GW2: Time to Talk About Mount Skins

I really have tried to avoid writing this post. I’ve bottled up my feelings about what’s been happening around GW2 and selling mount skins in the Gem store. But, it’s bugging me. I need to get it off my chest…  Mostly because I’m starting to feel a little like I was duped.

Let me explain. This could get long.

Giving GW2 Another Chance

Long story short: I’ve been a fan of Guild Wars since GW1 was released. I was a huge fan of GW2 when it released, too. Things changed within Anet, and by the time HoT came out, I walked away from the game due to the fact I didn’t like the direction things were going. I felt very strongly about this.

What made me return to a game that I swore off? Three things. The Path of Fire expansion advertised:

  • A better price point than HoT
  • A return to story and lore-centric gaming in an area of the world I was interested in exploring

The only reason I even looked at PoF in the first place, the one thing that caught my eye, were the mounts.

I’m a huge fan of mounts, especially multi-use mounts, such as in EQ2. So when Anet advertised jumping mounts and leaping mounts and gliding mounts (didn’t know about the griffon back then), my mind swam with possibilities. Add to that the promise of large open world gameplay with lots of throwbacks to GW1…

Yeah, I took the bait.

But even back then, I was a little wary. The first post I wrote about this said:

BUT. We all know what else a mount system introduces — cash shop opportunities!

No doubt, A-Net is probably running low on new glider ideas by now. So why not mounts? And other MMOs have shown mounts can be sold for a pretty penny.

So, while I’m happy to see mounts in GW2, part of me knows that this is just another thing for them to milk in the cash shop.

Oh boy, was I right.

Mount Skins Ahoy

I pushed this out of my mind at PoF release, and played the game for what it was. I had a pretty good time with it. I didn’t think the story won any awards, but it was better than I remember Season 2 being.

I truly enjoyed the mounts (though some seemed a little redundant in function), and felt they were solidly implemented. I liked how they made things light years easier for me to accomplish in the open world, which is the only thing I really care about in GW2. I even went out of my way to get the griffon mount, which was a big achievement for me.

There was no sign of cash shop shenanigans in the beginning, so I thought things were safe. Then, they released the first mount skin bundle for Halloween. Ah, I thought. Here’s where it starts.

I thought these skins were okay. The price was fine. I didn’t like that it was a forced bundle of skins for all mount types, which I’d never use, though. So I didn’t buy it. I didn’t have a problem with it beyond that.

THEN came the first 2,000 Gem mount skin — the Reforged Warhound. I remember looking at it and thinking: Man, that’s not an overly attractive mount skin for that kind of money.

The Warhound got drowned out by the whole Mount Adoption RNG crud that released at the same time. Unlike the $25 mount skin, there were some skins in this I really like. But I stick to my principles when I say: There’s no way I’m going to pay for a chance to get something I like. That’s not how my money gets spent.

Throw in the fact that you could buy the whole lot for over $100, and try to tell me that’s still considered a microtransation.

There was such an uproar about this, that the team responded with a kinda-sorta apology that ultimately changed nothing about the Mount Adoption situation, since people had already spent money there. Fine.

But then, they proved they really didn’t change anything with the Resplendent Avialan skin, again, priced at $25. Yet again, another mount skin I’d never pay for. Just not my style.


Again, uproar about the price. This time, Mike O’Brien responded about what data shows about how Anet makes money. This whole PR speak thing really put a sour taste in my mouth. Especially this bit:

What our data shows is that higher-priced flashy individual items can work, and lower-average-price-per-item bundles can work, but lower-priced individual items generally don’t generate meaningful revenue to support the game. And the whole point of these items is to support the game.

Basically, what this says to me is that Anet is now focusing on poaching Whales.

It made me feel like any money I might have spent recently (for example, the 800 Gem glider skins, which I thought were a bit pricey) really didn’t matter that much… cuz it’s not a 2000 Gem item. Gee, glad my support meant something to you.

