Sometime in the last five or so years, the notion that a game is something you keep on paying for after you’ve bought it took hold. We’d understood expansions and subscriptions for years, but this was something different. It wasn’t about a drip feed of more stuff, or a wholesale extension to the original game, it was about paying for optional bits and pieces that came later. I no longer hear about an online game and wonder whether microtransactions are going to be introduced, but I do want to know how they’ll be implemented. That’s the bit that hasn’t really become standardised, and each game that arrives seems to have its own take. Guild Wars already had a bit of a shonky payment model, but it was bolted on after the fact. Guild Wars 2, however, will have additional paid-for elements from the moment you start playing the game.
That’s not to say that it’s easy to understand, either. Guild Wars 2 will have three currencies: gold, gems and karma. Let’s take a look at what that means.