GW2 Colin Johanson’s Farewell Post

Game Director Colin Johanson has posted a farewell post on Reddit regarding his departure.

I didn’t plan to write something like this but due to an overwhelming response from friends around the industry and folks from this great community it has become clear to me proper closure requires a real goodbye. Today is my last day at ArenaNet, so here goes nothing…

Eleven years ago ArenaNet took a chance on me. The company’s very first ever game: Guild Wars (Prophecies) needed a game designer to build the bulk of the quests with just a few months left till ship. The offer came on a Friday and required I fly to Seattle from Virginia and be there by Monday morning to start working. On a recommendation from my friend Lewis who was a coder at ArenaNet – I quit my job and jumped on that plane. I flew with what clothes I could bring in a few suitcases and a sleeping bag. I rented an apartment I didn’t have time to furnish and with my sleeping bag as a bed, I set to work banging out the quests. One of the first quests I got to work on involved a little girl named Gwen who needed you to recover her lost flute, I would never have guessed the legacy she would have.

I knew it was a special place when I was immediately made a part of the family. No one ever treated me like an outsider who came in for the final months, I was made to feel like a true part of the team who was helping make something great and it was clear to me I had found a home. Shortly after the launch of Guild Wars, the company banded together to work on the most fun project I’ve ever been a part of in my gaming career: a free update to the game called Sorrow’s Furnace. So much pure joy and love was poured into that little update and most importantly the amazing friends who I got to work with on it will last with me forever.

As a game designer on Guild Wars ArenaNet continued to support me and let me take chances on wild ideas like a Mad King who told jokes for Halloween (thanks for the jokes James!), an iron forgeman, rollerbeetle racing, a Grenth vs. Dwayna wintersday battle, dwarven boxing, Polymock, mimes galore, bog beasts, glint’s challenge, siege turtles, journey’s with Koss, a dungeon full of snowmen, an Elonan party, a lunar iron chef battle and so many more fun projects I can’t begin to remember them all. They took a chance on me again when they let me become the quest design lead for the Eye of the North (I love you team quest!). In my final project before moving to the Guild Wars 2 team, they took one last roll of the dice and give me a shot at being the lead designer of the bonus mission pack.

In Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet gave me the incredible opportunity to lead the team that designed and prototyped the dynamic event system – it all started with a prototype sector we called Shaemoor. Shortly after that they took a chance on me again and let me lead the team that designed and built all of the game content that launched with Guild Wars 2. That team and those years together is another of my all time favorite memories. To those of you out there from that team who read this – I am so proud of you and the amazing things you accomplished – I am truly honored to have been able to have been your lead.

Around launch in the ultimate step of taking a chance on someone, they asked me to step away from my role as a game designer and hand my design team off to a new leadership team to become the PR and media facing voice of the game as the game director for Guild Wars 2. A position where I’ve got to take the credit for everyone else’s hard work ever since 😉

I’ve spent over a decade at my home at ArenaNet; first the building sinking into the swamp, and now the shiny new building on the hill. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the time I’ve spent, or more humbled by the trust put in me. My departure to take on a new challenge elsewhere shouldn’t be a sad day, it’s a day to celebrate new opportunities. I’ve been blessed with the chance to do so much at ArenaNet – and now new people who probably have better heads on their shoulders than I do will get new opportunities. It’s an opportunity for developers to move into new roles they’ve never been in before, for new designers like I was once to get to take chances, and for ArenaNet to support them taking chances the same way it has supported me.

I have loved my time at ArenaNet. I loved my time working with the amazing teams and developers over the many years that really deserve far more credit than they ever receive for the work they do. I love this amazing Guild Wars community. I’ve met so many of you over the years at conventions, talked with you in game, discussed ideas through forums, and read the letters you’ve sent to our office – your passion is simply unmatched. To the ArenaNet team and to the entire community who without which there would be no game at all, it has been an absolute pleasure building games alongside you.

Thank you to everyone for the amazing memories, all of you and the Guild Wars franchise will hold a place in my heart forever.


  • Notcolin

    To summarize and properly translate: “Dear everyone, Anet management is a bunch of greedy pricks. Thanks for wasting a decade of my life. Colin”

    • Raijin

      WOW is 10 times greedier then Gw2. I dont know what is your problem with them. They are not here to do charity on us.

      • FelixTC

        In my opinion GW started from roots of pay once and play forever. It evolved into pay once and then pay for anything that’s even slightly cool, and pay for ANY extra aspect, pay for things you don’t really want, while you hope they include things worth having. They stopped caring about the players and started caring only about the players with frivolous money. Same business model of every other game like WoW. 180 from their roots. In my opinion.

        • lithlius

          Yes just like wow because 60 bucks and 2 years worth of free content and updates is exactly the same greedy thing as a monthly payment…some people are so entitled honestly

          • Notcolin

            To clarify, my interpretation was Colin stating that Anet undervalued the years of his life he dedicated to this game, with little compensation in return. My guess is he left over a salary/promotion or stock option issue. The people who assumed that I was referring to the cost of the game are sadly shortsighted.

          • FelixTC

            GW2 was a complete game from day 1. HoT is still basically early access. In comparison it has very little content, very little new armor skin options, very few new weapon skins, the promise of new legendaries, etc. With GW2 you bought a GAME, with HoT you bought the promise of a game yet to come. Nothing to do with entitlement, it was a complete change of product offering if you compare GW2 day 1 to HoT day 1. A a solo/small group player who loves Fashion Wars 2, HoT has very little to offer.

      • Samuel J. Hemmingshworth

        wow company is greedy sure, but the content they push is legit too – there is actually so much crap you can do in that wow game.

