Is Path of Exile Pay to Win? A Complete Guide on What’s P2W and Not.

Is PoE P2W
By | December 1st, 2021 | Categories: Path of Exile

Is Path of Exile Pay to Win? A Complete Guide on what’s Free and What isn’t.

No doubt you’ve heard about, or may have even played, the popular and trending Free-to-Play action-RPG Path of Exile, especially with the brand-new Path of Exile patch: 3.16 Scourge. PoE Scourge is one of the most hyped updates we’ve seen a good while, and I have to say it is absolutely fantastic so far! The game is available to download for free on PC, Xbox One (XB1) and PlayStation 4 (PS4). I believe Path of Exile is also playable on PlayStation 5 (PS5) in backwards compatibility mode. The game is also playable on Xbox Series X|S but unfortunately, it’s not currently available for Nintendo Switch users. Mac gamers can also enjoy the experience as Path of Exile for Mac became available earlier this year in April 2021 and it even includes M1 support! With many claiming that Path of Exile is better than Diablo 3 (I agree) and with Path of Exile being Free to Play for me it always was a no-brainer when it came to downloading and playing this amazing game. After all, I’m a huge aRPG / Hack ‘n’ Slash fanatic!

I’ve not played Path of Exile myself on Console though. I’ve only ever played Path of Exile on PC. This guide is based on my own experience of playing the game on my computer. You can get the game on PC either through their website directly or through Steam. I play the game on Steam which makes purchasing points for the microtransaction shop a lot easier. For console you can get it either through the PlayStation Store / PS Store or the Xbox Store itself. All of these are linked in the top right-hand corner of the Official Path of Exile website.

Path of Exile is a Free to Play Hack ‘n’ Slash action RPG / aRPG game which is heavily influenced by and based on the popular Hack and Slash RPG game Diablo II. Many will say that Path of Exile is more of a ‘Diablo-type’ game than even Diablo III. As I myself personally prefer Path of Exile even over Diablo 2: Resurrected. But the question still remains…

Is Path of Exile Pay to Win?

Find out in this complete guide on what’s Free and what isn’t free on PoE!

The developers of Path of Exile (Grinding Gear Games) have actually done a pretty good job at making the game Path of Exile Free-to-Play without adding any official Pay-To-Win, mechanics. With almost all of the actual in-game purchases / micro-transactions being cosmetic only. But the Microtransaction Shop in Path of Exile also has a “Stash Tabs” section. Which leaves players still disputing whether or not the limited number of Stash Tabs / Bank Space they are given as a F2P player leaves them at a disadvantage compared to P2P ones.

I have put around seventy-five dollars into Path of Exile so far. Not a lot of money compared to many other P2P players, but still, that’s more money than the price of most top AAA title games.

Let’s take a look and break it down, shall we?

As a free-to-play or F2P, player you get a mere four stash tabs in Path of Exile. Which I’ll be completely honest with you, is nowhere near enough. As said above, I’ve put $75 into the game myself and I do believe this has given me some advantage over free players, but is it enough of an advantage to be considered pay-to-win, or P2W?

What’s on sale in the Micro-transaction Stash Tabs section:

Premium Stash Tab Bundle is on sale for 200 Points, which is $20. This gives players Six Extra Premium Tabs to their shared stash (at a discounted price).

These Premium Tabs can have their name and color changed at any time whenever the player wants to. Premium Tabs can also be set to Public which allows players to sell their in-game items easily by listing them for sale. Then a player can simply right-click on a stash tab and tick ‘Public’ They can then individually price items for sale or have all items on that stash tab set to the same price. Players can then place an item or multiple items into the public stash tab and right-click on them. Upon right-clicking the player will see a box appear which will allow them to set a Note, Negotiable Price, Exact Price, or even Do Not Index. The last option will not list the item for sale on the trade section of the Path of Exile website.

Once an item is listed the player can then play as normal until they get whispered by another player wanting to buy that item. This in itself gives a player a nice quality-of-life advantage over free-to-play gamers.

Players can search the Path of Exile website themselves under the ‘Trade’ section for buying items from other players for in-game currency items such as Orb of Alchemy, Chaos Orb, Exalted Orb, Mirror of Kalandra and so on. While there is a way for F2P players to list items for sale it is quite a tedious process that I haven’t done myself for a very long time. This topic however I will fully cover in another upcoming guide of mine.

Just by having Premium Stash Tabs on Path of Exile, it is enough of an advantage to make the game possibly pay to win. But don’t let that put you off the game! The game itself is amazing and is definitely worth the money. You can get started easily by spending as little as just $5

For $5 you can get yourself 50 Points, which can then be spent in the Microtransaction Shop on Path of Exile. Simply by purchasing the “Upgrade to Premium Stash Tab” microtransaction for 15 Points which is $1.50 in real money, you will get an extra Stash Tab.

