Money is not exactly easy to come by while leveling in GW2, that much has gotten clear to most players by now. While no longer being used to “broke noob level” may play its part therein, it cannot be denied that cash flow in GW2 is considerably slower compared to other MMOs and the usual means, such as trying to make profit over the market place or grinding mobs for gold, don’t work out so well either. Azuriel recently posted a great overview on how to “maximize” your coin for the time being and like him, I am slightly worried if the economy can actually recover in any significant way, given that the MP in GW2 is a global one. If 500+ people are selling the same bow as yourself, how are you ever supposed to make a profit?
As a natural consequence, the idea of just buying gold via ANet’s gem trading system comes to mind as one possible solution to the current money drought. Only, you couldn’t be more wrong there! You don’t want to trade your gems for ingame gold right now or in any foreseeable future – and that too has me skeptical at several fronts.
Oh my, precious goldz!
To start at the very beginning, you probably know that ANet has a rather unique way of handling different currency in GW2 and the way ingame and real money can be exchanged via the gem currency. While there is an item shop that requires gems to shop in, GW2 sets itself apart by allowing players to also buy gems with ingame gold; this means, if you’re a good little gold farmer, you never actually have to spend extra real money on vanity items and other shop bonuses. However, this also means the entire market and exchange rates are heavily influenced by both real money shoppers and potential “chinese farmers”. Due to this rather obscure interplay, exchange rates for gold vs. gems vary on a daily basis, as is displayed on the graph in your ingame Trading Company tab.
While it’s understandable that ANet want to control the impact of real money going into the game to avoid deflation, I find the currency exchange variables incredibly confusing. Reading up further to get into the whole deal takes considerable time and mind twisting, at least for somebody who isn’t too versed in economic theory. Considering also that the entire balance can potentially get very skewed and discourage players to spend real life money in GW2, which surely cannot be intended by ANet(?), I wonder why they chose this path rather than sticking to a more exclusive shop of real-money-only and therefore cosmetic and soulbound items only? Maybe a more economy savvy player has some insights here for me.
Either way, I decided to have a closer look at exchange rates and the status quo on my server, Desolation EU. How much ingame gold can I currently receive for gems and what is the ratio between that exchange rate and the real money I spend on buying the gems? I ended up with the following results:
- 800 gems cost a fix 10 Euros; That’s 3.75€ for 300 gems.
- For 300 gems you can currently exchange 56 ingame silver.
- However, 78 ingame silver buy 300 gems
…See what happened there? While a real money buyer pays 3.75€ for 300 gems, which then yield 56s, a player can buy 300 gems with 78s ingame currency. This means there’s about a difference of 25% in buying power between ingame and real currency. Correct me if I’m wrong!
Compared to other MMOs, I don’t find this exchange rate erm, “particularly attractive” for potential real money spenders! 10€ for 1.5 gold? You gotta be kidding me!
The demand for gems is only going to go up as the player base advances and the shop adds more and more goods. What will keep the balance from shifting further in favor of gold farmers or “gem hoarders/speculators” (buying cheaper gems now, waiting for demand to raise)? Money income is slow leveling in GW2 while crafting and items are all quite pricey. One can only wonder how things are going to pan out longterm with these particular economical mechanisms in place? Am I supposed to start hoarding gems now too with the gold I don’t have? …
Eventually many players will want to buy things like more bank space or extra character slots in the gemstore and for a non-sub MMO (that we hopefully get to enjoy for a long time to come), that is a very much needed and good thing. Luckily, at least the gemstore is not affected by the exchange rates for ingame gold: you can buy gems from ANet and pay for their wares without impact from the currency game. For those looking to buy money in GW2 however, I foresee a longer waiting time; I sure wouldn’t spend any real coin on gold right now and I see little change in that department as long as the general player base hasn’t gotten richer – much richer!
There is also the concern that the status quo favors illegal gold sales: I’ve gotten my first ingame mail linking to a shady website today and while it’s beyond me how anyone can currently farm considerable money, ANet might want to tackle the issue of gold sellers beating them on exchange rates. If you’re making currency trade available in your game, surely you want to try and make it a better deal, potentially removing competition?
I might be under a premature impression here (feel free to enlighten me), but for the moment GW2’s economy seems to invite money speculators and gold farmers more than anyone. While I’m nowhere close to max level myself yet, I am already anxious to hear how the average player is supposed to find a way around the current situation and how ANet are judging the state of their global economy!