Is Lost Ark Pay to Win?
Lost Ark has been the talk of the town ever since its western release. Thousands of players from the West have flocked to the game to see what the hype is all about. With so many gamers logging into the game, the Korean ARPG has become the number one most played Steam game on the platform, vastly outpacing mainstays such as DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. While the game is advertised as a free-to-play game, some players are worried that Lost Ark is pay to win or otherwise leaves free to play players at a disadvantage.
What is Pay-to-Win?
Pay to win also known as P2W, is a system present in games wherein players can use real-world money to progress their accounts faster and to much higher levels, giving them a substantial and essentially non-balanced advantage over non-playing players. In P2W games, players can use real money outside the game in order to become more powerful and geared without grinding, doing raids or otherwise even engaging with in game mechanics, which F2P players are forced to do. P2W systems are frowned upon by most gamers and many will actively avoid games that implement such a system.
Pay-to-win schemes can manifest themselves either by players being able to buy items with real money or by people being able to buy currencies in the game which they can use to buy gear. Gamers who pour money into games are called whales, referring to the massive amount of money they invest into P2W systems. This system presents an unfair way of progressing in the game that mimics real-life economic inequalities since rich players can get stronger without any real effort.
Most multiplayer (and increasingly singeplayer) games feature an in-game shop where players can spend real money for items, cosmetics, battle pass levels, and more, so that gaming studios gain revenue from their games. Most MMOs have a P2W feature, but they have varying ways of implementing them. Some games will blatantly sell gear or equipment or currencies while some have more subtle advantages like powerups or cosmetics with huge boosting effects. However, there are MMOs which have features that directly result in P2W schemes.
Some MMOs will just sell cosmetics or costumes in their in-game stores which players can sell in in-game marketplaces. Though some gamers believe this is a P2W system, this method is also one of the ways that game developers do in order to make premium items accessible to casual players. Gamers can consider these games as technically “not P2W” since it requires massive amounts of money (whale fishing) to progress characters using this feature.
Lost Ark is Technically “Not Pay-to-Win”
The best way to describe Smilegate’s popular ARPG is that it employs a “pay-for-convenience” system. A pay-for-convenience game aims to improve the quality of game life by selling value packs, buffs, blessings, or battle passes rather than selling items or gear for real world money the game. It is ambiguous whether or not this system falls under the P2W umbrella, but for many gamers, MMOs that employ this feature are technically not pay-to-win.
Lost Ark is incredibly grindy in every aspect of the game. Players will spend a huge amount of their time doing daily raids and dungeons while also completing their Una’s Tasks. A lot of quests and world events will require adventurers to sail from island to island to earn Island Tokens or simply Pirate Coins. Even life skills in the game are very grindy since gamers will have to look for gathering nodes or islands which are not populated, so they can forage, mine, or lumber in peace.
The Crystalline Aura
Smilegate offers players Crystalline Auras which is the game’s form of a value pack or subscription item. For players who have limited game time or just can’t commit enough energy to do every daily activity, the Aura is one way to make grinding more convenient. Crystalline Auras reduces Triport costs which help in transportation and reduce Ocean Liner costs for easier transport between continents. It also increases the rate of life energy recovery, adds another Bifrost slot for quick teleportation, and unlocks pet functions.
Essentially, the Crystalline Aura helps adventurers do their daily activities in a much quicker and cheaper way in terms of in-game currency. However, this aura in no way makes any Lost Ark class stronger. A prime feature of a P2W system is that gamers can become more powerful or stronger by buying items or currencies from in-game shops. Lost Ark does not offer any kind of these transactions in its premium shop.
Is There Way to P2W in Lost Ark?
There is still a way for very rich players to whale in games such as Lost Ark. Fortunately, for the casual gamer, only very few people can do this since it requires massive amounts of money, and it barely affects the game. The Korean ARPG sells cosmetics, pets, and ship skins which adventurers can sell in the game’s marketplace for Lost Ark gold. Game developers enabled premium items to be sold in the marketplace so that average gamers can gain access to these shop items without spending real-life money.
Whales can buy tons of cosmetics to acquire vast amounts of gold so that they can buy better gear and crystals. However, costumes and skins are very costly, and players who are planning to P2W their way into Lost Ark’s leaderboard will have to spend $1,500 dollars at a minimum. Spending the bare minimum will only make them slightly stronger than actual hardcore gamers, so whaling in this scenario is not ideal.
To answer the question of whether Lost Ark is a P2W game, the answer is yes and no depending on what gamers’ criteria for pay-to-win. For the general population, it is safe to say that Lost Ark is technically “Not P2W” since whaling in games like these is reserved for the 1%. Lost Ark is absolutely free-to-play, and adventurers can become the best of the best without spending money to get stronger.
Lost Ark is really difficult for ordinary players. If you don’t spend money, many contents cannot be unlocked in a short period of time, which is really annoying.