History of ArenaNet
ArenaNet was founded by 3 Ex-Blizzard Employees (Mike O'Brien, Patrick Wyatt and Jeff Strain) in the spring of 2000, the goal for ArenaNet was to create a state-of-the-art interactive game network capable of powering their upcoming Online Multiplayer Game(s), In addition to the development of the ArenaNet network one of the goals for ArenaNet founders was to create Subscription-free business models, instanced missions and streaming updates which would eliminate the need for patching. In addition to that ArenaNet wanted to create game's that would allow players to play with anyone they wanted, anytime they wanted, anywhere they wanted and that's exactly what they've done with Guild Wars.
ArenaNet has grown to 163 employees in just nine short years, there is a lot of diversity amongst employees too, staff members are from different countries and cultures and a number of the ArenaNet employee's speak different languages. In addition to the obvious need to have Experience and skill in game development ArenaNet promotes the common bond of a love for games, they feel that if a developer doesn't love the game they're working on they won't understand the need of the Gaming Community. Because of this ArenaNet employees are open and interact with their game communities very often, they also openly respond to feedback on a regular basis through Forums, In-Game, Wikis, and Email.
On September 10th, 2008 NCSoft announced that all of their North American and European development studios (Including ArenaNet) would be merged and managed by a new NCSoft division called NC West which is headquartered in Seattle, Washington. This allowed ArenaNet to have more control over the development and continuing improvement of their game Guild Wars as they would no longer need to report directly to NCSoft Korea. Additionally with the merged three of ArenaNet's executives are leaving ArenaNet to assume positions within NCWest: Chris Chung will be NCWest's CEO, Jeff Strain (one of the original founders of ArenaNet) will become NCWest's President and finally Patrick Wyatt (another ArenaNet founder) will become the CTO of NCWest. The third founder Mike O'Brien will stay with ArenaNet and will be responsible for guiding the development of Guild Wars 2, with his friends and co-founders being the head of NCWest (which ArenaNet directly communicates changes with) he has been given more freedom with Guild Wars 2 allowing ArenaNet to develop Guild Wars 2 how they envision it.
On April 27th 2010 ArenaNet launched their official blog to provide the fans with information about their games and to also provide such things as interviews, news, concept art and videos. The blog can be found here.
Current / Past Development
Guild Wars: Prophecies
ArenaNet's first game was titled Guild Wars: Prophecies (or just Guild Wars), the game was released in April, 2005 as an attempt to merge the Action RPG and RPG genres into a single genre, in their attempt to do this Prophecies was born which features it's Random Matches, Teams, Tournaments and Guild Battles for Player versus Player. But in addition to PvP, Prophecies offered Player versus Environment (PvE) which featured Missions, Quests and large explorable areas, due to the game not following the conventional MMO / MMORPG model ArenaNet called this new type of game a "CORPG" or Competitive Online Role-Playing Game. Goals for ArenaNet's first game were to minimize the amount of repetitive actions a player needs to do to become a respectable level and force in Prophecies by reducing grinding. In addition to the removal of grinding they also wanted to reduce the need for a players dependency on in-game items so rather then grinding for the most powerful items players could concentrate on PvP. This is what makes Guild Wars different and what attracted a lot of Prophecies initial player base, to this day this is what ArenaNet promotes for Guild Wars.
Guild Wars: Factions
Factions was the first sequel to Guild Wars: Prophecies, with the release of Factions a new world known as Cantha was added to the Guild Wars universe, Cantha featured a full length story and accompanying PvE missions. Additionally Factions introduced two new professions to Guild Wars, the Assassin and Ritualist, with these new classes a new features was also implemented, titles which measure the advancement and developing of a character first made an appeared in Factions. Besides the PvE additions PvP was also a strong selling point, Factions introduced two different factions known as Kurzick and Luxon, these two factions are mortal enemies and because of this new Player versus Player modes were introduced, Alliance Battles put 3 teams of 4 together on either side and let the Luxons and Kurzicks fight to 500 points by capturing NPC guarded shrines and killing enemy players. Factions is a stand-alone campaign, this means that you don't need a previous version of Guild Wars to play the game, however it's recommended you purchase prophecies as these two campaigns compliment each other.
Guild Wars: Nightfall
Nightfall is the third chapter in the epic saga that is Guild Wars, it was released on October 27th, 2006. As with factions you did not need a previous Guild Wars title to play Nightfall but it was again recommended that you purchase all three games so you could experience the full Guild Wars adventure. New additions provided by Nightfall included another new continent known as Elona. Elona features more deserts and wasteland type environments then the previous campaigns, in addition to the new environments two new professions were also introduced, the Paragon and The Dervish. Player versus Player received a new mode in Nightfall but the main selling point for Nightfall was it's Player versus Environment additions and the advancement of the Guild Wars story. Heroes were also unveiled in Nightfall, a hero is basically a henchman or NPC that can have it's skills and attributes setup by characters, this was a new feature for the Guild Wars games and provided a way for players to complete the PvE Campaigns by themselves.
Guild Wars: Eye of The North
Eye of The North (EoTN for short) was the first true expansion pack for the Guild Wars series, it required a previous Guild Wars campaign to be owned by the player in order too enjoy the new features that had been introduced in Eye of The North. EoTN was released on August 31, 2007 it added a bridge from Guild Wars to Guild Wars 2 through it's Hall of Monuments addition which introduced a place where players could store their ingame achievements and particularly rare items which would unlock unknown features in Guild Wars 2. Eye of The North also introduced two new races to the Guild Wars franchise, these races were known as the Asura and the Norn, they will both be playable in Guild Wars 2.
Guild Wars 2
The true sequel to all of the original Guild Wars games and expansions was announced in March 2007, it's story would continue the Original Guild Wars story but it would also take place hundreds of years after the events of the original games. In addition to the new story Guild Wars 2 is expected to contain several new features, A Persistent World (this is opposite of Guild Wars instanced world), an altered NPC system and finally an updated graphical engine. The game will have five playable races, with eight professions and completely new combat system that aims to root out the grind generally seen in MMOs. Guild Wars 2 was released on August 28th, 2012.