Stances on the GW2 Cash Shop and Pre-order Q’s

I apologize for not posting in a few days.  Crunch time again with five projects, five papers (totaling ~100pages), and five presentations all due within the next two weeks.  Then it’s time to study for take finals.   There also hasn’t been much in the way of gaming news lately.

We’ve had a good discussion about GW2’s cash shop in the post below this one.  The comments have gone rather long, but I want to sum up a few positions people are taking on the issue.

 The Slippery Slope

  • This is my position.  I have no idea if the GW2 cash shop is going to ruin the game because it’s too early.  I think it’s currently in the ‘gateway drug’ phase of cash shops, though, and could at any time introduce much worse.  I’ve seen the pattern and I know how the picture unfolds.  It can lead to a ruined game (LotRO) We shall see what happens.

The Casuals get to Spend Money and Be Awesome Too

  • Some people love the idea because they believe that casual players with dispensable income will be able to overcome one of their biggest enemy: Time.

This ain’t WoW

  • I personally do not understand this one at all, but it’s a heavily defended position.  Since GW2 is so different from WoW (not my words), the cash shop can’t not be thought of in terms of anything we currently know or have seen.

GW2 is So Easy Already

  • Since GW2 is quote “So easy already”, there isn’t a need for people to buy the cash shop items.  These people say “just enjoy the game”.  My question to them is… do you really think a cash shop in-game will go un-needed for long?

This is AMAZING!

  • Some people are beside themselves with glee over the idea of a cash shop.  They love everything about it.


Those are just a few of the positions people are taking on the subject.   I’m anxious to get into the game and see how it works.  GW2, beyond just the cash shop, is really one of those games I know that I will have to personally try in order to know how it works.  That brings me to my question about pre-orders.

If I pre-order the digital edition from NCsoft, will I get beta access?  Yesterday on Twitter the GW2 reps announced that if you want to get into the beta you have to order from one of the distributors on the list (Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop.  However, NCsoft is not on the list.  I know they’re not a retailer, but at the same time they phrased it such that it sounds just like it reads: If you want beta, buy from these three people.

The GW2 twitter people, whatever their title, were copping an attitude with people ‘sighing’ and saying read the FAQ.   We could use a little less sighing about doing your job and a little more clarification.  Based on your own poorly written tweets, your FAQ doesn’t address many of the questions.

My question (Can I pre-order the digital version from NCsoft or ArenaNet and still get beta access) was asked minutes before this appeared:

If anyone more helpful than the people whose job it is to be helpful want to clarify my question, I would appreciate it.  Can I pre-order/buy the digital standard edition from the or NCsoft (whoever sells it there) and still be granted access to all beta events?  Simple question.  Takes seconds to answer.  I want to spend my money correctly.

  • You have to pre-purchase the game to get into beta. Not just pre-order but pre-purchase. So $50+ to play in beta not $5.

    I remember them saying not to buy from Amazon because they don’t have pre-purchase and will only charge you when the game ships.

  • Yep, you’ll get beta access if you order from the Guild Wars 2 site. It would be rather silly of Arenanet to discourage people from buying from them directly, as I imagine they make more money selling straight to the customer.

  • From their FB page:

    “Just to make sure there’s no confusion: The pre-purchase program will begin on April 10th. If you pre-purchase the game in full starting on that date, you’ll have guaranteed access to all Beta Weekend Events, three-day Headstart Access to the final game, and the Hero’s Band digital item designed to enhance your gameplay experience. *A pre-order is not the same thing as a pre-purchase.* A pre-purchase beginning April 10th is the only way to receive the items and access listed above. Check out all of the details on the pre-purchase FAQ: ~RB2″

  • All pre-purchases get you into the beta. Cool. But they said on twitter you have to pre-purchase from one of those THREE retailers (US residents) to get access. THAT is why I’m confused.

    Are their twitter people twits?

  • My guess is that person was of the common US = Earth mindset, in which case she was correct based on that flawed assumption.

    GameStop – CE
    Best Buy

  • @Gankatron: None of this answers my question, though. If a pre-purchase must be made from one of those Three retailers to get access to the beta, AS THE TWEET SAYS, can I pre-purchsse from NCsoft and get access?

    Common sense tells me yes. I don’t want to trust $60 to my common sense, though.

  • Keen,

    I’ll agree, whoever is running their social media stuff needs to come out and directly say “you can buy directly from our site and have beta access.”

