ArenaNet is a video game developer and subsidiary of NCSOFT, founded in 2000 by Mike O'Brien, Patrick Wyatt and Jeff Strain and located in Bellevue, Washington. They are most notable as developers of the online role-playing game series Guild Wars.
The founders of ArenaNet were former employees of Blizzard Entertainment who played important roles in developing the highly successful video games Warcraft, Warcraft 2, StarCraft, Diablo, Diablo II, and the Battle.net gaming network. They left in February 2000 to form their own company. Their new studio was briefly called Triforge, Inc. before changing its name to ArenaNet. The company was acquired by NCsoft in 2002. On 10 September 2008, NCsoft announced the formation of NCsoft West, headquartered in Seattle, Washington. ArenaNet founders Jeff Strain and Patrick Wyatt left ArenaNet to take roles at NCsoft West in 2008, and ultimately left NCsoft in 2009. The only founder left is Mike O'Brien.
Guild Wars, retroactively called Guild Wars: Prophecies, is the first in the Guild Wars series. It is an action role-playing game, with competition in both the player versus player (in random matches, teams, tournaments, or guild battles), and player versus environment (in missions, quests, or area exploration) forms. The developers call this blend a "competitive online role-playing game". Important goals of the game are both to minimize the amount of repetitive actions a player has to perform to become a respectable force in the gaming world (called grind), and also to minimize a player's dependency on game items to stay competitive. These are two goals that set the game apart from most massively online role-playing games (MMORPGs), where one hardcore player will gain major advantages when competing against another more casual gamer simply from having played the game more and found better items. In Guild Wars, the advantages in battle will instead come from how well a player picks and uses the character's 8 skills (from a library of hundreds), an art that is hard to master. The game is different from most MMORPGs in that it did not have any additional recurring fees, but bases revenue on standalone game expansions, or "campaigns" (in addition to microtransactions). This structure was discontinued with Eye of the North, which was a traditional expansion pack that required one of the three standalone campaigns. ArenaNet stated that this was because they felt that this format was restricting their ability to add new game mechanics and balance the overwhelming number of skills introduced with each title, and decided to begin work on Guild Wars 2 to address these issues (with Eye of the North bridging the gap between Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2).
Guild Wars Factions is the first sequel to Guild Wars, and among other things adds a new world map with accompanying missions, two new professions (the Assassin and Ritualist), several new gaming modes, and "titles" which measures the advance of characters in several tasks. It is sometimes referred to as the second "chapter", with the first one being the released game itself, but then with the label Guild Wars: Prophecies to make a distinction between the chapters. Be aware that this is not an expansion pack, but a stand-alone product, meaning that it does not require Guild Wars: Prophecies to play, although it enhances the player's gaming experience to have both titles.
Guild Wars Nightfall, the third chapter in the Guild Wars saga, was released on 27 October 2006. As with the previous chapters, this is a stand-alone product, but it can be merged with the previous campaigns to enhance the gaming experience. This third chapter introduces a new world map, two new professions (the Dervish and Paragon), a new PvP mode, but its most remarkable new feature is the introduction of "Heroes" who travel with the character between missions and campaigns and are fully customizable by the player.
Eye of the North is the first true expansion pack in the Guild Wars series. Released on 31 August 2007, it requires one of three earlier full campaigns, and introduces two new races—the Asura and the Norn—that will be playable in the upcoming Guild Wars 2. It is intended to bridge the gap to Guild Wars 2 by means of a Hall of Monuments, a mechanism that allows transferring achievements in the original series to the sequel.
In an effort to resolve plot threads, ArenaNet has released a series of "mini-expansion" updates, collectively known as Guild Wars Beyond. This series of storylines and events in Guild Wars helps set the stage for Guild Wars 2, which takes place 250 years in the future. Guild Wars Beyond begins with War in Kryta, then Hearts of the North, and continues with Winds of Change. After the Guild Wars 2 release, ArenaNet formally announced that they "will no longer release any new content". Some of these scrapped Beyond-updates included: the Ebon Vanguards' withdrawal and establishment of Ebonhawke; the Lunatic Court and their attempts to free Mad King Thorn; expanding on the story of Palawa Joko and continue that plot thread, which was left dangling in Nightfall; and the disappearance of Evennia, last seen in Old Ascalon during the Krytan civil war.
Announced in March 2007, Guild Wars 2 is the sequel to the current Guild Wars series of games. The game is set around 250 years after the events in the original series and contains several new features, consisting of a more persistent world (as opposed to mostly instanced), dynamic questing, a personal branching storyline, and an updated graphics engine. On the morning of 20 August 2009, ArenaNet released the first trailer for Guild Wars 2 on their website. Closed in-house beta testing started in December 2011 and press beta weekend events started being rolled out in March 2012. Beta weekend events began in April 2012 and were open to those who pre-purchased the game, those who received an invite by signing up and those who obtained a beta key from a giveaway. On 28 June 2012, ArenaNet announced that Guild Wars 2 would be released on 28 August 2012; meanwhile, people who pre-purchased the game received a three-day headstart and began playing three days earlier, on 25 August 2012. In its first 2 weeks of sales Guild Wars 2 sold over 2 million copies.
After the release of Guild Wars 2 Arenanet initially spent their time fixing issues with the game; such as bugs and connection problems. Once the game had become stable, they set their focus on further improving Guild Wars 2 and evolving the concept of a 'living world', by adding both temporary and permanent content in biweekly updates. Along with these updates were seasonal and holiday events.
Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns was the first expansion pack for Guild Wars 2 released on October 23, 2015. Heart of Thorns introduced the Revenant profession to the game, four new open world maps with three distinct biomes, 10-man instanced raids, the Stronghold player versus player game mode, and a new World versus World borderland.
Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire is the second expansion pack for Guild Wars 2 which released on September 22, 2017. Path of Fire introduces mounts and new open world maps in regions known as the Crystal Desert and Elona. It will also include the continuation of Living World updates and 10-man instanced raids.