I answer the question of is CoE P2W with questions of my own...
- In our world, are people born before you "winning" at life more than you?
- In our world, are people who make more money than you "winning" at life more than you?
- In our world, are politicians such as senators, governors, or presidents "winning" at life more than you?
- In most MMORPGs, are the NPC trainers, merchants, and crafters "winning" more than you?
- In Minecraft, are you winning when you play in creative mode?
- In a tower defense game like Dungeon Defenders, are you winning during the building phase?
- If one person decides to play a kingdom sim like Civilization, and another decides to play an RPG, is the first person winning more than the second?
The "benefits" offered by our pledge packages amount to the following:
- Access to Exposition - a building phase of the game for fleshing out story and settlements
- Opportunity to become the first crafters, merchants, and trainers in the world, breathing life into a world which would otherwise consist of just NPCs at launch
- A different play experience - functioning like a kingdom management / settlement simulation rather than a pure MMORPG
- Responsibility for the success of your domain's player base
- Wealth and Power to use toward the success of your domain and its player base
Most people latch on to the last one, while ignoring the one before it. While being an aristocrat or nobility does provide more resources and opportunities, it does so with more responsibility - and it can always be lost.
And again, "winning" in CoE because you have wealth or title, is a lot like answering "yes", to any of the first three questions I asked above. Which in general, most people would flatly state the answers are no.