Editor’s Note: The following article was written before ESL made a few clarifications on the Guild Wars 2 eSports section being shuttered, however, it still raises some interesting points on the whole topic.
Earlier this week ESL announced that the Guild Wars 2 section would be closing. There was a bit of initial shock in the community but once people started to think about Guild Wars 2’s PvP and eSports, it seemed like it was a pretty obvious choice. So instead of a look at the state of Black Lion Chests, which had originally been planned for this week’s Tyria Chronicles, we’re looking at Guild Wars 2 eSports.
Looking back now at all of the evidence it seems like this has been coming for a long time. Pro-players have been leaving the game for some time now. Jebro, one of the more famous shout casters, has been doing projects with other games quite a bit over the last few months and again, Arenanet’s silence has included any talk about eSports, which, if there were anything going on could have given the team something to talk about during the dry spells.
Guild Wars 2’s eSports ambitions have, since launch, faced a tough critic; Guild Wars 2 players.
Since launch, there has been a sense of us versus them. The PvE players vs the PvP players. This can be seen in one of the most unpopular changes that the developers made when they “reduced the visual noise” on Elementalist’s Fireball skill, done to make PvP easier to follow. It was such an unpopular choice that then game director Colin Johanson quickly took to Reddit to say no further FX changes would be made until there was the option to toggle them on and off.
It then took a very long 5 months before the graphic effects were returned to the state they were once in. So even though they were sorry they had upset people, they left the change in which continued to anger quite a lot of people, further driving a wedge between the PvP and PvE communities. Development choices like these have resulted in many in the PvE community saying that PvP should be its own game with its own development.
This resentment in the community has had an impact on who will watch Guild Wars 2 eSports. If you were mad about your favorite ability being nerfed, just because PvPers wanted it, would you be inclined to watch? Even if the actual players themselves didn’t want those changes either, the perception is that they did and it is their fault the change happened. So instead of watching them play, PvE players would rather watch Twitch streams or play the game themselves.
Of course, the resentment isn’t the only reason people didn’t watch Guild Wars 2 eSports. It isn’t even the main reason. The one thing you will see over and over again in discussions about GW2 eSports is that it is boring to watch.
It is often compared to its predecessor’s PvP, which is considered much more fun to play and to watch. The graphics changes that were made to make PvP easier to watch show that ArenaNet was aware the mode had some issues, though how making the attacks visually smaller was supposed to make it more exciting and easier to watch is anybody’s guess.
The overall sentiment of the community after the announcement that ESL was dropping Guild Wars 2 is that this is a good thing. It’s good for PvE players who felt they were burned by development choices that were made to make Guild Wars 2 more appealing for eSports players. It’s good for PvPers who felt like all PvP development was done with the high-end eSports professionals in mind. And there were those on both sides who felt the eSports were a failed marketing scheme that Guild Wars 2 wouldn’t let go of despite years of struggling to gain any ground.
What does this mean for Guild Wars 2 and Arenanet? We don’t know. They’re staying quiet about the entire thing. Something which doesn’t come as much of a surprise as the ArenaNet team has stopped nearly all communication with players in between content releases.
Most damning of all is the fact that this was only announced on the Guild Wars 2 ESL Twitter account. Arenanet hasn’t spoken about it and it didn’t appear on any of the bigger ESL social media accounts or on the official site where you would find news about ESL. The shutdown of Guild Wars 2 eSports on ESL is being done very quietly.
It is possible that ESL doesn’t view this as an event significant enough to be mentioned. Or perhaps they don’t want to make it seem like ESL is faltering in any way. Why Arenanet has remained silent on the entire affair does raise some eyebrows and leaves you wondering what is going on at ArenaNet.
It would seem that Guild Wars 2 eSports has been somewhat doomed since the very beginning. Many believe it was a marketing scheme to try to garner more attention while eSports were very much a fresh idea that everyone wanted to be a part of. But the game mode suffered because it wasn’t fun to play and was boring to watch. Development choices that were made to make the eSports more enjoyable ended up harming the playerbase, which certainly didn’t win anyone over. Hopefully, Arenanet will now be able to move the parts of the development team who were working on making eSports work into other areas of the game and it will mean great things for everyone.
No matter what though, the announcement is somewhat a sad one. No one wants to admit that something they love has failed. Unfortunately, that is exactly what has happened to Guild Wars 2 eSports. While most of the people who have played Guild Wars 2 never took part in the eSports we all have to admit that this was a part of the game we love and it has died. Something that will carry with us, the game, and the studio forever more. What it means for the future of Guild Wars 2…only time will tell and we will be watching.Related: Column, eSports, Guild Wars 2, MMORPG, PvP, The Tyrian Chronicle