Also, the big argument I see from a number of players is that all the mount skins are cash shop, and there’s no way to sell them on the marketplace. Aside from unlocking the griffon, there’s nothing to achieve but the base mounts in game. I guess you can argue that grinding out gold to convert to Gems is a way to get these skins “in game,” but seeing that I’m a casual player with more money than time, this isn’t a reality for me.

So Why Mounts in the First Place?

When GW2 launched, we were told not having mounts was a design choice. We were told the world was made with enough Waypoints for travel. The world was compact enough to not need mounts. Don’t look for mounts in the future.

I don’t have exact quotes on this, but I could find an article that discussed why GW2 wouldn’t get mounts, and a poll where not having mounts was discussed.

So, the fact that mounts were announced in PoF blindsided me.


Blind might be the right word.

I was so excited about one of my favorite features that I jumped on the boat, bought both expansions, and played through PoF. I almost didn’t think about exactly why mounts were added to a game… that told us mounts would never be needed.

Last night, when I was talking about the mount fiasco with Syn, it occurred to me. Going back on implementing something they said they wouldn’t do (again) + Mike O’Brien’s newest post about what makes money…

I have the terrible sinking feeling that a main reason mounts were added to GW2 was because that’s where the suits decided their next money maker would be. People had already bought their fill of outfits, unbreakable gathering tools, and glider skins. What else could GW2 sell?

What large ticket item do most other MMOs sell that GW2 didn’t have? Well, mounts of course.

And this is where I started to feel that my love of mounts may have blinded me. I may have taken the lower-priced bait (PoF) that gave me hope and comfort, and been reeled back into a game that I’d left long ago.

Only… unlike the whales, I choose to say NO! when the real bait is waved in front of me. They got me to pony up for the box. But no way am I giving them almost the same amount of money for a digital skin. I mean, that’s almost the cost of two months of my FFXIV subscription!

And now, I’m just feeling sour about the whole thing. I put a lot of trust into trying GW2 again, and even brought friends along (who spent money). Was I wrong to do that?

It may be me reading too much into this, and making it too personal, but these microtransactions have become beyond microtransactions… I feel like there’s a little something underhanded going on.

Here, have a new low-priced expansion with NEW mounts (that we were never going to include before this, but for some reason changed our minds). But after you pay for the box, but what we really want is for you to buy overpriced skins for those mounts. In the name of development!

Sheesh… just put a sub on it, why don’t you? At least it would feel more honest to me.

It’s getting exhausting when it’s hard to find a game that isn’t trying to bait your cash in the name of “supporting development.” I’m just very disappointed to feel that’s where GW2 is going.


  1. Expansion #3 . New feature – housing. If they want to catch whales that’s the bait they need.

    The thing that mystifies me about all of this is that none of what they are selling is in even the tiniest, slightest part necessary. They aren’t selling mounts – they’re selling “skins”. The mounts all look perfectly good as they are and the skins don’t make them do anything the base model doesn’t do. About the only thing the mount skins DO do is annoy people with their flashy effects – although nowhere near as much as the infuriating harvest tools have been doing for year snow.

    If they want to get my $25 all they need to do is sell a toggle in the Gem store that allows me to switch everyone’s gliders, mounts, harvesting tools, armor and weapons to the default “skin”. I’d buy one for all my three accounts.

    That i feel I need one, however, shows just how very successful the sale of these skins has been. I think the idea that only “whales” as we used to understand the term are buying them is as outdated as the term “microtransactions” itself.

    1. Haha — for a limited time only, just for Bhagpuss — 2000 Gems will get you an account-wide Skin Nullifier! See the world as it was originally meant to be! Particle effects be gone!

      Housing is an interesting idea. I would be suckered in to take a look at it, of course. They’d probably go the way of ESO, and I’d nope right out of that mess, too. 🙂

      I think I made a comment about the “skins” thing somewhere else. The fact that they are still calling them “skins” — same as glider skins — I feel has set a price expectation in people’s minds (including mine). I grit my teeth to pay 800 gems for a glider skin, but I have. That’s about the price point I expect for skins because that’s what skins have costed in the past. Then they jack it up more than twice the amount trying to sell them like they’re completely new mounts (like other MMOs do) and people balk… what do they expect?

