In this week’s editorial we take a look at Pay-to-Win and its Critical Role in PVE heavy games like Warframe.

Everyone who has played Warframe knows that many of the paid currency sinks are completely pay-to-win in their style. The kubrow (dog companion) timers, the equipment build timers, the ability to buy hard to find items such as Orokin Reactors or Catalysts (with prices around 20 cents USD) rather than spending the time collecting and waiting for the items to build, often taking days to do so. These, and other aspects, should be a sign of tainted territory, but Warframe is doing extremely well and the player base is more than happy with the current state of affairs. Now before y’all get your pitchforks out, I feel like I can explain this phenomenon using two main factors; open trade of the paid currency, and the artificial lengthening of small content updates. These two concepts in conjunction have led to Warframe’s success even while utilizing a business model comprised mostly of pay-to-win monetization sinks and can be observed by other companies looking to develop monetization models for PvE based MMORPGs.


A good way to look at the first factor is to look at one of the biggest pet peeves of MMO players: getting an awesome drop that you don’t need. Well, I guess we can either disenchant it or vendor it, but what if you could just sell it to a player who needs it for a currency that you could use to buy the item you actually needed? Warframe and Guild Wars 2 have used this heavily by making their premium currency trade-able. It is an understated and extremely appreciated success point of well-run dual currency systems and is seen in only a few free to play games. I feel as though developers are afraid of making premium currency tradeable, as it would reduce the amount of sales, but the numbers don’t lie. Warframe has it, and they aren’t hemorrhaging money like some of these mega MMOs with antiquated systems. With tradeable currency, a player is not only able to get items that normally are on a very small drop table without paying, but they, more importantly, get used to spending the premium currency, which in turn makes them want to buy some at one point.


Secondly, and I will also preface this with the fact that this is a very contentious issue, is the artificial lengthening of content to allow players to be satisfied for longer, regardless of the content size. When you build a new Warframe, one of the biggest content points in Warframe, the minimum non-boosted time is four days to completion. This means that the time investment isn’t just something to scoff at. It takes real time and large amounts of farmed resources to make a Warframe, so when it’s done, you better believe you will put more than just a mission or two into it. It is similar to waiting all year for a concert or a big holiday. You will enjoy it more, partially, because of the time you put into waiting for it. Games like Star Wars: The Old Republic had trouble during their original launch because they let players just get through all of the content in a matter of a few months and then they weren’t ready to release anything keeping players interested, so the game had a giant evacuation of its highest potential, hardcore players.

Although Warframe has one of the more heinous monetization models, it works well for them. A well-designed game that was made for the players can use nearly any monetization model and still hold a healthy environment. Although it is easy to look at the success stories, Warframe is a great example of a game that is able to buck the system in so many ways, but still stay near the front of the pack.


  1. Warframe…
    It is a good game? Yeah it’s a great game, one of the greatest.
    It’s F2P model it’s at the same level? Nope. Imo it’s in a grey area where i wouldn’t call it P2W, nor good F2P. It’s just acceptable F2P, at times even felt barely acceptable.
    P.S.: clickbaity title, i don’t mind, but unfortunately fanboys diss, don’t read.

    • I mean, I really like the model personally, but yeah I should probably tone the title back a bit haha.

      I definitely missed the mark as well on what is considered P2W. Personally I think the definition is moving the prime part of the game forward by using real money. Since a big part of Warframe is creating new Frames/Weapons, getting them instantly, in my opinion, is paying to forward your progress at a hugely expedited pace, therefore it would be P2W.

      I wouldn’t consider this completely a bad thing, as for the most part the boosts are cheap, and you can gain the currency in game by farming items then trading, but at some point, someone paid for that plat you use, ya know?

      I feel like warframe is in kind of a bad spot with some of its progress stops that were developed. I recently made another new account on XBOne and I had a lot of trouble when I had to farm a scanned resource that was a pain in the neck to find, just to progress, but I still quite enjoy the game, ya know?

