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Time and time again, players make comments about how the market in Guild Wars 2 is “fixed” to keep prices from going too high/low. There appears to be a big misunderstanding as to how the market works, as well as how it affects us as individuals and as a whole. We're going to be looking at the market as a whole, although we will also delve into the Gem market, which is similar in most ways but does have a couple differences. Understanding how all of this works will allow you to make better decisions when both buying and selling items.

High Population Affects Sales Times

This one is probably the most obvious, yet the most misunderstood. There are an unknown number of players in the game at any given time (as the market is cross-world), and a lot of people do their shopping at the same times (since it can be done anywhere). This means at some points your items will sell instantly and others they won't. This, in turn, pushes the volatility of Guild Wars 2's market even higher, as the prices can drop or raise pretty much instantly. Along with this, it decreases the chances of one person (or a small group of people) being able to completely dominate one of the sectors. It's still possible with enough gold, but the risk is high considering how quick the market moves.

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There is also another area where the high population can create massive changes in the market. When a game change comes in that makes an item more or less rare, it can create a very quick rift where the costs of those items will increase or decrease considerably over a short period of time.

One example of this is Butter. It is a material that was found very often, yet had limited uses, so the price was historically very low (it could be bought at one copper pretty much any time). One of the patches to the game decreased the amount of Butter people were getting, which made it more rare. Within hours after the patch, the Butter had increased by an average of three times its value. In the grand scheme of things this was small because the difference was only two copper, but those who bought up massive amounts at only one copper were able to make massive amounts of gold with little to no effort.

Another big example of this is Orichalcum Ores. For quite a while, players could get special picks that allowed them to mine these ores, as the picks had no level requirements. Because of this, players would create new level ones, get them out of the tutorial zone, and head out to where some Plentiful Orichalcum Ore nodes were at. This allowed them to quickly farm up a lot of these ores, while avoiding the daily limit that was previously set (the rare materials like this only spawn once per day per character). This trick caused many more ores to become available on the market, which saturated it to the point where they became a bit cheaper. They were still pretty expensive, but not anywhere near where they were prior to the trick. As soon as Arena Net found the problem and fixed it, the prices started going up again, as once again they were becoming rare.

While lower populations of players would not have created such a big problem with a change like this, with the more people there are the more problematic it becomes. Since these ores are needed for end game equipment (technically the items are not “needed,” per se, but for those who want to have the most rare items do) they had a market that was pretty clear. For materials and such that are not really needed these effects would be minimized, although they would still be at least somewhat apparent.

The Hot Items

Gear

Most things in Guild Wars 2 have their place on the market, although some are wanted much more than others. When it comes to gear itself, there are different tiers. Each tier has a desire attached to it, as follows:

  • White/Blue/Green – Basic/Fine/Masterwork (least desirable)
  • Yellow – Rare (desirable)
  • Orange – Exotic (more desirable)
  • Gold – Legendary (most desirable)

Of all of these items, the Rare and better are the ones that are going to be wanted on the Black Lion Trading Company. Sometimes the masterwork (green) will be as well, although that is not very often.

It is also worth noting that the Rare items are wanted the most because they have a lot of value. Breaking down these items with higher end salvage kits can reward you with Globs of Ectoplasm, which are both valuable and rare. The down side to this is that you end up having to decide whether or not it is worth the gamble. You can obtain one Ectoplasm, as many as three, or even zero. Depending on how lucky you are you can either make a significant amount of profit by going for these, or you can lose a lot of your gold (that you could have otherwise earned by just selling the items on the trader). This is all really up to personal preference. In my case I have had almost no luck with breaking down items. Others I know of have gotten Ectoplasms on enough of theirs to make more money than they spend.

It is also worth noting that if you want to go for the break downs, you need to pay special attention to the market. Keep up with the prices of both the Ectoplasm and the items you are breaking down. If, for example, the item you are breaking down costs less than the Ectoplasm, it is worth the risk a lot more than if it is more valuable. With the more valuable ones you are better off letting someone else take the risk.

Materials

Materials are a whole different animal. Every material has at least some value. Some materials, however, are found in such abundance that you really can't make anything off them, while others are so rare that they are worth a lot.

Usually, materials that require a crafting skill of 400 are going to be worth the most. This is because they are more rare. Mined materials can be worth a lot as well, such as Ancient Wood Logs, Orichalcum Ores and Orrian Truffles. Along with this, Globs of Ectoplasm and Lodestones (especially Charged Lodestones) have great value, but they are among the rarest materials you can find.

The big thing you will want to know about materials is that they are very volatile, in that prices can raise and drop extremely quick. The prices you see right now may not be the same in 10 minutes. Because of this, choosing when to list your materials is a big gamble in and of itself. The best thing you can do is to keep up with the market fluctuations and try to lock in on a low and high price, then go for the higher end. This will help net the most (as long as it sells) while not having to take a big hit during slower days.

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Generally speaking, you should be able to list your materials at the seller price, rather than the buyer offer one. As long as what you are selling is in demand, you usually will not have any problems getting them moving. If you are trying to sell something that has almost no value, or at least is not in demand due to over saturation, going with the buyer price is better so you are not sitting on it for days, weeks or even months. Keep in mind that you have to pay the listing fee every time you list something again, so it is better to be sure you will only need to list it once. It can become costly if you keep having to take it down and alter the price a little.

