In the modern-day, MMORPGs are everywhere. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, to choose from. The best of the best, though, separate themselves from the rest by being bigger, smoother, and more ambitious than everything else. However, MMORPGs in the modern-day also have a huge, extraordinarily common problem: monetization. So, in this article, we'll tell you if some of the top MMOs out now, New World, Final Fantasy 14, and Black Desert Online, are pay-to-win.
Is New World Pay-to-Win?
Honest answer: No, not yet. What does that mean? Well, first, New World is neither free-to-play nor does it have a subscription (or battle pass): New World costs $39.99 for its standard edition, and that's it. You buy the game, and you've got the game, for now.
It's not really clear if premium expansions will come to New World like they do World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy 14 or if it'll be more like Black Desert Online where you pay a flat fee for the game and all its major expansions and updates.
What is clear is that New World has microtransactions. Here's the deal with microtransactions in New World: By the developers' own admission, the focus of the in-game shop is on cosmetics but there are going to be other things you can buy, too.
What will be sold in the store and for how long is still in flux. The game is still new, and Amazon hasn't had that much time to test what that many players are comfortable with going up on the shop. But you can probably expect things like storage, the occasional minor buff, and some quality-of-life features to show up in the store eventually.
New World also has direct player-to-player trading, and you can trade gold, too. So, like World of Warcraft, a side industry of third-party gold-selling could crop up. Though, there isn't a subscription in New World, let alone one you can buy with in-game currency, so there's less incentive to buy gold in New World.
Plus, there are many fewer New World players than World of Warcraft players, and PvP in New World has been so buggy and exploitable that using real money to try to acquire some kind of in-game advantage wouldn't be effective even if it were possible.
Is Final Fantasy XIV Pay-to-Win?
Honest answer: No. But Final Fantasy 14 is one of the most expensive MMOs out there, similar to World of Warcraft, in terms of its asking price. In Final Fantasy XIV, you buy the game, expansion packs, a subscription, and, yes, there are microtransactions.
Usually, you can pick up a copy of the game with an expansion for $20, or you can grab a version for $60 that comes with all four of the expansion packs. Of course, as expansions packs are released and sales come and go, your mileage may vary.
On top of that, you subscribe to Final Fantasy for about $13 a month, depending on your type of subscription and how long you subscribe for. Then, there's an in-game real-money shop where you can buy a slew of cosmetics alongside mounts and story skips.
However, Final Fantasy XIV has an extremely generous free trial where you can download the game and play it for nothing for much more than enough time to decide if you want to actually play the game and spend some money on it.
While comparatively more expensive, Final Fantasy 14 works more like traditional MMOs of yore: After you've bought the game and subscribed, you're done. You can completely ignore the in-game shop and still get a powerful character that looks amazing all by simply playing.
There aren't crazy grinds you have to do just to be competitive in PvP or a real-money way to skip the grind to get to the endgame. Plus, Final Fantasy XIV is an extremely story-focused game to the extent that you can get powerful gear just by questing. Suffice it to say that even if you could pay someone to powerlevel you, you wouldn't.
Is Black Desert Online Pay-to-Win?
Honest answer: In the past, yes, but today, it's complicated. Black Desert Online is a complicated beast when it comes to monetization. In some ways, it's best the deal out there, and in other ways, it can be extremely predatory.
Black Desert costs anywhere from nothing to $20, depending on what kind of sale/event you decide to start playing during. This will get you access to the entire game, including all future updates and expansions. You won't ever be charged for new content, and everyone plays together regardless of how much money they put into the game.
On top of the flat fee, Black Desert Online has a subscription fee, kind of. You can buy 'Value Packs' that give you a number of buffs and features you'll have as long as the Value Pack is active, and this system is effectively Black Desert's subscription.
Unless you're a casual player just interested in questing, having fun, and hanging out with friends or you're deep in the late-game where you don't care about XP buffs, you'll probably want a Value Pack active at all times. But you don't absolutely need it, and you can play normally without one.
Black Desert also does not have direct player-to-player trading, opting for a marketplace system instead, so you have to earn or purchase gear with in-game currency. Or, of course, you can buy stuff with actual money from the Pearl Shop.
The majority of the stuff in the Pearl Shop is either cosmetic or can be earned in-game. However, the catch is that the most lucrative stuff usually takes forever in-game or exists in-game as a lesser version.
The Pearl Shop will happily sell you pets, mounts, outfits, XP boosts, storage, potions, various coupons, and much more. If you play long enough and keep up with the regular events and free stuff given out, you won't need to buy much.
Black Desert is very much a grind by design, whether you spend tons of money on it or not, and Pearl Shop items can and will make the grind a lot more efficient. Ultimately, though, spending money on Black Desert doesn't let you 'beat' other players most of the time, rather it makes some players' time worth more than other players' time.