I’m going to try to explain why all the arguments I’ve heard against this don’t make sense, but for those of you who just want a quick thesis here it is: As every activity that players engage in to improve their advantage in future PvP fights can be outright skipped by paying real money, both Albion Online and Eve should be considered Pay to Win.
It’s no secret that in both these “sandbox PvP MMOs”, people can pay for other people’s subscriptions in return for large sums of in-game currency. This currency is used for everything and in these “full loot” games more than any other, essentially every single item can be bought on the market. This allows people who pay to gain a significant advantage over people who do not, hence, Pay to Win.
One argument against this is that when people PvP with expensive items that they paid money for, then the people who they are fighting against get the items if they lose.
What people don’t realize is that most of those items are so expensive that the person who “won” them will rarely actually use them, as they need money way more than the expensive item. They instead just sell them on the market… and who buys them? Well, a variety of people, but largely the whales who they just won them from. I’ve had many times where the item I won was immediately rebought by the person I won it from.
As this boils down, the end result is that the person funneling money into the game is repeatedly going to be fighting with gear that provides a large advantage over the person who doesn’t pay money. Sure, a skilled player can overcome that advantage, but the term “pay to win” never actually described someone paying enough money to actually click a “win now” button, it always meant a significant advantage. The gear differences in these games give a significant advantage, which is arguably the entire point of the game.
Another argument against these games being Pay to Win is that there are non-gear advantage mechanics, such as in-game “skills” or “fame” in Albion. These used to provide an advantage solely to people who had grinded many hours of content to unlock additional skills and stats. However, both games now have a way that these permanent advantages can be unlocked not through time or grinding, but through purchasing them on the market. This, to me, is the more concerning Pay to Win method, as many people that I know dumped a ton of money to just max out skill trees that would otherwise take hours and hours of straight grinding. The advantage they get from doing this never goes away and is never redistributed.
If you’re still unconvinced, just look at what everyone spends their time doing when they aren’t PvPing. They are out in the world grinding for either money or fame (in Albion’s case). People gather, craft, farm, and play the auction house to make money. They run dungeons, grind mobs, or just buy tomes to get fame. This is awesome, but a significant group of people just skip ALL these activities to gain the same advantage by dumping money on the game.
Does that mean that you shouldn’t play Albion or Eve? Definitely not! They are really fun games to get into and there is a lot of fun content and adventures to be had. Despite what people might tell you, Pay to Win games can still be fun and rewarding. However, be aware that you might be tempted to Pay to Win if you play them, and that some of the advantages that other people have might feel a bit “unearned” if you aren’t used to a Pay to Win game.
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