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Has the definition of "Pay-To-Win" changed over time?

BearKnightBearKnight Augusta, GAPosts: 461Member Common

I remember back in the glory days of DAOC when our server-alliance chat for Albion was making jokes about SOE starting into the foray of micro-transactions (yea, it really has been that long since SOE started doing them). One of the things that came up was how most micro-transaction games gave you the ability to "Pay to win" at the game.


In short, paying to win meant that you could pay more money via micro-transactions in order to advance in some avenue of the game faster/better/stronger than people whom did not spend as much money as you. This was the very definition of P2W, and is one of the very reasons it became such a well known phrase.


Back then, about 5-6years ago, ANYTHING that gave an advantage for money meant it was "Pay-To-Win".


Exchanging real life money for XP potions for X amount of time is an example of what used to be considered P2W, because you're paying real money to advance through the game's levels faster than other players whom do not have the excess money to spend on XP potions. This was never a source of contention in the past.


However, today you can easily start a huge war in global chat about whether "X" game is P2W or not simply over experience potions.



So my question to you is this, do you consider XP potions a form of P2W anymore, if no why not?





ps: I was in the middle of adding poll options when I accidentally hit enter. I also meant to add "No, but I've always felt this way" as a last option! Please forgive me :(!



  • DerrosDerros Posts: 1,174Member Uncommon

    Well, remember back in those days, getting to level cap took a REAL long time, especially with things like deleveling added in.  So xp potions could be a very significant advantage, heck some would argue that leveling was most of the game. 


    Nowadays leveling is the chore you have to do before you can play the real game.  A couple of weeks of casual play before you can join the rest of your friends and do stuff together.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 14,247Member Rare
    There has never been a set definition for it, as it is entirely subjective, varying not only from game to game but among the communities of each game itself.

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • NadiaNadia Topsham, MainePosts: 11,866Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BearKnight
     about 5-6years ago, ANYTHING that gave an advantage for money meant it was "Pay-To-Win".

    8 years ago, in 2005, I would have agreed


    since 2007, not so much

    the first time i encountered exp potions was in EQ2

    SOE offered a variety way of experience boosts

    - veteran rewards of potions such as play EQ2 for 1 month

    - potion rewards for playing their card game, Legends of Norrath

    -  x2 exp weekend promotions for everyone occasionally


    it never felt like the exp boost was big deal in EQ2


    I think the big changer for me, was WOWs Refer a Friend program, in 2008

    it accelerated players experience far faster than any potion

  • Panther2103Panther2103 Edmonds, WAPosts: 3,010Member Uncommon
    The definition has changed because games have changed. Back then it was rare to see a free to play game, and the ones you did see were usually incredibly pay to win. But with games being pay to play with the option of microtransactions, people still complain about the same things today. Any time a pay to play game ends up with a post about a store coming in for it, everyone jumps on the hate train for said game. It's the same kind of thing. With free to play games though the reason that it's a little more lenient, is the fact that people kind of understand there has to be something there in the shop other than just cosmetic gear so xp pots and things like that are generally accepted since it doesn't inhibit their playing experience. Now if they were selling gear or power up runes or something like that in the shop it would have the same hate train. It's just perspective and what type of game that allows the definition to change over time.
  • thinktank001thinktank001 oasisPosts: 2,133Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BearKnight
    So my question to you is this, do you consider XP potions a form of P2W anymore, if no why not?


    Yes, all microtransaction games are pay to win.   As you stated in your OP any item that players purchase to gain an advantage to pursue a goal is pay to win.   I think most people are confused on the term pay to win because the advantage they give does not always mean a player is more successful in obtaining their goal, and this leads to players questioning whether or not the cash shop item is an advantage in the overall picture.   In other words, the concrete definition of pay to win is confused with how " fair " the advantage is over nonpaying players.



