I've been playing since the game came out. I am VIP10, level 70, etc etc. I used to play this game endlessly, and love every second of it. The few big updates have been meh, but tolerable and eventually made sense and added to the game play. For new players it was difficult to get started, but with time you got the hang of it, and how to advance your game play with out the need to 'level'.
The purchasing in this game for me didnt happen until a few years in, and definitely made the game more fun, and I really enjoyed the VIP gains. Also not totally nessicary to enjoy gameplay.
This last update has destroyed this game. Destroyed. Took away some VIP only perks, which I find incredibly unfair to those who have put money into this game. Took away a lot of the challenge to players, and dumbed it down. (The challenge in the game was fun, and gave reason to keep playing)
The portals have been turned into a joke. Gems have been even harder to get. Events have been poor.
I barely play now, and I miss it. I still sign in and play a few times a week, because I have put money into the game, and have hope that it will get better.
I really really hope that soon, an update will come that will fix this mess of a game, and make it fun again, and give VIP members back what they've lost.