The Daily Grind: How do you define pay-to-win?

Jef Reahard
J. Reahard|04.19.12

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The Daily Grind: How do you define pay-to-win?
Lord of the Rings Online - Virtue upgrades via the cash shop
Game design in the free-to-play era is somewhat different from that of years past. No longer can devs concentrate solely on making a fun title; now they must also worry about getting a percentage of their userbase to actually pay for it.

Free-to-play makes it quite challenging to separate monetization decisions from game design decisions, and as a result, developers are understandably concerned about avoiding the dreaded pay-to-win stigma. Pay close attention to any interview or press release that talks about a title's business model and you're guaranteed to hear a dev (or executive) say something vaguely reassuring in terms of how his title's monetization scheme absolutely isn't pay-to-win.

The problem is that there is no agreed-upon definition of pay-to-win. "Convenience" items are a good case in point. Some folks don't mind them, while others point out that they can make your character more powerful in less time, depending on the system. For today's early-morning discussion, we'd like to know your thoughts on pay-to-win. More specifically, how do you define it?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!
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