Ryse Above The Masses (for a small fee)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013
You don't have to pay for that stuff, but it helps.

So dismay is tossed in with what was already grand disappointment, Ryse: Son of Rome has been announced to have micro-transactions. What is particularly appalling is how they are trying to sell the newly announced pay-to-win function.
Quoted from Polygon -
"The whole idea of the micro-monetization thing is that it's trying to give an option to people who want to trade a couple of bucks for a couple of hours," said Erik Olsen, Ryse's multiplayer producer."
And VG24/7 -
“We specifically do that so you cannot pay to win,” Microsoft producer Justin Robey said. “Microtransactions are merely there as a convenience thing for people. It’s completely optional and is not required in any way shape or form for gameplay. All content is accessible without using it – the message is very simple: it’s optional and it doesn’t give you really any major benefit."
The basic guideline I go by, is that if it offers advantage over non-paying players, then it's pay-to-win. I don't include aesthetic props or skins in the definition as it offers no advantage for the purchaser over their parsimonious fellow gamer.

If the producers are calling the micro-transaction scheme "a convenience thing" it naturally follows that those "couple hours" you pay to skip are an inconvenience, one you are stuck with if you don't pony up. This not-so-subtle re-branding of micro-transactions as not really being pay-to-win screams of a No True Scotsman fallacy.

Sure, paying extra is not required, you just have to grind longer and harder than other players with more disposable income. The idea that it "doesn’t give you really any major benefit" to pay for the ability to advance past your fellow player or acquire better gear for cash is just silly. That statement implies that they aren't just ripping off the customers who only want to pay the retail price of the game, but those that fall for the pay to win scheme as well.

The makers emphasize the difference of their micro-transaction system, tiers that limit purchasing to fits and spurts.  In this system the pay-to-win player has to earn a certain amount of experience (actually playing the game) before they can pay for next tier benefits. They emphasize this as the primary point of why it isn't a pay-to-win scheme per se. I want to call it bullshit, but I think it may be more diplomatic to call it 'Pay-to-Win lite'.

Despite all the verbal acrobatics the producers are doing to sidestep the pay-to-win stigma, I think the red-letter P2W badge is firmly affixed to this game's chest.