Guild Wars 2 and microtransactions

The MMO Report: Guild Wars 2 Preview Special includes some interesting information about Guild Wars 2 and its “payment model”. As most of you probably know, Guild Wars 2 will be “buy to play” just like Guild Wars 1 is. That means that you buy the box with a key inside which lets you create an account. But there won’t be a monthly fee. It will have microtransactions like Guild Wars 1 did. But so far, they didn’t specify. The only thing I’d read was that it will be similar to Guild Wars 1 and that they’re trying out different things to put in the store.

I might have been too pessimistic but I feared they’d sneak in some items that make you more powerful. Because so far, whenever people asked, the answer was just that they’re “looking into what to put into the store”.

Either way, Colin Johanson (Lead Content Designer for Guild Wars 2) answers this question quite clearly in the MMO Report. You can find the answer starting at 12:50.

Or just read the transcription that I’ve written:

“Guild Wars 1 was buy the box, play it for free forever. Guild Wars 2 will be exactly the same thing. We are never going to charge a monthly fee for Guild Wars 2. If you buy our game, you can play it, that’s it. We believe that if we are doing our job and we are making expansion content that is good enough people will buy it and continue to support our company and if we’re not making stuff that good then they won’t and that’s their choice. We don’ think we should that we should charge them a monthly fee. We think that we should earn our money by making great content that people would want to buy. That’s very important to us. We will have microtransactions just like Guild Wars 1 did. It’s very important to us that our microtransactions are superficial things. Things that don’t make you more powerful than other players. They are things that change the look of the players only or change the fun experiences that you have on the side. They are never things that will make you more powerful than other characters and they are never things that you have to buy to play the game. When you buy Guild Wars 2, you get the whole game. Period. You never need to get a microtransaction to get more of it.”

This sounds great! Even though I wasn’t too happy to hear that in order to change your character’s armour (the look of it, not the stats on it), you’ll most likely have to pay*, I will gladly do so if that means that there’ll never be anything in the shop that will make my character more powerful!

Edit: For the German-speakers, a German translation of what Colin said.

“Guild Wars 1 war “Kauf die Box, spiel das Spiel kostenlos für immer”. Guild Wars 2 wird genauso sein. Wir werden niemals eine monatliche Gebühr verlangen für Guild Wars 2. Wenn ihr das Spiel kauft, könnt ihr es spielen. Wir glauben, wenn wir unsere Arbeit machen und Erweiterungsinhalt machen, der gut genug ist, werden die Spieler ihn kaufen und unsere Firma unterstützen und wenn wir nichts Gutes machen, dann werden sie es nicht kaufen und das ist alleine ihre Entscheidung. Wir glauben nicht, dass wir monatlich Geld verlangen sollten. Wir glauben, dass wir uns das Geld verdienen müssen, indem wir großartigen Inhalt machen, den die Spieler kaufen wollen. Das ist für uns sehr wichtig. Wir werden “Microtransactions” haben so wie es in Guild Wars 1 war. Es ist uns sehr wichtig, dass unsere Microtransactions für oberflächliche Dinge sind. Dinge, die einen nicht mächtiger machen als andere Spieler. Das sind Dinge, die das Aussehen von Spielern (Charakteren) oder “fun experiences” (unterhaltsame Erfahrungen? ^^ Mir fällt hier nichts Gescheites ein), die man nebenbei hat, verändern. Es werden niemals Dinge sein, die einen stärker machen als andere Charaktere und es werden niemals Dinge sein, die man kaufen muss, um das Spiel zu spielen. Wenn ihr Guild Wars 2 kaufen, dann bekommt ihr das ganze Spiel. Punkt. Ihr werdet niemals Microtransactions tätigen müssen, um mehr zu bekommen (“to get more of it” – mehr von was ist hier noch die Frage. ^^ Daher klingt die Übersetzung hier etwas komisch.).

*Edit: “They will be available for purchase through the in-game store and through gameplay through the use of karma”. I remember they said it would be a shop item but apparently, they have changed that in the meantime and will give you a choice of using some in-game currency or real money! :)


  1. It sounds great. But so does my used car salesman, not even to mention some car mechanics who never have a problem till they present the bill and you suddenly have a problem.

    I trust in ArenaNet. But let me invoke the slippery slope. GW1 started without any transaction. Selling char slots was the first MT in Guild Wars and they were not really that micro in price. Like many other upgrades a char slot costs 8,99 EUR, and so does a storage upgrade pane. The Mercenary Pack costs 34,99 EUR.

    The first issue is the thin red line. I just had to quote that movie title. ;) When MTs go too far and offer the dreaded advantages. Some say storage panes already do. Mercenaries offer you more Hero choices than the normally available Heroes. But then people say it’s only PvE and therefore does not affect PvP and doesn’t matter.

    I’m not going to reveal my stance on this as my opinion does not matter, I want to point out that shops often cross that line for one or the other player.

    In my opinion the whole buff items like the “conset” consumables are already violating the spirit of Guild Wars 1. Their equivalents are very likely to become shop items in GW2. I am quite confident that GW2 will have much more shop items and put more focus on the shop than GW1. Especially in times where STO and LOTRO show how you can make quite some cash with a tight shop integration. The shop button appears almost everywhere by now.

