It may be run by a big company, but they have added a load of features and are constantly updating the game with new ideas and mini games. But honestly you can play the game without spending a cent. Some people just join a world like this purely to get enough PP for other worlds. I really don't see what the fuss is about, no one does work for nothing, you cant except a company to just give you a game for free.
TW has become a mostly pay to win game, IMHO. Pit two players against each other of equal size--one with 10k pp, one with 500. Of course, it is a team game and you're never really in a 1v1 situation, but PP gives such a huge advantage in multiple ways that it makes it completely unfair for the player without PP. Just three of the top ways PP is used for advantages:
- PPing walls up to 20 in a matter of minutes. This can be HUGE considering walls take hours to build, even at low levels, and is a troop and village saver
- Buying res off the market to rebuild/build troops faster (mostly early game)
- Buying res off the market to educate nobles, reeducate dead ones for trains, mint coins, etc.
While PP of course is a massive early game advantage, it is also a huge midgame advantage. Any player under an op who is being stacked will need to use PP to get their walls to 20, or purchase res to rebuild farm levels, or purchase res to remake trains asap. Players who don't have PP will be at an extreme disadvantage while being opped.
Of course there are different means of obtaining PP (selling res on the market, etc.) but when you can spend 80 bucks to get significantly better/more advantages in an instant, I think that's where it becomes an issue.