February 15, 2012 at 10:14 am | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 28 Comments
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Marketing and advertising firms do something that irritates me to no end. They rebrand something that already had a name and image. They make a product seem new and fresh to appeal to a younger audience, or classy and expensive to appeal to an older one.

Old Spice used to be a deodorant for old people, and now with their bizarre marketing campaigns, it has definitely begun to appeal to a younger male demographic.

Which brings us to the MMO market where the industry is flooded with games that have many of the same features. How do you differentiate Game 1 which has quests and combat with Game 2 which has quests and combat.

Well if you’re Arenanet you might do a few things. You might innovate a moderate number of features that represent an evolution in the MMO industry, you might emphasize good story-telling and lore, you might integrate concept art to an insane degree, or in some cases you might just rename things to sound different.

Now obviously I’m oversimplifying making and marketing a video game in the extreme, but I do think it’s important to be realistic about a few things. Arenanet is making a game I am truly excited about with excellent graphics, designs, writing, and gameplay that I can’t wait to try, but there is certainly some rebranding going on.

Guild Wars 2 will have an auction house, but it’s not called an auction house. It’s called a Marketplace. So why the new name? Arenanet has included features in their auction house that other games don’t have. To emphasize that change they’ve renamed the very familiar notion of the auction house. In the Marketplace you can put up bids to buy things that no one has put up for auction. You can access the auction house from the web or perhaps from your iPhone. It’s global across all servers. It’s not an auction house! It’s a marketplace!

Semantics. It is an auction house.

I don’t really begrudge them the right to describe the game in any way they see fit, but at some point I just feel like it needs to be said. Let’s call a spade a spade.

Professions should probably be referred to as classes. There is no real reason to refer to them as anything but classes aside from the need that corporations feel to make their products seem unique and superior. “These aren’t those boring old ‘classes’ from other games, these are professions y’all! I reckon!” Yes, they’re from Texas.

I don’t consider this to be a completely negative thing for Guild Wars 2 or Arenanet. In fact in some cases I see clearly what they’re doing and support it.

Dynamic Events in Guild Wars 2 would be sullied if too closely associated with the Public Quests of Warhammer. There they were widely considered a failure and many people left Warhammer with a bad taste in their mouth. On top of that Dynamic Events seem much more complex, intricate, scalable, diverse and make up the vast bulk of content in Guild Wars 2, not some sideshow piece of content that didn’t fit with the rest of the game. Arenanet seems all too justified in distancing itself and distinguishing itself from Public Quests. I can even forgive them the use of a marketing buzzword like dynamic. I’m just glad they didn’t call them Proactive Paradigms.

But then there are some grey areas. I can’t make up my mind if Cross Profession Combos really deserve their own moniker. Didn’t we used to call these buffs? Admittedly there is a major change in gameplay here because in Guild Wars 2 you can’t target fellow allies with skills. Arenanet wants you looking at what you’re doing, not the group UI, so skills became ground targeted, and therefore you’re moving around a lot to adjust and move to buffs. Different enough that I guess I can just give them this one.

Anyway none of this really takes away from my excitement for Guild Wars 2. They can rebrand mini-games as ‘activities’, rogues as thieves, or crafting professions as ‘disciplines’ all they want. If that helps them sell the game that’s great. I just wish they had a little more confidence in the gaming community to understand what is different about Guild Wars 2 without rebranding everything. Or that I wasn’t about to suffer through endless local chat confusion about what the MP is or why they don’t just call it an AH.



  1. Well, if anything, the thief archetype was renamed as rogue with D&D; thief definitely existed first 😛

    And, really, that’s simply what marketing is. Making it appealing while setting apart from the rest. I find that I vastly prefer ‘profession’ to ‘class’, for example, and I feel that it fits better; in GW1 your profession completely defines everything you do, each is quite distinct, and I always had the impression that it was approached as if it was your profession – your career – in the game; the only other game I’ve played that had that all-encompassing feel with regards to your profession/class choice was TOR. And it makes sense for GW2 to keep with their naming system and continue to use profession instead of class.

    And I certainly don’t see an issue in doing something like renaming the auction house the Marketplace if it going to include a number of features that other games’ AHs don’t include.

