Firstly I understand that creating a virtual market like the Trading Post is a huge undertaking by many people smarter that myself. Hats off to them! This post is just my two cents based on my experience in virtual markets and my observations in GW2.
I think we can all agree that the Auction style Trading Post (TP) concept in GW2 is a good thing. It complements the various crafting professions giving depth to the game and grants the potential for players to enjoy the game beyond adventuring.
Due to the design in of GW2’s Trading Post, there are issues which have already been identified by the player base and are being monitored by Anet.
My main issue with the TP is there is no protection for sellers and their profit margins. It is way too easy for any old player to come along and upset the market (knowingly or unknowingly) and even corner the market.
We’ve already seen this with Legendary precursor items. At the time of this writing Dusk is now selling for 260 Gold. Don’t get me wrong, if someone has been lucky enough to find out a recipe for precursors and is able to capitalize on it, that’s great. But anyone in the know would agree there’s some funny business going on here, market manipulation perhaps.
My concerns are not necessarily regarding the cornering of a market item but more related to the consumable market, profit margins and its impact on the average player.
To make the case I’ll compare GW2’s TP to EVE Online’s Market system. Based on my experience with MMO’s, EVE’s system is the most mature and best in MMO’s today. I am not going to go into the very fine points of EVE’s market as it as complex as real world markets and has a GDP larger than some small countries.
I also want to make it clear that I understand the two games are very different and many of the systems in one are not feasible in the other. The comparisons I make are to simply show the differences in the two games and offer my humble suggestions.
Comparing GW2 and EVE Online Market Models
• CCP’s EVE and Anet’s GW2 both have dedicate market professionals on staff who have worked in the financial sector before joining their respective companies, bringing their expertise of real world markets to these virtual markets.
• Players can post both Buy and Sell orders
• Competition is fierce; I call it Market PvP (MPvP)
• EVE’s market is properly designed for MPvP
• GW2’s market is NOT properly designed for MPvP
Why EVE’s market is designed for MPvP
• More than One Market - Markets are divided up into a handful of regions within the universe, but are still connected in that one could buy from one region market, fly into a neighboring market then buy/sell there.
• Barrier for Entry - Players must train skills to allow them to buy/sell on the market beyond a few items here or there within the station (town, Lions Arch), Solar System (map, Queensdale), Region (server, NA, EU) they are currently docked in.
• Sellers Care - The more time you put into training the skills, the further away you can buy/sell, less tax you pay, higher volume of items you can sell at one time etc.
• Who’s Playing the Market - Player’s character names are tied to sell orders, you know who you’re buying from and selling to. You know who’s trying to make a move in the market; you know who’s being naughty and nice.
Why GW2’s market is not designed for MPvP
• One single market. The actions of one player effects EVEYONE in GW2, not just those within the same town, map or server ( the equivalent of station, solar system or region in EVE)
• EVE‘s system is such that one player or a group of players malice actions (knowingly or unknowingly) is limited to that station, solar system or region.
• The impact of malice actions can be counteracted by neighboring markets by adjusting (increasing or decreasing the price or volume of buy/sell orders), or bring in goods from outside markets to the trouble market to even it out to normalcy.
• It is very difficult for one to manipulate the global market i.e. increase the sale prices to ridiculousness or lower the prices to below profitability.
• It is very easy for one to manipulate the market in GW2 (i.e. Dusk)
• No Barrier for Entry – Without knowledge of how the TP works (15% taxes as an example) any player can place an item for sale on the TP. With the sheer number of players that have full and free to access the market, a reasonable sale price can tank on an item within minutes.
• Casual Sellers Don’t Seem to Care - Players tend to have little patience and want their money now. The begin undercutting each other. I call it the snowball effect. Generally speaking this is ok and promotes competition and better prices for the buyer. Problem in GW2 is the under cutting often is not simply 1 copper, but multiple copper and in many cases multiple silver. For an item that has a profit margin of say 50 copper, there is very little room to play.
• With EVE due to the fact you need to train skills to do everything in the game, and you can only train one at a time, means that players that do enter into the market are more informed because they’ve look at the market, decided what they want to do, then train the skills for it. They are then able to make smart decisions regarding the order prices. This means the chances of a player inadvertently selling an item way below a reasonable price and kicking off the snowball effect is significantly reduced.
Snowball effect is bad…
• Set Prices – Vendor Prices of ingredients (salt, flour, butter milk) along with the 15% sales tax means that there is a minimum an item needs to sell at before it’s profitable let alone worthwhile to produce and sell.
• In EVE virtually all the prices are determined by the player. So if a produced item becomes no longer profitable, people stop buying the ingredients to make it. When people stop buying ingredients the folks selling the ingredients are forced to adjust their prices until it evens out again in the long run.
• Sale Tax - I don’t have a problem with the tax, it’s a money sink and every MMO needs them to prevent inflation. Our armor repairs and travel costs are other money sinks in GW2. I do believe 15% a little high and I question why the burden is placed solely on the seller.
• Relisting - The problem with the tax is that when one chooses to sell an item they pay 5 of the 15% sales tax upfront. This means that one cannot simply relist their item with an even lower sale price without taking a major hit. Reason being is the item that was once profitable with the 15% sales tax now needs to be profitable with a 20% tax. (The previous 5% already paid is lost plus another 15% required for a new listing). With profit margins already so tight, relisting makes the item unprofitable all of a sudden in many cases. I could go on as it gets even more complicated but the main point has been made.
• Who’s Playing the Market? – In GW2 there is no one way to know for certain if a particular player is manipulation the market, all buy and sell orders are anonymous. This means malice actions can never be tied to a player and they are free to carry on with no fear of being fingered.
• There is a cetin degree of peer review that happens when you know who’s doing what in a market. Folks grow balls, nasty harry balls when they can hide.
• Also, conceivably bots could be making market orders on behalf of their masters. It’s interesting to watch the patterns on certain items.
Again, I make no claim that I have all the answers, but it appears to me that a major overhaul in terms of programing is needed to work out all the kinks.
Short of that a few steps could make it better.
• Sales Tax – Remove the burden from the sellers solely. If 15% must be charged, split it between both the buyer and the seller 50/50. The seller pays his 5% up front, 2.5% at sale. The remaining 7.5% is added to the price automatically for the buyer, a hidden tax.
• Re-listing – Change it so one does not have cancel their sell in order to re-list. A simple adjustment fee of say 5 copper to change a listed price would go a long way to allow one to keep their prices competitive.
• Educate the public – Provide market data and trend info to show the history and volume of sales say within the last hour. That way they may not undercut so drastically with the assumption they can’t or won’t be able to sell the item otherwise.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope it spurs more intelligent discussion on the topic and eventual fixes down the road.
Edited by Green, 15 October 2012 - 06:12 AM.