Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Friday, September 11, 2015

How Rewarding: Currency vs. Items

This has been sitting in my drafts since at least 2013. Apparently, things were hot and heavy regarding the economics of Guild Wars 2's auction system, known as the Black Lion Trading Company. After a quick check on Twitter, confirming things haven't changed, I decided to post this, largely unedited:

Currencies as reward are interesting, many people who argue for barter systems fail to realize that currency is an emergent property of economics, not an artificial invention of government. Even when there is no formal money, people develop currencies for exchange purposes (e.g., cigarettes in prison). Because if all you have to offer are eggs that I don't need and all I have are carpentry skills which you don't need, we can earn currency and spend it as we see fit. This is one reason I am not fond of special currencies in MMOs that have no exchange rate between them.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The GW2 AH is a buyers’ market, it "works as designed" in a game devoid of scarcity, especially when Gold can be converted to Gems, which is ANet’s income. Only those people who expect to play the market and make a profit think it’s broken. ArenaNet wants you out there adventuring, not watching lists. Having said that, vendor+1c is silly. Since the AH takes a cut, if you sell at vendor+1, you may as well just vendor the item. But no one says you have to sell your stuff at that price. Those that want it “right now” will pay.

What does all that mean for GW2 crafting? Yet another game where crafting is barely an afterthought. At least you can level up a little while doing it. TSW has the only crafting I’ve ever gotten into, because I don’t have make a bajillion copper pants to skill up. However, it’s still a “mats market” (materials being more expensive than finished items) like WoW always was. And the Elite and Nightmare Tier Gear is not generally craftable.

However, I dislike the randomness of dungeon drops, and the unreliability of the loot system in WoW and several other games. You might quite simply never obtained certain "must-have" items through RNG. Perhaps you might get something through the AH, but that leads to the original issue of having the in-game cash to purchase it. Many players dislike the more prosaic token systems Blizzard once instituted, but least they were more in line with the sense of steady progress you get through leveling your character. I think people's tunes might change if XP were as random as loot. "Ohp, sorry! You got no XP for the last ten bears you killed. Better luck on this next one."
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  1. Dayum, man...thanks for necroing this! I've tried looking at the AH in GW2, but I only ever sold materials there because THOSE seemed to be profitable. I did, however, buy all of the best gear I could afford (thanks to the gem conversion) from the AH, which helped me immensely.

    But it wasn't until I went back to WoW a few years ago that I started "playing" the AH. While I enjoyed it, that it was WoW that taught me that this was "a thing", combined with your analysis, leads me to believe that once again, people are using WoW and it's patterns as the yard-stick by which all other systems are measured. I don't know WHAT the purpose of the GW2 AH is aside from rewarding the buyer while screwing the seller, but it's apparently NOT an investment game like it is in WoW.

    1. Yes, the BLTC is great for picking up gear as you level in GW2. I hadn't thought of it, but you're right. WoW's AH is a bit of a yardstick. I see so many other games with variations (mostly buyouts with no actual auction feature) that make it difficult to game the system. I would still contend that what makes GW2 somewhat unique from an economic standpoint isn't the BLTC itself, but the fact that every player can harvest any and every resource node without needing to compete with other players, eliminating the scarcity that drives conventional economies.

  2. People do play the TP in GW2 and make a killing. It's just harder because it's a global market across all servers and less prone to local server fluctuations and local monopolies, plus you have to take into consideration the 15% tax which some people miss and shortchange themselves.

    Finding a niche for daily or hourly flipping is much harder because everyone is on the lookout for those. Others invest over time (buy Black Lion skin, sell later, etc.) or to speculate in advance pre-patch, in the hopes something goes up.

    I personally find it a better system that reflects supply and demand more accurately, and while still making it fair for the buyer. It takes some study, but a few niches are there. Lowbie (twink) leveling gear was quite eye-opening the last time I looked at it when I idly considered buying stuff for my lowbie alts.

    1. I think the Economics in GW2 are fine. The parts of this post where I address it are in defense of the system. I was never short on money in the game.