Easier, yes. Ridiculously, no. Stop trying to muddle up waters with your exaggeration.
The devs said they're still balancing things. They're probably trying to make it so early areas are not too punishing for new players (i.e., Charr starter area. May be fun for some of us, but for a lot of people it just sucks), while ramping up the difficulty later on. I'd argue the ramp up is a bit too late at the moment. That's it.
Game is still quite difficult compared to other MMO's, actually.
I keep seeing the word work pop up in this thread. If the game feels like work, the cash shop is the last thing anyone should worry about. I had fun playing. If I have to have more fun playing to earn something someone else bought with money instead of time spent having fun, what's the downside in it for me?
Nothing in the cash shop effects game play. Several things in the cash shop effect the meta game.
Some people are very wrapped up in the meta game (server/world firsts). There is a good sized of people (still significantly in the minority) who will be racing for world first level 80 and/or server first level 80. Those people are directly effected by XP boosts. Everyone else who is not participating in the player generated meta game and only focused on actual IN game play are not effected.
Honestly I don't think it's Anets job to preserve the sanctity of player created meta games like "World First Level 80." Anet's job is to preserve the integrity of the actual game and make sure people playing the actual game aren't forced to spend money.
So someone buys an xp boost and levels faster than me ... how exactly does this effect MY enjoyment of the game ?
if a friend levels faster than me .. they still get side kicked down if they come and join me in a lower lvl area.
why would you pay $60 for a game and then spend more in the cash shop to skip the content you just payed for faster is beyond me anyway
It's not like you have to rush to get to level 80 for endgame content is it ? the whole game is endgame content.
If someone can put hours of work into a game for the same reward that someone else gets for putting no effort into the game and paying money, then it is pay to win. It's just a matter of to what degree.
No, that's a load of crap. Pay to win is exactly that, being able to purchase things that will give you victory over those who don't. The "golden ammo" example shows this well... I can't remember the name of the space based game I tried for a bit, but if you bought the ammo in the cash shop you had a significant advantage over those who didn't. Basically, in any one on one, you'd win handily.
Gems are only for gold redistribution. Someone put in the time and effort to earn that gold, then used the gem system to redistribute that gold to someone else in exchange for gems. Pre-existing gold moves from one set of hands to another, that's all. Then you can buy things in the store with the gems that give similar advantages to things you can find/make in game.
This whole pay-to-win argument is silly. It's not even remotely similar.
Just because this isn't identical to the first situation doesn't mean it isn't pay-to-win. It's as simple as I said, and you didn't really say why it isn't.
It isn't pre-existing gold redistribution. If it was just that, then there would be no fuss. You can buy things in the cash shop with no cost to your in-game account at all with real money, and bypass work others have had to do.
Of course I did. You chose not to see it. You can't buy anything in the cash shop that will give you a "win" scenario because you have it and someone else doesn't. If the best armor possible was available in the shop, and the best weapons, such that with them no one in WvW could beat me 1v1 then we'd be looking at P2Win. If someone buys gems to trade for gold, they now have more gold. They can buy buffs from the shop, like the exp/kill for an hour one, or thay can buy something similar I discovered while cooking from me. Huzzah. There's no advantages that allows them to dominate anyone else, it's that simple.
People won't be buying gold early in the game regardless. There's none available. Therefore there will be no initial "advantages" to be had. As more gold becomes available, those with it now can use that gold to do whatever they want. They can buy buffing food from me, they can buy gems from Bob the Asura and exchange those for similar buffs. Bob can now use that gold to do the same thing. No one is advantaged, no one cares. WvW doesn't magically have the blaance of power shifted. Competitive PvP doesn't become wallet-based. No one "wins" PvE by throwing magic gems at a dragon.