Guild Wars 2 won't have a monthly subscription fee but will have micro-transactions, and developer ArenaNet has shared more information on how that will work.
Guild Wars 1 had micro-transactions as an "afterthought", wrote ArenaNet co-founder Mike O'Brien 2 - Guild Wars 2 has them at its foundations.
"We believe in micro-transactions because they fund ongoing development of the game in a very straightforward and open way," O'Brien added.
"You, the customer, get to decide how much money you spend on the game after launch, based on how compelling it is to you. You get a complete and playable game no matter what, but we think we can provide additional content and services that you'd be happy to pay for. And when you pay for them, you help fund our support of Guild Wars 2 in a way that benefits all players of the game."
Guild Wars 2 micro-transaction items will offer "visual distinction" and "expression". They'll save-time and there will be account "services".
"But it's never OK for players to buy a game and not be able to enjoy what they paid for without additional purchases," stressed O'Brien, "and it's never OK for players who spend money to have an unfair advantage over players who spend time."
Guild Wars 2's economy revolves around gold, karma and gems. Gold is the common in-game currency. Karma is earned and cannot be traded - it's used to attain "unique rewards". Gems are the purchasable currency used for micro-transactions, and gems can be traded for gold and vice versa.
"If you want something, whether it's an in-game item or a micro-transaction, you ultimately have two ways to get it," explained O'Brien. "You can play to earn gold or you can use money to buy gems.
"Our system takes gold trading out of the hands of real-money trading (RMT) companies and puts it directly in the hands of players."
Mike O'Brien, co-founder, ArenaNet
"We think that's important, because it lets more players participate on a level playing field, whether they use their free time or their disposable income to do it."
O'Brien said it's similar to Eve Online's PLEX system. More importantly, "our system takes gold trading out of the hands of real-money trading (RMT) companies and puts it directly in the hands of players", said O'Brien. "We think that's a great thing."
"From a player's perspective," he said, "[Real-Money Trading] companies have all the wrong motivations: the more money they make from selling gold, the more they spam ads in the game, run bot networks to farm gold, and hack accounts to loot them for gold.
"Conversely, under our system, players have all the right motivations. If a player buys gold from another player, he gets the gold he wants, the selling player gets gems she can use for micro-transactions, and ArenaNet generates revenue from the sale of gems that we can use to keep supporting and updating the game.
"Everyone wins," he said.
Guild Wars 2 will have a player-to-player Trading Post, which is like an Auction House "but better", according to O'Brien. Guild Wars 2 doesn't need to separate an auction house and a micro-transaction store, because gems can be traded for gold and vice versa.