Friday, October 12, 2012

Look Good and Save Money In Guild Wars 2

I’m Craig (in-game name ‘Thundergore’ in more games than I care to mention) and I love GW2.
There are tons of cool things to do in this game and, as time goes on, I hope to write about pretty much every aspect that interests folks.

One of the things that interests me most of all, though, is the in-game economy. I love earning in-game currency - from gil in FF VII to gold in D3 and WoW or whatever (not that I play those last too much at the moment) – having enough gold to buy whatever I want is pretty awesome.

This post isn’t going to into specific tips much – there’ll be time enough for that later – but I do want to look at two very specific, very interesting elements of the guild wars 2 economy. Things that I think are cool and that more people should be aware of.

First of all, this game is all about looks. Stats mean very little. This is really interesting – it’s something that you could only really compare to something like the real life fashion market. Other MMO’s build value based  largely on an item’s function, GW2 builds value based largely on an item’s looks.

Here's an example. Take a look at what happened with Anura. Have you seen this sceptre? It’s awesome! It looks like this:

And it looks even better when you equip it instead of preview (but I don't dig sceptres so I lean towards selling). 

Now not many people knew it looked like this until a few days ago when someone made a reddit post about how awesome it looked and how they got it for 2g. Once the look was known the Anura price hike commenced! It's sitting at about 8-9g now - well above it's previous average and it's not likely to drop until people stop liking casting spells with frogs on sticks (hint: they never will).

What’s interesting about all this vanity is that the normal methods of predicting supply and demand are turned a little on their head – not completely (lots of things in GW2 still work like a normal MMO) but enough to make things interesting.

If you’re the first person to see how awesome something looks, and you know how to get it cheaply at the current market value it’s not a bad idea to risk some money on LOOKS. People even try to game the system on popular sites like reddit and I’ve seen a few cons pan out over there – be careful if you haven’t verified it yourself in-game!

Second thing I wanted to raise in this post is the subject of gems.

Look at the madness around Diablo 3. I mean, the game is a bit disappointing in terms of what it could have been but I gotta admit I was psyched about the real money aspect. In the end I made a good deal more than my investment in the game back (nothing compared to the bots mind you) but it was quite an experience and I look forward to more like it in future.

Now Guild Wars 2 has a real life cash shop too but, as people rightly point out, there’s no ‘out’. Gems can flow to gold which can flow back to gems but there’s no ‘Anet balance’. No means to cash out to paypal.

But this isn’t the whole story...

I want to quote something I said near the top of the post: 

"having enough gold to buy whatever I want is pretty awesome.”

This is pretty much the entire drive behind MMO economies. You’re not saving for your kids educations. You’re not saving for a nice holiday. You’re gathering gold so that whenever you want something, you can have it. It’s a kind of freedom.

Some people may be really good at exercising that freedom in-game but not out of it (hey, we could ALL use more real $ couldn’t we?) and this is when a cash shop pisses people off. They’re successful in-game but are limited by their lack of real resources. You can’t get the big awesome hat of awesomeness because it’s not available in-game and cynical game company X knows you want it. They designed it to be wanted.

Arena net (like Valve with TF2) have given us a way around this by giving you the opportunity to get all the cool looking things in-game: we can use gold to buy gems and use those gems just as if we bought them with real cash.

What this means is we save real money while simultaneously enjoying the game to the maximum (silly hats, silly outfits, bank space, transmutation stones, you name it).

It’s like buying anything else. You buy things to get functionality or enjoyment from them and most don't hand you money back. But if you are careful when you purchase (buy it for the lowest amount possible) the savings compared to the dearer alternatives are a net gain. You reduce what you sacrificed (opportunity cost) and that's a very real financial gain.

It doesn’t pay out like Diablo 3 but Guild Wars 2 offers you a chance to save money by playing the gold economy well and it makes so much sense to do so and I can’t wait to talk about it more.

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1 comment:

  1. Speaking of gems, Anet said yesterday that they are making "gem cards" available at select retailers for real dollars. I'm aware that we are able to buy them now with credit cards but I'm sure many people out there would rather not use it on a MMO. My theory is that gem value (in gold) will drop significantly with people converting straight to gold by selling their 2000 gems.