ArenaNet president Mike O'Brien has announced that Guild Wars 2 will feature a microtransactions system that allows players to purchase cosmetic and "time-saving" items with real money.
"You get a complete and playable game no matter what", O'Brien stresses in his latest post on the ArenaNet blog , "but we think we can provide additional content and services that you'd be happy to pay for."
Guild Wars 2 will, like its predecessor, be a full-price game with no recurring subscription fee. Unlike Guild Wars 1, however, Guild Wars 2 has afforded ArenaNet "an opportunity to integrate the microtransaction system from the ground up." It'll be a more substantial part of the game than it was in Guild Wars 1.
O'Brien explains that GW2 will have three currencies: gold, in its traditional role as in-game currency, karma, which rewards participation in events but is bound to the player that earns it, and gems, which are bought for real cash. There'll be an in-game market where players can trade gems for gold and vice versa, and ArenaNet hope that this will undercut illegitimate gold farmers.
"If a player buys gold from another player, he gets the gold he wants, the selling player gets gems she can use for microtransactions, and ArenaNet generates revenue that we can use to keep supporting and updating the game. Everyone wins."
O'Brien highlights EVE's PLEX system as a model. "As in that case, our system takes gold trading out of the hands of real-money trading (RMT) companies and puts it directly in the hands of players."
Specifics on what players will be able to buy with gems haven't been announced. ArenaNet are careful to stress that they're approaching microtransactions with the player's interests in mind, and while the proof will be in the execution this should reassure anyone worried that there'll be a sting in the tail of the subscription-free MMO.