It kinda does'nt matter if this is true or not, it's the perception that has and will do the damage. It's kinda a shame this has'nt been explored more in all the articles, blogs and posts. When a customer loses faith in what a company says, then they are (even though it can take a while) less likely to buy anything from said company again.
If this was pre-planned and its a transition phase as some have said, then IMHO it was handeled catastrophically badly by Arenanet. The best way to have done this, had this been planned months and months ago would have been to back in September, issue a blog saying 'Wow looks what's coming up and outlining the future of the game for the next 6-9 months" Mention the new tier, saying something like we did'nt have time to put this in but don't worry...
Then have the CM team on red alert, answering questions in a concise detailed way and so get the community used to the idea. Also being so close the launch the accusation of breaking promises would be less potent.
The way this was handled is imho a lesson in how NOT to release sensitive news to a fanactical customer base. For sure the community can be viewed as being too crazy, but Arenanet must also share that blame for not handling them in the right way.
Another point which was made on another forum was that perhaps Anet needed to do this, to ensure the health of the game. Now, this reason I can maybe, kinda and wind in the right direction buy however...
If you (say a games company) need to recover from disapointing release or not having as retained customers as you want there are a whole load of things you can do first. Such as giving a roadmap of where the game is going, new bosses to kill with new shiny items, boost the rewards in down levelled zones, introduce a daily quest to give extra karma for doing personal stories with someone etc etc. Basically you try other stuff first.
You also need to look at how similar moves in other games have worked out. The radical turn in direction of SW galaxies NGE, Radiance gear in LOTR, the proven negative effect of 'content locusts' and of power creep has on a game. If they have worked, great do it. If not then avoid at all costs.
The very last, desperate measure when it's all financially about to hit the fan is to bet the company on a U-turn in direction, making your previously unique product a 'me too' and p*ing off your established customer and fan base in the hope your new ones make up for any loss of income from the old narked off ones.
A move which in my experience (not going to say what my RL work is, but I know about this stuff ) seldom works. It's all very puzzling and makes me wonder the intenal state of Anet. It all seems very reactionary and in a state of panic on Arenanet's behalf
This just sums it all up. I'm trying to be objective as possible with this game and Arenanet, but this post accurately describes what ANet has done with this game since the beta started rolling out. They have consistently kept their customers in the dark about pretty much everything.
This has be one of the worst companies at managing communities and/or playerbase. We all remember the massive anxiety that persisted throughout the beta testing period. They did virtually nothing to assuage the fears and woes of their players. And now when they do makes some sort of announcement for the game, it gets retracted and then pisses players off even more, See "Ranger" thread just to get a glimpse of that.
I just dont understand why they can't hire some people just to manage their community better. Being a part of an MMO game, you should be spot on with how you handle your community and they've bungled it far too many times for me to forgive them. They're worthless and until they can stabilize themselves and figure out what they're doing, it will continually seem to be like the company and game is in a constant flux of playing catch up. Which would be partially acceptable given that this catch up was to things people have been asking for but PvP is still in a shit state and with no word from the company, other than a dev spouting bullshit like "risk factors", it just looks dismal. They've lost a player from me sadly. I love the engine but they're ruining the game. I've never seen a game progressively get worse from beta to finished product. BWE1 was amazing and then it just little by little got worse.