Guild Wars 2’s Economic Policy

We’ve all gotten a bunch of Guild Wars 2 loot over the last couple weeks. And more is on the way. Hooray! This is a good thing! More stuff!

Well… probably.

Money for nothing and your Badges for free

ArenaNet has an economist on staff, so you know that they carefully considered the effects of the changes they recently made. The most basic matter is that of inflation. When the U.S. (or any) government prints more money, the money is lessened in value and prices go up. If you have 5,000 Achievement Points, you’ve received 29 gold since the Bazaar of the Four Winds arrived. Toss in all the Badges of Honor you’ve received, making legendaries (or second legendaries) more accessible to players who don’t like WvW, and it’s no surprise that there’s been a general uptick in the price of T6 mats, especially since players got the 15g gift yesterday.

Three out of four done!

Three out of four done!

In other words, I hope you were buying up those mats before yesterday, like I did. Most are up one to two silver since the Bazaar started, and that translates to an extra 2.5 to 5 gold per stack, easily wiping out all that “extra” gold you’ve received if you’re buying in bulk.

The prices will probably come back down to pre-Bazaar levels, after everyone’s received their “bonus” gold, and all the non-gold gifts are certainly welcome. Plus, it’s easy to see how ArenaNet is subtly making legendary acquisition a tad bit easier for the rest of us.

The Tokens of Battle are one step, as are the announcement of better ways to acquire precursors, but those are just a few of the cases of ANet simply handing us what we need. Little account-wide nudges to Magic Find, making it easier to get those T6 mats, lodestones, and so on, are another. So’s the ability to salvage Crystalline Dust from Globs of Ectoplasm.

That last one alone was a huge boon to my own efforts to make my legendary, which requires 500 Piles of Crystalline Dust. Along with a little skalk farming I did in Southsun Cove last month (and the 200% Magic Find bonus was yet another clever way to hand us more loot while making us feel like we’re earning it), here’s how my “if I bought everything on the Trading Post now minus the gold I have on hand” numbers have stacked up since I committed to building Kraitkin:

March 1: 572 gold
April 1: 528 gold
May 1: 535 gold
June 1: 473 gold
July 1: 278 gold

We’re just past the midway point of July, but I mostly just need fixed costs (Icy Runestones, primarily) and should be at about 170 gold — and that’s counting about 12g more in Dust, a good chunk of which I can salvage from excess Ectos. Just from these numbers alone, it’s easy to see how ArenaNet has manipulated the market over the last two to three months to make legendary acquisition a more reasonable prospect.

AynRand.5391 is turning in her downed state

But is that necessarily a good thing? In the most basic sense, yes, because players like to get things. And ArenaNet is mostly being sly about it, in giving us bonuses to get stuff or making things easier to get rather than just handing us everything.

As mentioned, ArenaNet has an economist on staff, and he’s likely familiar with the concepts of lassez-faire — meaning that the government has very little to do with business transactions and the general flow of the economy — and a more regulated economy, where the government frequently involves itself to “push” the economy in a desired (at least by those making the decisions) direction. In U.S. terms, the first is what conservatives generally argue for, while the second is backed more often by liberals.

If she can promise a legendary in every home instance, she'll win in a landslide! #TeamKiel

If she can promise a legendary in every home instance, she’ll win in a landslide! #TeamKiel

With the recent changes, we’re seeing a definite shift toward that second kind of economy in Guild Wars 2. Now, GW2 isn’t the United States, and ArenaNet can make — or roll back — changes much more quickly than any government, but it still opens up the question of whether we’re truly “earning” these goodies or whether they’re being “handed” to us.

Personally, I think something had to be done to lessen the legendary grind (and, possibly, the upcoming ascended grind). I would have advocated a better drop rate for Tokens of Battle, rather than simply handing a bunch out. And, in the long term, an influx of 30 or so gold to every character is pretty minor, when a legendary will run you hundreds, if not a thousand or more if you have to acquire a particularly pricy precursor.

No matter what changes ArenaNet makes, legendary weapons will still require a good deal of effort to acquire — it’s not like you’re going to be popping one out of the Mystic Forge every two weeks — and there will be more done to make it so that “cash grinds” are less appealing of an option. (I’m looking at you, Citadel of Flame, path one.)

There are limits as to how far even a gold-deficient player like me is willing to see things go, however — as good as it was for me, the recent Ectoplasm-for-Crystalline Dust change had me raising an eyebrow — but as long as ArenaNet doesn’t get too heavy-handed in tinkering with the economy of Guild Wars 2, I think a suitable balance can be struck that feels less like meddling and more like a gentle nudge.

Now if they could just give me something more to do with all this karma…

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3 Responses to Guild Wars 2’s Economic Policy

  1. rulez says:

    That it all comes down to gold is really what puts me off Anet’s concept of legendaries. Having such pricetags in a game is not very fun.

  2. Greibach says:

    RE: Ecto-> Dust:
    I actually think that was a really important change for the economy, and was pretty necessary. There were really two different problems they solved with this. 1- There was too much ecto on the market, and thus it was becoming very low in value. Ecto is not meant to be a cheap material (in their eyes). 2- There was FAR too little dust. Literally, just a day or two before the ecto->dust conversion, there were ~500 dust for sale on the market, total. 500. Out of hundreds of thousands of players, or even millions. The prices were over 40s per piece.

    The primary reason for the ecto supply was the introduction of world event chests. The primary reason for the latter was that there were no zones that really had mobs that dropped dust in high amounts. Blood, fangs, claws, and scales drop in Southsun. Bones, sacs drop more in Orr. That’s pretty much all.

    Their solutions were basically either to: 1- Change what drops dust, and lower the ecto salvage rate (or take back the guaranteed rare drops, which would have had a huge backlash IMO), or 2- Do what they did. The latter stabilized the prices much better and much more safely IMO. Personally, I would love to see some sort of salvage conversion ration for all T6 mats from different sources.

    RE: The rest- I pretty much agree with everything else you said. In light of the impending magic find removal, I would hope that they fix their loot table drop rates on lots of things. It doesn’t have to go insane, but the fact that I have probably averaged 1 exotic drop: 80 hours is pretty abysmal.

    • jasonwinter says:

      As you said in your final paragraph, though, they could “fix their loot table drop rates on lots of things.” I would have preferred to see Dust drop rates increase — a mostly invisible change, but one that would get noticed — rather than the rather arbitrary step they took. Truthfully, I’d like to see that for all T6 mats, probably about 80% of which I bought off the TP. I’d rather feel like I created my weapon, not that I bought it.

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