I’m afraid the rush of Free 2 Play games that had Pay 2 Win in the past decade have really hurt the business model. It’s almost gotten to the point where even having a cash shop will draw accusations of Pay 2 Win. Almost.
Moving on, is Star Conflict Pay 2 Win? Let’s look at this systematically.
( NOTE: This is my opinion, and only my opinion. Feel free to disagree with me, or argue against me. I always appreciate discussions.)
There are currently three major things you may buy with galactic standards (paid money):
Ships, Equipment and Boosts
If you are aware of the ship system, using galactic standards you can buy a premium ship three ranks above your current rank. This means that you can still be in tier 1, but buy a tier 2 premium ship. It sounds amazing right? Not really. Matchmaking in this game is based on tiers. Meaning that you can only use your tier 2 ship against other tier 2 ships. In addition, premium ships have stats that are similar to standard ships with maxed synergy. Because of this, buying a premium ship is almost the same as buying a regular ship. You don’t buy premium ships for power, you buy them for convenience of not having to rank up and spend credits.
Equipment in this game is divided into three ranks per tier, MKI, MKII and MKIII. Although MKI and MKII are available by default, to get MKIII versions you either need to level up a sub faction, or buy the premium version. Premium versions are the exact same as MKIII, except they cost galactic standards. MKIII versions are indeed better than their MKII counterparts. This means that in order to have the best equipment, you need to level up a sub faction. However, since equipment is divided up between six subfactions, it will take a long time to actually unlock all of it. Alternatively, you may bypass this buy paying for it using galactic standards.This once again is a matter of convenience. Either you spend the time to level up sub factions or you pay and get them immediately. I will say though, it does border the fence, as you technically are buying power. Even then though, Premium equipments are only around 10% better than MKII equipment. While it will give you an advantage, it will not make you god-like.
Boosts in this game give you some bonus. Currently combat bonuses such as extra weapon damage can be bought with credits. This means that anybody can buy a combat bonus, not just the players with galactic standards. The boosts that are galactic standards only are ones that give reputation, credit or experience bonus. This is once again a matter of convenience. If you pay for these boosts, you don’t have to wait as long to rank up, level up sub factions or get credits.
Most of the paid stuff in this game is really about convenience, not just giving raw power. Instead of spending so much time waiting to unlock stuff, you are able to unlock it outright or speed the process up. This is by far the fairest way to do micro transactions. As I mentioned in the equipment section though, being able to buy premium equipment is technically considered buying power. However, when you consider they are only around 10% better and that there is a way to MKIII equivalents for free, it is a grey area. All in all, I think Star Conflict has a mostly fair microtransaction model, that is far better than most other Free 2 Play games.