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WRUP: Yes, it's the beta weekend edition

Eliot Lefebvre

Yes, it's true, you can finally log in and play Guild Wars 2 for a little while. You still can't play two of the five races, but you can sit down at your computer this evening and emerge two days later, a bleary-eyed shell of a human being. And then when you get the full game, you can get bored within an hour. So maybe this whole beta weekend thing is a double-edged sword after all.

Or maybe not -- this is going to be the first I've played of it.

As you can probably guess, this week's WRUP involves a lot of skirmishes being fought by organizations for the second time, and I'm not talking about Business Fisticuffs II: Fisticuff Harder. It also contains the other Massively staff activities for the weekend as well as our opinions on the definition of pay-to-win. So jump on past the break to let us know what you're doing, and leave your own plans in the comments.

Beau Hindman, F2P and Mobile Columnist
@Beau_Hindman: My next installment of Rise and Shiny will mark the two-year anniversary of the column, so I will not actually be playing a game next week; instead, I will recap some stats and figures from the past few years and will talk about some of my favorite moments. The week after that, however, I will be switching to Dark Legends. I'll also continue playing some Gemstone IV, an ancient MUD. I am love with it right now, and I'm really enjoying the fact that character development is so important. It takes a long time as well, and I try to take a long time to build my characters in other games. There are only a few graphical MMOs that I can think of (Wurm Online and RuneScape, among others) that encourage such slow growth.

Pay-to-win is an easy-to-use term that gets thrown around way too much. I can understand what people generally mean though; they're talking about selling power or levels or even full characters and ships as in EVE Online. Even then I don't buy it; one player's "power" might just be the area of the game that another player ignores. It all depends on the player.

Bree Royce, Senior Editor
@nbrianna: I'll likely be in World of Warcraft when I'm not in Guild Wars 2. I'm excited to see whether it's as fun with guildies as it was solo.

I define pay-to-win as an exchange of money for PvE or PvP advantages that cannot be duplicated through gameplay. I don't really have a problem with cash shops that reasonably equate time with money.

Eliot Lefebvre, Columnist Extraordinaire and Senior Contributing Editor
This weekend I'm hopefully going to get my hands on Guild Wars 2 for the first time. Ever. I say "hopefully" because I've also got packing to finish, a romantic event on Saturday with Ms. Lady (don't worry; by the time she could read this, it'll be in full swing), and my usual other games to play. And I keep finding myself oddly drawn toward Torchlight. But hopefully!

In order to define pay-to-win, you'd need to define how you win at an MMO. A competitive format certainly has a win condition, but I wouldn't say I've "won" any of the games I've played even when I've achieved most of my goals in terms of content. More often than not, it's a term thrown around to disparage games that allow you to purchase something with a game effect. That doesn't mean it's wholly without merit. Occasionally there's something sold exclusively in a cash shop that really does provide a substantial game benefit, but that's far and away the exception.

Elisabeth Cardy, Guild Wars 2 Columnist
@elixabethclaire: Yay! Another weekend in Guild Wars 2, and this one is extra special since pre-purchasers and other lucky beta key winners will all be playing and streaming and tweeting and oh my goodness.

I think a pay-to-win situation crops up when users have to pay to receive a significant statistical bonus of any sort in games where that matters. I think it's got to be an advantage that directly threatens other players just by existing, like buying a sword that does way more damage than any game item in a PvP game. Otherwise, it's more like pay-to-experience-content-the-way-you-most-prefer.

Jef Reahard, Columnist Extraordinaire and Senior Contributing Editor
I'm playing Firefall and EVE Online, with a little Age of Conan thrown in for good measure.

I don't really care enough about pay-to-win to define it. I'm not a competitive gamer, so how people choose to play (or avoid playing) a game is largely irrelevant. Just give me a virtual world with a lot of non-combat options and you can put whatever kind of goofy business model on it that you want.

Jeremy Stratton, Contributing Editor
@Jeremy_Stratton: I'm thinking of dusting off my copy of Lord of the Rings Online. I'd really like to start livestreaming another MMO, and LotRO might just fit the bill.