      It kind of disheartens me that a lot of people here are thinking I hate the game and I am trying to defame it. If they read some of my previous articles, Warframe is one of my favorite games of all time.

      I think that the model is kind of acceptable, but I can see where you’re coming from. A LOOOT of things can be straight bought, and waiting for a timer to be able to get xp to MR up, just to unlock later content that has events going on in it can be kind of disheartening if you dont feel like throwing money into the game just yet.

      Anyway, thank you for the sentiment. I really like to write these to start a conversation, but sadly, it kind of devolved fast for this one.

      I will definitely try again better next time.


      • Gotta say Love the way You go from warframe , a Pay 2 rush, Earn for Free game, To using SWTOR as a refrence I mean SWTOR is the definition of Pay2winm everything aside from base story is locked behind pay walls , Credit cap, wann By somthing better be a subscriber cause ya aint getting nothin for 200k credit cap, wanna use the best gear in game ? Better be a subscriber or spend 60 bucks on an acountwide unlock, wanna have more that two quick bars, Paywall , wanna equip title? Pay wall , wanna Hide helmet pay wall, wanna have a guild bank Paywall, ect ect… Could go on But you wann mention a Heinous cahs shop your targeting the wrong game , Warframe has one of the better F2P models out there , anyone saying otherwise hasnt seen p2w … seriously try playing swtor as a Free player.. Then write the article again.

  2. Next time you make an article about a game, could you please play it before writing anything? Thank you in advance, it’s quite obvious you haven’t actually played warframe.

  3. Today was my first visit to this site. After reading this blatantly false misinformation it will be my last visit to this site.

    If anyone who manages this site cares, they will never post an article by Steven Hawke again. This is at worst a Warframe hater trying to defame the game, and at best a lazy idiot who can’t even be bothered to do proper research to write a legitimate article.

    • I sometimes visit this site no offense to the editors and sorry if they take offense to my comment but some of the articles are misinformed from what I’ve read.

      • Also they are free to delete this comment or what ever they want this is a game reviewing site after all I play games I just decided to review them but reviewing articles is kinda hard when the article isn’t properly researched before it’s posted.

        • BTW if anyone is wondering I’m not the one time only visitor poster I’m another poster I just share the same thoughts he does.

  4. What sort of idiot wrote this? The playerbase is far from happy with the current state of affairs because DE is becoming more and more coercive with its little model – effectively sabotaging their own game for the sake of sales. Incredibly pathetic.
    This does NOT mean, however, that the game had an inherently “heinous monetization model”, nor that it is “pay to win”. In fact, it used to be pretty amazing as far as f2p goes. Again, until they started pushing and prodding their playerbase. Still, the premium currency pertains to cosmetic items mainly, and convenience items second. Gameplay elements have never been actually paywalled (even if hema came close)… Is this supposed to be a reputable games site btw? This whole article screams “we need filler fluff and don’t know what we’re writing about”

  5. Warframe is officially not pay2win, but technically is.

    Its a bunch of pay to rush/bypass/not-grind/avoid-annoying-content, etc, all mini buy instances to counter their own bad content.

    But success? IDK, the devs are starting to push their luck on this little non-official pay2win segments, and the community is starting to become aware of it, and its starting to make the game worse.

    Anyway, you are shamefully trying to spin off pay2win as a good thing, that is so wrong. If I didnt knew better, I wouldn’t say this might even be another PR attempt by DE.

  6. I’m sorry, but that’s not how the Warframe works. Outside of cosmetics, everything in the cash store can be obtained or crafted in-game relatively easily. It’s not pay to win because Platinum bought items are not better than items available in the game itself, since they are one and the same. The platinum store merely saves time, it does not give better items than what can be earned from gameplay.