      I guess they don’t want my money since I’m not a high-paying player. Cuz they sure aren’t appealing to me with any of this.

  2. Honestly, I’m OK with $25 skins.

    I have paid $42 in Path of Exile, ostensibly for a single armor set that is on fire – but is broken up into four mix-and-matchable parts, and also to support the rest of the game that pleases me – fast, constant update patches and dev communication, support that is personalized, human and responsive, ethical monetization strategies, a game company that bothered to arrange/find/setup/maintain servers in my part of the world that let me play at a hitherto unimaginable 17ms.

    What I’m not OK with: Lack of alternatives to $25 skins, including skins in-game or skins priced at lower tiers; patches that take three months or more of silence and wind up with increasingly higher difficulties and mob mechanics that seem to imply an out of touch group of devs getting enthusiastically carried away by cool ideas; a gem store that leaves me feeling icky when I browse through it, and a move to servers that give me 2737ms ping spikes to sit through and diagnose while trying to play through the story instances, the open world and the new raid where 9 other people watch me get ganked by an insta-kill wall that was nowhere near me on my client, but where said client patently did not communicate that movement to the server.

    Do I feel happy spending money on mount skins right now? Hrm, let me think… how about, No.

    1. Well said and I agree. If they want to toss in a $25 peacock skin, go for it. (I wouldn’t pay $5 for it, honestly.) Just give me alternatives that are lower priced (and not RNG) and a few in-game things to achieve. I think that’s what most people who are upset are asking for. Their tactics feel predatory and greedy with no other alternatives. That’s exactly what I’m objecting to — that icky gemstore feeling.

      I think what really bothered me was Mike’s (or whoever the PR person was who wrote that) attitude about it, especially from that specific quote I pulled. Yeah. I feel like whales are their target audience now, and not the actual players. I’m not a whale, and never will be. However, I’ll happily support a game with extra money if it has something I like that I feel is worth the cost — I do it all the time, and have done it plenty in GW2.

      But what he said and how he said it made it feel like my little contributions aren’t worth anything to them since it wasn’t a big ticket item. Honestly, I find it funny. They’ve lost out on money right and left from me on these skins, because with the RIGHT kind of buying options, I should be one of the target customers. I’m completely willing to buy a few of those RNG skins straight out, but not if they’re RNG. Ah well.

      Yuk about the ping and the lag. It’s been really terrible for me, too. So many instance disconnects, it’s really frustrating to play through PoF story with friends when one of us gets kicked, making that person have to restart the whole thing. Ugh. I’m feeling you.

      So did they actually move servers that made it like this? I never remember having this many problems back when I played this game regularly.

      1. The icing on the cake is that no announcement of this was made. It was just decided and implemented silently around the time of the PoF launch, where some PoF maps started using Amazon’s servers and showing higher ping than other maps not using them. Over time and around 2-3 weeks ago, increasingly more to all maps started using those servers. The sad part is, folks having problems sussed all of it out because the official party line from Anet is “just a few people are affected, all your problems should go to SCW who now has the unenviable job of figuring things out/mollifying you.”

        I mean, I’m willing to wait and let these network issues get figured out, all this bureaucracy and contacting of various other companies takes time. But it’s just increasingly the (mis)management I’m starting to have resentments about.

        If not for having to show up for twice weekly raids (with the knock on effect of having to be relatively prepared in-game and out of game for them), I would have just quit for a few months’ break (which might possibly extend to forever). But now I’m just suffering a cognitive dissonance of “I should play, I want to advance/progress, I don’t want to let others down or be left behind, but it’s not very fun to play at the moment, which should naturally segue into ‘then stop’ except for social obligations and FOMO.”

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