Sunday, January 27, 2013

Free to Play = Pay to Win ?

A common misconception within the gaming community is that all Free to Play games or any game with microtransactions are immediately considered as Pay to Win. While for those who knows better this might sound like idiocy or ignorance but this is sadly the belief of so many people. But is it totally wrong though? is Pay to Win just an excuse made by those who just suck at the game? let's explore that shall we.

Let's just get to the point, in my opinion Free to Play or games with microtransactions doesn't immediately equal Pay to Win. That is just retarded to assume it's Pay to Win, because there are so many things to consider before you can say a game is Pay to Win or not.

First we must see how the game operates or how important is certain stuff to the game. In games like Planetside or League of Legends, having 2x exp  doesn't make you a much better player than other players. It just makes you level up faster, which in turn lets you unlock stuff faster. Is this Pay to Win? no, because whatever you've unlocked are no better than what everyone else already have. These kinds of game which offers mostly sidegrades are perfect examples of why F2P isn't equal P2W.

Of course having stuff like 2x exp could be Pay to Win in games where leveling really matters. But even then, it's mostly just for bragging rights and when it's not just bragging rights it would be clear that the game itself have some fundamental flaws in it. In this case, you as the player must be able to decide for yourself whether the game is designed good enough to avoid such flaws. What's really sad about this is that most players think that if the other players can level up twice as fast as they can than it's P2W. Is being higher level than other players really than important to you? or is it because level is so important in the game? If it's the latter, then the game might be P2W but if it's the former, you have only yourself to blame.

Most new games which offers microtransaction only offers convenience stuff in their item store such as more character slot, bank slots, inventory and plenty of cosmetic items which the player can use to change how their character looks. Players should be able to tell immediately that these are never Pay to Win. Well, except if you believe that if the other player's character is better looking than you then you lose so maybe it is Pay to Win...or you could just be an idiot for thinking so. Games like The Secret World and Guild Wars 2 fit this perfectly.

Do remember though that there are F2P games that are P2W and I've had my share of them too. Games which clearly offers weapon upgrades for a price or games where you can actually buy a better set of equipment from the store are examples of P2W games. But these games are really so easy to spot, as most of them have really low production value, although of course not all games with low production value is Pay to Win. As I said, you just need to glance at the item store for a bit and you should know instantly whether the game's P2W or not. Learn to differentiate whether they're selling sidegrades or upgrades, this is the key.

Some group of gamers though hates F2P games whether it is P2W or not. They just see it as the same and thinks of microtransactions in a game(usually MMO) just means that the company only cares about getting most money out of the players. This might be true, as of course companies still needs money to operate and their games are usually F2P so their only income would be from microtransactions. You might say, "then just ask for monthly fees and give us everything then!" but what you don't realize is that games could get more players by being F2P. And this is a fact as we can see from the influx of new players for games that changes their payment model from Pay to Play into Free to Play or Freemium. This adds another argument regarding filling the game with bad players and farmers but that's another topic for another day.

So what's the point of this blog post anyways? I'm just trying to say that before you pass on a game just because it's Free to Play or you hate something because it has microtransactions in it do check it out first. Sometimes they only offer convenience and cosmetic items there, which is totally fine. And of course, even those which sells weapons and armor in the item store could NOT be Pay to Win, depending on how the game plays. Is equipment really that important in that particular game? are those equipments are only sidegrades instead of an upgrade? Think about it.


  1. Please make some lists, according to your opinion, the Free to Play games and the Pay to Win games. That will save us alot of time :D

  2. It'll be too much to list out because the list of F2P games nowadays numbers in the hundreds or even thousands. :)

  3. Hey there! :)

    This is a very interesting post, I have to say :) I've stumbled onto a lot of MMO games on and reading about them it seems that a lot of games nowadays focus on "pay to win", but sometimes I think that the term is being misused by players. For example, people keep saying that "MechWarrior Online" is ptw, which makes absolutely no sense. Same with LoL. Sure, you can buy champions faster with money, but that doesn't give you any advantages over other players. I guess that will be a never-ending debate :)

  4. Yes, people nowadays easily stick the tag "Pay to Win" on games that sell stuff. The important thing is to be able to differentiate. Just because the game has a microtransaction shop doesn't necessarily mean it's P2W. Play the game first, look at what they're selling and think whether it actually effect your gameplay or not. If it's just cosmetics or sidegrades, it's most likely not P2W :)