I’ve always been a bit of a nut for in-game economies. It is part of the reason why I played the market in World of Warcraft, how I’ve made a good portion of my guild wars 2 gold in GW2, and the reason I continue to have an abiding love of the idea of EVE Online. This past weekend, an incredibly interesting and thorough analysis of the state of Guild Wars 2′s economy was posted on Gamasutra by Ramin Shokrizade. Its a fascinating read, but could easily be considered wordy and necessarily complex, so while I encourage you to read the primary source, consider this the Cliff Notes version, and critique of, “Guild Wars 2 Economy Review” by Ramin Shorizade:
Shorizade begins by presenting the basic concept of all game economies: a beginning in scarcity rising to abundance. In a game you start with (essentially) nothing and as more and more people play, and more and more resources are gathered, the market fills up. This is the core concept of game economies that necessitates gold sinks: ways of removing resources from the economy in order preserve some sense of balance.
Shokrizade’s study of the GW2 economy is methodical to a fault, and his methodology is simple and precise: After waiting four months (a superb decision based on the initially volatility of the Auction House and economy all together), He began a Sylvari Elementalist character, and with only 3 15-Slot bags to his name, began playing through the 1-15 zones.
The focus of this study was on crafting materials primarily, and has been divided into three section; Low, Medium and High level materials:
Low: Shokrizade completes all the 1-15 zones, and gets to Jeweler 85 and Artificer 82, pushing his character to level 37. He remarks that Anet have done “an exceptionally good job of keeping the coin economy tight”, using deaths and repairs, as well as gathering tools as effective gold sinks in the low levels (I’d be interested to see his analysis of the Molten Alliance Pick, a.k.a. the scarcity economists worst nightmare). However, when he move to crafting I begin to see an issue. he remarks that “Weapon crafting was almost never of any use in this range”, due to the fact that he could easily get weapons of equal or better stats as drops. However, later on, he remarks that “scarcity of craft xp that makes craft xp valuable to players.”
Artificing and, more so, Jewelry were perhaps the worst possible professions that he could have picked in terms of potential XP gained from crafting. When taking Discovery XP into account, Any of the Armor or Weapon Smithing professions have far more options, and thus bonus XP, and Cooking offers an enormous amount of possible recipes, particularly where he has been gathering supplies in all of the starter zones, thus getting a nice spread of ingredients. As a pure examination of item scarcity, then Jewel Crafting has it in the bag, but the XP gain from weapon crafting and cooking has the potential to be much higher.
Medium: Completing the Level 15-25 zones, Shokrizade’s toon was level 64, and he was at 153 and 151 for Jewelcrafting and Artificing respectively. Gold sinks and gear procurement remained about the same as in the low level zones, and Shokrizade figured out that “a full gear upgrade is available at any time for about 1% of [his] wealth” at any time, which is a supremely interesting statistic..
However, I take issue with the idea of calling a level 15-25 zone the Medium Teir of crafting materials. This level should be reserved for level 35-55 zones, since this is truly the middle of the crafting field. This is also the well-known “Burn-Out Zone”, where players will typically rush through content in order to get to the last few zones and end game. In every MMO i’ve played, crafting materials from this area tend to fetch a much higher proportionate price than their lower and higher level counterparts. I’m not sure considering the middle point of the GW2 commodity market the level 25 items is truly justifying the market
End Game: Disregarding the rather significant jump from Level 25 to level 75, Shokrizade sums up the end game economy pretty well, citing the “three resources are Experience (avatar xp), Craft xp, and Coin (the primary currency)…[as well as] prestige currencies”. His final analysis of the game’s economy is, despite my earlier misgivings, spot on. Experience is abundant tot he point of un-importance (though this doesn’t consider the necessities for a legendary weapon), Crafting and Gold are right where they should be, but the Items market is horrifically broken.