Are Cash Walls Necessary In Online Gaming?

A look at cash walls in online gaming.
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I’ve played a few free-to-play games lately and have noticed a trend, cash walls. Cash walls are the lazy way of keeping a free-to-play game funded. The most common cash walls I’ve run into are storage capacity increases and character unlocks.

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Cash Shops

Companies need to insure that they have constant funding to maintain their games. This usually leads to pay-to-win scenarios. Sure some of the more common cash walls don’t make it necessarily easier to be the best, but some of the bigger games do have ways to exploit the system. Below I’d like to take a look at a few cash shops I’m familiar with.


Tera’s cash shop is easily exploitable in-game. The game’s shop is full of costumes, mounts, and consumables. The consumables can contain potions, enchantment powders, or stat reroll powders. Since the game went free-to-play the only way to obtain the powders are from players, cash shop purchases, or a measly one to two from a high level dungeon. When you need at least 14 per reroll (per stat) or enchant attempt (usually takes at least 10 tries) it’s a bit ridiculous how much time you have to invest just for one attempt. Tera’s cash shop is probably the most blatant pay-to-win system that I’ve seen lately.

Here are the featured item’s on Tera’s store page. Three of the four items on the top row are pay-to-win items.


Elsword is primarily a capacity unlock system. You can pay to unlock more inventory, skill slots, and active item slots. There are also costumes and accessories that you can get from the cash shop. These items have stat bonuses and make defeating things go faster. It doesn’t impact the game as much though, because most of what you can get from the cash shop can be accessed through regular game play.

Due to Elsword’s stamina system, the impact is lowered even further. You can only progress so much in a single day, so paying to get a bit farther doesn’t change much.

Marvel Heroes:

Marvel Heroes takes the League of Legends approach, you get a single character for free. Other characters are unlocked either through playing the game, or buying them on the cash shop. Storage is purchased through the cash shop, but it really isn’t necessary with item drop rates. Crafting elements can now be stacked in groups of 10 so they don’t take as much space.

Marvel Heroes also goes heavily into the cosmetic side. Several different costumes are available for characters to change their appearance. With minions, the Marvel Heroes cash shop is full of cosmetic and customization options.

Here’s a screenshot of the Marvel Heroes shop main page on their website.

These games each take different approaches to the cash shop. Of the three, I’d have to say Marvel Heroes is the least pay to win system in place. There are no cash walls in place in Marvel Heroes, sure it speeds up acquisition but the cash shop isn’t needed for in-game progression.

Don’t Take The Lazy Option:

I’ve always seen cash walls and pay to win builds as the lazy way to fund free-to-play games. If you want to make money and fund your game try to think outside the box. Show people you’re not just catering to those with money to throw around.

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Currently an unpublished author working on multiple full length novels 3 of which being a 3 part trilogy. Also an avid video game player with a penchant for MMOs.