    As it stands at the moment, it is nothing but confusing. Why they can’t just answer the simple question is beyond me……

  • Hmmm, I’m glad you brought this up as it equally confused me. It would’ve been a huge disappointment to miss the beta access end of April. pre-purchase it is then…although now I’m worried where best to order for EU! =/

    About the popular stances; I think one reason why WoW mindset is brought up in discussions is when players are generally panicking that a cash shop might sell gear or other items that make ‘things easy’ and take away from their efforts. it’s not something I have observed in discussions here much, but certainly at GWguru for example. its a very WoW-centric view of difficulty imo where achievements and progress are all about item rewards and collection. WoW keeps going endlessly from tier to tier, in pve and pvp.
    I don’t think GW2 has that outlook, but rather a focus on performance and coop, where WoW also had setup and gear. too much gear. so from that PoV, items in general have less meaning (in terms of being a badge of pride) and therefore the negative effect of shop items (as “competition”) is lowered.
    that doesn’t mean gear means nothing though or that the game will be easy…I don’t know why some would assume this, but then all-or-nothing thinking is super popular among MMO players.

    and I’ve seen item shops in F2Ps that remained optional. however, even if GW2 had more items up in the future that players wanted more badly, why is that such a problem? does anyone actually want to play GW2 just because it’s free?? I would gladly pay a sub for it, if it had one. a reader at my blog left the following comment:

    “A few weeks ago I saw a show (Guildcast) where one of the participants said, she bought every item in the GW1 shop, additional character slots, extra bankstorage, costumes, etc and divided that through the months played and still got out under 5$ a month.”

    …and that was for everything. if I stay below or at a sub-level of expenses for GW2, I don’t mind. heck, I’ll probably buy some extra sparklies here and there if I feel like it! 😉

  • OK, I see what you are saying now. They haven’t explicitly stated that buying from them as pre-purchase won’t allow beta access, but the linked list is for “retail partners” involved in the pre-purchase program; as such I do believe it is working as an assumption that their retail partners also allow you access, as opposed to exclusively.

    Nonetheless you will do us all a service by asking that specific question and getting absolute clarification on this point! 😉

  • @Keen
    GW2 is So Easy Already

    Since GW2 is quote “So easy already”, there isn’t a need for people to buy the cash shop items. These people say “just enjoy the game”. My question to them is… do you really think a cash shop in-game will go un-needed for long?

    Just because there is’nt a need doe not mean there is’nt a want. I think we can both agree that Sparkle Pownies and Cutey mini-pets are not a need. Still some of the cash shop items will be bought for time saving or any7 other reason but I assure you none of the items will be bought because soemone needed it.

    I never once bought anything in a WoW cash shop and I may never buy something in GW2 except maybe an occasional Bag or character slot, neither of which are needs but wants.

  • @Keen, they should’ve linked to this on that tweet, but here’s the answer.

    “Which products are available for Pre-Purchase?

    Customers will be able to pre-purchase the Guild Wars 2 Digital Edition and the Guild Wars 2 Digital Deluxe Edition directly from NCsoft. In addition to the digital products, certain retailers will also be offering physical Pre-Purchase of the Guild Wars 2 Standard Edition and the Guild Wars 2 Collector’s Edition.”

    From the official f.a.q about it all:

  • Digging back in time a bit on their Twitter:

    “For those who have asked: People who pre-purchase have guaranteed access to all future Beta Weekend Events. ^MK”

    “@GuildWars2 That pre-purchase is ONLY available from Arenanet, right? Not outside sources? They don’t get all access perks correct?”

    “@ouchydathurts Either via or one of the retailers on this list: ^MK”

    I’m not familiar with the process of linking tweets to comments, if it’s even possible – sorry about that. Either way, this seems to indicate pre-purchase from NCSoft directly does get you Beta Weekend Event (BWE) access.

  • Keen, what they are saying is that if you want to buy GW2 retail as opposed to digitally (say in the event you are 17 and don’t have a credit/debit card for online purchasing), you can only get in the beta if you pre-purchase from those 3 retailers only (I assume Amazon is there because they want the pull they have, or they have a special deal, likely similar to Best Buy having almost sole retail ownership in the USA). So, if you buy it early from say, a local game store, you won’t get in the beta.

    On the very website you can order it from it says: “All pre-purchase editions include these exclusive bonuses: Access to all Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend Events…” There is no company in the world with a budget of over a thousand bucks stupid enough to F over customers buying directly from them, literally cutting out the middle man. If they do, this raises serious questions; like how they thought it is a great idea to hire a chimpanzee that sleeps in the fresh paint closet as head of marketing.

  • @Keen – re the slippery slope: Guild Wars 1 has been out for some 7 years now and Arenanet didn’t fall down the slippery slope there, although they had ample opportunity to do so; the cash shop items are well judged and don’t give players more power or provide easier access to the prestigious items in the game. It’s clear from Mike O’Briens blog post and other sources that they intend to follow the same model with Guild Wars 2 – in fact it may be a better one in that now there is a complete disconnect between gems/gold and prestige items for high level content.