  7. Someone on the Warframe subreddit calculated that it would cost over $2000 (without discounts) to get to Mastery Rank 21 which is 2 levels away from the highest level in the game as of writing this. Sure you can buy this much stuff but you will still have no levels until you spend actual time in a mission and level up every single individual Warframe and weapon. I myself have only ever spent £30 on Warframe in February of last year, I gave half of it away to my brother and fiancé and I was still struggling to think of things to buy that I couldn’t already get by putting effort in. In the end the main use for paying in this game is as other true tenno here have said. To speed things up or to look fabulous. If your time is worth more than your money then pay for things, depengin on how much you make an hour it may be more preferable to spending your hours on the game instead

  8. What an embarassing piece of writing. It’s like the author has no idea what pay2win means or its impact in gaming. Absolutely shameful piece of trash that mmobomb should just take down

  9. Either the writer of this article has a very weird concept of P2W, or he has never played Warframe for more than a few hours. Warframe is Pay to Get Things Faster or Pay to Look Fabulous, but nothing you can buy gives you an actual advantage over the non-paying users. How is that P2W?
    The platinum buyer and the free user both get the very same gear, eventually, with the difference that the former spent money and the latter spent time, but the final result is the same. No victories or losses here.
    Moreover, not a word was spent on the fact that Warframe developers (Digital Extremes) makes the community feel like a part of the game developing process, through frequent live streams and their attention to playerbase feedbak. Sure, they often screw up big time, but before Warframe I’va never felt like paying money just to support a game, and not for the in-game shopping per se.

  10. None of the examples you have written involve winning in Warframe. It is PVE, having better gear from the get-go only confers an advantage to benefit your team, but without the proper mods which you get through Trading or grinding them yourself, you’re no better at “winning” than those at your point in the game.

    Pay-to-Skip-Time-&-Grind, not Pay-to-Win. Do more research and play the game a good while before publishing next time, please.

  11. Warframe is not the kind of game that you play for 10 hours and then have a good understanding on. Veteran players with over 800 hours still have to check the wiki on a regular basis to keep track of information about the game and its underlying mechanics.

    And it’s utterly clear that the writer behind this article has not put a substantial amount of time into Warframe, because to call its business model “heinous” or “pay-to-win” shows a remarkable lack of knowledge in either the game or its competitors. It may have an incredibly persistent playerbase that constantly demands quality and quantity at every turn, but after years in its community I can say that “pay-to-win” is a very rare accusation to be leveraged at Digital Extremes, and it’s one of the main reasons the game is so popular.

    This article was a complete waste of time for everybody involved with it. I’d rather go read Gawker articles, where I can at least get some entertainment served up with my complete and utter bullshit.

  12. You have a fundamental flaw in how you are defining pay to win. If I can buy a gun better than any gun you can obtain without spending cash, that is pay to win. If I can buy the same gun as you, but get it faster and easier than without spending cash, that is not pay to win. Calling non pay to win games pay to win is wrong, not just because it insults those games, but it reduces the impact of the word when applied to the horrible and abhorrent games that it actually applies to. See some of the asian MMOs and FPSs where you can literally outclass any non paying customer for ever, without recourse on their part, just by slamming enough cash on the table.

  13. well…… fashion frame is the endgame and you have to pay money for some of the cosmetics.

    So………. technically he is correct……………………………………..right?

      • It’s a joke within actual warframe players; looking fashionable (which is completely optional and therefore not pay-to-win) is the true objective of the game.

    • well even then, you can trade for the game’s premium currency, so no

      you can totally get nearly everything in the game without paying a cent. it might take a thousand hours or two, but that’s more than you can say about other MMOs.

      • You actually have to pay Steam money for some of the cosmetics. But it’s for a good cause!
        The “Tennogen” items are created by players and added to the game if they pass muster. They’re pretty cool!
        Part of their cost goes to the creator, some goes to Steam for hosting it or something, and part goes to DE.
        That’s a way better model for what a modder would be doing for free!

