In this week's article of The Scrying Pool, I ask: Do we get too much gear as drops?
In each article of The Scrying Pool, I look at what is and what could be. After taking a look at what is present in Guild Wars 2 now, be that lore or game mechanics, I then ask What If? What if this happened in the lore or this feature was added in a future patch.
Some time ago I came across this blog post on Gamasutra. The author of the blog does an economic breakdown within Guild Wars 2 based on his personal observations while leveling his first character.
I found the blog post to be an interesting read. There are a few things that the author is wrong about, though these are easily explained by him only being at level 64 at the time of writing the post. What interested me the most were his points on crafting and the overabundance of gear drops within the game.
A large portion of the in game economy is driven by loot drops. This includes that bag full of gear that you might just vendor, salvage or, in the rarest of cases, sell on the trading post. This large amount of gear also diminishes the value of manufactured goods.
As the author and undoubtedly most of the player base has discovered, there is very little value in crafted armor and weapons during the leveling process as better gear dropping is almost a guarantee. Even if better gear does not drop, players are able to buy such gear from the trading post cheaper than it would cost to craft.
Crafting therefore is not valuable for its primary outcome, which is the manufacture of trade goods, but the secondary outcome of experience gained through leveling crafting disciplines.
Is this a bad thing? No, I don’t think so as it provides a continual item sink for the game.
A common practice in GW2 is to level alternate characters by leveling their crafting disciplines. This gives incentive to level a crafting discipline more than once across multiple characters which in turn keeps demand up for components used for crafting. If the crafting system didn’t give players experience it is likely this demand would plummet as players wouldn’t need to level any discipline more than once. After leveling a discipline once a character could craft and distribute any desired items across the other characters on the account.
Without that demand crafting components would swell in supply resulting in the same overabundance problem that gear drops represent. Even if this was accepted, the now incredibly cheap crafting components would likely still cost more than buying gear from the trading post due to the merchant value limiting their devaluation. This also doesn’t take into consideration the cost of leveling high enough to craft said gear. So in this case crafting wouldn’t be of any use either for its primary outcome of manufactured goods and its lack of secondary outcome if experience was removed from crafting.
If limiting the demand on crafting goods wouldn’t help balance the dropped gear to crafted gear ratio, maybe it is the other side of the ratio that needs attention.
Gear drops to a staggering, crazy degree. Most of my bag space need is to hold all of the gear drops earned while playing, especially when completing dungeons or fractals. To top it off almost all of that gear isn’t useful for me and is just going to be sold to a merchant or salvaged.
Is it really necessary to have all of this gear dropping?
In GW2 there are items specifically designed for salvaging. If I get a piece of gear that I am just going to salvage, why not instead give one of these items for me to salvage?
This might seem counter-productive. Why change this if the end result is going to be the same salvaged goods? Well that is kind of the point, to change the drop without changing the reward. Players would still get that same amount of salvageable goods, but now there isn’t as much of the overabundance of gear. Instead of a lot of gear getting thrown into the market, players getting free upgrades or players just bypassing repair costs, now the smaller supply of gear would increase its value while not hurting the salvage supply.
The same can be expanded to currency. Why do we need to get the gear we are just going to sell if we can get money to drop straight from the mob instead?