    It maybe that there are a few areas in the leaked information that need addressing, such as a possible ability to convert gems to advantage in WvW. If that really does turn out to be a problem, Arenanet will certainly address it.

    Behaving honorably may not be good business strategy for short term gain, but did gpotato really benefit from their fiasco with Allods? Similarly, your perception of LOTRO probably won’t help Turbine – although perhaps the mechanics in that game are getting close to their sell by date and they want to cash in their chips before their player base moves on.

  • Okay, just to make sure this purchasing situation is clear, since I’m making sure to follow all official messages:

    1. If you buy the game on you WILL GET beta access. That has been confirmed on Twitter, or Facebook or GW2Guru. I can look for the exact quote if you want, but even if I don’t have it here, I can affirm with 100% certainty to be the case.

    2. Unlike what Gankatron said earlier, all stores on the official list will offer the normal version of the game. The ones marked as CE will, additionally, also offer the Collector’s Edition. CE’s will be on very limited, so I would bet it will sell out in the first few days. If you want one, be sure to be on the store on the 10th.

    3. If you pre-purchase, you will be on the beta. Pre-purchase means paying the full price for the game once it goes on sale on the 10th. Pre-ordering by paying a reservation fee before the 10th is not the same, and does not guarantee beta access.

    Like I said, I can hunt down exact quotes and links to those if you guys want, but this is the official situation regarding the sale and beta access. I hope this helps.

    Now, about the cash shop, my feeling is on the “GW2 is so easy already” field. GW2 doesn’t have a ordinary end game like WoW, for instance, so buying stuff to let you power level through the game is missing the point of what GW2 is trying to do. Sure, you might be able get some additional skills before others… but that doesn’t give you any advantage over other players since there is no competition on PvE.

    On the same time, if you go to where competition actually exists, which is on structured PvP, you get all skills unlocked while doing that anyway, so that makes using those “power-items” pointless. Like others mentioned, sure some people want that anyway, and that’s why they are being offered, but that doesn’t mean they are getting any advantage over other players that makes this a necessity for gameplay.

    Considering everything that was leaked about the cash shop, I’m still under agreement with ArenaNet that they are not selling power to players and making cash-shop players over competitive.

  • Hey Keen, long time reader, first time poster here. I recently came across a leaked post from the GW2 closed beta forums pertaining to the controversy over the exact nature of the in game cash shop and it’s items effects on the game, by Colin Johanson. It can be found here for you and everyone else interested to read here (you’ll need to enlarge it in your browser to read it, It’s an NDA break so I’ll understand if you don’t want it shown here, but I feel this is important enough to share anyway. And it was someone else breaking the NDA first to share this, at any rate, so I’m not worried):

    I am interested to hear your thoughts on his assertions, whether you agree with their (ArenaNet’s) stance going forward, etc. I myself have been waiting for the game for years, and am excited by the prospect that we may finally be able to play it very soon, to the point of forming an online community on the Penny Arcade forums centered on the game and enjoying it together at launch with other like minded gamers. However, like yourself, I do have concerns about what nastiness could happen if the game’s microtransaction system is abused for profit over good game design. As someone who has played a ton of MMOs over the past decade, I’ve seen what can happen when a game goes the wrong route when it comes to making money, and I certainly don’t want to see GW2, an MMO that in my opinion is finally stepping out of the shadow of WoW and doing everything right become ruined by misuse of game mechanics and structure for profit.

  • @Corehealer, Keen – They have stated over and over again that leveling should not be a race and that the game should be enjoyed for what it is from the beginning. With that mindset, I just don’t see how a cash shop can completely ruin the game so that it wouldn’t be worth playing at all.

    Could the cash shop effect pvp? Absolutely, but the pvp is only one aspect. Am I excited about the RvRvR aspects having missed the old days with DAOC? Absolutely. Would it be a shame if the pvp was ruined by the cash shop? Absolutely. Will it keep me from enjoying the rest of the game? Not at all.

    As far as I’m concerned, I’m not interested in being one of the first to the level cap. I have no problem working harder than others for xp or what have you as long as I enjoy the game and it doesn’t feel like a boring grind. So far, the leaked videos seem to calm my fears that I should be well entertained and that even if the cash shop ruins some aspect, it will still be $60 well spent.

  • I have yet to see any reason to doubt that ArenaNet will get the shop somewhere where it can be both profitable and useful to the players without becoming necessary or selling power. It doesn’t seem like the kind of thing they would screw up after doing so many other things great. And beta is beta. But it’s still hard to get past years of MMO disappointment in that regard.

  • Just finished reading the post. Seems to state that the cash shop power ups will only work to assist PvE and not PvP…

    However, I do seem to remember reading some where that a higher PvE level did/would assist someone better in PvP. Does that sound right?