Other Stash Tabs available to purchase and buy on Path of Exile.

We also have a league or feature-specific tabs. I’ll list them below as well along with the price in Points and USD. This will be the price of each Stash Tab normally without any sale. Path of Exile occasionally will have a Stash Tab sale which will reduce the cost of the Stash Tabs by providing a discount that knocks a set percentage off of the full price.

I’ll then break down and explain what each tab offers so you can then decide for yourself whether or not Path of Exile is Pay-to-Win or whether the Microtransaction Shop is fair.

  • Premium Stash Tab Bundle is 200 Points or $20.
  • Blight Stash Tab is 40 Points or $4.
  • Metamorph Stash Tab is 40 Points or $4.
  • Delirium Stash Tab is 40 Points or $4.
  • Delve Stash Tab is 40 Points or $4.
  • Unique Collection Tab is 140 Points or $14.
  • Map Stash Tab is 150 Points or $15.
  • Currency Stash Tab is 75 Points or $7.50.
  • Premium Quad Stash Tab is 150 Points or $15.
  • Upgrade to Premium Stash Tab is 15 Points or $1.50.
  • Stash Tab Bundle is 150 Points or $15.
  • Premium Stash Tab is 40 Points or $4.
  • Divination Stash Tab is 50 Points or $5.
  • Fragment Stash Tab is 75 Points or $7.50.

Whew! That’s a lot of stash tabs. Don’t worry, I’ll break them down, explain what they’re for and whether or not they’re actually worth buying with your hard-earned money.

I’ll start by telling you what Stash Tabs I’ve bought myself as I’ve only bought the ones I’ve felt were absolutely necessary for me to play and enjoy the game properly. Then I’ll break them down one at a time below and explain what each Stash Tab is for.

The Stash Tabs I have bought for myself are the Currency Stash Tab, Essences Stash Tab and Maps Stash Tab. I then have an additional 12 Premium Stash Tabs. I didn’t need this many, but I wanted to make sure I had enough space. I’ve also got my own Path of Exile guild and there I purchased x1 of the 10 Extra Guild Members Slots at 100 Points ($10) and we have a total of six Premium Guild Stash Tabs. Some of these I purchased myself while some of them other guild members contributed towards by donating points to my guild which I spent on extra guild stash tabs.

With the new Path of Exile 3.16 Scourge League more specific Stash Tabs have been added to the Guild Page. But I won’t elaborate on those in this guide.

There are more Stash Tabs I feel I do need currently but I am waiting for them to go on sale. Such as the Blight Stash Tab, Metamorph Stash Tab, Delirium Stash Tab, Delve Stash Tab, and Divination Stash Tab.

Microtransaction Stash Tab Breakdown

Don’t worry if you don’t fully understand all of this as some of the stash tabs are for league-specific content. After a league ends in Path of Exile the content usually still remains which means the game is getting more and more content added with each and every new league update. I’ve already written a ‘Complete Guide to Upgrading Items to Scourge Tiers in Path of Exile 3.16: Scourge League.” Now here’s a breakdown of what every single Stash Tab does.

