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GW2Hub, Massively and KTR Round Table: Gold Buying

January 15, 2013 - 5:16pm -- Xerin
Guild Wars 2 Gold Buying

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.

Guild Wars Unbreakable Bell

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. 

 

Rin Aki
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Some really good points from all three of you and I really enjoyed the read. Thanks.

There were a few points that stood out to me, that I agree with.

Firstly, from Ravious, I agree completely that if Anet made all areas of the game equally as profitable as the next, some people would not need to buy gold from gold sellers. At the moment there are only a few legit ways to earn money (running dungeons, extreme luck and playing the trading game), and none of them will appeal to everyone. I feel that most casual players would not enjoy any of those activities (at least to the levels of gaining decent money), but if their daily activity were to net them a decent amount of currency, there would be no need to spend real cash.

Second, from Lewis. I totally agree with you that there should be many MANY more items on the gem store, and items like this (which to me seem an obvious good seller, I am not sure how this was not seen) should really be available. It's a fun item, so why was it not added? Also, like you, I believe the reddit guy made a good point (if it is indeed true, I don't know I've not checked gold seller prices). With the current exchange rate, if the choices were 50g for £15 or 50 gold for £50 I am pretty sure a LOT of people would be tempted, especially with how rare some items are and the insane levels of luck that are needed to get them. I'm not condoning what he did, I just think it's a valid point.

Thirdly, from Elisabeth. I agree that Anet needs to continue being aggressive on the gold seller and bot war. But they really need to fight it from all angles if they want to really stop it or cut it down to size. Banning bots is one thing, but all the while there is demand there will always be supply. You only have to look at piracy for that. No matter what companies do to stop it, someone will always find a way around it. It is a futile endless war that companies spend a lot of money on fighting. Which is fine all the while they still make a profit. But if Anet could remove the need to buy gold else where that would go a long LONG way to reducing the gold sellers.

I'm no expert on these things, so I don't really know the answer. But it seems to me that Anet has been very aggressive against the bots (which is good) but not so helpful to the players. And it is that that is driving customers to the gold sellers in the first place. Anet is creating the demand for gold seller by making it difficult for a lot of players to acquire the items they so tantalizingly offer. I'm not saying they should make it easy, but they certainly should make it easier to acquire to the more casual, time restrained, players out there.

I'll just finish by saying this. It is the nature of all life to follow the path of least resistance. If the risk is perceived to be low but the gains high, many people will go for it. Increase the risks (banning gold buyers) and remove the gain (make it easier to gain legitimately).

Order of the Ono & Semper Dius

Ayelet
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 The fact that all 4of the Wintersday minis came into the game account bound made very little sense to me, but also left the Choir Bell as the only rare, collectable, tradeable, Wintersday, item.  That in itself drove up the desirability of the item.  

I hope to see A-Net loosen the reins on some of the bound items from the gem store.  I can buy gems with gold, but I can't buy speed boosters with gold, and I can't get rid of the boosters that I don't personally use.  Releasing the binding on those items would allow people who play the RNG game with Black Lion Chests to sell things like armor and speed boosters and redistribute some of the gold from dungeoneers to people that play in the open world.  

Side note:  The bots are much decreased but definitely not gone.  Take a look at Southsun Cove at Pearl Islet underwater -- there are rangers with bears that move as if casting blink repeatedly farming the skelk there all of the time.  They swim continuously up and down that coastline and they move and kill very quickly the skelk never had time to phase out.  For a lark I tried to take advantage of them for a few minutes, tagging the skelk that they were killing, but there was no way I could keep up.  Killing those skelk give T5 and T6 fangs, claws and blood.

Sigmatics
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Now, Lewis, tell me the secret to complete all three HotW paths in 60 minutes. I'm listening.

In all the groups I've been in, the underwater bosses alone take that long.

rtommaso
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ArenaNet was never able to stop gold selling and botting. And probably never will, because even though they say they care, they make money from selling new accounts to bots. The same websites advertise in GW and GW2 since the release of GW. I also dont think they have anyone skilled enough in their staff to put those problems to an end. Also they are one of the most greedy companies in game industry and their business practices are getting worse each day since NC$oft put their dirty hands in Anet.

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