  • Yes, it's changed. Paying to get an advantage is more common these days and people don't like being seen as someone who "pays to win" even if they are. The reailty is that there are varying degrees of paying to win. Getting an XP potion is typically a rather mild form of P2W and more generally accepted.
  • I typically don't consider a game to be pay to win if the item shop is limited to things like costumes and EXP boosts.  However, games that sell actually massive buffs in the premium shop, like +50% HP and things like that, are very much pay to win.
  • GeezerGamerGeezerGamer ChairPosts: 7,691Member Epic

    In the past, "P2W" meant cash shop funded MMO. Then companies recently tried to challenge that (Turbine, ANET among others) By redefining or at least trying to define what P2W as using money to get an advantage. But now you have to define advantage. Thing is, no matter what it is, there has to be a definition of "Win" in the game. If there is no definition of "Win" in the game, there can be no definition of "P2W" Having an "Advantage" is also meaningless if there is no definition of "Win".

    So then, What is "Win"? I guess that would depend on your objectives as a player? Are you into PVE? Group PVE or solo PVE? Are you into PVP? The subjectivity of this concept is endless.


    For me, I hate RMT. I don't even define it as P2W anymore. It's all about real money. What kills a game instantly for me, is the ability to infuse real money into the game's economy. All games have it. But when the publisher doesn't try to fight it, or does it themselves, I'm out.


    If it wasn't for FF14 releasing as sub only, I'd probably have gone back to WoW just to get away from cash shops. Although, You can still get gold in WoW through the TCG, but W/E.

  • NadiaNadia Topsham, MainePosts: 11,866Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by GeezerGamer
    For me, I hate RMT. I don't even define it as P2W anymore. It's all about real money.

    i consider p2w a grey area where many gamers will have different "lines in the sand"

    RMT though is basically black and white

  • majimaji ColognePosts: 2,064Member Uncommon

    Nah, not really.

    If you can buy something in a shop, that would make you more powerful in the game than if you wouldn't buy it, then it's pay 2 win. Like stronger weapons. Or things that buff you in some way.

    XP potions are convenience items. Like more space in the bank, or more character slots. They don't give you an advantage over another player, but rather make the game more fun to play.

    That doesn't mean that I support the latter ones. I'd still always prefer a game which you buy once or pay a subscription fee. The problem is that the convenience items don't make a good game better. They often make a game simply playable. If you don't buy them, those games are often like shit and simply annoying.

    Let's play Fallen Earth (blind, 300 episodes)

    Let's play Guild Wars 2 (blind, 45 episodes)

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 6,230Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Loktofeit
    There has never been a set definition for it, as it is entirely subjective, varying not only from game to game but among the communities of each game itself.


    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member Uncommon

    I always had trouble with the term - unlocking utility or house/character decorations was my endgame to begin with, so *anything* a shop offered seemed "pay to win".

    ( restricting "win" to purely "a contest between maxed out characters", which is what this disagreement ends up being about, always seemed a very narrow view of what MMOs are to other players )


  • Superman0XSuperman0X San Jose, CAPosts: 1,916Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Nadia   I think the big changer for me, was WOWs Refer a Friend program, in 2008 it accelerated players experience far faster than any potion


    I agree, P2P is generally P2W... but this was gratuitously P2W.

  • HikaruShidouHikaruShidou Posts: 149Member Uncommon

    P2W is not buying exp potions.... people who buy potions just run out of content and burn out on the game faster. 

    P2W will always be buying a weapon, armor, or some form of power that gives a favorable advantage over someone else. leveling faster than someone else is not P2W. They will be there eventually.

    Now.... a game where you can earn everything in the cash shop eventually through gameplay and purchase it in the shop later through converted currency can still be considered P2W if it offers any INSTANT power gains in the same form of weapons, armor, skills, etc.  because you're paying to skip the grind and instantly becoming "good" therefore pay to win.

  • ariestearieste toronto, ONPosts: 3,308Member Uncommon

    It really depends on the game, if reaching a certain level first is somehow considered "winning" in the game, then yeah, I suppose XP potions that allow this advantage would be P2W.  In most modern MMOs, leveling speed is pretty irrelevant.  Not only is it quick and easy to get to max level in most new MMORPGs, there is little to be gained by getting there first.  Every game that comes out inevitably has people who hit the cap in a week, do they win?  Not really, they just get bored first.  


    Does being the first to level 24 give you some kind of permanent advantage over all those that hit level 24 after you?   Usually not.  


    Most games these days, reaching cap is not winning, reaching cap is the game just starting.  People who know what they're doing still manage to level quickly enough I find.   

    "I’d rather work on something with great potential than on fulfilling a promise of mediocrity."