  • The Premium Stash Tab Bundle adds six extra Premium Tabs to your shared stash at a discounted price of 200 Points ($20) which saves you 40 Points ($4) essentially giving you a free tab as it would be $20 / 200 Points for 5 Premium Stash Tabs if bought separately. Of course, premium tabs can be personalized and even set to public which allows you to easily put items up for sale / trade in return for in-game currency orbs.
  • The Blight Stash Tabs can hold 5000 of each type of Oil and 60 Blighted Maps. This tab holds items related to the Blight league. This stash tabs hold a higher quantity of items than regular stash tabs some have convenience features as the Blight Stash tab also allows you to upgrade your oils from your stash tab and anoint your items from the designated crafting window. You will come across Blight encounters in-game where you will build towers to defend against monsters held in its thrall. This is basically a little tower defense encounter within Path of Exile.
  • The Metamorph Stash Tabs lets you store 5000 of each type of catalyst and up to 50 of each type of organ. The Metamorph league mechanics allow you to take Metamorph Organs which you get from Metamorph Encounters. Each map has an 8% chance to include a Metamorph encounter. You are going to come across this in-game yourself as with all the other content and league mechanics this game has to offer.
  • The Delirium Stash Tabs can store up to 5000 Simulacrum Maps and 5000 of each type of Orb of Delirium. Delirium has a 5% chance to appear in a zone from the Torched Courts in Act 5 onwards. (About halfway into the story line of the game as there are 10 Acts total before you get to the end-game content of running maps.
  • The Delve Stash Tabs can hold 5000 of each Fossil and Resonator. The Delve league mechanic is a lot of fun! As you Delve into the Azurite Mine’s infinite depths you will come across many monsters, encounters, treasures, and secrets. Including Fossils and Resonators. Delving is also a very good way to earn currency / money on Path of Exile as you can sell the Fossils and Resonators to other players. You can also use them to upgrade and craft your own gear as well of course.
  • The Unique Collection Tabs can hold one of each Unique Item. This is only really beneficial to you if you actually want to collect all of the uniques yourself in Path of Exile. But for myself I don’t find most of the Unique Items useful anyway, especially end-game. So therefore, I haven’t bought this actual stash tab for myself as it offers no real in-game advantage.
  • The Map Stash Tabs can hold 72 of each map type. The Map Stash Tab has additional clickable buttons / tabs ranging from I to XVI which is Roman numerals for 1 to 16. These are the tier of the maps. Inside each of each tab are 72 item slots for your maps to go inside of. There is also a ‘U’ section / page for Unique Maps. Currently there are 19 different unique maps, and each unique map section within a Map Stash Tab has 72 item slots as well. Meaning you can store a whopping total of over 2500 maps. I personally feel that without at least one Map Stash Tab you will quite possibly struggle end-game to manage your maps on just the standard regular normal stash tabs. Although it is still possible to do so, it would be a somewhat tedious process.
  • The Currency Stash Tabs can hold 5000 of many currency types. It also gives additional stash space by providing an extra 14 stash spaces / slots at the bottom of the Currency Stash Tab which actually allows you to store some other items such as but not limited to items like the Tainted Currency Orbs for example. In the middle of the currency tab is an item slot, which is a nice additional ‘quality of life’ feature as you can simply place the item you are currently crafting / upgrading here. Your currency is then positioned around that item meaning you can then easily select the currency orb you want to and then apply it to the item without having to mouse around your whole screen. This can save you a lot of time especially as you can even Ctrl + Left Click an item in and out of the dedicated item slot inside of the currency stash tab from your inventory screen. I do feel that the currency stash tab is a must have as you will quite possibly struggle to manage and maintain your currency orbs on a free to play normal stash tab that is for sure! Especially due to the very limited small stack size of each currency orb.
  • Premium Quad Stash Tabs have four times the space of regular Stash Tabs. That is pretty much it for these and there is not much else to say about them. They are useful but they are not a must have stash tab. I myself don’t have even a single Premium Quad Stash Tab as I don’t feel the need for any currently. I have also been playing Path of Exile on and off for several years.
  • The Upgrade to Premium Stash Tab purchase will simply upgrade a Standard Stash Tab your already have to a Premium Stash Tab. Premium Stash Tabs can have their name and color changed whenever you want and you can also set a premium stash tab to ‘Public’ as explained previously in this article; which in turn allows you to easily list items for sale with very little to no effort at all.
  • The Stash Tab Bundle purchase adds six extra stash tabs to your shared stash at a discounted price of 150 Points ($15). You save 30 Points ($3) this way, so you’re essentially buying 5 tabs and getting 1 free. These are Standard Tabs though and do not provide the features of the Premium Stash Tabs. They’re slightly cheaper and are useful only for additional stash space / item storage.
  • The Premium Stash Tab purchase adds 1 extra Premium Stash Tab to your shared stash. As mentioned above these can also be personalized as you are able to change the name and color of these stash tabs whenever you want to. You can also set them public to easily list items for sale / trade in-game.
  • The Divination Stash Tabs can hold 5000 of each Divination Card. Divination Cards will drop very often and will take up a quite lot of space over time if stored in your normal stash tabs. I haven’t got one of these myself yet but once there is a stash tab sale then I will definitely be buying 1 of these Stash Tabs myself especially as you need a set number of the same divination card usually before you can redeem it for an item or something in-game. Some of the divination redemptions are worthless while others such as the Alluring Bounty cards in which you need 7 of them to cash in for 10x Exalted Orbs, or 1 Brother’s Stash card for 5x Exalted Orbs can be well worth your while. There are also ways to get the Headhunter Belt from divination cards, which is one of the most sought-after items in Path of Exile due to it’s 20-30% increased damage with hits against Rare Monsters, and when you kill a rare monster you gain it’s modifiers for 20 seconds! So that said, I personally feel the divination stash tab is almost a must have. I have played this far without one, but it will be a nice quality of life improvement to my gameplay by having one of these for sure.
  • The Fragment Stash Tabs can hold 5000 of each Fragment type. Map Fragments are items that can be used inside of a map device to open portals to various high level areas. Placing any of the map fragments along with a map into the map device will also increase the item quantity of that map itself. Running maps or rather ‘mapping’ as it is best known is what you will be doing end-game once you have finished the story / questline part of the game which consists of playing through Acts 1 to 10. Some people even class the quest line of the game as the tutorial. So, while I’ve managed myself to play Path of Exile without yet owning a Fragment Stash Tab myself, I do feel yet again that it will be a very nice stash tab to add to my collection to make my own personal gameplay a lot more hassle free and enjoyable.

