That’s the money quote from this article from the Guild Wars 2 devs:
Why should we debuff you, take away experience, or make you run around for five minutes as a ghost instead of letting you actually play the game? We couldn’t think of a reason. Well, we did actually think of a reason–it just wasn’t a good one. Death penalties make death in-game a more tense experience. It just isn’t fun. We want to get you back into the action (fun) as quickly as possible. Defeat is the penalty; we don’t have to penalize you a second time.
Yes, this won’t sit well with everyone. Neither will the lack of a dedicated healer class. Or the intentional departure from the holy combat trinity. But hey, characters can jump this time.
Here are a couple of pages where the ArenaNet guys dig a little more into the issues:
As Shamus says, these guys are “walk(ing) off the edge of the map” in the MMO design space. They are going into “here there be dragons” territory.
I’m looking forward to the journey.
Bonus reading: Klepsacovic’s excellent article about death and wanting to die. It’s not quite the same thing, but it seems to me that the sentiment is similar; make the game fun to play, rather than having annoying time sinks around the weird sorts of “death” we get in MMOs.
Edited to add: Also, Rohan’s article on Death Penalties… in the which one commenter fusses about being nigh-invincible in Heirloom gear. The solution requested? Epic zones while leveling.
…as if you couldn’t just go somewhere of a higher level, or take off the friggin’ heirloom gear. Who is it again that is asking for the world on a golden platter? It’s almost always very easy to make a game harder on yourself, if that’s what you really want.