Lewis: Well I guess this round table (of sorts) all started from when you Tweeted about the notorious gold buyer who proclaimed on Reddit to have bought gold from a Chinese gold farmer, in order to buy an Unbreakable Bell. It's funny you should have tweeted about it when you did as it was only an hour or so after I'd read the post. Why do you think it bothered you so much?
Ravious: I think it bothered me for two reasons which compounded on to one another. The author bought gold for a "want" and tried to blame-shift the problem back on ArenaNet felt that was pretty selfish on multiple grounds, and I felt he had made the wrong choice in the warped prisoner's dilemma created by gold sellers. Instead of working with other players or ArenaNet, he promoted black market gold selling
Lewis: In some respects I do think he tried to shift the blame but I also agree with his reasoning's for shifting the blame. It's difficult to know whether or not he was truthful in what he said, but I suspect many would spend on the gem store if the conversion rate was higher than what it currently is. For casual players, amassing a large amount of gold simply isn't a possibility and when something of significant interest comes along, it is obviously going to challenge an individuals resolve. I'm fortunate that I've plenty of money and could buy several on a whim. Others aren't so lucky and turning to gold traders is the answer to that problem. There's also no knowing as to whether the gold purchase was illegitimately gained by the seller...
That's not to say I don't agree with the notion that those unbreakable choir bells were *way *too rare for a purely non-combat item. That's the sort of thing that I really think would do well in the cash shop (put it in at 800 gems, even, and you've just got someone to put down $10 for a non-combat item. The user who started this all, and many others, would likely have been thrilled to pay that much). I'm actually kind of gobsmackedthat more stuff like that *isn't *in the cash shop, to be honest. However, stuff not being available in the cash shop, or as cheaply as you as a player might like, isn't really justification to go off and support the scum of the MMOG world.
Ravious: I think that adding it as a static cash shop item would've been the only way to peg a price point. Even if the conversion rate from gems to gold was better, the price of the Unbreakable Bell would have gone up in response. ArenaNet said they were overwhelmed with the amount of attention bell choir was getting, and it is likely they did not anticipate such a high demand for a LOTRO-esque music item. I am sure now the gears are whirring, and I can't imagine that they would ignore this demand. However, the gold buyer could not wait. The item was needed *now*, which unfortunately does drive black market gold.
Elisabeth: I agree, Ravious. It's easy to say that ArenaNet just should have foreseen the demand, I think, but that sort of item is superbly hit-or-miss. As it is, I'm not really sure that the unbreakable bells would appeal to much more than a niche group -- so given how bare the gem store really is, it's not surprising that the bells weren't included.
Lewis: I'm not sure that the bell was even an anomoly. Things like the Ghastly Shield and The Crossing are still incredibly popular based on the fact they look amazing and aren't available on the store. I've no doubt many players in general have resorted to buying gold from outside sources, to buy items such as these. Going back to a point you made earlier Elisabeth, I absolutely agree with you that players who do buy gold illegitimately really cannot then complain about botters or hacking, but I don't believe such players do it out of evil but simply to enjoy the game they are playing even more. Based on that, surely ArenaNet are approaching it from the wrong angle. I must add, is 50g really that much to warrant handing over real life money? I’m not so sure.
Ravious: There was another decent post on Reddit about a dungeon farmer being able to make a gold every 15 minutes. I think that the casual rate is closer to 1-2 gold per hour, based on personal experience, but to answer your question, Lewis, I think 50 g is about at the limit of reasonable for a casual player. I usually sit at around 25 g (liquidate I could easily do 100+ g) without any significant farming or dungeon running. I just play. I can understand that for some weekend warriors, 50 g probably seems like a huge task though, but I would not risk my account for a theoretical pittance. That same eloquent gold buyer could have put up a well written plea on Reddit and likely have found a patron, such as yourself. There were better ways to get that "want" within the system.
Lewis: I think you make a valuable point actually. There are a lot of people who are incredibly rich in Guild Wars 2 (I recently sold a Bolt with friends for 3,333g) which would be more than happy to support someone if they truely wanted an item. I've recently been running Honor of the Waves Explorable and was absolutely shocked at the money you can make from it. It took my party around 20 minutes per wing, which often resulted in me netting around 2g. I'd then convert the tokens I received into rare weapons before salvaging them. Doing this for a couple of days would be more than enough to secure most items in the game (excluding the rarest).
What the buyer highlights is just how common gold buying probably is in Guild Wars 2. I've not seen a Bot in months and months, but having recentlylooked on several gold selling websites, they're still there somewhere. ArenaNet really need to continue removing the value of seeking gold from 3rd parties by bringing as many things as possible onto the store. Only then will people pay them directly, rather than pursuing gold that comes from suspect sources.
Ravious: And this is where the biggest disconnect occurs, in my opinion. It is not that hard to get most market items. It just requires players to run dungeons because playing in the open world zones has barely a fraction of the profitability. If ArenaNet made the two playstyles on more even footing in terms of profitability the author might have not so readily rushed towards the easy way out. I personally would love to have permanent contract or two, but I have not yet gotten into dungeon farming. Perhaps I should since it seems that is where the golden carrot lies at the moment.
I think that ultimately ArenaNet is on the right path (even if they are bit overzealous with false positive auto-bans). Gold buying is a big part of the equation, and zero tolerance is best in the long run. I think the far better route for player "wants" is to open communication with the community, and even ArenaNet (who would need more devtime to react). Time and time again I've seen the community support many people's endeavors. There is plenty of gold, and plenty of benefactors looking for people to "invest" in. A musician could have offered to do a Lion's Arch bell concert in the benefactor's name. Be creative! Turning to people that hack, cheat, and lie to satisfy "wants" only hurts the community.
Elisabeth: ArenaNet are being as aggressive as they can be -- they've talked before about the need to balance their desire to ban botters against the importance of trying not to ban innocents, which means it can't always be as quick a process as we would like. Keeping up that vigilance is important, and while I'd love to see them continuing to look for ways to improve their bot hunt, I'm not sure what those ways need to be. I agree with Ravious that it comes down to the community deciding to not support the sort of things that undermine the game. In the long run, the health of the game and economy and the "war against bots" really ought to outweigh the convenience of third-party gold sellers.
Lewis: I think aggression is paying off for ArenaNet but to stop all gold buying permanently is a war that will go on for as long as the game is living. If ArenaNet are truly to make further inroads against it, they need to be willing to really monetize what they have to remove any possibility of temptation.
GW2Hub wants to thank both Elisabeth and Ravious for taking the time out of their busy schedules to discuss the hot topic of gold buying and we're hoping they'll rejoin us soon for future round tables.