ArenaNet partners with ESL
ArenaNet is looking to break into eSports. Partnering with the well-known ESL organization, ArenaNet is launching the Guild Wars 2 Pro League, the first professional PvP league for the classic MMO.
Guild Wars 2 was initially a $40 game, published by South Korean-based NCSoft (parent company of ArenaNet) in 2012. In a strategic decision to popularize the game, the core online version was made free to play.
The PvP version of the game has been tested for the last 13 months, as it was part of the repertoire of the World Tournament Series. The Pro League will consist of two global league seasons. The first will run from December until February, while second season will be played during the spring of 2016.
The League will host 16 teams, competing for a combined prize pool of $200,000 per season. An undisclosed prize pool was also announced that will be rewarded to the supreme champions. The winners of both seasons will compete in a separate event, probably in late 2016.
"When you log into PvP you have max stats and everything you need to be competitive right away." - John Corpening
Steve Fowler, head of the global marketing at ArenaNet thinks that having prize money offered to gamers will certainly help to convince professional players to compete in the Guild Wars 2 scene. The new ranking system will also be important for the Pro League, as the most skilled participants will have a chance to go to the ESL Pro League Season 2. “It’s a two-part system: They start in a league called PvP Leagues (entry level—think farm system) and can rank up into the Guild Challenger League (our minor leagues),” said Fowler about the system.
The bottom two teams from the first season will be relegated into the minor division, while the top two from the latter will be promoted. Fowler compares this system to the ones used by professional football leagues.
With its presence at the World Tournament Series, John Corpening, associate game director at ArenaNet, believes that the competitive PvP version of Guild Wars 2 has already grown into a major title in eSports. Notably, since it was made free to play, the game’s monthly audience has doubled, from around 1.5 million users to 3.1 million by the end of October 2015.
It is believed that Guild Wars 2 could well flourish as an eSport, as it offers something new to the mostly multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) and first-person shooter (FPS) dominated scene. Backed by the growing eSports audience for their game, NCSoft may well become a household name in the Western market in the upcoming years.