What “Heart of Thorns” Is Worth to Me

Over the past couple of days, I’ve had some time to peruse the community response to the Heart of Thorns pre-purchase announcement while forming my own opinion on the matter. Initially, I was a little sour about the price of the base upgrade, which is close to the price of the initial game at its release. I thought it’d follow in the footsteps of Guild Wars’ only expansion, Eye of the North, which had a cost around $40 at release. The expansion, as we’ve been told, will be more feature heavy, with quality-of-life improvements that would be applied both before and after release (the core specialization system is coming to us on June 23rd, along with a new Lion’s Arch), with smaller but more vertical, activity dense zones. For many players, it’s hard to weigh the expansion’s worth because there’s a lot about the expansion we still don’t know.

There were other thoughts I had, such as: “why is there no bonus character slot for the base upgrade?” In the past, when the assassin, ritualist, dervish, and paragon were introduced with Factions and Nightfall, those games added additional character slots for those who already had the base game so that they could play the new professions. Even now, I think an new character slot would have been a fair add-on to the base expansion upgrade, considering the price. In addition, I was a little bummed that there wasn’t any physical collector’s edition like there was with the core game. It  had so many high quality goodies and part of me hoped for a revenant Rytlock figure or perhaps a fleeing Caithe with Glint’s Egg tucked away in her satchel.

High-ish prices for an expansion with no physical goodies in sight. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

High-ish prices for an expansion. Whadda you gonna do? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

That’s about where my disappointment ended. Do I think it’d be nice if the base price was a little less? Of course. Can I sympathize with players who bought the core game on sale a few months back only to see it bundled with the expansion for free? Sure. Should concerned players wait until they learn what they want to know about the expansion before they make an informed purchase? Indubitably! Do I think the price is worth getting in some self-entitled fit that steps on the developers’ hard work and snuffs out the joy of the guild hall reveal? Not on Rytlock’s nine lives.

Every time someone uses phrases like “slap in the face,” “we deserve,” or “been cheated” to describe this price “injustice,” a quaggan dies. For anyone who’s been talking smack about the developers, most of them have no say in how these expansions are priced so save your anger for something that’s actually worth it like people who litter when a trash can is five feet away or people who don’t use their turn signals when driving.

While I’m not 100% chipper about how pre-purchase was handled, I bought into it because it didn’t take long for me to bury what few criticisms I had in an avalanche of reasons why I should buy the expansion. I’ve sunk several thousands of hours into Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 without ever having to pay a subscription fee. I’ve gotten more than my money’s worth in core content, and free Living Story content, but that’s not even what matters most to me.

For a little context, a little over two years ago I wrote a segment on my personal blog about Guild Wars’ 8th anniversary that read:

Lastly, it can’t go without saying that my confidence in ArenaNet’s work is due, in no small part, to its staff, whether they’re still with the game or not. I’ve made some pretty amazing friends and acquaintances among them. It’s often easy to forget that these companies are made up of people and not robots (maybe a few androids, but no robots) so I find that having these talented people to talk to really keeps my perspective diverse and my opinions honest.

Warning! Exposure to ArenaNet developers may cause the following side-effects: laughter, pranks, greater respect for game development, unicorns, friendship, swanky parties, and swag gifts that make you well up with tears.

Warning! Exposure to ArenaNet developers may cause the following side-effects: laughter, pranks, respect for the troubles of game development, unicorns, friendship, swanky parties, and swag gifts that make you well up with tears.

The experiences I’ve had because of ArenaNet and their games have been worth every last dime, and I’m not just referring to the good times I’ve had in-game. From chatting with some of the developers on social media to meeting, hanging, and partying with them at conventions. The fans I’ve met, the friends I’ve made, writing for GuildMag, ordering pizza delivery with one of my guild leaders at 11PM while staying at a friend’s house during PAX East; I wouldn’t trade ANY of it. To be completely honest, for me, shelling out $50 to $100 for Heart of Thorns has as much to do with supporting and promoting a group of developers whom I appreciate and love as it has to do with simply playing the next chapter of a game that I also happen to find fun to play.

A community that cares.

A community that cares.

It’s been worth it. Hugs all around, devs. You’re doing great. :)

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