  14. The writer clearly never played Warframe or completely misunderstands what pay to win means. Warframe is, at its worst, a pay-to-progress-faster game. 75% of paid items are entirely cosmetic and have zero impact on gameplay. Even if you’re buying frames or weapons, you are paying to skip a (in most cases) minor material grind. Guild Wars 2, mentioned in the article, does have a similar model for how they handle “premium” currency trading. But, again, it’s almost entirely cosmetic items. Don’t write about games you clearly only played once.

  15. You couldn’t be more incorrect in this article. Nothing about Warframe is pay to win. You pay for convenience. You can literally get everything through farming. You can gain plat by farming fissures which aren’t even close to end game. The market is just like any other game where you can literally just flip stuff and gain plat if that’s how you want to spend your time.

    Pay2win gates content and items specifically behind a paywall. Warframe does neither of these things. Perhaps you should interview the player base before you spout crap like this.

  16. How is exactly Warframe a pay-2-win game, where you can get 99.5% of the items in the game by farming/trading gear? You do realize Forma is obtainable from farming, boosters drop from special missions and catalysts/reactors are either given from once a while, given from special missions (Sorties, Invasions) and from “Gift of the Lotus” drops?

    Are you sure you played the game? Because, judging by your entire “article” (or should I say, rant?), it seems you barely played the game at all. All you did was to “play” the game for about 10 minutes and start writing an article about something to trash and make a mockery about.

    Editorial: Is MMOBomb hiring useless authors to write nonsensical jargon? Because your only excuse is making Warframe a target of useless “pay-2-win” observation when there’s barely P2W elements in the game.

  17. This article is a joke, the author has probably never played to Warframe.
    It is definitively not a P2W :
    – Common items (weapons and warframe) does not need money, and are enough to clear all the content of game
    – Prime items can be easily obtained with a bit of farm
    – The “delay” to build is not an issue : you have sooooo many different activities ingame than waiting 3 days means nothing. In fact, you don’t even have the time to play all the frames/weapons you have. I have currently a dozen of weapons (and 2 or 3 warframe) ready in foundry and awaiting… my free time.

    In french, we call this kind of article “Putaclic”. Do not see how to translate it, helas….

  18. How is Warframe a Pay to Win ?

    You can even make platinum extremely easily by just playing not hard missions and selling random stuff to other players, and this platinum can be used to accelerate craft if you really have nothing to do in your life while you wait… It’s neither a Pay to Win, nor a Pay to Accelerate. As a solo player who has done it all in the game, I still use the very first MK1-Braton to play because it literally one shots everything in the Star Chart once modded, even without frames’ powers or auras.

    You can get a shaytload of ressources in a single run to craft a lot of things, and, for an MMO, you can have access to everything in a matter of days. Boosters can drop from missions and rewards, events also give boosts, and you get more than enough of everything without paying quickly enough to build anything.

    And you know what ? The best weapons in the game cannot be bought in the in-game Market and acquiered simply by playing, be it simply getting their blueprints in your clan’s dojo, by gaining points for syndicate playing whatever you want, wherever you want, or by getting prime parts.

    And if you want to PvP, there is simply NOTHING to gain by using platinum. Even PvP special cosmetics are only acquired through playing.

    I believe the real problem here is a heinous so-called journalist who talks trash about a game he doesn’t know jack about.

  19. You sir……….are wrong.

    It’s not that you’re wrong with your opinions but factually wrong.

    I’d write viler things but that wouldn’t refect how I’m part of one of the better game-based comunities out there.

    All I’ve gotta say.

  20. Did you even play the game? No frames or gear is locked behind paywalls, you cant even purchase prime gear from the store other then the feature prime access. As soon as something is on prime access they are put in relics in the drop tables for everyone to farm. clearly don’t know what your talking about.

  21. I playing this game since the open beta, back in the day i used to be unemployed and when i started to work i didnt spend money on it either. But 3/4 of my stuff i got it freely. Nowdays the game is more grindy, but not impossible. I dont have much time nowdays to grind. But i can trade trash prime part anytime.

