Anyone concerned about World of Warcraft adopting a Pay-to-Win system needs to realize it already is the model they use. Subscriptions are Pay-to-Win.
I've noticed a lot of online discussion about WoW possibly going free to play and other payment models. Gamebreakers has one here. Naysayers think free-to-play is the downfall of any game and these hybrid concepts are an abomination. One major complaint is the idea of being able to pay cash for gear. This concept is touted as the worst possible decision a company could make because it would become a Pay-to-Win system.
In Pay-to-Win, people spend cash to get uber gear or something else that gives them an unfair advantage over players who don’t shell out cash.
Subscriptions are basically the same as a Pay-to-Win business model. You can't win if you don't play. Any subscribers can log in and grind dailies, dungeons or raids until they get the top-of-the-line gear. But this option is only available to those who pony up the dough for a sub. You pay money, you can get gear. You don’t pay and you’re out in the cold.
If they added an option to be able to buy gear, I wouldn't complain. Granted, I'm too cheap to use the option myself, but I think they should sell extras to those willing to pay more to play the game as they wish.
Let's face it. Time is money. Buying a piece of gear for cash is just an extension of that. People like to argue that a subscription model creates a level playing field. But it doesn't.
Time is as much a resource as money. Some would argue that it's not fair if some kid with rich parents can buy something I spent a month to earn in a game. I would argue it's not fair that the kid didn't have an extra month in his life to earn the item himself. Maybe he has a part-time job. Maybe his parents limit his Internet access.
Now, I'm not in favor of players being able to buy the absolute best gear. I think that should be reserved for the elite raiders who have that extra time and dedication to participate in weekly raids. But I don't see why players shouldn't be allowed to purchase the next best thing. I'm talking about the epics like those you can get in dungeons or through daily quests.
Consider this example. Let's say you want an uber helmet. It's not best in slot, but it will get you into the latest raid. It will take you 30 days of grinding a daily quest to get.
You purchase two months of a subscription for $15 a month. You grind out the helm for 30 days and have another 30 days to raid with the guild. Total cost = $30.
Your friend wants the same helm. But he works a lot of hours and can't log in every day to grind it out. It would take him two months under a subscription to grind enough dailies to buy it. Total cost with a month to raid = $45.
Now let's say a more equitable option were available. If an option to buy gear was added, he could pay $15 to buy the helm. Add that to a month sub to raid with the guild and his total cost is $30.
Your friend doesn't have some unfair advantage just because he didn't spend the 30 days grinding dailies. He just caught up to you. It doesn't make your helm worthless. It's worth $15. You spent the $15 for a sub. Your friend just wanted the helmet.
Under the Pay-to-Win model, each player would be able to decide whether to spend in-game time to get something or fork over cash. I don't see how having money to buy an item you want is any different than spending X amount of hours to acquire it.
The end result is the same.