Any time I open up a new game, one of the first things I look for is the state of the game's economy. Particularly in MMOs, this leads to the inspection of many things - the ability to grind, the rate of return on grinding and the ability to capitalize on or manipulate the market, among other things. Here's a look at one of the markets that has grabbed my interest recently.
For anyone who isn't aware of the game, ArenaNet's Guild Wars 2's base game is currently free to play with what I would consider very generous restrictions, and the expansion Heart of Thorns represents the paywall at the end of the base game. The game has been out for over 4 years now and only a few weeks ago did someone discover that the game did indeed have a gold cap of 200,000 gold. Furthermore, the game includes the ability to exchange gold for gems (the game's premium currency) via a player-driven exchange rate, so that any cosmetic or account item that is offered for a premium currency can still be bought purely with in game funds.
The Black Lion Trading Company's Trading Post serves as the main way people buy and sell goods from each other - in fact, usually it is the only way as there is no direct player-to-player trading method that doesn't rely on some sort of trust. As a result the Trading Post serves two main purposes in the economy of Guild Wars 2 - exchanging items between players, and serving as a gold sink by way of taxes on every item sold. There are also two different types of "orders" one can place in the Trading Post - you can place a "sell order" by listing your item(s) up for sale and paying a 5% fee based on the total cost, or you can place a "buy order" by placing your money into the Trading Post with no fee (the order can be cancelled at any time for a full refund). An additional 10% is taken off of the seller's money after the item has been sold, for a total of 15% of the sell price being taken in fees.
Items can also be sold from almost anywhere in the game by bringing up the Black Lion Trading Company interface, (default: o key) but you must visit a physical Black Lion merchant (available in most towns) to withdraw any items or gold.
Despite the 15% fee on every item sold, there is still thousands of gold to be made if you know what to look for, given enough money and time to put into it. One good example of this is the in game item "Ghastly Grinning Shield Skin" - acquirable from a chest at random during the Halloween event in 2012, and again via a similar method in 2014. Yet last month saw the price begin to shoot upward - and 24 more of them suddenly became available on the market, moving the supply from 9 to 33.
Another aspect of Guild Wars 2 and the team at ArenaNet that makes this interesting is the presence of John Smith - ArenaNet's own data scientist and economist, who has the job of keeping the markets in check from a developers standpoint. While Mr. Smith has stepped away from having direct influence in the market currently to ensure that the goals of ArenaNet line up with the natural tenancies of the market, there's always the potential for a sudden developer change to effect the markets in a big way, and cause big changes to everyone's wallets.
There's certainly no shortage of things to spend your hard earned gold on either. Aside from all of the premium items in the Black Lion trading Company's "Gem Store", the collection of top-tiered "legendary" weapons will cost you a couple thousand for one, and tens of thousands should you feel the need to complete the set. A couple more thousand furnishes your account with more bank slots, and increase to the number of materials you can hold in storage, and additional characters lots to give you anywhere between the free account's 2 characters, to the current maximum of 69. If you're the type to play multiple characters, there's no stopping the number of creative combinations you can gear your character in.
Many players have made their fortunes from playing the Black Lion Trading Company's trading post in various ways, and I would imagine just as many people have lost their money attempting to do so. Like all markets, play at your own risk, and don't play with more than you're willing to lose.
For more articles related to Guild Wars 2's economy, or Guild Wars 2 and other economies in general, keep watching the FilesNation front page. If you have something specific you'd like to see talked about, leave suggestions and any comments or questions you might have below.
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