  22. When is something Pay to Win IF there is exactly nothing to win about it? Maybe you meant Pay to Speed Up, or Pay to Early Access … none of those are Pay to Win because in Warframe all players are winners at their own pace. In my view good piece but bad choice of game!

  23. Warframe is not pay to win, in fact i have all normal frames and some prime frames and weapons(vaulted included) and I haven’t put money in the game, everything there is farmable.
    All platinum(game cash currency) I got from trading with other players, selling parts that i got from void relics,sets, weapons.(just need to be prepare to grind)
    I have 108 days log in and about 15 days of gameplay registered.

  24. warframe is f2p. their cash currency is only used for thing like more weapons and warframe slots and cosmetic items. you can get the money in large amounts from trading items in game any ways so how is this pay to win. the ONLY ITEM i know of that you have to pay for thats NOT cosmetic is a primed extractor that came in a prime pack. everything else is just fashion crap. is your next article going to be on how path of exile is pay to win. the subject is a good one but next time ACTUALLY do RESEARCH on what games are pay to win and what is pay for convenience.

  25. I think pay to win is only when you can buy things that aren’t available any other way and in warframe thats not the case. You can get every warframe and every weapon without spending a cent. The fact that you can save a lot of time by buying the stuff right away doesn’t really count.

    • how about some of the prime warframes that are bundle only?
      Clearly pay to win since they offer stat bonuses outside of just looking epic. Other than that I would agree on your standpoint completely.

      • All warframes are available from relic farming the moment they hit early access… the only “P2W” aspect of “Early Acess” are always 1 time only cosmetics and never weapons or warframes.

      • The only exclusive items are cosmetics, the prime frames and weapons from the bundles are farmable and on drop tables as soon as the bundle is released.

      • The difference between Frost prime and Normal Frost is 25 shield hit points that’s nothing. The difference between Ember prime and Normal Ember is 25 shields and 25 armor points again very very minimal that in no way effects how the frame performs at the end game level at all. I also want to point out what others have been saying these prime warframes are obtained in an arguably easier manner than their normal counterparts with no financial cost to the player.

      • Yeah you can buy them with real money but you can also farm for them as soon as they are released or buy them with in-game currency which is super easy to make

        The game isn’t pay to win, it’s pay to not wait..

  26. Lol I can see both points from the article and from the defenders here. Warframe is P2W from the strict sense of if you didnt want to have to wait for anything at all and just play missions with everything, yes you could use platinum to buy them from the market and from trading and to instantly complete those timers. Mind you that is a very strict definition and with Warframe being mainly PvE, winning is sort of hard to even put as a definition here. Then again with Warframe advertising towards ninjas, maybe they are just that much better at hiding the P2W so much not even those who play it can see it 😉 😀

    • As said in another comment, which I really liked, “ninjas play free”

      If youre crafty about it, you can get everything you could ever want from warframe without paying a cent.

      But yeah, definitely reading the comments, people have very different views on what P2W behavior is. I’ll have to really chalk out my views better on my next article.

  27. I have only one think to say, the game is not competitive what do you care if its P2W or not. Its free cool looking game play and have fun.

  28. Warframe IS NOT P2W… by no means… LITERALLY everything can be obtained without spending a cent. only thing you can pay for is cosmetics, boosters, materials (if your to lazy to go and find), extra weapon slots, and weapons. You can build all of the weapons, you need to have a Clan to do so, lucky, if i remember right, its free to build a clan. You can find all of the mats, on all of the different planets. the only thing i can actually say, thats bad about the game, is that the Drop Tables… thats it lol.

    again NOT p2w.

