I don't think the stats have been posted anywhere but just doing a google search I saw someone post that in order to breakeven with the cost of producing GW2 it would take selling 3 million copies. Another search on google shows that GW2 sold 2 million copies in the first 2 weeks. It is safe to assume that at this point they've hit the break even point and so any income coming in is going towards profit. ANet has stated that their maintenance costs are very low. So using that I'd say the game is successful. It made back the cost of production and more.
Gw2 is just another Gw1 when sale figures are concerned.
Gw1 sold around 7 million copies with all expansions and global packages included.
Gw2 shows the same trend: probably 2.5 to 3 million basic boxes sold and then every 18 months an expansion just like Gw1.
----> The fact is gw1 launched in 2005 and by 2011 gw1 accounted ... For 1.5% of NCSoft revenue... Even a 2003 launched Korean only sub based game had WAY more income!!!
After x time your free to play game just no longer brings in as much money as a million player based subscription game with a fixed monthly revenue. So the support - after a few years - will simply dry up.
That's simply logic.
So ... Let's say I started to play WoW in 2004 and you started to play Gw1 in 2005 ... Which game brought in the most money and so was supported better: no discusson here. Also if you do not pay for a club fee, you also tend to hop from one F2P game to another... Which simply is deadly for long term commitment in an mmorpg.
The problem with mmorpg's is that the games are rewarding by playing them in the long run. That's quite a difference with normal video games.
It is not about player numbers: farmville has 70.000.000+ of these guys: it is about a steady income to develop further in the industry: and only subcription based games offer these tools: WoW and EvE have a decent income. While Zynga is getting no longer money from' Farmville like games, so they close these games down one by one.
Gw2 has NO mounts, NO open seamless world, NO seamless crossing between zones and is called "a next big thing..." no it wasn't in mmorpg terms, as open worlds, seamless zone crossing and mounts were introduced AGES ago in "worlds to adventure in." NCSoft cut corners here to save costs.
F2P is a great way to sell small gaming packages, like Ipad things, but in the LONG run they tend to let this mmorpg industry dry up in very small, very old, very fast "take the money and run" things.
GW2 didnt have subscription model from the get go because they knew the game isnt as good as wow and people would not buy game time after free month. The character movement, almost everything is just shit. It certainly isnt a game what you would expect from having been in development many years. What the GW2 really tells is there is really only a handful of skilled people in that industry.
Its a little too early to determine if GW2 will succeed with its f2p model. A lot of games thought moving to F2P would save their game and they are either squeeking by or collapsing. Yes I get it that the wow fans will doomsay it and the GW fans will shine a turd if they have to.
I am trying hard to not make a 'X game is better than Y' comment because it is frowned upon here. I will say that GW2 has some serious issues lieing just under the surface that includes its players not wanting gear progression to be an issue and the fact that in order for games of this nature to continue to stick and carrot the player there has to be a constantly better carrot in front of the player than the carrot they have attained already. Players dont want it to become a wow game but there is no example out there of a game that does not eventually become more like wow to be successful.
Guild Wars 2 has not been out long enough to be called a success, there are rapids down stream and its up to the producers of GW2 to show how skilled they are at navigating those rapids before their F2P system can be called a success.
Love it or Hate it, WoW is a historical success among video games.