    • When it comes down to it the marketplace is an auction house, no matter the features that other games don’t have. Like I said, semantics.

      Class is used to describe your class in almost every game, its gamer lingo that when changed only serves to confuse people. You say class and people know what you’re talking about. You say profession and people start talking about crafting or what they do for a living.

      • I agree with almost everything that you’ve said..

        ..but I can’t agree with you on the “marketplace” / “auction house” thing. Sorry, A place where you can list things for sale AND list requests to buy things is, to my mind, a different beast to a place where you can only list things for sale and buy things that are already on sale.

        Professions, activities, disciplines, etc., there’s a whiff of “renaming for the sake of renaming”. But not the marketplace. 🙂

        • To me its like this. You don’t paint a house a new colour and say its a brand new house, it’s till the same house. New features which I applaud, but a new name is unnecessary.

      • Marketplace seems better from an RPG standpoint. I mean, if you go to a ren fair, they have a marketplace not an auction house. It just suits the setting better.

        Profession used to bug me but it’s probably for the best in the long run because cross class combo is kind of a tongue twister.

  2. Hunter, I dont really agree with why your ranting about the different wording of known things by Arenanet. It is not as if they just decided to use the word profession, it was in since the start of Guild Wars 1. The Marketplace as already discussed has got features that other MMO AH does not have. And then you agree yourself that Dynamic Events is justified, to distance it from the “fail implemented” Public Quests.

    Just like they dont use the terms Tank / DPS / Heal, with their professions (yes professions!) doing things alot different than classes of other MMOs. Personally, I think all the “rebranding” done by Arenanet does make sense to try and differentiate from other ALREADY DONE things. Why call it a rogue?? Why does everything HAVE TO BE THE SAME? You know, I know, everyone knows the generic type class most of the professions comes from. So in fact, I want to know what would you have them call the Mesmer then if they arent allowed to use their own originality?

    Frankly, I think when they called everything the same as other games, people will just rant about them copying everything (even if it is implemented differently). When Arenanet didnt do it like this, this article would have been about them just being copy-cats.

    I hope you are not the generic type of player that copy-pastes a skill set build from someone else which is the optimized way, because you don’t allow something to be different, weaker, better.

    Sorry Im being very hostile, but while I was typing this I just got more upset about the fact that you think they should be the same as everyone else. They do have confidence in the community to understand that they are just using their own wording for stuff EVERYONE is supposed to know where it originates from.

    Ive always enjoyed your articles, but this was just some pointless stuff 😦

    • I disagree. Renaming things doesn’t make them original. Shakespeare said it best, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. An auction house by any other name is still an auction house.

      Originality comes from content, not names.

      Names for classes and the auction house should be intuitive, informative, natural. A new player should not have to ask what a marketplace is and then immediately be informed that it is an auction house. Just name it the auction house in the first place.

      • that shakespeare that also invented 1500 new words for english? sry couldn’t resist that pun. Anyway i see the point

        • An argument could be made that he merely wrote down words he knew that nobody else was using and created few words, but i see your point.

  3. I disagree. It sounds like you don’t have confidence in people … that they cant directly correlate a Marketplace to an auction house. I would think gamers are smarter than that, and it will be an automatic conversion of terms… for me it was then. Ford, Fiat, Volkswagen, BMW are all cars; what would happen if they were all just called car? That car from Car manufacturer is awesome!! :/ They have some stuff different than the other cars, but as a base its still a car, and everyone knows it.

    Marketplace and auction house has its base as an auction house, but there is enough difference between the MP and AH so that it could be called different; but essentially everyone should know without problems that its got the same core functionality. The words Professions, Marketplace, Dynamic Events are intuitive, informative, natural.

    • Oh, sorry … didn’t see the # for reply, my bad. Why not just call it reply to make it informative, intuitive, natural? Sorry, this was just an example of you using a different phrase than the normal, its functionality is still the same, you just called it something different.

      My apologies, I don’t feel very well today, being a bit tooooo much of a ranter.

      • You really did not make your case well here.

    • Why force players to make conversions at all? why not just convert to metric in the first place?

