[GW2] Gold, Gems and real Money conversion

Money is not exactly easy to come by while leveling in GW2, that much has gotten clear to most players by now. While no longer being used to “broke noob level” may play its part therein, it cannot be denied that cash flow in GW2 is considerably slower compared to other MMOs and the usual means, such as trying to make profit over the market place or grinding mobs for gold, don’t work out so well either. Azuriel recently posted a great overview on how to “maximize” your coin for the time being and like him, I am slightly worried if the economy can actually recover in any significant way, given that the MP in GW2 is a global one. If 500+ people are selling the same bow as yourself, how are you ever supposed to make a profit?

As a natural consequence, the idea of just buying gold via ANet’s gem trading system comes to mind as one possible solution to the current money drought. Only, you couldn’t be more wrong there! You don’t want to trade your gems for ingame gold right now or in any foreseeable future – and that too has me skeptical at several fronts.

Oh my, precious goldz!

To start at the very beginning, you probably know that ANet has a rather unique way of handling different currency in GW2 and the way ingame and real money can be exchanged via the gem currency. While there is an item shop that requires gems to shop in, GW2 sets itself apart by allowing players to also buy gems with ingame gold; this means, if you’re a good little gold farmer, you never actually have to spend extra real money on vanity items and other shop bonuses. However, this also means the entire market and exchange rates are heavily influenced by both real money shoppers and potential “chinese farmers”. Due to this rather obscure interplay, exchange rates for gold vs. gems vary on a daily basis, as is displayed on the graph in your ingame Trading Company tab.

While it’s understandable that ANet want to control the impact of real money going into the game to avoid deflation, I find the currency exchange variables incredibly confusing. Reading up further to get into the whole deal takes considerable time and mind twisting, at least for somebody who isn’t too versed in economic theory. Considering also that the entire balance can potentially get very skewed and discourage players to spend real life money in GW2, which surely cannot be intended by ANet(?), I wonder why they chose this path rather than sticking to a more exclusive shop of real-money-only and therefore cosmetic and soulbound items only? Maybe a more economy savvy player has some insights here for me.

Either way, I decided to have a closer look at exchange rates and the status quo on my server, Desolation EU. How much ingame gold can I currently receive for gems and what is the ratio between that exchange rate and the real money I spend on buying the gems? I ended up with the following results:

  • 800 gems cost a fix 10 Euros; That’s 3.75€ for 300 gems.
  • For 300 gems you can currently exchange 56 ingame silver.
  • However, 78 ingame silver buy 300 gems

…See what happened there? While a real money buyer pays 3.75€ for 300 gems, which then yield 56s, a player can buy 300 gems with 78s ingame currency. This means there’s about a difference of 25% in buying power between ingame and real currency. Correct me if I’m wrong!

Compared to other MMOs, I don’t find this exchange rate erm, “particularly attractive” for potential real money spenders! 10€ for 1.5 gold? You gotta be kidding me!

The demand for gems is only going to go up as the player base advances and the shop adds more and more goods. What will keep the balance from shifting further in favor of gold farmers or “gem hoarders/speculators” (buying cheaper gems now, waiting for demand to raise)? Money income is slow leveling in GW2 while crafting and items are all quite pricey. One can only wonder how things are going to pan out longterm with these particular economical mechanisms in place? Am I supposed to start hoarding gems now too with the gold I don’t have? …

Eventually many players will want to buy things like more bank space or extra character slots in the gemstore and for a non-sub MMO (that we hopefully get to enjoy for a long time to come), that is a very much needed and good thing. Luckily, at least the gemstore is not affected by the exchange rates for ingame gold: you can buy gems from ANet and pay for their wares without impact from the currency game. For those looking to buy money in GW2 however, I foresee a longer waiting time; I sure wouldn’t spend any real coin on gold right now and I see little change in that department as long as the general player base hasn’t gotten richer – much richer! 

There is also the concern that the status quo favors illegal gold sales: I’ve gotten my first ingame mail linking to a shady website today and while it’s beyond me how anyone can currently farm considerable money, ANet might want to tackle the issue of gold sellers beating them on exchange rates. If you’re making currency trade available in your game, surely you want to try and make it a better deal, potentially removing competition?

I might be under a premature impression here (feel free to enlighten me), but for the moment GW2’s economy seems to invite money speculators and gold farmers more than anyone. While I’m nowhere close to max level myself yet, I am already anxious to hear how the average player is supposed to find a way around the current situation and how ANet are judging the state of their global economy!


  1. Of course it attracts speculators and gold farmers… it’s an economy. Greed is greed, and greedy people will always flock to anywhere they see an opening. Any game where there’s a chance of getting real money from players, someone will step in to fulfil their desires in return for cash… or possibly to explot it and scam them. Which is the real problem with the illicit gold sellers, it’s not so much the selling gold per se, it’s the spam and scamming and account hijacking that goes with it as these people exploit and rip off the gullible fools that make up their customer base. As so much of this is just an expression of (the seedier side of) human nature, there’s still no better solution available than banning these people as and when you catch them, which ANet seem to be doing.

