With Guild Wars 2 ArenaNet has decided from the beginning that the long term health of the economy is one of the primary concerns for the game. Within the first week the company banned over 3,000 for a karma (a type of in game currency) exploit that could have had a rather adverse effect on the economy. The exploit came about as a coding error on the side of ArenaNet.
The result was that items that should be selling for 35,000karma were selling for a mere 21 karma. Some gamers took notice of this and began buying these items up and selling them to vendors for in game gold. Exploits like this, if left unchecked can lead to a few rich individuals and, in the long term, an unbalanced economy.
Exploits aside the developers and economist, John Smith have a tricky job to do in order to keep the economy constantly in check. Fortunately, they have one fantastic in game tool at their disposal, the trading post (TP).
The trading post serves as the auction house for Guild Wars 2. It connects buyers and sellers with each other much the same as in other MMO’s but with a few very important differences. For starters, the TP is set up so that people can use it from anywhere in the game world. This results in much more activity as people are not stuck sitting on materials waiting for a chance to sell them.
The second benefit of the TP lies in the bidding system. The TP works much more like a stock market than an auction house. Sellers can choose to set their item at any price and wait for the item to sell or they can choose to dump the product right away by matching a buy offer. This allows for more dynamic trading as you are not stuck buying or selling stacks of items. Rather as a buyer you can place a bid of 20c for 100 items and the order will be filled as the inventory comes along.
The most important part of the TP however, is that there is only one trading post that is shared by everyone playing the game. This means that the TP has over 2 million people using it as opposed to several thousand on any given World of Warcraft server. The result is a supply and demand that is much more even across the board. However, there are still situations where supply will far outweigh demand and thus drive prices too low.
This is where the benefit of having one TP really comes into play. Since the TP is connected to everyone this means that the in game economy can be manipulated quite easily on global scale. Within the first three weeks of the game ArenaNet noticed a glut of materials on the market including sticks of butter, wood logs, and wood dowels. The result of course was too much supply and prices that were bottomed out.
Their solution to this problem was quite novel. They created temporary in game recipes that required large amounts of these items. The results were almost immediate. The price for sticks of butter jumped 1000% from 2c to 20c in only a couple of hours. Green wood logs and Soft wood logs saw an increase also from 10c to 17c and 4c to 16c respectively. All of them have been holding steady near the 10c mark since then.
Not surprisingly up this point the Guild Wars 2 economy has been fun to track. The game updates that are presented by the actual in game economist really provide a more in depth view of the inner workings. If the ArenaNet team continues to put this much care and attention into the game then the long term outlook for the economy, and in turn the game, looks quite promising.
Read John Smiths State of The Economy Report Here
Note: Much of the data was derived from my own tracking but the rest was filled in via this great site here
Crosspost From Video Game Mojo