I have an admission to make about Archeage. One that pains me to say but after a lot of thought is something I can’t ignore. Archeage is Pay to Win. Now I don’t mean that in some kind of esoteric “Every FtP game is Pay to Win” kind of way but that Archeage falls trap to the issue of buying power that gives a distinct advantage over others.
Free to play has always been this weird ground to tread in regards to pay to win concerns. Cosmetics is pretty much agreed up on but there are so many more parts that create concern. Boost consumables and such let you level faster than the general crowd and other items, items even earned in game still cause concerns. Archeage goes further than this though and crosses that line from usual cash shop idiocy to that which can, and does have profound effects on the game world.
The main issue is the ability to buy gold, in game gold directly through the client by selling apex or other bought items. Now we are seeing this sort of thing a lot lately but there is two distinct factors that make it different. First, in other games the best gear will be coming from raiding and so having extra gold is more the first or so steps in gearing up… if at all. This is the case with Wildstar and SWTOR, and even GW2 as getting ascended requires a different process. Items gained from Dungeons and raiding are nearly always Bind on Pickup as well, so resale doesn’t happen.
Even for games like Eve where you can jump in with enough real world money to buy the better ships and fittings it doesn’t mean you’l be able to use them, or use them effectively. The real time experience and skill system curbs that concern. For Archeage you can find a lot of the powerful end game equipment on the Auction house, and it is equippable once you hit cap. There are no prerequisites to equipping and earning it as it’s all crafted, and crafted gear has no restrictions.
Some of these items have a huge effect on power too. with the stronger Weapons I’ve seen able to one shot decently geared players. For armor you can expect it to take a while to kill them, if you even could. That is one on one and with a group they’ll go down down but, sometimes it feels like a few of the bigger guilds or even elite smaller groups have been funneling a bit of money into this.
You could also put the real world money into the whole crafting process instead of outright buying. This gives the bonus of being able to craft more items for guildies or to sell. Materials are expensive and buying them can help. Then there is the labour system and I know quite a few people that are constantly buying labor pots on multiple characters in order to level up their crafts quicker and to craft more. Crafting this much also helps in levelling alternative classes which gives an advantage as well.
Then there is also store items like the regrade charms that let you change armor and weapons to be a higher grade, this increases power and defence. This is a big step in the whole gearing up process too, a usually expensive and rng filled process. Oh, and then there’s the subscription giving a huge advantage as well over the free players but that seemed to be an expected part.
If this was a dungeon running style of game it wouldn’t matter too much. The only win state is personally set but here you’re constantly fighting over land and territory and in so doing gain an advantage over others. Being able to control Freedich Island is a big advantage for those that can, as is Hasla when trying to gear people up. And then there is a large ocean to profit from as well, those with the better gear obviously having an easier time. When Auroria opens I’m wondering what greater advantage those will get who can own and keep castles there.
Now, I know saying this that after a while of play people will be able to level up and obtain the same kind of gear as those that did it quickly but, the time frame on that is far far longer. It seems like with good RNG you might be able to craft or get enough gold to get a single piece of gear, maybe an item and that’s if the RNG god decide to spare you that week. For the general player base I see this being far longer. Months before they get reasonably geared.
While I’ve bitched about pay to win before, and a few feelings I’ve experienced of that. And even how my feelings for an mmo can be tempered when it involves cosmetic things this is the first time I’ve been involved with a game that is Pay to Win. Inarguably Pay to win. You spend money and you gain power and progression in a variety of ways… pay to win. You get an advantage over others in an open world environment… pay to win. Paying to win lets you continue to win too… PAY TO WIN PEOPLES…
but ehhh… i’m ok with it for now