Well, I couldn’t let this one go by without comment.
All right, we’ve all read it. We’ve seen the forum outrage (and encouragingly enough, some reasoned discussion about it in places like Reddit). Mike O’Brien cites EVE’s PLEX system as the most apt comparison to GW2′s gems, though I haven’t any experience with that system, so I will let more informed observers comment on that. Hunter notes the similarities to Runes of Magic’s Diamond currency, and raises what I think are valid concerns on that front.
I have a rather strong aversion to heavily speculating on things I don’t have much information on, so I can’t pretend to know how this will turn out when real players with real cash are let loose in GW2 at launch. I do strongly feel that the people who are most upset are forgetting a few things:
- it’s impossible to buy power for the purposes of structured PvP
- buying one’s way to max gear or even max level won’t be the I Win button it is in some other games due to level-scaling and the fact that the max-level continent of Orr is full of elite dynamic events that can’t be soloed.
- further on the buying gear front, the most elite sets will still be those that are acquired in explorable-mode dungeons and not those purchased with either gold or karma. I would be surprised unto the point of hat-eating if you could trade explorable mode dungeon tokens or armor sets for gold.
- even those items, such as siege weapon blueprints, which can be purchased with gold in WvWvW, require supply to build, which requires playing the game as intended. The worst thing that could happen is that a guild spends a ton of money to hold a keep for a little longer for one campaign after which two things will happen:
- The rest of the servers will catch up in leveling to 80
- The WvWvW campaign will end and they’ll be re-matched and lose their advantage
The other aspect that people are upset about is the idea that some will be able to buy their way past significant time investments. There are two parts to this:
- The first is the stance that ANet will tune the game so that leveling without XP boosts will be tedious. I know the game is still in beta, so this is subject to change, but I think simply watching the videos that came out from the last press beta should put that worry to rest for the time being. Since the leveling curve plateaus, I don’t think it can reasonably be argued that we’ll hit a “grind wall” at this point.
- The second part is that people fear that certain time-or-monetarily-gained rewards will lose their impact if players can buy the gold with gems. While I understand the sentiment behind this argument, I also think that ArenaNet never gave me the impression that this was a particular feature they were supporting. The emphasis on armor sets won in explorable-mode dungeons, for example, as a source of prestige, rather than extremely expensive armor sets, seems clear in retrospect. I think it’s safe to say that while there would be high respect given to a FOW equivalent type of armor in GW2, there won’t be as much value placed on the equivalent to Vabbian armor, which only involved a high monetary (and thus time, rather than skill) investment.
(Bear with me, as I know you can “buy” runs to the FOW to pick up your armor set, but buying runs as they were in GW1 seems to be done with in GW2, so I doubt the same would be possible there.)
For my part, I do intend to use the cash shop, but I don’t see myself buying items of convenience. Give me shiny costumes, minipets, character slots and the like and I’ll show ArenaNet the money. And hey, if I happen to earn enough gold over time to get some of those shinies for the mere investment of my time, I’ll do that, too. It’s not like I need that XP bonus to play a 2×2 PvP match with my husband and a couple of friends, to vanquish the Shatterer, safely escort a caravan full of supply for the glory of my guild, or to put an end to Zhaitan’s reign of terror.
Could any of this change? Could ArenaNet really change the XP curve to make it tedious and grindy to level without the assistance of XP buffs and boosts? Could they sell armor and weapons through the cash shop that gives stats above and beyond what is ordinarily obtainable or affordable in-game? It all comes down to whether or not you believe Mike O’Brien:
it’s never OK for players to buy a game and not be able to enjoy what they paid for without additional purchases, and it’s never OK for players who spend money to have an unfair advantage over players who spend time.