Is Path of Exile Pay-to-Win?

Whew! That’s a lot to take in I know. – Don’t worry if you don’t fully understand it all. I do plan to write more specific guides here one which will break down and digest the immense amount of content that Path of Exile has to offer. But for now, one mechanic, one topic at a time.

I’ve mostly focused on the Stash Tabs section of the Microtransaction Shop within Path of Exile game for a good reason. This is the only in-game purchase that possibly make Path of Exile pay to win? Even if it’s just ever so slightly subtle. You can also purchase character slots if you happen to run out of them. But you do get a whopping 24-character slots as a free player! Even I have not yet reached this limit myself and I’ve played quite a bit over the several years I’ve spent on Path of Exile. After or, rather if, you have filled all of the 24 character slots, then extra character slots can be purchased in the microtransactions store for 30 Points each, which is $3 / three dollars in real money.

One thing to note is that Stash Tabs are actually shared across all of your characters, including any of the stash tabs you may have decided to purchase.

As you can play Path of Exile in either Standard or Hardcore mode, you will also notice that you will have a separate stash on each of those modes. If you have purchased extra stash tabs, you will also get the stash tabs you have purchased in both league and non-league. You do also get a separate stash in Standard League and Hardcore League. Once a league ends, your items will be moved to the relevant non-league Standard or Hardcore stashes as remove-only stash tabs. Which remain until you empty them. I’ve had some remove-only tabs for many years in my non-league stash. (Hey, It’s free stash space).

Now on top of the saleable Stash Tab purchases, there is also an insane number of cosmetics that can be purchased for real money in Path of Exile. But none of these actually make Path of Exile pay to win at all. They have absolutely no beneficial influence on your character in-game whatsoever. It doesn’t offer any benefit at all over free-to-play players. Even the in-game pets that follow your character or can be left in your hideout are purely cosmetic and have no in-game advantage at all. They are all cosmetic only.

All of this aside there are also the Guild purchases, but as I said I won’t go into a lot of elaborate detail in this guide as most players won’t be looking at creating a guild especially if you are going to be a Path of Exile free to play gamer. But for those of you who are interested in creating your own Path of Exile guild then you can simply look in-game by clicking the green ‘Shop’ button in the bottom right corner of your screen or by pressing [m] by default on your keyboard and then simply navigate to the “Guild” tab on the left-hand side of your screen.

Which does now bring me to the new Path of Exile 3.16 Scourge League. Surprisingly enough this league has not yet (and may never) come with its own dedicated purchasable stash tab. Which for me is a good thing as it saves me some money!

So that now finally brings me to my conclusion of whether or not Path of Exile is a Pay-to-Win game, Pay-to-Advance Game and exactly how Free-to-Play friendly is Path of Exile

The Pay-to-Store side of Path of Exile through the purchase of in-game Stash Tabs via the micro-transaction shop is quite possibly enough to be considered pay to win by some. The extra stash tabs do offer quite a nice quality of life improvement to your gameplay. That said, a player is still fully able to play free of charge without purchasing or buying any microtransaction in the shop at all. It is more down to a quality of life gain rather than an actual true Pay-to-Win feature. But for me, the benefits of having Stash Tabs make my gameplay a lot better and easier which helps me to progress a lot quicker in the game itself. If anything, Path of Exile can quite possibly be considered more of a Pay-to-Advance game rather than a direct Pay-to-Win game.

You are, of course, free to make up your own mind and decide for yourself on whether or not Path of Exile is Pay-to-Win or Free-Player friendly?

Why not drop a comment below and let me know your thoughts? Also, if you have any suggestions for future guides or if there is something you’re stuck on in-game that you need help with please do not hesitate to ask in the comment section below!

That’s all for now and I hope you found this ‘Is Path of Exile Pay to Win? A complete guide on what’s Free and What isn’t’ article helpful! Keep checking back for more useful and helpful Path of Exile Guides here on the Player Auctions Blog!

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