Guild Wars 2 has a free-to-play (f2p) option. This causes many people to wonder, is Guild Wars 2 pay-to-win (p2w)?
The short answer is: No!
Are there ways you can give Guild Wars 2 money? Absolutely. First and foremost, as a free-to-play GW2 player, ArenaNet hopes that you will be motivated to buy an expansion pack to unlock more content, gliding, mounts, new maps, new meta events, and more.
What Is “Pay to Win”?
First, let’s talk about definitions. A “pay to win” game is one in which you have to pay actual money in order to advance to the endgame. For example, a game might require you to buy a particular weapon with actual real-world money in order to unlock the max character level.
Another definition of a “pay to win” game is one in which you have a choice of either spending countless hours grinding for a necessary item, or paying money to skip the grind and get the item now. This is a variation you might call “pay to skip the grind.”
Note my use of the word necessary. Is a weapon skin or exclusive mini pet necessary? For the context of this article, the answer is no.
Cosmetics and mini pets don’t help you play the game better, unless the game you’re playing is Fashion Wars 2, which many people say is the true endgame of GW2.
The Gem Store
Guild Wars 2 has an in-game store called the Gem Store. You can convert real-world money into Gems, and use those to buy items and skins. The Gem Store only sells cosmetic and convenience items.
Things like cool weapon skins, instant waypoint unlocks, unlimited harvesting tools, and extra bank tabs can make your game more fun. But they are not required to play the game or max out your character.
So… How Does ArenaNet Make Money?
Guild Wars 2 does not require a subscription, and you can easily play thousands of hours with a free-to-play account. What’s the business model?
Their primary income base comes from players who have purchased the core game and one or more expansion packs. This represents most players at this time.
ArenaNet also makes a considerable amount of money from the Gem Store. All kinds of great items are available through the Gem Store, including home instance nodes, skins, storage expansions, and more.
Many players never buy a single thing from the Gem Store, but some players (sometimes called “whales”) spend a LOT of money there. (Myself included!)
So don’t worry about trying out Guild Wars 2 free-to-play. Yes, there are restrictions on free-to-play accounts. But you will never HAVE to spend money in order to enjoy the game, get to max level 80, and enjoy end-game content.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash