Sunday, September 9, 2012

Gold? Don't Talk To Me About Gold! : GW2

"You’ve got the brawn, I’ve got the brains / Let’s make lots of money"

Neil Tennant probably wasn't thinking about MMOs but that about sums up the opportunities on offer in most of them. Pick up your club, march through the city gates, find things weaker than you, hit them repeatedly until they fall over, then take all their stuff and sell it. It's either that or find out who's buying what, work out where to get it then either make what's selling or sell what's making what's selling to whoever's making what sells. Hunt or gather; your choice.

Generally the fastest way to bootstrap a fresh character in any MMO, new or old, is to gather raws and sell them to crafters. Doing your regular quests and general slaughtering will just about keep your head above water but selling ore to armorsmiths will make you rich, although the more industrious, long-term planner may prefer to keep the materials and learn how to use them. Those crafters doing the buying must be raking it in somewhere down the road, right?

Oh, how we hate you, Globby Gloop
Well, maybe. In GW2 money is tight. Really, really tight. I can't remember the last time I played a mainstream MMO where my first character stayed so poor for so long. At first I thought it was down to the continued absence of the Trading Post, but now the Black Lion has its act together sufficiently to keep the doors open most of the time that turns out not to be the case.

Partly it's because creatures in Tyria drop far less coin and and their body parts are worth much less than in just about any other imaginary world I can think of. The universal Glob of Globby Gloop (stupidest standard drop I have ever seen, by the way, and one about which I complained bitterly in beta, obviously to no avail) sells for 3 copper at level one. By level 50 it's selling for 9 copper. Three times bugger all is still bugger all. Even magic weapons at level 50 don't reach the dizzy heights of two silver a time if you offer them to a vendor. When it comes to money-making opportunities, brawn does not appear to be the way to go.

Saville Row, here I come
Tobold was complaining that "There simply doesn't appear to be a point to crafting in Guild Wars 2". Many people put him straight in the comments - crafting gives a lot of experience, is fun and relaxing, has "end-game" relevance and so on - but his substantive point, that you can't make any money by crafting isn't actually true anyway. It is true that you can't make as much money by selling the finished item as you would have done by selling the bits you used to make it, but the crafted gear I'm making sells fast and consistently on the Trading Post for two to three times the price a vendor would give me for it.

If I was adamantly opposed to doing any crafting at all I would be considerably richer than I am, although less poor might be a better way to put it. As far as I can tell there's no subtle motivator baked into GW2 that pushes you into crafting. It remains one of the few realms of activity that can safely be ignored by anyone not actively interested in taking it up. Gathering my own mats, crafting probably isn't a net loss and I am smartly dressed in clothes I sewed myself, but had I sold those mats to crafters and bought my gear I'd be a lot richer and better-dressed yet.

Is this what you want? I think not.
If the game design doesn't particularly encourage crafting, gathering's a very different kettle of cod. Unlike most MMOs, GW2 does expect you to gather plants, chop trees and mine ore. If you resolutely refuse to do so not only will you miss out on a sizable chunk of very easy xp, you will never complete a Daily Achievement because for each of those you need to gather twenty items. Do that every day and you'll soon get the habit. (There's a nice guide to Daily Achievements here, by the way - did you know that rabbits, armadillos and other critters count for both Daily Kills and Kill Variety? I didn't until I read it there).

What with that spur and the magnificent non-competitive nature of nodes, gathered materials, especially ore and wood, are extremely common on the Trading Post and I'm not sure whether the effort required to fill a stack would be worth the reward. The riches on offer to those prepared to go low-level grubbing in WoW or EQ2 may be missing from GW2.

In a game where xp is easier to come by than money I wonder whether the better strategy isn't just to level poor and get rich later. There must be more money at eighty, mustn't there?


  1. I am not 'wasting' any coin on crafting right now; I think I will revisit this chapter much later after 80. am really trying to sell whatever I possibly can atm, and see where that gets me money-wise. it is still tight though; at level 45 I've been able to get in the area of 5g of which I've spent 4g for trait books and various upgrades I couldn't resist :)

    If you're keeping things tight like myself, you can probably amass some gold until lvl 80 - but even if you make it to 20g or something until max level that sounds poor (for ex. there's that pvp rank vendor where you pay 100g for a book teaching you to be 'commander' or something)....running dungeons may be a way to address this later?

    I looked at the real money vs. ingame gold tradeoff too and that exchange rate is absolutely ridiculous. can't see this as a way to go (right now 10 euros buy 1.5g on my server rofl!).

  2. I was quite surprised by the rate when I got the first gold spam mails in-game. I've deleted them so I can't check but I think it was about $40 = 10 gold which is insane. Makes no odds to me since I have never and would never buy or sell 3rd party gold, but it did make me wonder whether the gold-sellers were exploiting the current demand and relative difficulty of getting gold for players or whether those prices reflect the difficulty the sellers are themselves having in getting gold to sell.

  3. Last time I looked at the 'official' rate for gold, i.e. the gem market - one gold would get you 388 gems. Alternatively, I could buy 800 gems from ArenaNet for £8.50. That implies that a Tyrian gold piece is actually worth four pounds sterling... yup, GW2 cash really is scarce and valuable and from what I've seen so far there's less rampant inflation with levelling than in other games, i.e. a level 80 may be richer than a level 20 but not the thousands of times richer sort of gap you see in WoW.

    I dunno, between this sort of income equality and the xp rewards for helping people this all smells of socialism to me. Has anyone asked Gevlon what he thinks of GW2? :)


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