Everything is Pay2Win
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 26 June 2013, 1:17 am
A commenter left a very insightful observation on my blog and then deleted it, so I won't name the person or quote him literally. But the point was that people in a Free2Play game only buy virtual items that they consider aiding them in reaching their personal win conditions. If you buy a cosmetic pet or mount, it is because you consider having a shiny pet or mount to be a status symbol, a "win condition". If you don't care about pets and mounts, because your personal win condition is about PvP or killing raid bosses, why would you spend money on one?

But that means that an item shop which isn't Pay2Win is impossible. A game company would have to carefully design it to only fill it with items that absolutely nobody wants. Even if they put in only hats, the hat collectors would complain about Pay2Win. If my personal win condition in League of Legends is having the largest collection of champions, then LoL is a Pay2Win game. If my personal win condition in EVE Online is to be the richest man in Jita, then EVE is a Pay2Win game.

Basically if somebody says "Game X is not Pay2Win", what he means is that the stuff needed for his personal win condition isn't available in the shop. But if we say that everybody can have his own win condition, then the same game X will be totally Pay2Win for somebody else, who just happens to measure his own progress by something else that is available in the item store of that game.

My personal point of view is that I don't recognize non-standard "win conditions" as a "win". That is not to say that I think people shouldn't be free to pursue whatever goal they want in a MMORPG. I just find it somewhat silly to attach a competitive label of "winning" to it, which by definition would somebody else be "losing". You can achieve goals in life (virtual or real) without somebody else losing. And if your personal goal in a MMORPG is to collect 100 mounts, that doesn't make everybody who doesn't have those 100 mounts a loser. If we call every possible goal that can be achieved in a game to be a "win", then every item anybody might want to buy in an item shop is Pay2Win. And that isn't a very useful definition.
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