I am about to buy a new computer, because my notebook is weak. I desire to play Guild Wars 2, but I hate "pay to win" games. Since I will spend a good amount of money (computer and the game in Brazil are very expensive) I would like to make sure I'm making a good decision.

In some places, people complain about Guild Wars 2 turning P2W. Does Guild Wars 2 have micro-transactions that give competitive advantages?

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    To better suit this site, I would suggest changing the nature of this question to something along the lines of "Does Guild Wars 2 have micro-transactions that give competitive advantages". Something that asks more about gameplay vs cosmetics, as P2W can be vague or interpreted differently by others.
    – Tylor
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 15:34
  • Will be interesting to see how this question evolves when Heart of Thorns is released.
    – Neon1024
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 14:13

5 Answers 5


No, GW2 is not a "pay to win" game.

Microtransactions in GW2 are made with an in-game currency called Gems.

Gems can be traded for gold or spent in the Gem Store. This means that anything that can be bought using only in-game gold can essentially be bought using real-world money. This would be problematic in games where having the highest stats is rare, but achieving the best stats in the game is common in GW2, even among casual players. Expensive items are typically those with the rarest and most sought-after appearances.

Gems are obtained through real-world money purchases, trading in-game gold, and obtaining significant numbers of achievement points. Since in-game gold can be traded for gems, this means that anything you can get from buying gems with real-world money can also be bought by converting in-game gold to gems.

Items offered in the Gem Store fit into one of the following categories:

There are a few "competitive" advantages to be gained, but these are minor, and none affect sPvP:

  • Some boosters that are obtainable from Black Lion Chests can give increased running speed, attack strength, regeneration, or armor for one hour. These can only be used in PvE and WvW, and are non-problematic in WvW due to its large-scale, casual nature.
  • Some toys can be used for costume brawl, and are often more powerful than costume brawl transformations obtained through other means. Costume brawl is generally silly and unbalanced, even without considering gem store items, so this isn't really a "competitive" advantage.
  • The digital deluxe upgrade is the only way to unlock the Mistfire Wolf elite skill, which is only useable in PvE and WvW.
  • Living World Season 2 is required to get ascended trinkets with Nomad's or Sinister stats.

It's also important to note that all players' stats are equalized for sPvP, regardless of level or gear.

  • 1
    Excellent post. I am not certain, however, that the +5% damage and damage reduction are active vs. players in WvW. It's pretty hard to test, but I had heard (and can find no answer on) that they only work vs. monsters. That is the description of the item. It would certainly work on objective NPCs, though, so that could be a minor "advantage". Commented May 6, 2015 at 13:52
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    It might be noteworthy that the Mistfire Wolf skill is weak compared to other skills by design (similar to racial skills).
    – MrLemon
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 14:46
  • @MrLemon Mistfire Wolf is generally weaker than most elite skills, but still stronger than the racial elite skills. It also depends largely on the class you're playing. Guardians, for example, seem to have weaker elite skills than the other classes, so I use Mistfire Wolf on my guardian in PvE and WvW.
    – Brian
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 15:14
  • Maybe I misunderstand this line: "...achieving the best stats in the game is common in GW2, even among casual players." If by "best stats" you mean Ascended gear, then it might be common, but not for those I would consider a "casual player" (like myself). It has taken me almost two years to get to 80 and then build a full set of ascended armor, and I bought gems and traded for gold and then bought silk to do it (farming silk = heck no). I still don't have ascended weapons. Even getting everything exotic was not very casual, IMHO. Otherwise great answer, +1. Commented May 6, 2015 at 17:44
  • Thanks @mucaho for reminding me that ascended Nomad's or Sinister trinkets require Living World Season 2.
    – Brian
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 20:27

TL;DR : Guild Wars 2 isn't pay to win but pay to look pretty.

You can indeed use real money to get in game gold, however the gear you can aquire with this gold has the same stats than lower priced gear with the same rarity. This come from the fact that stats on gear don't have random values but fixed values. Which means you can buy an exotic weapon for 1 gold that would have the exact same stats as another exotic that cost 300 gold. The difference in price come from the skin an equipement has. Some skins are more rare/desirable thus more expensive.

Exception made of legendary weapons which have slightly better stats than exotic weapons. However,not everyone has a legendary weapon and you shouldn't be concerned about those for a long time.

