Is Guild Wars 2 “Pay to Win”?

Woman paying cash for a purchase

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

3 Replies to “Is Guild Wars 2 “Pay to Win”?”

  1. This is a looad of crap as a person who has been playing for about 2 years there are so many thing you can only get at the gem store like skins and minis and unless you have been playing for years the only way to have enough gems is to convert gold which is at 200 per time or pay using real money.
    Now do you need these things no but you want the cool looking monts tuff.

    1. It’s true there are many (very cool!) things which you can only purchase through the gem store. However, there are no “mission critical” items you can only buy with money, which is the definition we’re using for “Pay to Win.”

      Unlike some other MMOs who shall remain nameless, where in order to (e.g.) advance to the final max character level, you need to buy a widget from the gem store to unlock final progression.

      (However, if one defines Guild Wars 2’s endgame as Fashion Wars 2, then yes… that particular game is very much P2W. But again, just to emphasize, it’s cosmetic items only.)

  2. There are no items sold in GW2 via Gem Shop or by ArenaNet for use in GW2 that will give you any statistical advantage in PvP or PvE that are unobtainable unless you pay cash. All cash purchases for direct use of items in GW2 are translated to Gems received in GW2. I.E., $25 for 2000 Gems credited to your account via Gem Card purchase wherever GW2 Gem Cards are sold (Walmart, Target, or wherever that happens to be). Gems can also be gained in-game through the exchange of “normal” in-game currency, this being gold, silver, and copper coins obtained through typical mmo play means such as killing creatures and/or completing quests, This response isn’t expected to be extensive or complete and I don’t claim to be an expert on the game, but I have been playing it since it was available for play.

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