I think the balance of time per spark is set, and reasonable. If you start messing with an increased depletion of soul energy per death, it messes up the balance big time as they ramp up into the Aristocracy and Royalty.
There are already things in the store that affect gameplay, such as horses, ursaphants, trison, carts, and such. Those should go away at launch. Things like naming stars, or tombstones and such can remain purchasable items, as dev time will be slightly more available to include them post launch. I agree that clothes, furniture and such should be player made, but some artwork that is cash shop only would be ok, as well as hairstyles. Tattoos might be a place where a unique one could be added to the game in a design experience type purchase, as they would need to be reviewed by a dev before implementing anyway.
There are options, and many good ones that will not detract from the gameplay are available. Caspian is determined to make this a shining example of putting the players first, and I want to see this concept succeed as a guidepost for the future of gaming. He is not alone in this thinking, so it is a wave that needs to build into successful launches for multiple games.
The short term thinking of most current big name publishers just means every year more games get shut down and replaced with v.2 of the same crap. I want a game that is there for the long haul, and is worth a player investing time (and money!) into something they will be a part of for years, not just months. CoE will be that game, and I plan to be there at the 10 year live mark.
May Caspian reign for 500 (in game) years!