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  • Alber_gamerAlber_gamer RomePosts: 588Member Uncommon

    XP Potions I don't mind. Leveling slightly faster is just a commodity and about every game offers it to players in one or another way. You just get to the level cap a little faster, and then you are winning at nothing because you're on the same page as everyone else.


    Now Faction Reputation or Arena/PvP point potions... that's a different thing. If someone gets an increased rate of level cap rewards because of boosts, that's where I'd start considering it pay to win, especially if those points are used to purchase useful equipment and consumables.

    My opinion is my own. I respect all other opinions and views equally, but keep in mind that my opinion will always be the best for me. That's why it's my opinion.

  • rojoArcueidrojoArcueid GinnungagapPosts: 8,397Member Rare

    EXP potions are not pay to win. Why? because i dont want to reach max level in 2 days. I want to spend a few months progressing my character before reaching the end game that will finish my journey with that character until expanded content is released.

    Even without exp potions you will level faster than me because i am not playing a racing game to level cap. I wish mmorpgs stopped using level progression so i dont to worry about that.


    EXP pots dont give any advantage over anyone. If you want extra experience gain and dont want to buy exp boosts, rested exp is always there to do the same thing.


    Or, are you going to tell me that playing a Pandaren in WoW gives you an advantage because they gain doubled rested exp?


    Pay to win is about power. Not speed.

    Lets say you use exp pots and i dont. It takes you 2 days to hit lvl cap while it takes me 5 months. In 5 months ill get the same gear as you and probably beat you in PvP. No big deal, nothing p2w there.

    On the other hand, lets say we spend the same time leveling to lvl cap and did a lot of pvp throughout our leveling journey, both winning and losing based on how well we played with standard dungeon/pvp gear. One day you decide to buy a nice piece of gear with stats in the cash shop, or a potion that boosts your stats, or paid cash shop to upgrade your weapon and suddenly i cant beat you anymore. Thats pay to win.


    Pay to Win has nothing to do with how fast you level. Leveling speed is one of the things that hurts mmos the most. Disgustingly fast experience gain when theres not enough content in the actual game. Really bad decision, but its not p2w.


    EDIT: MMORPGS are suppossed to be long term games. THAT includes the leveling process. Do not pretend that long term only applies to end game. Thats just ridiculous thinking. The leveling is suppossed to be the biggest part in the long-term process of playing an mmo and then stay onboard longer for endgame proggression.

  • GrahorGrahor aaaPosts: 828Member

    My definition of P2W: when 2 or more players come together in direct combat, anything that can give direct advantage over me, which can be bought by money and can't be acquired through normal gameplay without noticeable grind is P2W. Everything else isn't.


    An example: a player can buy a hundred levels, but as long as the game only allows fights against same level, it's not P2W. 


    A player can buy a sword of instant death, but as long as it works only in non-competitive PvE, it's not P2W.


    Purchase of 5% bonus to hit in PvP is P2W.

  • NovusodNovusod Lakewood, NJPosts: 909Member Uncommon

    Pay 2 Win is a much older term you have to go back a bit further then 5 or 6 years. The origins go back at least ten years when the first F2P games started porting over from Korea. Talking about games like MapleStory (2003) and Ragnarok Online (2004) that had pay walls that prevented players from advancing past a certain point in the game without buying power ups. These were the games that defined Pay 2 win as you could not win with out paying. An XP potion was never considered pay to win. XP potions were often given away as free promotional items in subscription games years before they were added to cash shops.



  • MorrokMorrok MunichPosts: 130Member

    Originally posted by BearKnight
    I remember [...] making jokes about SOE starting into the foray of micro-transactions
    So my question to you is this, do you consider XP potions a form of P2W anymore, if no why not?
    Yes, XP potions are still a form of P2W imo.
    Though in EQ's case, the impact has been lowered a lot since some easy-to-do quests give a lot of XP.

    But EQ's also an example for how much announcements/assurances that cash-shop-items will be "of a cosmetic nature only" are really worth.

  • 5Luck5Luck Shelton, CTPosts: 218Member Uncommon

    XP boosts ... no Those are just there to speed things up a bit.