      If there is already a suitable well used word to describe something, making up a new word to describe it is unnecessary if you want to be clear.

      Professions is not natural or intuitive when classes would explain more without having to say more. And dynamic is a buzzword, it doesn’t really explain anything so it’s not informative or natural.

      I could go on.

      • Ok, I give up! Not going to sit on this forever, we wont agree on this. Anyway if Im allowed to still read your other blog posts, Im off to read the new WvW topic.

      • Dynamic means changing vs. static, or unchanging. I think it’s an accurate descriptor. I hear public quest, and all I think is “huh?” Dynamic gives me a sense of movement and cycling. It evokes action.

        Also, when I think of buff, I think of all the random stuff people stack before they enter battle and . There’s a huge difference between someone granting fire damage via an icon that’s added to the UI vs. shooting through fire to produce fire damage. Again, it’s just so much more active and natural and intuitive and engaging. You’re truly working together to produce a new effect rather than buffing each other. I think they’ve more than earned the right to call it something else rather than downplaying it as something as passive as a buff. It’s not just different enough. It’s very, very different. Buffs = playing the UI. Combos = playing the game.

        I think everything about their working is a deliberate effort to enforce and reinforce how active the game play truly is.

  4. If you’ve personally seen the new Marketplace and have legitimate reasons to say “it’s just a renamed auction house,” then please enlighten us. Otherwise, you’re just ranting thoughts that are opinions ignorant to any fact. I’m not going to sit here and argue your “semantics” or try to shove analogies down your throat, just try to remind you that (well, unless you’re in the alpha and beta phases of testing ^_^ ) you only know what you’ve seen on youtube (even this is subject to change).

    • That is basically what it comes down, opinions ignorant to the facts. Its different enough (from what we have read) for these stuff to be called different, to seperate themselves from the ‘old’.

    • This goes for both of you. Drawing simple conclusions from the available facts is not ignorant. Otherwise it is my opinion that no matter the information I am not currently aware of, it is still likely to be the same basic form and function of an auction house. Relax.

      • Again, please tell us the available facts that you are drawing simple conclusions from. Relax? Dude, your tone from your blog post to your comment replies is defensive and hostile to those that disagree with you. Don’t tell those actually thinking clearly to relax. Your blog post is your opinion. The only fact in this blog post about the marketplace is its name.

        • My post is perfectly well reasoned and thought out, and defending my position in the comments is hardly a crime. However rudely coming to my blog to comment that i’m hostile or ignorant with the idea being “how dare he criticize gw2!” isn’t exactly relaxed behaviour.

          • Yes, lets just leave it… I don’t agree with what Hunter wrote and commented, never will probably. I have always enjoyed reading your GW2 articles, this was the only one I had a problem with; the idea that the developers dare be different than the rest. So, I apologise if you thought my posts were too offensive, was just saying what I felt regarding the article. A profession is a profession in GW, always HAVE been. It suddenly now became an issue with GW2 here.
            I am going to play the game regardless of what is being said about it, bad or not; because I know that it is STILL BETTER than any other MMO currently.

            No Im not being biased, or ignorant.

            I dont like Tank / DPS / Heal when it goes LFG LFG for hours, I would rather do control / support in cross profession combos, rather than solo-class stuff. I maintain the fact that their stuff is different enough to call it something different. Besides, cross-profession-combos sounds alot better than cross-class-combos. I should stop now…

  5. […] Hunter’s Insight — Roses. “Guild Wars 2 will have an auction house, but it’s not called an auction house. It’s called a Marketplace. So why the new name? Arenanet has included features in their auction house that other games don’t have. To emphasize that change they’ve renamed the very familiar notion of the auction house. In the Marketplace you can put up bids to buy things that no one has put up for auction. You can access the auction house from the web or perhaps from your iPhone. It’s global across all servers. It’s not an auction house! It’s a marketplace! Semantics. It is an auction house. I don’t really begrudge them the right to describe the game in any way they see fit, but at some point I just feel like it needs to be said. Let’s call a spade a spade.” […]

  6. Well… I watched that horrible Old Spice commercial… Sad… As most commercials.
    But sincerely I like the “rebranding” made by ANet, becouse I don’t think that the word “class” or “Auction House” has more right to be used or is more correct. Don’t get me wrong, I respect your opinion and your post made me think.
    I don’t think ANet changed some names for commercial purposes, I mean, I’m not a fan of this game or I got interested in it becouse they have a “marketplace”. it’s becouse there isn’t the holy trinity system, the tradition quest system, the traditional party system. Becouse of the sylvari and the lore. Becouse of the hybrid professions. (etc)
    And about “dynamic event” and “Cross Profession Combo”, well, ANet have created them, I think they can give them the name they want.