I could blather for hours on the subject of pay-to-win, but compared to the MMOs I love and the mostly non-combat features I love them for, I'll just agree with Jef.

Justin Olivetti, Columnist Extraordinaire and Senior Contributing Editor
@Sypster: It's going to be a busy weekend, but I'll do my darndest to get in some Guild Wars 2 if time allows. If Guild Wars 2 allows, I'll be powering my Captain through Rise of Isengard in Lord of the Rings Online (which is just as enjoyable the second time around). If LotRO allows, I know I really need to get in some Fallen Earth. And Star Wars: The Old Republic. And Star Trek Online. And Hello Kitty Online. Too many choices!

Pay-to-win is when a large burly man comes over to your house, you pay him not to die, and you get to live. That's win-win for everyone!

Larry Everett, SWTOR Columnist
@Shaddoe: I'm going to be playing and livestreaming Guild Wars 2 this weekend. Follow me on twitter; I'll be sure to announce when I'm doing the exciting feed-the-cows quest. And when I'm not feeding Guild Wars 2 cows, I'll be blasting Republic soldiers in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Pay-to-win is simply having to buy something in order to progress in a game. If there is a necessary item in-game that cannot be obtained except through the cash shop, or if the necessary items do not take a reasonable amount of time to obtain without the cash shop, then you're looking at a pay-to-win scenario. Personally, I've never run into a situation like that.

MJ Guthrie, Aion and Sandbox Columnist
Due to my running a fundraiser in my community this weekend, gaming time will be seriously limited. I will try to check out GW2 in my utter noobness as well as find a bit of time to wander around Tiamaranta more in Aion. That will probably take up my only two gaming hours (if I get that many).

I don't really worry or care about pay-to-win any, since I am never out to "win" in any game. Only thing I hate is when content I want/like is locked behind a barrier that I cannot access without shelling out extra funds. I've never had tons of spare funds to throw willy-nilly at a game, nor would I do so if I did. The whole kids-need-to-eat and wow-how-much? college fund is where I dispose of my income. That and Rush concert tickets, of course!

Patrick Mackey, League of Legends Columnist
@mackeypb: I'm playing mostly League of Legends. I'm still playing Poppy, though I did slam out a few games of Kassadin just to see if I still had "the touch." He's crazy. Poppy is even crazier, or at least she's easier to play. She's great fun.

I'm with most of the other writers; I only consider pay-to-win as such if it actually gives advantages beyond those you can get with playtime, effort, or skill. I consider it pay-to-win regardless of whether it is PvE or PvP; thus Mercenary Hero slots in Guild Wars are P2W and buying ISK with PLEX in EVE is not. In general, I feel the point is somewhat moot. Most people who "pay to win" end up squandering their resources, so it's rare for me to feel cheated by someone else's microtransaction advantages.

Terilynn Shull, Star Trek Online Columnist
@terilynns: I think I will be playing Star Trek Online this weekend. Pet health issues have kept me away from the computer lately, and if all goes well on that end, it should free up some time to relax and concentrate on getting my most recent alt to level cap. I've really enjoyed the experience of creating and playing this alt with the perspective of being a "new" player. It's given me a lot of insight as to why the game is so different to new players than it is to veterans.

I think I may have a very different point of view on what defines "pay-to-win." To me, it only holds water in matters of PvP. I couldn't give a flying leap what another player pays for to play his character in a PvE situation. If anyone wants toys and can afford to pay for them, well good for him! How he plays his own PvE matters not to me, and if I'm teamed with him, I'm never at a disadvantage anyway because he's a member of my team. However, having an ability to buy items that would give him an advantage over me in a PvP setting is very different, but only if those items cannot be obtained by other means than spending cash. If those items can be earned in-game for in-game currency, I don't see it as P2W -- it's just a bit more time-consuming for those who don't want to spend cash.

At the start of every weekend, we catch up with the Massively staff members and ask them, "What are you playing this week?" (Otherwise known as: WRUP!) Join us to see what we're up to in and out of game -- and catch us in the comments to let us know what you're playing, too!

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