    P2W is all about PvP. There can not be an example of P2W that isnt about pvp or teritory control. Games like strongholds is a P2W game. Even an XP boost in a PvP game isnt a P2W unless its a fresh server w/teritory control.


    I mean even games like PS2 or Tribes acended the boosts you get from bought items are so narrow that just earning the items isnt a big deal. Sure they give you an edge of you pay but the game play isnt altered drasticaly enough to instate P2W


    I think P2W is all about fresh servers or server wipes on a regular basis with a long-ish char development system. Where if you P2W you can dominate the server untill its (hopeflully according to the devs) early demise so they can wipe and repeat fast enough that those who either didnt win or started late have a chance before they lose all interest.

  • RizelStarRizelStar Raleigh, NCPosts: 2,773Member Uncommon

    Now n days pay to win usually is for those who just don't like a game so they call it p2w.


    In fact a lot of games least recently that aren't p2p still aren't p2w even with micro transaction stores.


    Hell for some reason(And I know the reason) some call GW2 P2W and we all know(depending if we are stubborn or not) that itself isn't true at all.

    Pay 2 Win should mean if I buy something I can whoop your ass in PVP and or rvr/wvwvw/owpvp and the only way you can counter it is if you pay too. Which people ignore shit like that and just pin it on a cash shop and the sheer fact that the game isn't p2p with a cash shop that's the exact same as a b2p or f2p cash shop. Then many ignore the obvious fact of how a game is built, some games(Like ONe I previously mention) aren't built around making a cash shop a NEED nor P2W, yet that's ignored because it's not p2p for some dumb reason(That I again know why).


    So, has it changed over time, i guess but like someone said earlier it's really subjective and to add isn't even used for the actual definition or common definition.

    ...AH! and one more thing, to be fair there are quite a few true p2w f2p mmos, but obviously shown recently that isn't the case.

    I might get banned for this. - Rizel Star.

    I'm not afraid to tell trolls what they [need] to hear, even if that means for me to have an forced absence afterwards.

    P2P LOGIC = If it's P2P it means longevity, overall better game, and THE BEST SUPPORT EVER!!!!!(Which has been rinsed and repeated about a thousand times)

    Common Sense Logic = P2P logic is no better than F2P Logic.

  • EncephalitisEncephalitis Posts: 78Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by RizelStar
    Now n days pay to win usually is for those who just don't like a game so they call it p2w.

    liking a game or not liking a game, isn't going to change how a cash shop works in a game.

    take "f2p" fps games. they all sell special guns that are significantly stronger than anything a f2p player could ever obtain, at any stage in the game.

    take anything that could be labeled as a "casuals game". they all sell power by the boat load, a prime example would be wartune or yitien or even games like grepolis or C&C:tib alliance

    firefall lets you buy classes from them now, which is funny because for years they had harped about "only having nonsense items in the cash shop, like clothes and other things that wouldn't effect gameplay"....but then they go about selling classes that allow you to skip months of work in all of a few minutes.


    pay-to-win, by definition, is spending any amount of real money to make your character have a significant leverage over a person who does not/did not pay.

    by your definition of pay-to-win, it only matters if you can't beat them in might not know this, but thats generally the intended effect of a cash shop in a game. to give you a leg up over other people.

  • kragekrage Miami, FLPosts: 422Member Uncommon

    This argument is always time or money and which is more valuable. 

    My opinion of P2W is strictly items that must be bought to compete, meaning there is 0 chance of getting said items in game through a reasonable amount of time equal to its power value.

    XP potions are definitely not on my P2W list unless levelling faster than someone else results in a permanent power gain. I could care less if someone ruins their gameplay by buying xp potions, and powerlevels to end cap in a few days, it is not something I identify as winning, so its not P2W for me.

    I wouldnt even mind if games straight out sold levels for characters after getting your first to cap, meh even if its the first, really doesnt bother me if people would rather play endgame and not do the grind.

    Blatant P2W would be if someone is able to buy gear, skills, or power that is significantly better than anything I could ever get without paying for it

    Hmm...thinking about it, paid for expansions are P2W then lol. If someone doesnt buy the latest expansion they not only lose out on power from levels, but also gear, and skills. Just goes to show what a slippery slope of what paying 2 win really is.


  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,954Member Rare
    Yes it certainly has
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