    • Well i’m not really saying its more correct, just more clear, easier to say, and has no necessary explanation. But its fair enough to disagree.

  7. […] Hunter’s Insight: Roses. Hunter wonders why ArenaNet renames everything. […]

  8. 1. The auction house/marketplace thing has been used by other games as well. They’re basically interchangeable terms for the same thing in online games. Semantics make marketplace the more accurate of the 2 terms to pick, but it isn’t as though they invented the term marketplace specifically to try to differentiate it from other games.

    2. “Profession” was their term for classes in gw1 as well. It may have been re-branding then, but at this point it’s just being consistent with gw1. You can’t really expect them to switch away from what they called it in gw1 to un-re-brand (yes I invented a word) classes.

    3. “Cross profession combos” and “buffs” aren’t really the same thing. If you had gone after “boons” instead of cross profession combos I would agree with you wholeheartedly, but a cross profession combo is not the same as a buff.

    I’m sure you’re going to counter by arguing that shooting arrows through a fire wall is the same as granting a buff to shoot fire arrows, but I would disagree. A buff does the same thing no matter what it interacts with. The fire wall doesn’t do the same thing for every attack combined with it. For example, shooting an arrow through a fire wall makes it a fire arrow, while using whirling defense while standing on that same fire wall launches fireballs (whirling defense does not normally launch anything). A cross profession combo is also a one-time thing, buffs generally last for longer periods of time.

    4. Dynamic events are different enough from public quests to justify a unique name, without factoring in the stigma associated with warhammer’s public quests.They’re called “dynamic” because they are, in fact, dynamic. They actually change based on various factors. Winning or losing a dynamic event actually changes parts of the world. It’s not the public relations team using industry buzzwords for kicks, “dynamic” accurately describes them.

    Conversely, once you completed a public quest, it reset. Winning a public quest didn’t open up a new public quest. “Failing” a public quest didn’t open up new public quests either, since you couldn’t really fail a public quest. If you died, you could just run back and finish it. I don’t recall whether it scaled up in difficulty or not depending on the number of people involved, but I do remember needing to fight over kill count for quest completion credit (which isn’t how dynamic events work). Public quests (among other things) were their inspiration to make dynamic events, but they are not the same thing.

    TL;DR version of wall of text:
    1.”Marketplace” and “auction house” have long been used interchangeably in online games to mean the same thing.
    2. They already used “profession” for gw1.
    3. Cross profession combos are closer to cross class combos from dragon age 2 than anything in an MMO (they are NOT buffs, those are boons, which are one of the cases of actual re-branding that you missed), and since they’re calling “classes” “professions”, “cross profession combo” is the logical name for the idea.
    4. Dynamic events do not exist in other games, so there is nothing to re-brand. It’s a new concept, they’re branding it for the first time, which is what people who invent things that did not previously exist (or discover things not previously known about) get to do.

    • Most of this is what I said in my posts above, the difference between existing functionality linked to existing terms and the changed things in GW2 justify them using different terms, and for me the wording used is more explanatory (or cooler) than the generic class, auction house etc. People who cant figure out that the Marketplace (without needing to read on it) has the same base functionality (plus extras) as an auction house shouldnt be playing MMOs, and as I said before people arent that stupid. (or are they?.. I cant believe that if that is the case…).

      PS: How dare you invent a new word? 😀

    • My commenters keep saying that everything is completely different or different enough that new names are called for, but having played plenty of different mmos I disagree. I could make a point by point refutation, but apparently most people take offence at that sort of thing. I’ll just leave off by saying that it is certainly a perspective thing.

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