Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet has faced some scrutiny over its decision to introduce Ascended armor to the game. The company had previously promised the game would be free of gear grind, and some fans see the new armor type as crossing that line. So the company brass took to the Internet to address some of its harshest critics.
Several studio execs took to Reddit (via Eurogamer) to answer fan questions, and criticisms were scattered among them. "We made some mistakes with the way we introduced Ascended gear," said ArenaNet co-founder Mike O'Brien. "I don't think they invalidate the fundamental concept that GW2 can have gradual stat progression without being a gear treadmill game."
Design director Chris Whiteside said the reaction to the gear was "definitively expected," and believes it would have been better to have Ascended gear at launch. This would have introduced a progression between Exotic and Legendary items, and avoided upsetting fans by introducing a new tier. He also noted that the team has no plans to introduce new rarity gear aside from the Ascended sets.
"Instead and as we evolve, the game's existing rarities will evolve over time," he said. "However, these will not be common occurrences. For example, full Ascended gear will be introduced over a long period of time and will be earned through lots of different parts/activities of the game." Later, he said, "We have never said there would be no vertical progression. We do intend to focus on horizontal but we will have vertical progression moving forward with the focus on zero grind and a very low power curve." He added that he doesn't feel these changes work against what was said in its "manifesto" against grinding.
O'Brien also pointed out that the team "always expected that we will someday raise the level cap in GW2."