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Interesting post by Valatar on the Guild Wars 2 Beta Forums. He breaks down some of the hidden costs of GW2.
Welcome to Guild Wars 2, new player! We’re the fun new game where you don’t pay a monthly fee to play! But you do realize of course that we need money to keep up our servers and update the game, so there are a few modest cash store items to help cover our costs. But it’s probably nothing that you actually need, so don’t pay any attention to it!
How do you like the classes? They’re all great fun, aren’t they? We bet you’d like to play them all! But not so fast, you only have five character slots. If you want the other three, you’ll just need to make a one-time payment in the cash shop to unlock them. It’s only 800 gems per slot, so for only 2400 gems you’ll be on your way!
What’s that, adventurer? Your bags are full? Why shucks, have we got a deal for you! You have seven bag slots, but we locked three of them so you’d have room to grow! For an insignificant 400 gems, you can unlock one bag slot on one character. Of course, if you have eight characters, that’s twenty-four slots, but hey, what’s a little 9600 gems between friends for the luxury of being able to carry things?
Oh, you wanted to actually be able to store things? Like, in a bank? Well other MMOGs make you spend nasty gold to have more than 30 bank slots, but not us! You can just buy them with gems! We’ve helped you out by making the sky the limit and locked a whopping seven bank expansions at 600 gems each, so you can feel extra accomplished when you pull out your credit card to pay for the 4200 gems for that.
At the current listed rates, you have to pay 16,200 gems to have eight characters with unlocked inventory and bank slots in GW2.
With the assumption that the conversion rate is $1=100 gems, that’s $162 dollars above and beyond the box cost of the game. Edit: The actual gem price is believed to be $5=400 gems, which makes the cost $202.50 for those 16200 gems. A year’s subscription to WoW is $156 if purchased in six-month blocks, making it ironically cheaper to play a year of WoW than a year of GW2.
Bear in mind that I’m ignoring vanity items, convenience items, and keys in this tally. Those are all entirely optional, and a player can take or leave those without any particular penalty. I’m focusing entirely on the one universal constant of any MMOG: storage. It’s the thing that is indisputably vital for every player, that nobody can afford to be without, and everybody absolutely requires. Anyone who doesn’t purchase bag and bank space is going to be regretting it, deeply and often. I don’t consider it optional, and doubt that anyone with any length of experience in online games would disagree with me on that.
There needs to be an alternative option to gems for purchasing in-game storage. There’s no telling what the gold value of gems will be after the game’s release, but if the beta weekend’s average around 20 silver per gem holds true, it will cost 120 gold per bank expansion and 80 gold per bag slot, which are fairly ridiculous amounts. Edit: My numbers for the silver price for gems was incorrect, see below.
Alternatively, making the bag slots an account-wide purchase rather than a per-character purchase would save the eight-character player 8400 gems, making the grand total a much more reasonable sum.
All of this hinges on beta test gem prices for cash shop items, and involves an assumption on the cash price for gems. Either of those two things may change before release. My goal in bringing this to peoples’ attention is not to incite panicked nerd rage, but to make people aware of the potential cash cost in GW2’s gem store model of business, and the fact that it may be no less expensive than other games with monthly fees.