The Spread

Often times, you will find an item that has both buy orders and sell orders that are spread out. For example, someone may be offering 1G for it, while someone else is selling for 2G. You can make money off the spread, but if the item is not in much demand you will end up losing money instead. If you decide to take a go at this, the trick is to buy at a little higher than the highest buyer (in this case, try 1G1S), and then if it is bought, resell at a little under 2G. If it works, you profit. The risk here is that the market can sway up or down at any point. You may find that when you get a buy the price has gone down a lot, or it could be the opposite and you earn more than you planned on. If you are planning to use this method, it is best to go with common materials and such, as there is always a market for them. Other items that are usually in demand are rares and exotics. These items also usually have semi decent spreads between their buy and sell prices, which you can take advantage of. Keep in mind that you are still facing the forces of uncertainty, but there are often times where you can find a yellow that sells well and is being bought at a fraction of its normal cost. Since there is no fee for setting up buy orders, even if you do not make a purchase you have not lost anything. All you have to do is remove the purchase order if you end up needing the gold for something, and you are back to where you started with no harm done!

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Gem Exchange

Now that we have covered the rest of the things, it is time to move on to the gem exchange. When you are looking at it, you will see a chart that shows about a week of prices. It always starts in the Gold → Gem setting, so if you want to go the opposite way you will need to click on the “Trade Gold for Gems” button.

As you might guess, you want to trade gold for gems when the price is lowest, and trade gems for gold when it is highest. The big thing to note here, though, is that you do not want to do quick flipping back and forth. As of this writing, the chart shows that it would cost 3G to get 100 gems, but 100 gems only sells for 2.25G. If this were flipped before the price rose to 4G, there would be a big loss.

As for how these prices are determined, it is based on which way the transactions are going. If more people are trading their gems in, the price in gold will go down. If more people are trading their gold in, the price in gold will go up. If you see a big spike, that is from one (or many) very large sales one way or the other. Usually if there is a large peak, someone will move their funds in the opposite direction dropping it back down.

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An interesting thing that happens in Guild Wars 2 in regards to prices happens when the monthly content updates come out. Most of these (if not all of them) have added new items to the cash shop. With each new item that is added, there is a new demand for them. This is pushed by those with the cash to buy them, as well as those who do not have the money and would rather use their gold. What this causes to happen is a major spike upwards in gem prices occurs. It usually recovers from this somewhat, but so far has never completely recovered. As a result, the trend has started, and is continuing, to go upward with seemingly no end in sight.

This is further exacerbated by the increase in gold among players. As more gold is out on the market, inflation keeps taking its toll. Since gold really has no real purpose (other than to repair gear or teleport from one area to another), the amount of it that is being destroyed is a lot smaller than what is being created. This is not to say that gold has no value, but when it really comes down to it, you will usually earn significantly more than you need to spend. This excess ends up adding up until you have nothing else to do with it, and it gets tossed in to the gem market.

Now, if you want to purchase gems, the best time to do it is in the middle of a month (assuming the content releases will be towards the end of the month). This is because many players will delay their purchases until they see what is actually going to be added to the store, and as soon as they find out it has things they want they will jump on the gem exchange and start converting. When this happens, the prices go up massively, so it is best to get in on it prior to this event. Try to avoid ever purchasing gems during the window that includes about two days prior to a major content patch and the first four to five days after it is released. This helps let things settle down, which should help you net a better price.

Be Careful for Fees

This is an area where a lot of players get caught up and lose a lot of money. When you are purchasing items to sell, you need to be very attentive to how much the total fees are going to be. With some items the fees will make less of an impact, but with others you can lose a lot of money. To see how much the fees will be on any price level, set any item you want in to the sell box and input some prices. Note how much you will be getting after the taxes, and use that to help determine whether you will be earning or losing money off sales. This is very, very important as not doing so can cause you to lose everything you have worked hard to get!

The other thing to watch is the fact that fees are based on the total value of all items you are listing. Generally, you will pay less in fees if you list multiple of an item at once as compared to a single one. This savings may not be that much, but it can really start to add up over time. And when you are working on running a reselling shop, any extra money is a great thing to happen. “It takes money to make money” is a very true statement, and the more you have the more you can earn (but if you are not careful the more you can lose as well).

Conclusion

There is a lot of gold that can be earned on the Black Lion Trading Company, but it is a very risky situation. There are a lot of people due to the merging of the worlds, meaning items are changing hands constantly. If you're very attentive to it, however, you can make a lot on it!

The important thing is to keep analyzing it the best you can. There are tons of different items so it can be somewhat tough, so the best plan of action is to pick certain items and watch them over time. All yellow (rare) items can be grouped in to one category, though, as most of them should be easy enough to get off your hands. Materials, on the other hand, can be difficult depending on which ones they are. Along with this, the prices are much more volatile with them, so it is best to pick a hand full and watch them. Even a small profit off each material will add up to massive amounts if you are buying and selling tens of thousands of them at a time. Never underestimate the power of small profits added up!

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