As you may know, you will have to pay in order to get a copy of Guild Wars 2 (as with any other game) but after that you can play online for as long as you want, completely for free. So while not completely free-to-play it doesn’t follow the subscription-based financial model (collective sigh of relief from all MMGamers whose time is money and who desperately want the game). There will however be a number of microtransactions within the game.
All of this we knew already, but in the article published a few days ago O’Brien finally gave some details about the microtransactions themselves.
In the upcoming closed beta this month they plan to test out the various forms of currency and transactions in game of which there are three:
Gold is the standard MMORPG gold. It’s the in-game currency. You use it with vendors, get it from quests, find it inside the guts of a gigantic squid (with no possible way of it having to there), all that jazz. Nothing too special there, a solid system which has been used time and time again. It’s tradeable between characters and accounts and is used to buy all the various little bits and pieces you need for your character.
Gems is the “real-world” currency. Like Microsoft points or Riot Points, you pay money in order to supply your character (or account) with gems and then you can use them to buy a number of different in-game items and special things.
Karma, the least explained of the three currencies, is also earned in game. It, however, cannot be traded. It’s used for purchasing unique and special rewards. I imagine that it might be similar to the achievement system in World of Warcraft, where doing Feats of Strength or certain achievements nets you neat little titles or special mounts or whatever. But, as I said, of the three mentioned in the article, Karma had a very small mention so not much is known as of yet.
Now for some more interesting stuff!
Not only can you buy gems with real-world money but you can also trade gold for gems (I imagine at special NPCs), or vice versa get gold for gems. While this may not seem all that important to some of you it actually seems to be a pretty smart idea as it actually removes an awful lot of power from the gold-farmers and sellers of games like WoW and puts that power right into the hands of the player and ArenaNet.
This is because now, instead of having to find some shady Asian gold-farmer to buy gold people can buy gold right from ArenaNet. In fact they will even be able to buy Gold from each other, so those of you who have a talent for getting gold in games you will actually be able to make LEGIT money off this as people give you gems for your gold (although I’m not entirely sure whether you can trade gems back into real-world money). While it may not work perfectly (I imagine the criminals will find a way somehow) it’s certainly a rather intelligent idea and one which I approve of completely.
But here’s something that is really interesting, and the most important part of the whole article. O’Brien says, pretty much at the start:
We think players should have the opportunity to spend money on items that provide visual distinction and offer more ways to express themselves. They should also be able to spend money on account services and on time-saving convenience items. But it’s never OK for players to buy a game and not be able to enjoy what they paid for without additional purchases, and it’s never OK for players who spend money to have an unfair advantage over players who spend time.
Essentially, while you can use money to buy in-game gems and then use those gems to get some sweet, sweet gear. The stuff you will be able to buy won’t give you any sort of advantage over those who can’t afford to get the gems (or don’t want to spend the money).
Again, my mind likes to draw analogies to World of Warcraft and League of Legends. You will essentially be able to get that super-awesome flying mount that looks like a dragon that’s on fire. And you’ll be able to get an upgrade for your clothes to make you look like YOU are on fire. But it won’t have any measurable effect on the game, you won’t fly any faster than the average run-of-the-mill flying mount and the fire clothing won’t give you any damage buff or extra ability.
AND remember that if you have enough in-game gold you will be able to get those things anyway!
Now, it should be mentioned here, that while the details behind the system have been described what you can actually buy with the various forms of currency haven’t had any mention (so yeah you won’t ACTUALLY be able to get a flaming dragon mount or a flaming clothes… it was just an example).
That said it has the makings of an excellent system, the thing about it that strikes me most of all is just how absolutely FAIR it sounds. If you can afford the game in the first place ArenaNet seem dedicated to make sure you enjoy it as much as the guy who can afford to spend real world money to buy in game items. I don’t know about you but this whole thing just makes me even more excited about the whole game!
Also, if you are interested in reading more (although I’ve tried to not leave anything out) you can find and read O’Brien’s article here.