I finally got my new PC put together and am back at it and checking for Guild Wars 2 news, seemingly every two minutes. One of the first things I saw was Arena Net’s blog about micro-transactions and the cash shop. One of the second things I saw was all the whining and worrying from the GW2 ‘community’ about micro-transactions and the cash shop. I swear I don’t remember MMO fans whining so much and so easily back in the early DAoC days but maybe that is just rose-colored glasses?
Anyway, the whining started immediately and has not ceased since. To further increase whining, yesterday leaked screens of the cash shop hit the internet, thanks to 4Chan. I am not going to post them here but you can find them easily with a google search.
A little background on me, I have always been extremely leery of cash shops. I was burned once, with Allods Online, and I won’t be burned by them again if I can help it. Nothing kills my enthusiasm for a game as much as a cash shop that sells ‘pay to win’ items. I have no problem at all buying items on a cash shop but if there are items on there that make one person more powerful than another because he or she spent more money……..well, consider me out.
Is the Guild Wars 2 cash shop pay to win? Before we can answer that we must sit down a foundation on which to judge it. These are the facts, as I know them:
Fact #1: Gear in GW2 is not equal to gear in WoW, Rift or LotRO. In Rift a character that just hit the level cap had a distinct disadvantage against a character that had been at level cap for a few months and done end-game raids or PvP. This gear discrepancy does not exist in GW2. Most gear is cosmetic, with very little difference in stats, and a fresh 80 will be able to compete against a character that has done all the high level content for the last few months.
Fact #2: Levels and leveling in GW2 is not equal to levels and leveling in WoW, Rift or LotRO. GW2 has a mentor/sidekick feature that will allow low-level players to play higher level content with a high level friend. In PvP low level characters will automatically be boosted to the level cap to compete. In Rift, a level 15 could really only do content designed for his or her level, this is not the case in GW2.
Fact #3: Much of the gear in GW2 is gained through Karma, which is not tradeable. The gear obtained through Karma is also not tradeable.
Fact #4: All items on the cash shop can be bought with gold and not one dollar ever has to be spent in the cash shop.
The Cash Shop Items
So, with that framework in place, let’s look at some of the items on the cash shop. Let’s find out where the whining is coming from.
Experience Boosters: These are pretty self-explanatory. Buy one, use it and you get a x% experience boost for x amount of hours. These existed in Rift as part of their veterans reward. I didn’t mind them in Rift and mind them even less in GW2. Why? See Fact #2.
Karma, Crafting Boosters: Just like the experience booster but boosts Karma gains and crafting gains. The crafting one does not bother me in the slightest. Gives you a chance to score bonus experience when crafting. Negligible. The Karma one does not bother me either. First, see Fact #1. After you see that one, take a look at Fact #3 and #4.
Magic Find Boosters: People seem to be whining a lot about this one. Improves your chance to get a rare magic item when looting. This one would worry me but then I remembered Fact #1. Suddenly I am not really worried about it anymore.
Loot Bag: Oh, no. This one says LOOT….it must be bad. Oh, never mind…..Fact #1. Gives one random item. Could be anything. A fool and his money are soon parted and all that…..
Resurrection Orb: Revives you from the dead once. I didn’t like this one. Then I saw the disclaimer: Does not work in PvP or WvW. Oh, nevermind……
Mystic Key: Unlocks one Mystic Chest. These drop randomly from kills. Okay, I don’t like this one. Not because I think it gives an advantage (see Fact #1 and Fact #4 people!) but because I think I will end up carrying around about 140 of these chests before I get around to opening them.
Instant Repair Kit: Repairs your gear no matter where you are. Here come the conspiracy theorist! “The only reason Arena Net put repair into game is to sell these!’ Maybe but who cares? Fact #4 or go to town and repair, ya lazy git!
Megaphone Broadcast: Broadcasts one message, server wide. Okay, I don’t like this. Not because it gives a competitive advantage but because it has the possibility to be really freakin’ annoying.
The remaining items are all either cosmetic, give extra bank or bag space or have to do with account slots etc.. Again, not worried about cosmetic. Extra bank or bag space is nice but see Fact #4. I do find it cool that because of Fact #4, you can buy character slots, server transfers and maybe even expansion packs with in-game gold instead of actual money. That is pretty cool.
The Bottom Line
Bottom line, coming from a person who hates cash shops, this cash shop is mild. It gives no competitive advantage to anyone. No matter what they spend. I could spend no money at all and destroy a guy who spent $200 in PvP and that is all I can really ask for.
I have spent at least $10 dollars a month for a MMO subscription since 1999, I have no problem spending a bit each month. The glory of this cash shop is that I can still do that if I want to but I don’t have to
and if I don’t, I can still play the game and not be at a disadvantage at all. Sure, someone may get more experience for a kill than I do, or get more Karma or be able to repair instantly but because of the facts above, it doesn’t matter. Who cares how fast I get experience if I can mentor up and play with my friends? Who cares if someone buys a random loot bag if gear is on an equal level? Who cares if someone can repair anywhere if I can go to town and repair or buy the ability to repair anywhere with in game gold?
There is no Pay to Win here, people. It is much ado about nothing.