this is honestly something i can't support, even when i am drunk
a lot of misinformation around here and this is generally just a huge mess
Actuality the term pay-to-win is one of those things that evolves and changes based on context. Were APB a game where you won by ranking up, anything that improved your chances of doing so, it would be argued that it is pay to win.
Pay to win was a term invented to distinguish an old trait that existed on early mmorpgs, free ones, that often would have various items that would aid the player were he one to support the game and keep the lights on for the devs.
It "used" to make sense, because back then, nobody would think of buying a cosmetic item for money, so the developers of these old games were afraid nobody would buy them.
It became a problem when the bridge between good and bad players, would come down to how much money you had, entirely defeating the point of a F2P game and leading to everyone eventually leave in droves and "paid players" remaining alone in a deserted game till they eventually left. (hence the term, pay to win, you were essentially buying your way to victory)
Common issues that existed with pay to win tho, are sort of being replicated again, because most companies idolize this cannibalizing monetizing "solution" as ideal without actuality knowing why it was abandoned in the first place, spoiler alert: it wasn't because it came from the goodness of their hearts.
Some of them, unfortunately, are smart enough to make P4C, which is basically P2W without the downsides, other than annoying the shit out of you, just like in old nagging "your free trial has ended" messages.
I genuinely did play a lot of these shitty games, so i would know, but here are some sources in case you still want to make up more vapor from nothing:
APB has got a lot of issues alright, but thankfully, pay to win isn't one.