You may remember that we have already written a report on ArenaNet’s booth last year, so of course, we’re going to write another one this year. Last year, we went to GamesCom on two days, Thursday and Saturday, which means that our experiences and observations came from two different days. Saturday is usually the busiest day, but we decided against going there again on a Saturday this year. It was simply too crowded for my liking. And there is no way I am going to do that again. While I don’t panic when I’m within a crowd, it’s not a pleasant feeling either. So we only went on Thursday this year which was just crowded enough to not make me feel uncomfortable.
It feels a bit weird to be writing this report as this year, there wasn’t much to see about the game. Last year, there were several demo stations at their PvE booth and a few more at their PvP booth. But this time, there was not a single demo station available. Our friend, who had also come with us last year, remarked that he was very surprised to hear that as he would have expected them to have a zillion demo stations around, so they could show off their game. The booth that we got to see, however, was a really good concept and a place that all three of us enjoyed.
We arrived at the booth shortly past 10am. As some of you may know, on Wednesday and Thursday, ArenaNet had announced a password on Twitter and after saying it to one of the staff members, you got a code for an in-game item (a Guild Wars 2 dragon t-shirt). Maybe they were hoping that not too many people would come to get their code. The contrary happened, of course. At around 10.30am on Thursday, they were already out of the codes they had wanted to give out during the morning. We had gotten ours shortly before that and decided to just stay at the lounge and enjoy the scenery. The booth was pretty and the design almost literally screamed “ArenaNet”: It fit perfectly. In the middle of the busy, loud and slowly crowding GamesCom, there was this little oasis with plants, white pebble stones, comfortable stools and a waterfall – or at least, something close to it. Everything was inviting you to stay, relax a bit and converse with the people around you.
We decided it was too early for that as we wanted to see other booths first, so we left and went on to explore GamesCom. As this report is about ArenaNet, I will skip forward to when we returned to their booth.
In the meantime, ArenaNet had announced that they would give away 100 codes every hour. We were curious and went back to the booth only to see that it was crowded outside and relatively full inside. They had closed the two entrances to the booth already and it looked like about 100 people were inside. Those 100 would be getting the codes at 2pm. Outside there were – roughly estimating – about 300 more people. If you have never been to something like GamesCom, let me tell you that people do queue for the weirdest things for hours. If you ask me queuing for three hours just for an in-game item belonging to a game that is coming out in just 7 days, is not too surprising. But it’s always hard to anticipate what is going to happen and how popular exactly something will be. There were no demo stations, after all, and apart from the two screens showing the trailers, you could not really do or see anything while waiting.
We had actually wanted to meet somebody there at 2 but instead found her outside the convention halls. We could not have gone inside to sit down anyway. At that point, it was disappointing to see that their concept was basically ruined. If you click on the video above, you can see it yourself. Apart from the crowd wanting codes (and I don’t blame them), the neighbours of ArenaNet were really loud (music, shouting, etc.). If you ask me, GamesCom is always too loud with too many games literally screaming for your attention. However, I doubt that ArenaNet had any say in who would be next to them and how loud they would be. We left again after watching them giving the codes away inside, letting those people out and letting the next group in.
At around 6.30pm, we returned for the last time. At that point, not that many people were left, especially as they had stopped offering codes. But in general, a lot of visitors had already left (it was open from 10am to 8pm that day). The ArenaNet booth wasn’t empty, though, but we could finally grab some seats, sit down, enjoy the scenery of the booth and talk to Stéphane (one of the two French Community Managers) and Ramon (the new German Community Manager). Finally, we felt that we got to enjoy the booth in the way that ArenaNet had intended. Of course, it wasn’t their fault in the morning as we had just not been in the mood to sit down only minutes after arriving. Anyway, we had a great talk about Guild Wars 2 and MMOs in general with Stéphane. An hour later, it was time to go, so we would not have to leave with the rest of the GamesCom visitors and get stuck on the parking lot.
What we had been able to see during our three visits was that once again, even without demo stations and developers present, ArenaNet’s and NCsoft’s staff members were there and they did not just stand around in a corner watching their fans. They were in the middle, interacting, talking, answering questions (as far as they could, I would assume ^^) and were a part of it. If they had not worn their special Guild Wars 2 t-shirts, you wouldn’t have known they weren’t just fans like everybody else.
In the evening, we were invited to their Meet&Greet. At first, we decided to just sit down in a corner and watch. My feet were aching (and I even got an inflammation in my left foot. Aaah, the sacrifices I endure for online games… ^^), so I was happy to sit. But it was a bit boring. I didn’t mind the company – that is, my boyfriend and a friend, but I can see them so often and talking to others would have been nice as well. Unfortunately, I am too shy to just go to people and ask them who they are. Fortunately, Kronos from Onlinewelten, whom I had met during EU Fan Day in Brighton, spotted me and came over. Just a few minutes later, we were in their corner of the room (where lots of other people from Onlinewelten were sitting) and I was talking to his girlfriend about basically everything but Guild Wars 2, with the exception of the shape of our future sylvaris’ ears. Very important decision, of course.
ArenaNet was very generous as they had a raffle where they gave away 4 Collector’s Editions, 2 cardboard standups, several keyboards and computer mice. Sadly, neither of us won anything. That wasn’t bad at all, though, as we had not gone there for the loot and, more importantly, somebody else from the Onlinewelten community had won one of the CEs and seeing his shocked face together with him mumbling “I have never won anything…!” was priceless. :)
I also finally got to talk a bit with Ramon. Only a few minutes, but that’s okay because the community managers were very busy with all of us around, trying to talk to everybody and, of course, organizing the event. But yeah, we’ve got a very nice new German Community Manager!
Another highlight of the evening was that one guy, also a proud winner of a Collector’s Edition, who came to us to tell us that he loves our blog. I was walking on clouds and because of that, forgot to ask for his name. Oh well, in case you read this, feel free to contact us and tell us who you are! ;) It’s always great to get feedback from readers and hear that what you are doing is liked by others.
This was just a short summary of the evening. I don’t think it’d be interesting to repeat every little detail because most of what happened was conversations with other people. We once again got to know other German fans of the game and/or writers for fansites and it’s always great to do that if you ask me. As I said earlier to Stéphane, I have the tendency to jump in and out of games and get bored with them quickly once I understand the rules. What keeps me in a game is the community, the people I get to know and the friendships that form in the long run. Guild Wars 2 may just be a game but it manages to connect people from all over the world and that is something fantastic. Being at gatherings like this always shows me exactly what it is that I love most about ArenaNet: Their care for the community and their constant effort to provide an environment where it’s easy for us to connect and get to know each other better.
Last but not least, if you have managed to read until now, let me give you a little hint: We brought something back with us (not the game!) and we do not intend to keep it… ;)