Fansite Friday #10 – Mini Interview with Gaile Gray

Just about every Friday, ArenaNet answers three or so questions from a popular Guild Wars Fansite. The first double digit Fansite Friday belongs to In this edition, Gaile Gray answers some tough questions.

Photics: Guild Wars loot could have a real-world cash value. What will ArenaNet be doing about the so-called player-auctions? In other words, what does ArenaNet intend to do about in-game items being sold for real world cash? Will ArenaNet embrace it or will the Guild Wars End User License Agreement prohibit in-game items being traded for real world items?

Gaile Gray: Well there are really two different types of auctions. When I think of player auctions I think of websites, guild sites or forums that allow the trading of in-game items and the “selling” of those items for game assets such as game gold. I personally don’t think of a player auction as one that deals with real-life currency. I believe that a real player auction such as those I’ve described can be a tried-and-true method of trading and selling in-game items. They’ve been going on successfully for many years and we fully support them as a part of the Guild Wars community.

So, while we have no problem whatsoever with in-game or forum-based player auctions that are simply a means to redistribute in-game items or to spend game currency for in-game items, a problem arises when in-game items are sold for real-world cash. NCsoft has made its position very clear over the last couple of years, and we at ArenaNet agree with our parent company completely: In-game items should not be sold for real-life money. This applies to accounts, to characters, to items, to the selling of “quest completion services,” etc. It’s safe to say that our End Users License Agreement will contain strong and clear wording in support of our position on this matter.

Photics: Some people feel, and this includes some developers from rival MMORPGs, that instancing hinders socializing. Knowing that Guild Wars is predominately instanced based, how would address this concern? Do you think that the current set up is conducive to socializers?

Gaile Gray: Yes, I think the current design is conducive to the best possible socializing, and to gaming over which you, as a player, have complete control. First of all, let’s talk about Guild Wars, so that it’s clear that the game is much more than a bland chat room and instanced missions, like the on-line games of years ago. Guild Wars offers a very rich social outlet through the towns and outposts. You could probably fully enjoy the game just by hanging around in town all the time, chatting with other players, discussing the news of the day. In towns, you find merchants who buy and sell items, gem traders who offer those all-important skill gems, and the Crafter who helps you turn your everyday outfit into splendid armour, or your normal weapon into a rune-enhanced Amazingly Fantastic Sword of Great Mightiness. Well, ok, I’m just kidding about the name; let’s just say the Crafter will make it “a substantially better weapon.” ;) In town you find the Ringcrafters for each profession, the essential folks you visit to acquire more skills. Sometimes you even receive a quest from an NPC in town. In short, there is a lot to do in town, plus the opportunity to do nothing at all: To simply hang out in a beautiful and dynamic setting and shoot the breeze.

Outposts make up a second kind of social area, and they serve a distinctly different purpose than a town. You head to an outpost to form a team, to hook up with guildmates, or to strategize before going into the mission. Outposts will be busy places, too, and you have plenty of opportunities to chat with other players while you are there. With these two types of settlements – towns and outposts – extended social interaction takes place.

The parts of Guild Wars that are instanced are the essential elements that involve combat. And for combat, the advantages of instancing are huge: You don’t have to worry about someone camping the boss and preventing you from completing a quest. You don’t have to travel hours to get to the best battlegrounds. (Oh, the hours I spent doing the “run for 20 minutes, then turn left at the second frog near the blue rock behind the.. oh nooo, you’re dead!” run. I don’t miss it, I promise you!) And with instanced missions, you don’t have to position a teammate on the perimeter of battle to make sure that loot stealers don’t swoop down and steal your rewards. You don’t even have to stand in line to wait for monster spawns. That’s right, you can avoid the “Take a number, stand in line and kill the boss monster” routine.