Comparing GW2’s ‘Buy to Play’ vs ‘Free to Play’ and ‘Subscription’.

I’ve been playing Guild Wars 2 since it came out in August, and I must say it continues to be a lot of fun. My Elementalist is 65, my Thief is 49 and my Ranger is 43. I am only doing PvE so far, but I will eventually try out PvP. The dynamic events just MAKE this game sooo much fun.

But I wanted to discuss Guild Wars 2’s business model. To me, it’s ‘Buy to Play’ model, feels much more like a subscription game than a ‘Free to Play’ game. I’ve actually bought $20 worth of ‘gems’ since the game released. I used those gems to buy 2 extra character slots giving me 7 total. It was a spontaneous decision, and while I don’t regret it, I really didn’t need the 2 new characters it let me start. Because I’m only focused on 3 characters right now. I don’t feel any need to buy anything else right now. Okay, I’ll fess up, I may eventually buy one last character slot, because I’m an ‘alt-aholic’ and there are 8 classes to play(Gotta play’em all!). But otherwise the game plays just like a subscription game where the entire game is available to you and at most you have some extras you can purchase but nothing necessary.

Of the ‘Free to Play’ games I’ve tried, I’ve always found I was better off just paying their subscription if they offer one. LOTRO for example, I’d much rather just pay the subscription than figure out what new thing I need to buy to play ‘normally’ today. When I do go back to LOTRO I usually start my subscription back up too.  I’d probably play LOTRO a LOT more if I had a lifetime subscription(Oh, how Turbine must hate those lifers.) Tribes Ascend, is a free to play FPS, and while I don’t find it’s model as frustrating as LOTRO, it is definitely a more expensive game in the long run than a ‘buy to play’ game would be. They continuously put new skins(don’t care), and weapons (CARE CARE!) into the game. If I continued to play the game, (I’ve basically dropped it), they would be pinging me for 10$ here and 10$ there from now until I finally gave the game up. Being able to slowly gain the ‘xp’ needed to purchase weapons is nice, but I think they know exactly how to tune it, so that the normal player feels the need to drop them some cash, much like a subscription game would.

Overall, the game companies are going to get the money out of you, or they won’t be making games for long. Still, of all the various games I’ve played, I find I prefer the ‘Buy to Play’ model the most, with Subscription and ‘Free to Play’ a distant second and third. ‘Free To Play’ is my number three mostly because I find it is almost as expensive as a subscription (for me anyway) but WAY more frustrating to have to make time to make ANOTHER payment, while subscriptions don’t take any ‘time’ for me to set up.