The Daily Grind: Is there any truly not-pay-to-win MMORPG out there?

    
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Pay-to-win has become one of those phrases that has been used and overused so often that everyone’s exhausted of the concept. Where once it started out as something that seemed very simple – if you can pay cash for something obscenely powerful like a ghillie suit in a PvP game, it’s pay-to-win – now people seem to be calling literally everything pay-to-win, including something as basic as subscriptions. And you know who the beneficiary of these ever-moving goalposts and outrage fatigue is? Well, I’ll give you one guess, and it’s definitely not MMORPG players.

So let’s try to tackle this from another angle: Are there any MMOs out there that are unequivocally not pay-to-win? That can’t possibly be attacked? Something we can hold up as a proper baseline?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Estranged

Games need sufficient income or they die.

When a sub or expansion purchase is considered PTW, I guess having a marketable skill through paid education is also such?

I don’t play one MMO that is pay to win.

WoW Classic, SWTOR, SWL…

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AGx-07_162

FFXI

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kjempff

As many others pointed out p2w is subjective. The term covering that 3 letter word is: EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

Meaning, everything that disrupt equal opportunity by purchase differentiation, fall into that broad category of p2w. Each players subjective opinion on whether specific disruptions of equal opportunity is problematic or not, defines their definition of p2w.

I am not sure if there are any left but there must be some smaller ones still embracing equal opportunity. I do know that Everquest used to be completely without shop, same for WOW .. Making only buying expansions a differentiation if you want to be very strict on the meaning of equal opportunity – Otherwise everyone paid the same for the same opportunity, the same game, the same content, on equal grounds through the entire game.

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MassivelyMacD

If shinies are also considered p2w, then is buying a better PC/CPU/Graphics Adapter also p2w? Because then, it is out of control.

Having said that, I am pretty sure that besides B2P Elite:Dangerous is pretty much no p2w, since all that can be bought for Arx are paint jobs, decals, name plates and ornaments for your ships and suits.

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Arktouros

The issue is there’s really nothing you could get globally everyone to agree upon. Like some people thought the Ghillie Suits in BDO were p2w. Other people thought even the 10% xp costumes was p2w. Other people thought the ability to sell costumes was p2w. Like there’s so many different varying levels of what people find acceptable or not you’ll never get anyone to really agree on what the term means.

Instead I’ve come to adopt a broader approach that “p2w” means that the person is unhappy with the monetization model for the game. Specifically they don’t like how much influence money has on either the game as a whole or some specific aspect. So when someone uses “p2w” to describe a game because all the cosmetics come from the cash shop I don’t have to waste my time arguing no one is “winning” in that scenario. Invariably their response is some niche anecdote about how they only plays these games for fashion and so for them it’s winning and this just sidesteps all that nonsense. Ultimately the heart of the matter is they don’t like the business model the game is running so lets just go with that. It’s a complaint about how the company is monetizing their game in some manner.

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Lily Cheng

I like this line of thinking, it is one that you can consider for every consumer and is globally applicable regardless of game or what paying actually gets you.

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AGx-07_162

I don’t even think it’s that. You nail one thing: No one is winning. I mean, what exactly are you winning? If there’s PVP that person might have purchased better gear than you have but chances are there’s people who EARNED better gear than you too. So what’s the difference? One person paid for a shortcut and the complainers don’t like that. Because they too can’t afford to or don’t want to waste the money on those same shortcuts they see it as a negative despite the fact that with or without the existence of those purchasable shortcuts, the complainers game doesn’t change. You’re still going to grind your way up whether someone else pays for convenience or not. So why get upset? I think that the “P2W” gripes boil down to a little bit of envy: They want all those same perks but don’t want to pay or work for them so they get mad at the entire system. Why do I think it’s this? Because if that same person stomped you in PVP or outperformed you in PVE and you had no idea he paid for his gear or experience bonuses to get there faster, you wouldn’t be complaining about monitization at all. So why then does the paid for part matter so much?

For me, I choose to just not care. I don’t want shortcuts. I want to experience the game fully, take my time, and enjoy it. I don’t pay much mind to how others enjoy their game. It’s their right to enjoy it however they want, even if that includes paying for shortcuts. It’s only a problem if there’s some sort of microtransaction-exclusive overpowered item and I don’t see that in any of the games I’ve played.

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Estranged

If all gear isn’t accessible through regular gameplay or a sub, it’s PTW.

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AGx-07_162

Win what? Also, is that purchased gear “better” than what you can get in-game? If not, then who the hell cares. Also, win what? The big numbers game. I hope that the idea of P2W doesn’t bother you because you should just enjoy the game you paid for and let others enjoy the game they lay for, however much they continue to pay, as much as they want and unless it’s PVP it really doesn’t even matter.

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Anstalt

SWG, LotRO, WAR, SW:TOR…..none of them were P2W when they launched and when I was playing them.

These days, I couldn’t tell you, none of the games are worth my time at the moment and part of that is down to monetisation.

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Rndomuser

Every popular MMORPG can be considered “p2w” because every popular MMORPG attracts people who resell accounts and gear (including accounts with best bind-on-pickup gear) on third-party websites which other people pay real life currency for. This is why I don’t really care much for such things anymore and I don’t really mind if developers themselves provide any kind of convenience to players through in-game store, even if it is something like in EVE Online where you can buy PLEX from CCP then sell it in game to other players for in-game currency, at least game developers are getting money instead of third-party websites.

Only thing that is left is developers selling boosts so you can complete any dungeon or raid in game solo, which I would gladly pay for instead of paying some third-party website to play my character to run it through specific dungeon/raid. And to some people who may reply with “tHiS wOuLd dEstRoY thE gAmE” – no, it would not. Go see how many different providers are selling such service for FFXIV on various websites, you can see them advertising this even in game itself (open up the Party Finder in FFXIV and see how many people advertise this service, with their Discord names listed next to that), yet plenty of people still form their own groups to do every instanced content in it and game still has daily login queues on some servers on each data center.

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PanagiotisLial1

To start with its a very tricky topic. A lot depends on the design of gameplay for the “win” definition but also on many other factors. The topic is so misty that a game can actually sell nothing p2w directly on their store, but if the cosmetics(or even subscription time sellable items) can be sold in an Auction House and the players can buy things with the ingame cash they earned from selling their cosmetics, it can be an indirect pay-to-win.

Well as to which game is not, probably Project Gorgon

Turing fail
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Turing fail

No Man’s Sky, if one accepts it as an MMORPG…

Stormsong Minstrel
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Stormsong Minstrel

I think, Istaria. What you get for paying maximum amount – plot ownership, many auction slots. You can also purchase restore deleted toon, change toon name. Absolutely no p2w.