    As for the exchange rates – it’s normal for a currency exchange to have a ‘spread’ (i.e. the rate differs between the two directions), this is where the exchange makes its profit and also stops people from flipping trades back and forth to exploit the tiniest moves in the exchange rate. Also, I’d expect the gold sellers to offer better rates than ANet – they have to, because their customers are taking a risk of getting banned or ripped off whereas an official transaction is safe. Ergo, they have to offer more gold for your buck to lure the punters in.

    1. True, all MMOs have their gold sellers and every system has its flaws; am not denying that. 🙂 right now the whole economy just seems heavily skewed in favor of this group (with actual players becoming speculators too) and considering that ANet installed this rather complex currency system, it strikes me as bizarre that there’s zero incentive to spend actual, real coin in their game.

      many players will prefer grinding for gems ingame and as for attempting to buy gold like that – yeah right! 😀 maybe I heavily misunderstand ANet’s intentions, that’s entirely possible…but I thought they actually want to make some cash with that shop and exchange system. ah well, we’ll see what shinies they’ll add over time. right now there’s little I’d want to buy, anyway.

      btw, how’s Gandara as a server – you happy with the choice?

  2. I have to call shenanigans on this idea that’s taking hold that you can’t sell crafted gear at more than vendor + 1c. I’ve been testing it all day. Everything I’ve made I’ve put on the Trading Post at no less than twice vendor price, up to 4x vendor. I have sold most of it in minutes.

    Whether you consider it a worthwhile use of your time to farm mats, craft items and sell them for less than you could have sold the mats themselves is an entirely different matter to whether it is *possible* to sell crafted gear at a fair price. It is.

    Bear in mind that what I’m selling isn’t anything special. It’s one step up from the really basic crafted gear, which *does* sell for vendor+1c and should do because it is functionally worthless. I’m confident that if and when I have a good selection of Karma/Event recipes and the mats to make them that they will sell at a better premium than I’m seeing so far.

    1. I hope so – otherwise I feel for all those players currently spending mats, gold and karma on crafting. I’ve given up for the moment, but I have my own reasons for not liking crafting in general in MMOs. I thought the ‘experimental crafting’ would be a lot more fun especially in GW2, but I can’t say I like it this far.

      It’s true that you can sell items for more than the +1c profit. it still seems slow overall though. I usually try put my items up somewhere around midfield, between lowest seller and highest offer. I sell them 50% of the time maybe.
      offers in general are quite great btw – it’s really worth using them. I’ve gotten items many times now for 10% the price (dyes and pets mostly). I think some players are discouraged by the huge numbers of seller competition and just want to be rid of their stuff fast. suits me 😉

    2. I would also like to add that you can definitely sell for more than vendor+1c, and in fact often WAY more if you are careful and take a bit of time. I have been leveling some crafting professions by only buying mats with the money I make off of selling things I have made with that profession, and it has not been going slowly. I used to think that none of the patterns you could get with the discovery pane would ever sell, and even that turned out to be wrong. The key is paying attention to what stats players want, using buy orders for everything, and being patient if you need to wait for things to sell or new mats to show up. None of this is rocket science, but it does require the semblance of maturity. If that doesn’t sound fun, or you don’t care about crafting or having gold, then just buy your vendor+1c upgrades every 5 levels and have a good time.

  3. In most MMOs, the older the economy the easier it is to make cash in game. For example, in current WoW any low level character can get together more cash then you’d ever need for mounts and such selling leather or copper bars on the AH. The mounts have gotten cheaper to be sure. But the prices that players are willing to pay for low level gathered ingredients has also gone up around an order of magnitude. Enough gold to get mounted up at 25 is a piddling amount of change to a current player at the cap.

    In any case, right around launch is one of the hardest times to make money in a MMO. Very few players have maxed out toons sitting on giant stockpiles of cash. A year from now, you will likely be able to make 2-3x the in game currency for half the effort that you can now (in general).

    1. The economy will change with richer players yes, but in general I think it isn’t quite as simple as that for GW2. Most other MMOs have no global economy, nor a meta-currency like that. Two big factors to take into account.

    2. Indeed, I will be very interested to see how the extra factors play out past the obvious “more money is in the system months after launch than at launch.” As I understand it, not even EVE has a global economy. At least if I have interpreted chatter about the game correctly, different systems have different going rates. In some ways GW2 is a unique experiment.

    3. Yeebo – yes, EVE’s market is effectively fragmented because goods have to be physically shipped around. That price difference between two offers may not be worth it if the cheaper goods are half a galaxy away and you have to go collect it, or pay (and trust!) someone to fetch it for you. Not an issue in GW2.

      The thing about GW2 is that the ‘cash-level curve’ is a lot flatter than in other games. A level 80 has more money than a level 10, but nowhere near as MUCH more than their WoW or Rift equivalents. On top of that, the game has a lot more cash draining back out of the economy. WvW gets expensive, for example, if you’re the hero who puts a ram down at every tower door, let alone funding trebuchets. I suspect that Tyria will remain a relatively cash-poor economy.

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