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Guildwars 2 Trading Post – Problems and Fixes

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#1 Green

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 06:00 AM

After reading the post here http://www.guildwars...hats-the-point/ and the replies from other readers I though I'd expand further on the topic. Hopefully folks will see this as an opportunity to get a better idea of the situation and the chance to offer feedback and suggestions to the community and Anet.

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.
Result…
• 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.

Because…
• 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.

In comparison…
• 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 comparison…
• 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.

Solutions

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.


#2 spritepac

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 08:56 AM

Your proposing some solutions but the reason EVE online has a good economy is because the developers took legitimate efforts to make it just like the real world. There are overhead costs, investments, capital, etc etc. GW2 doesn't have that and so even with your "fixes" undercutting will still happen. One of the biggest reasons is that any seller of anything but lets use crafting mats as an example. Crafting materials are basically made from nothing and players get large amounts of them, are INSTANTLY able to compare prices with the WHOLE server and can easily undercut simply because if they sell for 30c or 25c they don't care and then as you said it snowballs from there. Look at runescape crafting materials they stay at somewhat stabilized level because there isn't an instant undercutting option with any type of AH/TP. Anet has a couple of options I think: 1. Put in quotas for crafting mats set limitations for the amount in the world and supply/demand will set the price. 2. Abolish the TP as it is too easy to undercut with the TP and there is no seller protections. If it was possible people would sell items at 1c if there was no vendor limit on TP items. A face to face trading system might be more susceptible to scams but it keeps prices level because at any given time only a certain supply is available (the people who are online selling that at the current moment) and so undercutting becomes much harder. The reason GW1 ectos and such prices dropped because of overfarming and Anet not scaling properly to the overfarming. There should have been a gold sink also restricting the flow of money in the world.

#3 NeoSaigon

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 01:22 PM

How would removing the listing fee help?  Right now, there is a risk to undercutting; you can only do so once or twice before you start to lose money.  The 5% relisting fee is a good thing.  Without it, people would undercut with impunity.  Everyone wants their item sold first, so everyone will undercut when there is a lower price.

And do you really want to have a "market" skill, that you have to train like armour smithing?  The only result is older players are able to corner the market, while new players would have an even harder time making gold.  What happened to the American Dream, where you can come in new to the market, and go from rags to riches based on merit and skill alone?  My market skill is a lot better than average; I don't need a digital number to tell me that =/.

I like the way the market is actually.  It's a vicious place lol, like the Gate of Madness.  The 15% taxes are a very harsh, permanent environmental effect.

#4 badra al duun

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 02:51 PM

I've read that the market recently switched to a pure FIFO queue as well, at equiv prices. (I don't know that what we have is fully documented though)

I really liked the "lower quantity orders sell first" rule, as it made the market more usable for small sellers at the expense of the heavily leveraged people, and I wish they would go back to that.

#5 Shakyr

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 04:44 AM

Agreed with you mostly, OP. I loved the market in EVE (even though I pretty much ignored the skills). I would disagree with you though on people being able to corner the market in EVE. With the trading hub at Jita (and the 2-3 other lesser trading hubs), there is still an opportunity for someone to play the market on a near-global scale and cause havoc, if they so wish.

The thing that I miss though about the EVE market was that it is basically a player-driven economy. There are items like skill training books that have a "base price", because they are sold by particular stations (and not by a player), but they are the exception rather than the rule. Even then, if a player wishes to sell skill books under that price, they may. They will just be selling at a loss.

This is where the Trading Post (in Guild Wars 2) falls down, because the market has not been allowed to adapt and find it's own equilibrium, without external influences. For example, in the case of items that are bought and sold below vendor price (now restricted, but it shouldn't be).

#6 RabidusIncendia

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 05:47 AM

Don't see what can be done honestly.  If we look at how complicated it was to even get the tp working without problems, I think we can assume the tp is never going to change dramatically, ever.
Fun while it lasted.  I guess.

#7 PracticalShutIn

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 10:34 PM

How about we prevent people from selling the same item they just bought.  Like a cooldown of 3-7 days so people can't flip.

A lot of the undercutting is done by people who bought low and their only concern is to guarantee that the product sells so it wasn't a failed venture.  So they'll sell for a good deal less than the lowest current price (as if they protects them from an undercut).

If there was a cooldown on items you bought, it would be too risky to wait days to see if you can still sell those 250 items at a profit.

#8 NeoSaigon

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 01:22 AM

Flipping is the least efficient way of playing the market.  Converting your item serves multiple functions

1) It "launders" the item, and makes it less clear that you're buying/reselling
2) Items with large disparities between offer/buy now prices sell slowly.  Converting the item into something less profitable, but that sells more quickly increases your gold/time
3) Some items convert to ones that have a higher value.

Flipping cooldown would only serve to annoy a large group of people and fill the forums with "ANET wants you to spend RL$"

#9 PracticalShutIn

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 03:40 AM

I agree that it's inefficient, but it's the easiest and laziest means to make money and people do do it.  People brag about how much money they've made doing it (with Golden titles to back it up).  But what I think about is that that 200g was gained by needlessly throwing 35g in trading fees in the trash.  When, if the flipper wasn't there, all 235 gold would have gone to the people actually looking for the item.

And I don't think it matters that that section of people would be annoyed.  They are behaving in a way that Anet has tried to discourage.  A way that is unfriendly to other players.  They can use their 200g to console them.  They've been griefing the rest of us anonymously this whole time.  It wouldn't make a huge difference now anyway since the damage is done, but it might make it easier to buy something when we need it.

Edited by PracticalShutIn, 20 October 2012 - 03:43 AM.


#10 NeoSaigon

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 04:49 PM

Playing the economy is a perfectly legitimate way of playing the game.  MMOs are a living world, one that has its own currency and its own economy.  Yes, merchants make more money, but they do so with greater risks.  Farming items carries no risk at all.  You get a steady increase in profits for the time you put in.  Playing the market, you put in every gold you have for a chance at a 10% profit.

Rest assured though, flippers don't make that much money =P  10g?  Chump change lol.  Most of the flips happen in the dye market.  But dyes sell for a few copper.  And they sell one at a time.  And if people undercut you, your item will rot in TP.  Flippers are like the local convenience store that buys items for cheap, and resells, one customer at a time for 50% profit.  You can make a living off of it, but don't expect to be Bill Gates.




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