Monday, January 4, 2016

January Sales : GW2

In all the time I've played GW2, three and a half years, many thousands of hours, I've hardly spent anything. As form of entertainment it has to be about the cheapest imaginable, short of cloud-watching.

Odd pricing history.
Why no gem total against the two bank slots?
They certainly weren't freebies like the rest of
the nonsense down the bottom there.
Let's see, I bought the original game and then a second copy for a second account, both at full price. Much later I bought a third copy when it was on sale at 75% off to give me three accounts in total.

For more than two years I ran the first two as equals but eventually the game's slippage from character to account-based play pushed me into choosing one as a primary and focusing on that. Currently I play the first and third account actively with the second coming out only to do dailies.

The reason for keeping the third active is that it has no characters at level 80 and I plan on keeping it that way. It means I get a different selection of dailies, which I find both refreshing and entertaining. Also it's on a different server which means I get to see WvW in a very different context from the #1 NA experience currently available on Yaks Bend.

As a result of this consolidation and stratification I have only bought one copy of Heart of Thorns. I imagined it would be the only copy I ever bought but because I enjoyed the expansion so much more than I expected there is an outside chance I might one day buy a second copy for the dormant account.

I'm keeping that as a fallback option in case it takes another three years before the next expansion and we get another major content drought. I am already thinking, very much to my own surprise, that I'd quite like to start HoT again from scratch. Opening all the maps and finding all the Masteries and Hero Points was really good fun and I'm a little sorry it's almost over.
However much you spend you're never going to look better than when you were level ten.

Other than buying those four "boxes" in getting on for four years, though, I've spent nothing. Not, at least, in real money. I've made a number of purchases through the Gem Store over the years but every one has been funded by exchanging gold earned in-game for Gems through the Black Lion Trading Post.

I'm aware that, somehow, theoretically, that means someone, somewhere paid ANet some real money but it wasn't me. It's not because I'm averse in any way to spending money on my hobby, either. For the entire time I've played GW2 I've also maintained an All Access account with SOE/DBG, for which I pay $14.99 a month.

Even though I've had All Access since it was Station Pass I haven't even bothered to take the annual option to save money. Paying a sub never makes me feel I need to log in to get my money's worth. I just think of it as membership dues to a club.  If ANet required a subscription to play GW2 I'd have been paying it without hesitation these last three years - although probably not on three accounts.

And here are just a few of my skins that I'll probably never use...

The problem, when it comes to GW2 separating me from my money, is simple. There's almost never anything added to the Store that I want. I am not very much interested in changing the look of my characters, for example. I like to level them up in whatever they happen to find along the way and then, when they hit 80, choose a look that will be theirs forever. I get confused if I log in and my characters don't look the way I expect them to look.

Sounds tempting...
What's more, I like either quasi-realistic and/or understated appearances. I like armor that looks wearable, weapons that look practical and clothes that look ordinary, a look that's available in game for next to nothing. There are exceptions and I'm not averse to a bit of dressing up but I'm certainly not interested enough to pay for it, or indeed make any substantial in-game effort to acquire it either.

Whoaaaaa, Nelly!
I'm fond of vanity pets in MMOs but GW2's minis are simply too small to be really desirable. Also there's a huge selection available for a few gold each on the Trading Post. Even most of the practical options, things like the unbreakable harvesting tools or the harvestable nodes for your personal instance, seem completely pointless to me.

Then there's the pricing structure. There are things I might buy - I like some of the toys - but they are just too expensive. In real money terms I am not going to pay £5 so one of my characters can run around with a kite. Especially not when the process of accessing and using the kite is so awkward and fiddly. If I could hot-key it for instant access then maybe.

Other potentially interesting acquisitions are locked behind the RNG of the game's lockboxes, Black Lion Chests. Once again, I actually don't get all hot under the collar over the concept - I quite like a Lucky Bag - but the pricing, at around £1 a key, is insane.

Best. Bargain. Ever.

Over the years mostly the only objects I have bought have been toys, when they go on sale - the Magic Carpet remains one of my favorite things in the game - or when they are very, very cheap - like the Ear Muffs that appeared this Wintersday for the irresistible price of 25 Gems. I bought those for every account and a pair for Mrs Bhagpuss as a gift. I'm nothing if not generous!

Is it me or is there a Julius Caesar vibe going on here?
Apart from that I have paid only for services and upgrades, namely Bank and Character Slots. I'd love to buy Bag Slots too but again they are ridiculously overpriced and they never seem go on sale except in an annoying pack with some boosters I don't want.

Part of the original thinking in buying a second account was that it was much, much cheaper than adding storage and characters to a single account, which remained the case for a couple of years. Now, though, it makes more sense just to add capacity to my focus account.

There's currently a New Year's Sale going on. I almost missed it. I just happened to notice a news item on Dulfy's site. There was no in-game notification that I saw and of course all my GW2 accounts are attached to unique email addresses made for them that I never look at so any promotional material misses me entirely.

Luckily I caught the sale in time to buy extra Bank Slots for the focus and junior accounts. I also added a tenth character slot to the main account even though I have no plans on making a new character and indeed have both a Mesmer and a Revenant leveling up already.

Let's go fly a kite. Oh, wait, not at that price.
Jeromai and Liore have been talking about de-cluttering and hoarding, virtual and real. As I get older and ever more aware that there are books I simply won't ever have time to re-read and movies I have already watched for the final time I find myself becoming more sympathetic than once I was to the concept of letting physical objects go. I can't see any reason not to keep adding more imaginary storage space hold more imaginary things in a video game, though.

ANet don't agree. The storage isn't imaginary to them, after all, it's an overhead. At eleven Bank Slots I am now one short of the most I'm allowed on the main account. Lucky I have two more accounts then, isn't it?

And, well, I guess, if pushed, I can see one downside. I do spend a very, very large amount of time both organizing my storage in each MMO I play and trying to find things I've stashed. As a rule that's considered core gameplay where I'm coming from - check the title of this blog - but even I have my limits as to how much bag-sorting I can find actively entertaining and my recent eight-hour stints have pushed at the boundaries a little.

For now, though, I'm very happy with my bargains. It's nice to be able to find something in the Gem Store at last that I'm excited to buy. And I have to do something with all that gold.


  1. I kinda thought as you did about the perma-tools. Perhaps I'm just really lazy, though, but now that I have them (and the Copper-fed Salvage-o-Matic), I find the ostensibly minor reduction in hassle to be surprisingly important to me.

    The salvage bot in particular is great if you do a lot of events and so end up with a mountain of things to salvage. I just wish we could salvage runes and sigils.

    1. Once you get used to any convenience it's often hard to imagine going back to the old way of doing things, even if you were perfectly satisfied with it at the time! These days I seem to see more people using the perma-tools than the regular ones too. Maybe one day I'll crack and buy some but like most things in the Gem Store they seem ferociously overpriced to me.


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