With more and more games moving to the Free-to-play-but-you-can-spend-cash-to-have-more-fun model (not "necessarily" pay to win) a new common thread I am seeing are games in which one can unlock certain items/weapons/whatever-kills-people-in-this-game through gaining of experience...OR...by spending some cash. Some, like World of
However, here's the rub...PS2 is one of those games in which balance will be an ever evolving process, and weapons purchased today may have to be nerfed tomorrow. You see SOE considers every weapon in the game to be a "side-grade" to the original starting set (though frankly, this is idiocy on their part, because in 90% of cases the "side-grades" are superior to their counterparts at the role expected of the class).
In the past, people trading items for real money was essentially a "black market" so they had little recourse if the company nerfed their item. But what if the extreme happened...what if one day SOE offers a new weapon and it sell out faster than a hipster rock group, but then, a week later, they realize that this new weapons is "overpowered" or is somehow ruining game balance. So they nerf it...and they nerf it HARD, in an extreme example they could put it down to 1 damage per hit, or so that it does nothing. The only recourse the players who purchased it have now is to quit, they've no remedy for the money they spent on the item (despite it having been offered/advertised to them with specific statistics). I am not seeking to get on a soapbox and advocate allowing us to sue game companies for design/balance decisions, but it does, to me, raise an interesting thought. In the physical world, if a product fails to perform as specifically advertised then one often has a remedy of rescission. So I wonder what is in store for the digital world, as more and more games are moving towards this model.
In PS2 there was a rocket launcher on the market for a time; it did slightly less damage, but could lock-on OR dumbfire, allowing the user to deal with basically any enemy vehicle type (or soldier in a pinch). A few weeks after release, the dumbfire capability was removed, eliminating precisely the impetus for many players to buy it.
Consider some other examples, and perhaps tell me where you draw your own line.
In WoW, the Sparkle-pony's spark is reduced by 50% because it is overly sparkly.
In PS2, a 1-shot 1-kill sniper rifle is released, so many players buy it for that reason. A week later, SOE decides this weapon is to potent, even with other use restrictions, and nerfs it to be on par with other weapons.
In World of Tanks, Wargaming decides that there are simply too many snipers in the game, so to combat this, they take the popular Lowe tank (a $20-40 tank depending) which is known for its sniping, and replace its gun with one more suited to close-range combat.