        Now take GW2 adds 1 (specialization I guess) and 1 empty map or 3 idk never bought into that sleazy deal, and most importantly they priced it full game price with less content than gw2 full game obviously, but also less content than any wow expansion; imo people got more content in gw2 with seasons for free than they got for paying full game price (if you look at it from a strategical point of view).

        • FelixTC

          Well they theory was supposed to be that the new LS’s were supposed to make up the difference on the cost of the expansion. But still the content could never match the original game plus the first 2 LS’s. And for people like me, the crying Anet did on how difficult armor sets are falls on deaf ears because they basically didn’t even try to make any for HoT yet they still make outfits every 2 weeks.

        • Raven

          Uhu… Raiding till morning.
          I’ve played WoW for ten years… and all of it tends to raiding.
          Content? Every years the same *****, sorry.
          I knew why im finished with wow and went to GW2 and playing it for more then three years now.

          Also the community went from good to realy bad LoL-kiddish growd of gamers who think they are the best in everything.
          “What, you will start raiding? Bought wow yesterday? Go and die. When you get the best Raidgear from nothing we can talk… ”

          Btw HoT is also season three. 😉
          And not only what we have played yet.

        • Steven Newton

          HoT added 9 specializations, 1 new class, 1 new profession, 4 new maps, 2 new game modes, Mastery system, gliding, several weapon and armor sets, as well as access to all upcoming additions to the GW2 game such as Living World/Story.

          I guess you never bothered to read either.

        • Samuel J. R. Tard

          “wow company” aka Blizzard (if even that is too much to remember) has build WoW on the assumption the core players will spend 10+ hours a day in wow and will be happy to get new tier of items, making old ones obsolete and time spent to farm, wasted.
          Now if you are a 12 yo virgin or a jobless parasite, this is the kind of “greedy company” that will provide you content. As you stated, there is so much “crap” you can do in that wow game, but nothing that a casual player like me, would be interested in, from any perspective.

      • Majmo Mendez

        atleast WoW offers some content for its greed

        • Steven Newton

          You mean another step in the gear treadmill after 6 months? Oh yeah, great content.

          • FiachSidhe

            Yeah tell me how long it takes to get that sweet new legendary skin, bro.

  • nwstud

    What a douche. Good riddance.

  • George Smith

    what the what? how do you two sour pusses possibly get that from this post? 🙁

  • caithling

    yeah good riddance, tho it seems too late, the game’s already falling apart :/

  • :3

    Most posters here either have issues with their reading comprehension or are naturally negative
    Whatever you guys are hope you havea lot of magic find in your life you will need it 🙂

    • Alot

      I’ll give you a tip on how to get sincere responses when posting a personal note on the internet:
      Don’t post on the internet.

  • Stjörmlinkjon Gjünderlakson

    I have no idea what the (just in case wont post it, might get removed) is wrong with gw2 dev teams brains, they got their own games official forums but all the actual news they post on some backwater site (it’s like attention-whore-much?), if that doesn’t show how much they “love” their game then there might be more in the future.

    PS: if you pay close attention – he is just babbling and scribbling words there is no actual reason brought out, it shows that this person is not trust worthy (if said company is what you dreamt of then why in your sane mind would you ever leave).

    PPS: I have also no idea who that dope is and I did not fully read his silly wall of text – only paragraphs

    • Steven Newton

      If you didn’t bother reading the post in it’s entirety then you have no right to call it babbling, it’s like reading a paragraph off a page of a random book and saying the book makes no sense. As for why it was posted to Reddit it’s because the forums don’t care, they are there specifically for the game and not the dev team’s personal news. It would be inappropriate for Colin to use the game’s forums for his farewell message because he’s no longer part of GW2 and as such his departure is irrelevant, he used a proper medium to convey his message. GW2’s forums are for the players, game news, updates, and related posts even if it is a mired swamp, the Subreddit on the other hand is not as strict and covers a much wider scope of GW2 including the devs.

      As for who that ‘dope’ is he’s the guy that lead GW1 on many many great adventures that really made the game as successful as it is, he also lead GW2. Of course you would know that if you bothered to read instead of just blindly complaining, further the devs make very few threads or announcements on Reddit.

      You’d know all of this if you weren’t so stupid.

      • DasChief

        Hear hear!

  • Sho

    Meh, unfortunately the game is dead anyways, shame really. Now they are just leaving the sinking ship, not surprising.

    • :3

      Dead?? Every map has players so much that we need overflow servers lol. We have to use the lfg to get to the right one

    • kroenen979

      There are very few MMOs that are as alive or more so as GW2 is right now. So I have no idea what game it is your logging into and mistaking for GUILD WARS 2.

  • Ardenwolfe

    Can’t say I’m surprised he’s gone given how “well” Heart of Thorns went. Let’s just leave it at that. Ahem. Mark Jacobs,

  • Some people are being so negative… Colin meant a lot to ArenaNet and to the real GW2 community and it goes both ways. Anyone who says otherwise and cannot understand the genuine feelings he wrote in those paragraphs needs a reality check. He had passion, and if 11 years at ArenaNet is not proof enough, look at that million mile smile on his face we all know and love.

  • shodannet

    Man some people here are bitter :/

    • Weebair


  • Archi

    has he announced if he’s taking a job with a different gaming company?

  • Nick Peterson

    I really like potatoes

  • William

    Colin and others leave ArenaNet, everyone is convinced the ship is going down
    Guild Wars 2 then proceeds to get the best content it has ever had again and again.
    How curious.

    • FiachSidhe

      Also the most exploitative monetization. Seriously though, one down one to go. Mike O’Brien needs to be shown the door as well.

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