Sure, Lost Ark is fun. This was not least the result of our extensive test, which, as always, we warmly recommend you to read. The problem: Many players show interest in the world and the gameplay of the MMORPG, but are put off by the in-game shop. For some time now, it has been suspected of being too heavily geared towards the inglorious pay-to-win.
What is Pay to Win?
The term pay-to-win (also abbreviated to P2W) means both the need to spend real money in supposedly free games in order to be able to keep up at all and the possibility of gaining significant advantages over your fellow players by spending money to secure. Either way, games that rely on this system are extremely unpopular.
What is the truth of these allegations? After all, the western operator Amazon Games had assured in a long blog entry last year that the shop for the move from Korea to Europe would also be adapted to local customs, i.e. defused.
We clicked through the shop for you and took a look at the microtransactions at the time Lost Ark was launched. Top or flop? We’ll find out now!
How was the shop adapted for the West?
As already mentioned, Amazon Games had taken a position on how the shop should be revised for the release in the west. These announcements were made:
- All items in the shop should also be purchasable with the two in-game currencies (blue crystals and gold) – exceptions are the name changes and pioneer packages.
- Pets can no longer only be rented temporarily, but can also be bought permanently. In addition, players will receive a free pet as a quest reward in the early stages of the game.
- The items in Mari’s Secret Shop will continue to rotate every 6 hours but will remain available for a total of 72 hours.
- The Premium Service Crystalline Aura has been weakened and grants subscribers fewer beneficial effects, i.e. no increased movement speed or even bonus experience points from battles.
Our shop rating depends above all on whether the operators have kept their word or whether they have decided differently on some points.
How is the shop structured?
The first glance at the full-screen shop makes it clear that it’s not just an appendix to the actual game – potential customers should feel comfortable here. This is ensured by an elaborate optical design and a clear, well-arranged structure.
- Highlight: A current highlight is emblazoned on the left-hand side, which primarily offers you the quick purchase of new premium currency.
- Recommended products: As the category already reveals, products are offered to you here. It is unclear how the algorithm working in the background works – are products recommended here based on their popularity, or are these items and services chosen purely by the developers?
- Mari’s Secret Shop: Offers consumables and materials that change every 6 hours. However, previous deals can still be viewed and purchased for 72 hours.
What currencies are there? There are two currencies in the Lost Ark shop: you can earn blue crystals in-game and exchange them for gold, while royal crystals are only available for real money. So everything you can buy in the shop for blue crystals is available without using your wallet.
You can read about the total currencies in Lost Ark (spoiler: there are 4) and how to get them in our separate overview:
What all can I buy in the shop?
Of course, the assortment in the shop plays an important role in the question of whether Lost Ark relies on pay-to-win. Here is a summary of the things you can currently purchase:
- Crafting bags that provide you with materials and upgrade items
- Tickets that allow you to complete daily quests instantly
- Phoenix fluff – with this item you can revive yourself immediately (except in raids)
- The Crystalline Aura – a kind of premium subscription that offers you some advantages. More on that below in a separate section.
- Additional character slots
- Changing your character name
- change in appearance
- Housing Items
- Mounts, pets, and skins for ships
- Pets that automatically loot for you and grant bonuses to your attributes
Our assessment: When looking at the range, the crafting bags from Mari’s secret shop, in particular, could raise eyebrows, after all, improving your weapons and armor is the most important mechanic for increasing your item level and thus your strength in Lost Ark. The bags offer you quick access to the necessary and sometimes rare materials.
But: The bags can always be bought for blue crystals and can therefore also be earned if you use the currency exchange.
Everyone has to decide for themselves whether to consider things that enable the immediate completion of Una daily quests as Pay2Win. Depending on the task selected, these can be completed in just a few minutes anyway.
What does the premium subscription bring me?
Lost Ark also offers a premium subscription in the shop called Crystalline Aura. This has been toned down for the West, but still offers you a range of effects and bonuses for 30 days:
- The use of the Triporter is free of charge
- The use of liners is 50 percent cheaper
- Increase Daily Relationship Action Attempts by one attempt
- Life Energy Regeneration +10%
- 2 more Bifrost slots
- The Song of Return can be used again in half the time
- Research, crafting, and expeditions in your stronghold are 10 percent faster
- You can walk around with the title of crystal beneficiary
Our assessment: Most of the included bonuses fall into the nice to have a category, but are not decisive for the game. Only the speed bonuses in the fortress activities could represent a small advantage over non-payers. But only if you really play around the clock.
Also, note that all perks will be disabled in Lost Ark’s PvP mode. So it’s fair either way, whether you’re a real-money user or a free gambler.
What are the prices for the Royal Crystals?
If you’re dying to purchase Royal Crystals, you may be wondering how many euros you have to put on the virtual counter. The Lost Ark shop offers you 4 different packages that are tiered in price:
- Bundle 1: 1,000 Royal Crystals for $9.99
- Bundle 2: 2,200 Royal Crystals for €19.99
- Bundle 3: 5,750 Royal Crystals for $49.99
- Bundle 4: 12,000 Royal Crystals for $99.99
Our assessment: Of course, everyone has to decide for themselves whether they think the prices quoted are okay. However, if you take a look at the items in the shop that can only be purchased with royal crystals, you will notice that even with the most expensive 100 euro package you cannot fall into a shopping spree. Mounts and pets are available for 1,700 crystals, skins already cost 2,400 crystals.
How does currency exchange work?
Another special feature of the Lost Ark shop is the so-called currency exchange. Anyone hoping to be able to exchange royal crystals for gold earned with this name will be disappointed because this only works in the other direction.
The currency exchange offers you these options:
- Buy blue crystals for gold
- Buy Gold for Royal Crystals
The currency exchange interface can be confusing at first glance. The developers probably thought so too, which is why you will find a small operating manual at the bottom right.
Our assessment: We are critical of the possibility of exchanging royal crystals for gold. That may sound harmless at first turns out to be an ever-increasing advantage in the endgame at the latest. Because gold becomes very important later in the game to buy important upgrades, such as engravings. For a final assessment, however, some time must first go into the country until currency exchange has become established under live conditions.