I know a lot of people are really upset about what you can find in the GW 2 cash shop. And I get it. I'd prefer that stuff wasn't there too. But let's take a look at a recent change to the Guild Wars 2 rhetoric that seems to have disturbed a lot of people. What was originally said by Anet was that they would only have cosmetic differences in their cash shop, much like Guild Wars 1.
They later changed that to say that they wouldn't have anything that would disadvantage someone who wanted to spend time and not money.
A lot of people are saying that in Guild Wars 1, that's how the cash shop was...cosmetic. This simply isn't true.
Skill unlock packs changed the game significantly for those who wanted to save time. It allowed them to blow through content much faster than any XP scroll.
Let's say you bought Nightfall, which had heroes. Heroes have a limited number of spells. And we all know that how well you're specced in Guild Wars 1 is only part of the equation,. since if you spec your heroes well, you can far more easily clear content. I mean it's more than just a small difference, it's a HUGE 1.
Player 1, spends no money in the cash shop and has to farm to unlock every skill for Koss, Dunkoro, and other eye heroes, including elites which he won't get till much later.
Player 2 buys all four skill packs, unlock for his heroes every skill in all the games (except for PVe only skills, which heroes can't use anyway).
Maybe he farms enough to buy an elite tome to unlock a single elite for his healer, giving him even more power.
Not only would farming for those skills not help (because they're from other games), but also, you can't get every skill in the beginning of Nightfall. Most of them wouldn't be available for a long time. You've just "bought power". Therefore Guild Wars 1 is pay to win...but it's not.
Because after all is said and done, 20th level isn't that far away and pretty much anyone will be able to afford anything in the short to medium term. You don't grind to get to level 20 in Guild Wars.
Yet truthfully those who purchased skill unlock packs have a real advantage over lil ole me who wanted to play through the game "honestly". There were even hero based PVP formats for a long time that gave people advantages even in PVP. By comparison the advantages in Guild Wars 2 are far milder.
The cosmetic only rational didn't include stuff like skill unlock packs or the pet unlock pack. In fact, it didn't even include the upgrade to the game of the year edition which came with a fire imp.
Is there anyone who seriously thinks a fire imp doesn't make leveling faster and easier for someone, particularly someone new to the game? Of course it does. So even in Guild Wars 1, you could "buy power".
But as long as the game normalized by level 20, no one cared. Because after a month or two you couldn't use that Fire Imp, or it wouldn't make sense too.
And there was plenty of stuff you could get from playing the game, including other summoning stones that meant you didn't have to go to the cash shop forever for an advantage.
I get that Anet used the wrong words...but they didn't just use those words for Guild Wars 2..they've been using the wrong words for a long long time. Do you know what I think happened?
I think Anet finally looked at the Guild Wars 1 cash shop and realized that not everything they sold really was cosmetic. It was an oversite, because that stuff has been in the shop forever, but cash shop ettiquette didn't exist back then. People didn't care. Anet HAD TO change their wording.
And they changed it to reflect, not only the Guild Wars 2 shop but some of the stuff they had in the Guild Wars 1 shop for ages.
You can believe the worst of them or not, that's your choice. But let's not belabor the fact that many of the people (not just here but on other sites), who have attacked Anet for having non-cosmetic rewards in their cash shop, were happily defending a game that had non-cosmetic convenience, time saving, power-giving items in their cash shop all along.
NOTHING we've seen in the Guild Wars 2 cash shop so far gives anywhere near the early game power of the skill unlock packs.