F2P isn’t really free, there’s always a catch. Most F2P has classically been more like free to demo and lube up your credit card if you really wanna play. More recent trends are getting away from that since people obviously don’t like it and are getting slicker in coming up with ways to pry away your money.
GW2 isn’t truly F2P since you have to buy the box up front. It’s a hybrid and I think this is a very good approach for high quality games. The F2P aspect of GW2 beyond that box sale is amongst the least lame of the F2P offerings I’ve tried or know of, since there are no restrictions on your playing and the things you can get for “cash” are entirely optional conveniences.
ANet’s goal then is to put stuff in the gem store that are attractive to get you to throw down extra cash, without being pay 2 win or overpowered, and without comprimising the principle of the whole game being available without cash barriers. IMO, they do a very good job of this.
The other thing about GW2’s “store” is that gems can be bought and sold in player economy, adding an interesting wrinkle to player economy, and enabling players to ultimately obtain gem store items via in game currency.
The thing is, you’re not likely to have extra or enough in game currency to do this until you’re at the level cap, or you just may be like many players who aren’t very good at accumulating wealth and that’s the rub. You might want more bank slots, another character slot, or other attractive goodies long before you can afford to translate game gold into store gems, and instead decide to throw down some cash for gem store options.
I’m thinking ANet is doing pretty decently with gem store based on the fact that the gem/currency market seems pretty thriving and the fact that ANet is already cranking quality free content (if you wiki GW1 and their usual way of doing things, one way they’ve intended to make money is by charging for xpacs, although they did do free content for GW1 too).