“… it’s never OK for players who spend money to have an unfair advantage over players who spend time."
This is a fairly known quote of Mike O'Brien from his blog post about the cash shop. A quote that I very much agree with. The meaning in my opinion is fairly simple. If you spend a reasonable amount of time compared to someone paying money, you should be able to take on the same encounters with the same amount of difficulty. Anything else would be an unfair advantage.
Unfortunately, I feel that the current GW2 cash shop doesn't fully live up to this promise. Specifically, there are four items that violate this principle and that in my opinion should be removed/replaced. These four items are
- Armor Bonus
- Rejuvenation Bonus
- Speed Bonus
- Strength Bonus
These items give exclusive temporary gameplay bonuses that are only available via the cashshop or via an amount of grinding that simply can't be classified as reasonable.
Some people will argue that the bonuses are small (even though they are pretty much equivalent to no less than two Power of the Aspects stacks). Others will say that it doesn't matter as long as you can't use them in PvP (let's ignore for a moment that they currently actually work in WvW). Personally, I find these arguments weak, because they don't adress the main point, which is that, these bonuses gives a direct unfair advantage that can't be compensated for with reasonable time expenditure, however small and however localized in effect.
I generally like what ANet is trying to do with GW2, but I find that above mentioned buffs are on the wrong side of the fence. And that is why I simply can't keep quiet on this issue. As a concerned fan I also find the way the community is trying to sweep this under the rug even more disconcerting. When these buffs are brought up around the gw2 community, the topic is generally immediately derailed by spam about how the rest of the items in the cashshop that don't give an unfair advantage.
This is not an attack on the cash shop as a whole, but an attempt to correct a few specific items that simply go too far. I think the speed bonus item should continue to exists, but only outside of combat. Letting people who have less time and more money be able to move around the world more quickly is a good idea. The remaining items should probably simply be removed or replaced with new boosts.