There is an in game store that provide a lot of cosmetic items and quality of life improvement (more space in inventory, more character's slots, easy travel accross the map, etc.) but nothing gamebreaking and allowing to get an advantage over other players. The money you put into Guild Wars 2 will be before anything for Character's customisation.

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    Note that legendary weapons have the same stats as ascended weapons, which are expensive, but within reason, even for casual players.
    – Brian
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 18:02
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    This answer was accepted within two hours of the question being asked. Brian's done a significantly better job of explaining the lack of p2w in GW2 in his answer, for those of you reading this in the future. Commented May 6, 2015 at 13:42
  • GW2 is different from a lot of other MMORPG's in that it doesn't really have a gear ladder. All exotic max level gear has the same stats. As already stated, legendaries (and also ascended items) do have better stats, but only slightly. These are intentionally made very difficult to obtain, legendaries in particular, so the majority of players never obtain legendaries. Ascended items can be bought with various tokens, and are thus more common. Legendaries and ascended items are equal in terms of stats, but legendaries tend to look better.
    – user78171
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 15:42

No it is not. No items offered by the Gem Store offer any in-game advantage at all.

Items sold in the Gem Store for real money are all convenience or cosmetic in nature. It was a founding principle of the game that you should not be able to gain an advantage by paying money.

You can find out more about the Gem Store on the wiki.

  • That is a bit far reaching a statement. Those eternal picks etc. free up inventory space and reduce the need to go back to get new picks, which lets you earn gold and materials faster, which reduce the grind to the highest tier weapons and armor.
    – Hackworth
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 20:07
  • Which means that they are convenient.
    – Neon1024
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 7:50
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    Gems can be traded for gold which can be used to buy armor and weapons that give an in-game advantage over those who do not have as good armor or weapons. The fact that you can acquire those same (or better) armor or weapons without spending any additional real money is what I assume you're really trying to say. Commented May 6, 2015 at 17:50
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    I would still consider that a convenience rather than an advantage as the stats of the weapons you'll buy won't be any better than what's available in the game to people who haven't got gold from gems.
    – Neon1024
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 20:29

Additional content (Living World) is locked behind a pay wall if you weren't active at the time that additional content was released. Keep in mind you can trade in-game gold for the required currency (gems).

If that additional content gives you a competitive advantage is debatable (see also comments below).

  • I looked at the Reddit link here, but I don't see anyone claiming that having access to season 2 of the living story gives a competitive advantage.
    – Brian
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 15:29
  • Do you consider accelerating your progress towards getting better gear (e.g. for WvWvW) a competitive advantage?
    – mucaho
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 15:43
  • No, since gear with the highest stats can be obtained easily by simply playing. It would be much faster to simply farm dungeons or open world than doing the story, anyway.
    – Brian
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 15:47
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    Additionally, this reddit post claims that some items are exclusively available for getting an achievement related to the additional content.
    – mucaho
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 15:56
  • That's correct, I forgot about those. You need to complete the story achievements to get ascended versions of the Nomad's or Sinister trinkets.
    – Brian
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 16:08

There are quite a few ways in which real world money provide an in-game advantage, but they're generally trivial (e.g. making your food last longer, which has the same effect [sans cost] as using food several times), irrelevant (the elite skill Mistfire Wolf is exclusive to owners of the Deluxe/Collector's edition, but it's also weak and there's literally no build that uses it), or affects open world only (which is the most casual game mode where "everything" works and optimization is unimportant). You can see the last of these in the description for Strength Booster. This provides a boost to your damage, which is obviously an advantage, but it cannot be used in the competitive formats sPvP & WvW, and it also cannot be used in the more serious PvE content raids & strikes (these are instanced content where team composition matters and everyone has a role).

The closest semi-exception is Fractals, which is an endgame dungeon. You can use these boosters there. The high-level fractals are difficult enough that failure is a real possibility, but experienced groups still sail through them without issue, so the community generally don't expect anything. You might reasonably use them if you're in a not-so-experienced group and are struggling to clear.

Another semi-exception is with legendary gear, which are very expensive. However legendary gear does not actually provide a competitive advantage - they just provide a convenience advantage. You can swap the stats/runes/sigils of legendary gear freely, which means you can easily swap between roles, but the result still has exactly the same stats as ascended gear.

Finally if you got lots of money you can realistically buy content from other players, e.g. by getting them to run you through a raid. One could argue that these earn you achievement points, which tangentially affects your character's magic find. Or you could just learn the raid and complete it yourself, to the same result.

Aside from these there's no P2W advantage.

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