      • you are spreading false information about a game you clearly do not know enough about to make this article. and the only thing you have to say for yourself is ” :^) ” srsly shouldve spent that college money buying some brain cells instead so you could actually write a decent article

  29. warframe PAY TO WIN LOOOOOOOOOOL!!!!! it´s 100% F2P.. u can buy platium coines to skip time on crafting items… and u can also ern platium in game!!!! for free even posibel sell platium ernd in game for real monye… i got all curent prime warframes worth 100-300 evro each and i got them 100% free by playing the game. Warframe 100%f2p

  30. What a ideot write this 😀 you can get everything free by playingmif you wana level faster or get stuff faster you can pay for bosoters, and everyone can earn game currency easy even lowest level noob, its a best free to play model ever, you dont need to play 2-3 years to level one thing or wait something like its in pay to win king world of tanks, there you need 2 years hardcore playingl to max one tank or buy pay to win golden ammo and win to get mbetter xp and cash +subscriptiopn and other pay to win stuff,Here you not find any pay to win item, every item everyone can get just by playing, its fun game ,when u wait something is building you can level someting else, more and more options u will not notice building times because game is fun, no one force you to grind (its for grinding crybabies, dont grind if you dont want to just play what u like like i do)except pvp, raids and archwing missions.Wish every mmorpg use this free to play model for the win! Never be donor for mycom.com games, every is pay to win + subscription+cash shops +bots+hackers+goldsellers+bugs+many more negative things, just tried revelation online, the first second u enter game you will see few of things i mentioned, i not found any alive person there, thats great, that company is leech, good thing is armored warfare is dead , devs left this wot p2w clone!

  31. Warframe is an 100% free-2-play game after you learn to play the game a little you will be able to sell weapons and other parts for the game’s currency that is platinum very very easy.I made over 4k plat in a day just by selling weapons sets and warframe sets or parts it is that easy,warframe dos not have a pay-2-win feature

    • I would say yes to the first half, but no to the last comment.

      The awesome thing about warframe is that the paid currency is easy to get if you know what you’re doing.

      That being said, if you still want to shell out the money, you could get everything you could ever need.

      • Yes you could get “everything you could ever need” but again this point does NOT lead to “winning” anything. The most you’ll get is a “diferent” way of playing.

      • So much so that Excalibur (the 1st warframe you can pick up for free) is rated one of the best warframes in the game and you can make his full build by making a simple basic skana.

  32. Warframe is an 100% free-2-play game after you learn to play the game a little you will be able to sell weapons and other parts for the game’s currency that is platinum very very easy.I made over 4k plat in a day just by selling weapons sets and warframe sets or parts it is that easy,warframe dos not have a pay-2-win feature.

  33. what killed SWTOR early on was patch 1.2. it basically reset a lot of work people had put into gearing under the premise it was making gearing better, it didn’t. that’s why a lot of the hardcore players left. no one likes being reset. for those who don’t know what I’m referring to, the items you place into the slots in your gear were never optimal on the original piece. you had to go out and grind different mods depending on how you wanted to set yourself up. when 1.2 hit they reset all of those slots claiming the new gearing system would be better. people left because of it. no one I knew thought their gear was better and the output numbers agreed with those players. Karma and Republic Elite were the top guilds and rivals in PVP on my server and both had a massive evacuation due to this change. I imagine it was the same for most of the other servers as well. I tried sticking it out but eventually gave up on the game myself.

  34. As long as the devs aren’t abusing the p2w system and ignoring the free players I’m ok with it I guess. But I hate micro currency I rather just buy a subscription at least I don’t gotta spend thousands of dollars on coins if I just spend 40-60 dollars on a year of subscription time. Which I’m unlikely gonna do anytime soon.

    • Same here. That being said, I usually avoid games that expect whales to be spending thousands of dollars. Being a warframe player, I know one person who spends a couple thousand a year on the game, but for the most part, everyone I know just buys a 10 dollar play pack every month or two or just trades for plat.

      Playing WOW and runescape for years, I know how helpful a monthly paid system can be for devs though.

    • One thing I also dislike is when the subscription feature is abused. When they favor the subscribers more then the free players. I get it they pay so they deserve a little more but only rewarding the people who subscribe to your game and giving the free players nothing? I say there should at least be a little balance. But like I said I do get that the subscribers do deserve a little more since they are paying cash for the perks so yeah they do deserve a little more obviously for their gameplay or account.


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