  • @Steel Dragon – There are two types of PvP, Competitive and world versus world (WvW). There is no possible way that the cash shop could effect your power in competitive PvP and the devs have said there never will be.

    However, WvW does depend to some extent on your level, in that although everyone is upscaled to level 80, you still won’t have all the skills and traits you would have as a true level 80. So theoretically speaking if you could boost yourself immediately to level 80 you would have some advantage over others who took longer to do that. Really though it’s just not that significant.

    Also in the currently leaked cash shop information it *may* be possible to get some advantage in WvW by buying “influence” through the gold/gem system. But really it’s very unlikely that that sort of thing will make it into the released game.

  • @Keen

    I didn’t see an true explanation while scrolling through the posts.. So here’s the explanation from what I have read.

    Pre-purchase = paying full price.

    A few have mentioned this already.

    From a brick and mortar stores on the list. On April 10th there will be a pre-purchase box available that will give you a card saying that you have paid for the full game. You enter the code on from the pre-purchase box into your GW2 account. Gives you access to the beta.

    What it comes down to is to access the beta (guaranteeing access) you have to fully pay for the game.

    Pre-order entitles you to 1 day headstart only from what I have read.

  • Am I the only person who has a problem with the fact that you can pre-purchase a game that doesn’t have a release date (yes I know they aren’t the only ones to do it).

  • @Kevin: It bugs me too. I’m with you on that. I’m also bothered by paying full price for a game that still has a NDA.

    @Dawnwarden/Kemwer/Brise: Thanks guys. You answered my question.

  • Probably just as well there’s no pressure to pre-purchase the game then.

    It’s only really a big deal if you’re hoping to get into the BETA.
    If that doesn’t really matter to you, then you’re in the clear. Hold back and wait for the NDA to lift.

  • @Kevin if it bothers you then go with a release date of 12/31/2012 Since they already state its coming out this year for sure. However they have also stated that release date is determined by how well betas go and since the betas are upon us then I honestly think we’re looking at a September release but more realistically June.

  • Out of interest what are the US prices?
    Here in the UK it’s a ridiculous £50/£65/£130 which translates to $75/$97/$195

  • Employees that come incontact with customers get trained in NOT using the word NO, and instead give alternatives on what IS possible. This looks to be such a case.
    It clearly tells you what you should do to be assured of access, nothing less, nothing more. Anything else would just get people to ask more followup questions. (and would most likely result in having to say no)

  • @intruder313: The preorder price for Guild Wars 2, presumably the standard edition, on Amazon is $60. So we’re paying quite a bit more in Europe. Although one might wish that was different, it’s a common practice and personally I can’t get too wound up about it, probably because that wouldn’t be likely to make much difference:

    I seem to remember that when Tesco sold branded goods that they imported directly from the States, they became subject to legal proceedings and were ordered to desist.

  • It’s a common practice but not one I am willing to participate in! We already have a ridiculous 20% VAT in the UK but doing straight $ to £ matching is a 50% hike.

    I normally pay £30 for new games (Amazon) so holding out hope they will be offering it at no more than £35 – remember that includes all the new games that are $60 in the USA.

    If the game does launch at £50 then I’ll be voting with my wallet before I even see a cash shop.

    I think they are alreadly sliding down the slope:

    1. Very expensive DD and spartan CE at a ludicrous price along with $ to Currency matching price gouges which impact even the Standard Edition abroad.
    2. PrePURCHASE implies you are handing over your money months in advance for the privilege of playing a possible single weekend of beta each month then 3 days head-start.
    3. Cash Shop worries.

    I’m probably in a minority but I’ve moved into the “Worried and cyncical” mindset at this point; I was getting increasingly excited about the game itself but something smell rotten with the marketing and monetisation.

  • MMOs are much larger development projects than single user games, for obvious reasons. So, I don’t think that £50 for the box is unreasonable for this game – it’s going to be lot less expensive than say World Of Warcraft for most players, even taking into account a few cash shop purchases.

    In any case the money has to be important for any developer, but that doesn’t mean that Arenanet aren’t also passionate about the game. And playing MMOs is not an expensive hobby in the scheme of things.

  • I am still really having mixed feelings about the whole deal. I understand on one side ArenaNet has to make money and in order to do so on a buy to play game over the long haul they have to engage in microtransactions. I am okay with XP boost, name changes, race changes, appearance changes, server transfers and such. I do however understand the concern with any items or potions that boost stats that could interfere with PVP.

    I keep saying that I will not pre-purchase the game on the 10th but I know that I am just saying that. However I will just be buying the standard version. I do not see enough in the digital deluxe version to really make it worth the extra money.

  • @Roq you are right but the game is “normal” price in the USA and of course it sounds like it’s got plenty of means to recoup those costs!

  • Given my trepidation over cash shops…I cannot imagine pre-ordering a game I was once so excited over.