Is Crowfall Already Pay-to-Win?

Years out from release, is the next great MMORPG meeting its first stumbling block?

As of the writing of this article, the Kickstarter for Crowfall has been out for a little under four hours. The game already has over $300,000 raised and is on pace to possibly cross the finish line tonight or early tomorrow morning with a goal of $800,000.

For those that are not familiar with the game, Crowfall is a Sandbox PvP MMORPG by ArtCraft Entertainment that seeks to bring skill back to the genre. The team equates it to Risk where guilds and players seek to control worlds while competing against those of opposing factions and, in some cases, their own. 

The question all Kickstarter MMOs face is the same Crowfall faces, do the crowdfunded rewards make the game Pay-to-Win even at this early phase? It’s one that received heated debate on the forum and won’t go away anytime soon. My hope is to bring some clarity to the discussion and offer my opinions on the matter.

The Tiers

Before diving super deep, let us go over the rewards and tiers in the Kickstarter.  For the sake of this post not being a book report, I will condense the rewards to generalities.

  • Your standard rewards: Early Access (higher backed amount, earlier the access), Digital Copies, Name in Credits, Digital Soundtrack, Digital Art Book, Weapon recipe set (cosmetic) VIP Membership (higher backed amount, longer the duration), Weapon recipe set (cosmetic), Reserve Character name, Forum badge icons, Statue, Access to expanded colors for Guild Heraldry, Reserve Guild Name, Name a fallen monarch, Name a location, Starting titles, Studio tour, Monthly Q&A, and a private dinner with founders.
  • Rewards that may impact gameplay: Additional character slots, Exclusive Stronghold for personal kingdom (small-large), Cottage for personal kingdom (can be multiple), bonus tax-free parcels for personal kingdom (5-80), Divine Cathedral, Villa for personal kingdom (can be multiple), Manor for personal kingdom (can be multiple), Imperial palace, your own campaign.

Discussing the Rewards

The rewards that seem to impact gameplay are the ones that are at odds with a segment of the community. It is hard to argue against the claim that some of the rewards give advantages over other players that are just starting out. Being able to have tax-free parcels does mean that upkeep might be significantly less than what others may be able to garner through regular play. The real question though is if it gives people enough of an advantage to be what we would classify as Pay-To-Win. 

All of the rewards thus far are ones that do not seem to affect combat directly, instead influencing some of the money sinks or upkeep. This may become a bigger deal with guilds but that over time may even out as people use up their free parcels and the world's reset.

VIP membership entitles you to passive training but those are available through subscribing as well and are limited to three characters in total. The extra character slots will not be able to take advantage of passive training on all of them as they only count towards three characters currently. Any training on characters after that will have to be obtained through normal play. Then there are Kingdom plots themselves.

If you managed to back the game at a level where you got starter game access to these plots, you will have a leg up in some manner. The question of what these plots give or add to your kingdom is the problem. We really do not know a lot of what will be there or what bonuses will come from having them. There is a small amount of information behind them but they are one of the big unknowns. Tag that one with a maybe.

But really, it’s too early to tell.

We have yet to see what they have in mind for their cash shop. ArtCraft stated it will not be Pay-To-Win and that all of the items will be cosmetic. Whether or not they stick to that is something we will not know for sure until they cross that line. We are just going to have to take their word for it before we see evidence of such. 

Right now though, I only see small advantages that will wash out as temporary bonuses and not what can be called Pay-To-Win. That said, I invite you all to give your own opinion in the comments section below. Everyone’s is different and offers a different points of view that I would love to hear.

Note: For 100% transparency, I backed the game on Kickstarter. 


Over decade long builder of fansites, communities, and podcasts. Former competitive Halo, Quake 3, and UT pro. Avid follower of all things MMORPGs.

Published Feb. 24th 2015
  • Denim_5595
    I think I am in the minority but I see any amount of game advantage through money as p2w. I think most other people use to think that too but as more and more games slowly creep in more and more things to buy people have become more flexible or just don't care. So I personally see the tax free land as p2w but how bad it is I don't know. You say the advantage will even out but in games like this where the emphasis is guilds and competition the early bird gets the worm so to speak. Guilds that come out the gate strong and running will tend to hold onto that power and most likely stay strong short of a mass loss of leadership.
  • Justin Lowe
    I'm not so sure about it. The game employs a regular reset on the worlds, meaning that a lot of those parcels and tax free plots will only last as long as that campaign's length. At the end of the campaign they might reap a persistent reward towards their guild or character but in order to get there they have to compete with a lot of others doing the same. That's all if they're being used specifically for the campaign and not towards something else. Normally I'd be inclined to agree but if the resets work the way they mention, it will be a very minimal one.
  • sweetdigs
    No, it's not even close to pay to win. All that getting a higher tier does for you is get you more months of VIP (which anybody can buy, so nothing exclusive here) and better buildings/more space in your eternal kingdom, which is exclusive to you unless you want to open it up to others. It doesn't affect anybody else's gameplay or give you any advantages that you can take to the other worlds. Silly byline
  • Justin Lowe
    It's a question I posed to the community based on what some of the feedback has been on the Crowfall forum. To sum it up, there's a group of users there that are trying to claim it's Pay-To-Win. You and I agree that it's not but it's the opinion of a portion of the game's potential playerbase. Thought it was an interesting discussion because of the different points of view on the matter. What one person considers Pay-To-Win can be quite different from others.

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