If you’ve been around the MMORPG scene for a few years, then you’ve probably noticed the increasing trend of free to play online games. This gives any gamer an incentive to go on to a game, check it out, see if they like it, and then play it if they want to. I recently decided to check out Neverwinter, a brand new MMO game that’s been advertised in the F2P category. Like any gamer, I was a bit skeptical to play a game advertised as free to play because I’ve been burnt by so many other games before. In addition, I’d already heard that there were pay to win aspects of Neverwinter that allow gamers to fork over cash in order to get ahead.
Before I get into the nuts and bolts of this particular conversation I wanted to give you my definition of what free to play is and pay to win.
What is Free to Play or F2P?
Wikipedia states that it is, “any video game or social or mobile application that has the option of allowing its players/users to play/download without paying.” I’ll also add that my definition of free to play only includes those games which allow you to play or reach all content without having to pay additional money.
Is Neverwinter Free to Play?
Neverwinter does not require cash up front in order to play nor does it ever require cash in order to reach certain parts of the game. As such, in my opinion, it is a free to play game.
What is a P2w or Pay to Win Game?
The definition of pay to win is not available on Wikipedia because it’s different for almost all gamers. It’s a touchy subject that has been a debate on forums for years.
There are two main definitions:
1. Any game which allows you to use cash in order to get end-game PVE and PVP gear.
2. Any game which requires cash in order to craft, enchant, use auctions, or get certain abilities or end-game items for PVP or PVE. A game, in this case, which allows you to earn all end-game items through considerable effort without paying, would not be pay to win.
Why Gamers are so Touchy about Pay to Win:
As a gamer you put time and effort into a game in order to succeed. Saying a game is pay to win means that someone else can have higher gear or beat you in the game because they used cash. Who wants to put a thousand hours into a MMORPG when someone can simply pay their way to the top? In addition, gamers get attached to games. Saying that their game is p2W means that, in your mind, they are essentially wasting their time.
Why the Pay to Win Model Shouldn’t Always be Looked at as a Negative:
There are lots of advantages to playing a Pay to Win game. First of all, most of the time it’s free. Those who do pay money give the game companies the money they need in order to continue running and developing the game. In addition, some games allow you to achieve end-game gear through effort rather than using money.
What can you pay for in Neverwinter?
Essentially everything can be purchased on Neverwinter. This includes mounts, high-end gear, Astral Diamonds, PVP gear, gear on the auction house, enchantments, companions, an additional race, nightmare lock-box keys, and storage space. You can purchase the founder’s pack on the home page or purchase Zen through Perfect World.
Is there anything that can only be achieved or purchased through the use of money?
No; however, there are many things, like epic enchantments, which are very difficult to achieve without runes which guarantee you won’t destroy your item.
Is Neverwinter Pay to Win?
This really depends on your definition of pay to win. If you’re like me and lean towards the first definition above, then the answer is yes (see my video below). If you lean towards the second definition, then the answer is mostly no.
Neverwinter Review and Analysis
Neverwinter is a surprisingly good game which combines good PVE gameplay along with fun PVP. The game also includes the foundry which are player-made quests and areas. This gives you essentially unlimited ways to play end-game content, something often lacking in games these days. If not moderated properly, the foundry also opens the game up to a significant amount of cheating in the way of gold, items, and quick leveling. Overall it’s definitely worth a look if you like MMORPGs.
There are some things that require money in order to play. Of course the catch is Zen only transactions are technically within the grasp of the free-to-play player, because you can trade obscene amounts of Astral Diamonds for a 50 cents worth of Zen. They pop up in some unexpected places. Respeccing your powers requires a 500 Zen ($5) token. Right now the options are fairly limited and you get a lot of power points, so it’s not too bad, but it’s something most MMO players would expect gold to cover, or at the very least Astral Diamonds. The value for money isn’t there either. Prices are high and the items are restrictive. They’re intended to be resold on the auction house so you get one companion item rather than one bound companion for each of your characters.
The game is brilliant but there’s no pay and forget about money option. You’re always going to have something else you could buy, which is ok but a little frustrating on the day-to-day expenses.
I’m not saying don’t play the game or spend money on it, just make sure to wrap your head around Astral Diamonds, Zen, account unlocks and character unlocks. It’s very important to read the unlock on each micro-transaction and not make assumptions about what you’re going to get. If you don’t you’ll get burned.