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Guild Wars 2 and the World Wide Market Approach

Guild Wars 2 brought about something that I had never seen in a MMORPG before: a world wide market. We are used to having multiple servers that you can choose to play on, and Guild Wars 2 is no exception (although it does call them “worlds”). But what it does bring that is different is a market that spans across all of these, so that regardless as to where you are playing at, you can buy and sell to anyone else.

This approach is interesting because generally, servers are like versions of communities. By having a server based market, you are ensuring that anything you trade is staying on your server and that others are not impacting it. This is, of course, more important in games where servers are being added and removed (such as Rift and Tera), as bringing higher end items and money to a fresh server of newbies is not a good idea. In the case of Guild Wars 2, though, it works great.

Increasing Liquidity of the Market

Probably the best part about the world wide market in Guild Wars 2 is that it makes the market very liquid. When you want to buy or sell an item, you are not dealing with a small niche (your server). Instead, you are dealing with absolutely everyone else that is playing the game and uses the trading system. This makes finding what you want easy, as well as finding buyers for what you do not want. If you have played a game that did not have this (like Lineage II), it may not be as apparent how important this really is. Nothing is worse than having to wait until the item or items you want are finally available, or deal with waiting for people on your server to finally be able to afford what you have.

Keeping Prices Stable

Part of effects of the very liquid market is that the prices of items are somewhat stable. We will sometimes find spikes here and there, but for the most part there are so many things for sale and being bought that unless someone actually makes an attempt to disrupt the market, it does not happen often. Or when there are some pretty big game changes, like decreasing materials in a zone or something. This is less about the spikes, though, and more about supply and demand changes. It also does not occur very often; ArenaNet has been pretty good at keeping major changes from having a big impact on the game. When they do let something go through, however, it can be pretty big. As an example, there have been talks about changing the way that the Legendary weapon system works. If this happens, it could easily affect the prices of the Legendaries, the precursors, and everything in between that happens to be related. While the market would be stable prior to this, we would definitely see some action with it going up and down until we find a new price that people feel comfortable with. Past situations like this, though, the trading system, being run across all worlds, does its job very well!

The Down Side

When you want to completely dominate a market, it is somewhat hard. You need a lot of money to do it, and you have to keep up with the supply as it comes in. When you are dealing with just a single server, this can be hard enough as it is. When you want to dominate a market that spans all of the servers, it gets even more tough (as there are more suppliers, so you need even more gold to keep up on top of it). While this does not really make it impossible, it does make things a lot more challenging. At the same time, though, it also makes the payoff, should you be successful, that much bigger as well. After all, bigger markets mean more people to buy from you!

Conclusion

The market in Guild Wars 2 represents what I look forward to in future games. It gives us a much larger pool of both buyers and sellers than I am used to, and I think this is a huge advantage. Whether someone wants to take a stab at playing the market or they just want to play the game and offload and buy items as they need them, this mechanism works for everyone. But as stated, this is not possible in every game. A lot of it depends on how the servers are set up, because you never want to give the higher level, more experienced players a huge advantage over the newer ones when a new server is released. This is what would happen in games like Tera and Rift, although Rift still allows character transfers (with items) so it is a bit iffy. In any case, where this is a viable option, it is definitely the ideal solution to a big problem!

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