Now, balance changes are nice and all, and the new LS is a step up from the last (not that that really represents a high bar to clear) but at the moment it really feels like ArenaNet has no vision for actually further developing the game - just to keep it ticking over. Meanwhile, it's been haemorrhaging respected names from the staff. One of my guildmates was looking to the 'fresh start' title with some hope (or at least, a kind of suspension of pessimism?) and having been caught low gem-wise for the sale, I was considering putting some money in if the right sales came up and ArenaNet showed some sign of having found a direction. Instead, we get a revised levelling system. Well, that's nice and all, but... As Phineas says, it really doesn't do anything to address GW2's structural problems. I'm all for supporting companies that deliver the proverbial goods, but it's increasingly feeling like NCSoft nowadays is just looking for a quick buck at the expense of long-term sustainability, and I just don't feel like I can justify putting money on a game that's increasingly feeling abandoned by both players and, a few band-aid measures aside, the company.
Seriously, GW1 made it to nearly the release of GW2 without developing this feeling of staleless and abandonment, despite ArenaNet being explicitly focused on something else for much of that time. GW2 only just hit its second anniversary. It should NOT be feeling less fresh and supported than a five-year old game that was explicitly just marking time until the release of the sequel managed to.
As someone who never spent any attention on the state of any large or notable guilds and was never a part of one, I can't say I ever felt like a collapse was in motion, but maybe the bargainers and white knights on the official forums were what really gave me that impression.
I don't feel like ANet has ever had long term plans for GW2, and I don't know whose fault that is - theirs, or NCsoft's. I have no tangible evidence to pin blame on NCsoft, but it seems possible to me that they could be managing ANet in such a way that ANet can't make any long term plans, because NCsoft can just jump in and say "do this, this, and this, or else". It's possible that ANet is otherwise just so terrible on the whole that they themselves don't know where they want to take their game a year to a half down the line, but that seems a little too ridiculous for even me. Blame aside, the lack of commitment to a plan or principles is devastating. Whenever questions are asked about what ANet is working on, they don't want to talk about it because it could change. Whenever they're asked about whether they'll work on something, they might say it could be important, but always that they don't know. Decisions on issues the community brings up don't seem like they're answered with a consistent design philosophy, but rather whatever ANet feels works best for them at the time. Not only does ANet not have any sort of roadmap that they want to talk about for where they're taking the game, but nobody has any idea what that roadmap could be because the way ANet chooses what to work on and how they would change it is totally arbitrary to any outsider. This is why that forum post from Mike about wanting to communicate more with the playerbase was a total joke. Players can't communicate with ANet when all they get in response is "we don't know anything about anything" and "this is how we feel right now, but don't hold us to that after five minutes".
Getting into GW2 for me when it first came out was an investment. When the time arrived for GW2 to go on pre-sale back in April of 2012, I looked back at the time I had spent in GW and all the things I'd done and the fun I'd had, and I thought about how much entertainment I was setting myself up for for the money I was about to put into it, and I immediately went all-in (so far as a standard box can be considered "all-in"). The betas and stress tests were incredible fun. The first time I got to play, combined with the thought of how much more of the game there was to go through, left me with such an incredible high that I could feel a withdrawl in the days after the beta ended. In the first two months past release, I bought gems, I used the store, I used the gem exchange, and I genuinely believed that a lot of great things were to be coming and times were to be had in the coming years. It all came to a gigantic ♥♥♥♥ing full stop in November of that same year. The images I had about those things to come and what I could expect out of ANet, in their own words, dropped like a norn fart in a moot. Since then, I've had no idea who ANet is catering to or selling to, and they've done nothing to create an image to seem like they're looking to appeal to any base in particular. It was the moment I stopped spending any kind of money or serious time on the game. At that time, I couldn't justify ever spending anything more on this franchise, and ANet has certainly done nothing to make me regret that decision.
Much of what was made for GW was made before the end of 2007. The announcement of GW2 first came with a projected release date in 2008. Players were happy enough to play their new expansion and everything else they had until that time, but of course it was pushed back, and pushed back, to the point where nobody knew when it was going to be released, except that it was "soon enough that I can continue having fun in GW while I wait". Much of why GW still had life in it past 2008 was for all the people grinding their titles and filling their HoM in anticipation of GW2. The patches and bits of news kept many of us strung along until more tangible GW2 information would come out, or until we could eventually play the game, and there would be stuff to grind for in GW in the meantime. GW likely couldn't have survived so well past 2007 if it got the same kind of treatment from ANet with no intention or announcement for a sequel. GW2, by comparison, has no defined future and hardly has any kind of present.
The timeline from the release of Prophecies to the release of EotN was only four months past two years. The announcement of a sequel didn't even take two years. One only needs compare GW2 to the growth of its predecessor in equal time to understand how it can feel so dead in relation.