ArenaNet's Regina Buenaobra on Guild Wars 2, Reddit, and community

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Screenshot -- Guild Wars 2
ArenaNet has, understandably, been receiving a whole lot of publicity in the days following the launch of Guild Wars 2, due in large part to notable events such as the "ask why you're banned" thread on the r/GW2 subreddit. Not everyone, however, is thrilled with the idea that ArenaNet is conducting so much of its customer support and community interaction on Reddit and social media sites such as Facebook rather than on official forums or a well-established community site.

If you're someone who has been wondering exactly why ArenaNet focuses so much effort on Reddit and social media, then we're here to shed some light on the issue. We reached out to Guild Wars 2's North American Community Team Lead, Regina Buenaobra, to get the official point-of-view. If you'd like to know about ArenaNet's community and customer support teams (and the differences between the two), click on past the cut for the Q&A.

Massively: ArenaNet has been using Reddit to communicate important information to the community and create a dialogue between players while the official forums are offline, but more than one of our commenters and writers have expressed distaste for the medium, and the Reddit crowd is particularly friendly to GW2. The truth is, the vast majority of players would never think to visit Reddit for an explanation on why they were banned from GW2 or what the ETA for the trading post is. So why does ArenaNet continue to disseminate information over Reddit instead of its own website or a long-established fan gathering spot like Guild Wars Guru?

Regina Buenaobra: Like all of our services, we want to make sure that our forums function up to the high standards we expect. Our highest priority right now is to ensure the game runs stably. We made the decision not to open forums for the time being so as not to create additional demand on our infrastructure and our programming team. In the interim, we've been using a combination of channels including Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and the game launcher itself to communicate with our fans as regularly as possible. We've also been mirroring these communications on our game status wiki page and directing people there for updates. What's important is that we want to choose mediums that allow us to communicate back and forth with our fans, in places where we can reach a lot of people, hence the focus on channels that allow us to do that. Publishing updates on social networks reaches hundreds of thousands more people than third-party forums.

Does ArenaNet find the focus on social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook an effective use of staff time as well as an effective way to convey information and support to players? What about people who eschew social media? Wouldn't support tickets be a better way to help lost players?

It's important to note that the use of Twitter, Reddit and Facebook are all in addition to the normal activities we do to engage with our fans and address concerns, including customer support tickets, the wiki, the website and the game launcher. People will take their concerns to social media no matter what the situation. Today's consumer expects to be able to engage with companies on social networks, and our experience, notably during the beta weekend events, bears out that fact. Our customer support department continues to be the main method by which players can get individual account support. The community team uses social media to direct customers to get that individualized help. Our community and support teams have been working around the clock to stay in touch with our fans, and we will soon be able to add the forums to our list of ways to communicate with players.

Presumably, the forums are down in relation to other outages across the Guild Wars 2 website and game. While the outage makes sense, it's caused many of our readers to assume that ArenaNet is simply trying to prevent a mob of angry players from descending upon the forums. Has the staff made it a priority to get those forums back up so they can be used rather than third-party communication tools?

Players who have account problems are coming to us regardless of whether we have forums up or not, and we're directing them to the right places to get help. The forums are without a doubt a high priority for us. Just today we brought our support forums online as a resource to players, and we expect to have the rest of our forums up and running soon. Quite simply, we have to make sure that they live up to the expectations and demands we will place on them once they go live.

Why were first-party sales of the game halted? Can we take that as a sign that the game is selling a little too well for comfort, given the game's current troubles, or does the team simply want to prevent new players from getting caught up in email delays on registration? How soon might we see sales resume?

Demand for Guild Wars 2 has been well beyond our expectations, and in order to maintain a playable and enjoyable game experience for all of our fans we made the decision to temporarily halt first-party sales while we scale up our capacity and customer support to meet this demand. From the very beginning, we have intended Guild Wars 2 to be a successful game in the long run. Slamming our servers with new players in the name of sales, adversely affecting the entirety of our playerbase, does not fit into that plan. Guild Wars 2 needs to always be an enjoyable, accessible game, and we will do everything within our means to do so.

Thanks very much for your time, Regina.
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