Where ArenaNet does probably need to step up is in the types of rewards being offered. There are only so many backpacks we can collect before we run out of characters to put them on and space to store them in our banks; other armor pieces overwhelmingly end up in the gem store. In the past few months, we’ve had gem store armor sets that swing wildly in quality from reskins that are identical to existing armor aside from some flaming particle effects to completely new, flashy sets that replace your character model with a heavenly avatar made of stars and light. I’m having trouble imagining how the eventual implementation of Legendary armor is going to match up to or surpass the current trend of posthumanism for the low, low price of $10, but we’ve already reached a point at which becoming an X-Man with pure cosmos trailing in your wake is common depending on how many guild wars 2 gold you’re willing to spend.
Some people resent the masks, which are on offer at 500 gems for a single-slot piece, but from the perspective of someone who has spent, conservatively speaking, a skritt’s load of money in the gem store, I view it as an important experiment. I feel a lot better about being able to pay to add distinct, characterizing touches at smaller price points than I do about having to shell out out 800 gems for full sets even if I want only one or two pieces. While I don’t expect or really want full armor skin sets to disappear from the gem store, selling odds and ends at lower prices might hopefully prompt ANet to be more generous with what we can play for rather than pay for. New armor and weapons are a big part of what players expect to be rewarded with in MMOs, and I hope that in the future ArenaNet branches out its gem store offerings more into hairstyles, color choices, faces, and even currently unavailable things such as alternate animations, body types, tattoos, and jewelry. Because nothing that can be earned directly through gameplay recently comes passing close to what can be bought from the gem store, the devs risk diluting both the value of in-game rewards and the perception of GW2’s quality.
My wife mentioned to me recently that she feels spoiled by Final Fantasy XIV, one of the only remaining pure subscription games. For less money per month, she says that she can usually obtain more interesting and varied new items for her characters than in GW2. Despite my love for GW2, I can’t exactly disagree with that.