Over the weekend, Trion Worlds promoted its new Revelation Pack for ArcheAge via Facebook. One reader asked if the packs would be available for the upcoming Fresh Start servers, which are meant to give all players a new starting point with no inherent advantages, and the response from Trion Worlds was:
Great question — No, this pack is for Legacy Servers only. The Fresh Start servers will have a different pack available at launch that’s focused on cosmetics not power or P2W. We want to make sure everyone playing on the fresh start server has an even playing field.
So if the Fresh Start packs are “focused on cosmetics not power or P2W”… does that mean the regular Revelation Packs are focused on power or P2W? Did Trion just admit that ArcheAge is pay-to-win?
That’s the cause taken up by fans on that Facebook page, as well as on Reddit. Frankly, I think it’s a little overblown, as far as being a “smoking gun” that implicates Trion as admitting ArcheAge is P2W. Rather, I think it was just the community rep going to any length to assure players that the Fresh Start pack wasn’t P2W, rather than comparing it to the other packs and saying that they’re P2W. Whether ArcheAge in general is pay-to-win, apart from these packs… well, that’s a well-trodden topic that I’d rather not get into right now. I’m sure the comments won’t disappoint, though.
Here’s Trion’s big misstep, though, and it’s one that nearly all game companies have been making over the past few years: In their frenetic haste to unilaterally declare that their games aren’t pay-to-win, all developers and publishers have managed to do is render the term meaningless. It’s the first question that’s asked of any new game, especially a free-to-play or non-subscription one, and the answer is always — always — “No, our game isn’t pay-to-win.” Wavering the tiniest bit, or introducing even the slightest sliver of a notion that that isn’t 100% the case — as seen above — lights the community on fire and invites a horde of negative commentary that causes more trouble than the original question ever could have.
At this point, saying “Our game isn’t pay-to-win” is about as meaningful as saying “Our game is fun.” Of course the creators of the game are going to say it’s fun, but that’s not for them to decide. Everyone has their own definition of pay-to-win, just as they have their own definition of fun, and what works for one person may be reviled by another. The question will still be asked, though, and if you must speak on the question, the answer should be as brief and unequivocal as possible, to give the players as little ammunition as possible for an attack.