    GW2 is supposed to bring cash to NCsoft. Guild Wars was stated by Richard Garriott as a “failure”, a statement he quickly retracted. While GW never rocked in Korea it became a very very popular game in the western world. The statement was aimed at something else IMO: The business model was too much in favor of the player and they probably clamored about having so many players but relatively little cash for so many players. (IMO)

    This is where GW2 enters. A supposedly even better GW or something new. For sure something meant to bring in even more cash.

    Jeff Strain is now working for UndeadLabs, a great loss. The man is a visionary and I firmly believe he was one of the major forces to hold microtransactions in check. I hope there are enough people left at ArenaNet who have enough authority in the matter to keep microtransactions sane.


    1. Yep, mercenaries make PvE easier but not possible. So, I’d still say it’s not “that bad”. But I agree that it’s a very thin red line!

      I think of it this way: They can’t get worse than Star Trek Online. That game has a lot of stuff for customization in their cash shop while also having a monthly fee. So as long as ArenaNet doesn’t get as bad with their game as Cryptic is, I’ll be happy. ;) (Still hoping for STO to go freemium like CO because I wouldn’t mind the cash shop then and will definitely be back in the game then. It’s just not worth my monthly sub seeing how I’m currently enjoying LotRO and Guild Wars without paying anything at all).


  2. There are very few folks who don’t have an opinion on this particular subject, and it’s usually so devisive that it falls into the same camp as “politics” and “religion”… ie; best not discussed in polite company.

    Suffice it to say, I have not been in favor of MTs (of any type) in the past (actually, fervently opposed to them would be more accurate without getting too emotional) and have enjoyed several subscription based games including (but not limited to) EQ, Vangaurd, and WOW. I’ve done the math, and I actually get a much, much better deal when I’m able to find a sub-based MMO that I really enjoy and can spend as much time as I’d like with. Compared to the amount of money I would generally spend on games prior to participating in such MMOs I’m actually saving quite a bit, and getting far more hours of gaming entertainment out of them.

    My greatest point of opposition to MTs is actually not the ‘nickle n diming’ argument (although that runs a very close second) but rather the ‘pay to win’ game imbalancing issues I see inevitably arrise due to the greed of the DEVs.

    I have been assured (by people I trust implicitely) that ArenaNet have avoided selling ‘pay to win’ items in their cash shops (although recently they have definitely stepped into a gray area at least in my opinion…) and so long as that remains the case in GW2 I’m willing to overlook my normal prejudice vs MTs and give ANet the benefit of the doubt. (Due in large part to the not inconsiderable fact that they are literally inside my head and making exactly the MMO I’ve been wanting for several years now…)

    My only hope is that ANet studiously avoids anything even remotely resembling ‘pay to win’ items in their GW2 cash shop. I will buy cosmetic items from them on a regular basis (even though I couldn’t possible care less about that sort of thing) so that I can feel like I’m doing my part to help support the company but, the moment I see anything p2w in their shop that will end my participation in GW2, as well as any interest in future projects of theirs.

    These most recent comments by Colin Johanson on the MMO Report are reassuring to me, and players like me, and I simply hope they stay true to their word on this subject. Everything else I’ve heard about GW2 has been universally positive and exciting.


    1. I’ve made a posting here about how Turbine is stepping into the grey area with adding relics to the cash shop that you can’t get in the game (think of the ‘best weapon enchantment for tanks’ in WoW terms). Actually, that area isn’t even grey anymore if you ask me, it’s black. A little black spot maybe, but black. ;)

      So, I still remain cautious but seeing how they haven’t added any weapons, potions etc. in their shop for Guild Wars 1, I hope they’ll know what to do with GW2. Unfortunately, I really love cosmetic items, so I fear it’ll be hard for me to stay away from buying stuff like that. On the other hand, I have never bought anything from WoW’s cash shop (well, except for server transfers) and haven’t bought any of the 20 Euros mounts in LotRO’s cash shop (which are even worse than in WoW because there, only one character gets it when you buy it -.-).

      The thing I love about the none pay-to-win cash shops is that I can decide what I want and when I want to buy it. I am a casual player which means that sometimes, I don’t get into the game for 2 or 3 weeks. Paying for a monthly sub doesn’t give me that great a deal then. But not paying for a sub and deciding not to buy anything in the shop for a month but still playing on a few evenings is a better deal for me. But I can see that not everybody plays like me and there are also those types of players who want to collect everything in a game and that would be very expensive then! ;)


  3. “Even though I wasn’t too happy to hear that in order to change your character’s armour (the look of it, not the stats on it), you’ll most likely have to pay”

    Is this fact? If so, it may be just enough that it will keep me from buying this game at all. That is totally unacceptable.

    What is it with all these corrupt companies anymore. Turbine has become one of the biggest for sticking it to their customers. So I was looking forward to getting Guild Wars 2, until I read what I quoted there.



      They changed it (maybe because we complained, maybe because they had wanted to change it either way, I don’t remember). You can earn karma in game and that’s what you use to buy transmutation stones which are used to put stats from one item onto the item that you want for its looks. So no, what I wrote isn’t 100% correct anymore (I didn’t know that when I wrote this entry). You will also be able to buy them with real money but you don’t need to.

      There’ll also be town clothing but we don’t know yet how exactly that’ll work (see: But that’s a second variant of “cosmetic items”. So that plus the 400 dyes let’s me hope that we’ll have lots of fun with our character who look the way we want. ;)


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