, and the current gem store won’t be altered in any way.
According to O’Brien, this is possible exactly because the developer believes in buy to play, as they are confident that people will purchase Heart of Thorns afterwards.
Free accounts start with fewer character and bag slots than paid accounts, but they’re restored to normal conditions as soon as the player buys the expansion. There’s no map-wide chat for free accounts, and they can start a whisper conversation only every 30 seconds. They can’t mail items to other players and they can take part in World vs World only after playing normally to level 60.
Incidentally, we also learn that raids will finally come to the game. The team noticed that fans wanted this kind of challenging content, but without the usual headaches. They’re ten man instanced content, more challenging than anything in the game so far. They’re also tied to the new mastery system.
There will be more traditional linear raids, and others that will use the game’s dynamic event system. There will be no attunement process necessary, and true to Guild Wars 2‘s spirit there will be no required party composition and non tier-based equipment grind.
The first raid will come with the Heart of Thorns. It will be split in three wings, but only the first will be available at the release of the expansion. The other two will come down the line to give players time to get used to the new content.
Lastly, all players who enjoyed the game until now will receive the new Royal Guard outfit as a gift next week.
Below you can check out the release trailer for Heart of Thorns.