A Game of Grind: GW2

And we all thought WoW was bad

In the recent posts about the new content and update both Jeromai and Bhagpuss talk about the new ways people are making money after the recent update. Dragons and CoF runs have been a staple of the community for a long time and now with a few changes the horde has put their eye on the increased champion rewards. Optimised paths for these have sprouted up in a number of areas, spurned on by the elitists wherein the masses follow along unquestioning and unfazed by the repetitiveness because it doles out the most pellets. Seriously, when the grind is being optimised and adopted by the community in such an intrinsic way you might have gone to far.

I can’t help see the irony in this. For a game that was apparently championing against the evils of grind under the guise of fun it has become one of the mmo’s with the most grind… or at least the most people engaged in it. Instead of a minority of min maxers and raiders who get wrapped up in grind, here it seems like the majority of the population has been seduced into following the blue dorito and to just keep killing for a never-ending daily. I have never seen this amount of grind be engaged in by so many for such a long period of time before. The grind zergs are there day and night, weekends and weeknights.. Rain, hail or shine.

Grind isn’t a bad thing to have in our virtual worlds, in fact I think it is a needed component at times but there are limits to it. Everyone has their own tolerance to it but having it in excess can be quite dangerous to the playerbase.


I really think Arenanet misjudged the playerbase in a critical way. They knew what they were doing to an extent with creating time sinks but I don’t believe they realised just how much people would engage in these activities to the detriment of the game and their own enjoyment. We gamers often don’t have that sort of self-control, just keep consuming, grinding more and more till we reach that critical point at some stage and then POP, off we go.

It seems like the result in part of a combination of mechanics rather than any one thing but it all ends up in a game entirely functioning on grind and where repetition is the primary activity.

One of the issues was that there is no defined end point. You don’t get some class specific raid gear and become suddenly done with gear entirely. With trying to make gear less important it has suddenly become more of a continuous grind. There are so many different stat combinations for different builds in each class and with transmutation it seems like a constant goal to gain more options. Then you add alting on top of this and suddenly there is no end in sight.

Guild Wars 2 also seems to be a game revolving around getting gold, even more so then getting gear. Due to the minimal role guilds have and the extent to which gold guides peoples play I think it should have been called gold wars instead. Having wealth has always been important but never as much as I’ve witnessed here. I talked about this previously in an article called the gold grind way way back in January (yes I was critical even back then and it is still a very relevant piece even now) and the problem seems to be getting a worse. There are just so many gold sinks in-game that are so frikken expensive that it focuses play on the acquisition of it.

Then you have the restricted activities of attaining gold. Most of the in-game activities that could be enjoyable are some of the least rewarding things to do. Dynamic events were the key mechanic for guild wars yet they are a waste of space in terms of earning anything of value. And then there is an absolutely huge difference between these activities and the ones like dungeons, dragons, and now champions were gold rains from the heavens. It makes anything else pale in comparison and the choice of what to do becomes pretty obvious. Play the way you want is not an option anymore if you actually want anything in-game. Just hop on board the zerg wagon.

A major catalyst was also the in-game marketplace and how gold can be transferred to the cash shop. Suddenly an in-game currency has a defined real world value which makes it seem that much more important to attain. Being able to buy cash shop items is a big influence towards peoples habits, even I had dreams of buying the many items as it feels like you’re getting the most value from it but it is a very hard thing to achieve. Yet people chase that ideal extensively and spend hours upon hours amassing in-game wealth to purchase a cash shop item when I’m guessing that time could have been far better spent. Also what does Guild Wars 2 really gain from such a behaviour, people will and probably have burned themselves out grinding this gold and they are not getting any sort of profit from it.

Overall it just ends up in an experience where attaining some sort of imagined wealth becomes the focus of play rather than fun, or challenge, or being social… or enjoyment. I’m starting to think they need all these updates just so they are able to mask what the game is becoming.. a completely soulless experience.

25 thoughts on “A Game of Grind: GW2

  1. Funny thing is for all the gnashing of teeth over champ farming.. it’s not really any better than what CoF was or now going and running a few dungeons (which believe it or not.. some people actually do find fun.) Even collecting orichalcum/omnom etc is profitable. I’ve made quite a lot of money from this patch yet I only did the Orr champ farm once and only for an hour to see what it was about. Most people are doing this for the new weapon skins. So it’s a gamble if you’ll hit it big or not and that payoff will decrease as the skins become more common.

    Whilst I do agree there’s too much emphasis on money in this game (though that’s only if you want special shiny skins.. if you don’t… then really, there’s very little to spend money on. You simply don’t needs lots of money to play this game for fun. I very much disagree with how much you think you need it for gear), you’ll find this sort of farming pretty much everywhere. Some people just seem to like that sort of thing for some unknown reason. The farming has *always* been in this game (and of course others.. to think this is worse than what has gone on in WoW is well.. entertaining.) The big difference now is it’s more in your face as it takes coordination and people working together. That’s why you see the blue doritos around. Personally I’d worry more about what the champ farming is doing to the community than the economy or a person’s choice to grind for money for a purely cosmetic skin.

    The economy and system isn’t perfect.. but the alternative would have people whining: a definite gear treadmill. I think ANet will get slammed no matter what they do. Personally what I’m more concerned about is having a deeper, more serious storyline and much less pvp minigames/festivals.

    • Actually I think it is a lot worse then CoF. First the gold and hour ratio is massive, second is that it is completely mindless….should the easiest and most repetitive activities really be the most rewarding.

      that gold is far above the most important thing in game. You don’t need gold in game to have fun to an extent, but that is only if your fun is either only dynamic events… or farming. If you enjoy customisation which I would argue in a game that’s primary purpose being about shiny skins (due to horizontal and all) then it is a big part of the fun. If, like me you like WvW then it is almost a requirement.

      I say worse than wow in the way that there is one primary grind to end all grinds in game. WoW, while extremely grindy has a bit of variety in the style of the dailies, the types of dungeons, the ways to farm. Here it is jump on board the zerg. I don’t think there are only 2 options here for grinding… there are a lot of nuances to it that really aren’t explored all that often. Horizontal can be good.. as can vertical but it is the amount and the variety that makes all the difference.

    • the median is a rather terrible way of providing statistics as it obscures a few different valuable points, When I did advanced statistical analysis you were never allowed to use the median in a report… ever as it is just not a valuable term. I would have preferred the statistical mean

      and what do they mean by this content.. is that only including the pavilion and gauntlet?

      • Not really, as someone who use statistically daily in work, median is used a lot in conjunction with mean to portray a more clear picture about the sample. The mean can lose its meaning when there are significant skewness and kurtosis in the sample. In this case, since you care about how many people are actually farming not the average amount of farming, median measure makes more sense than mean.

      • that’s the thing. The median is 3 gold which can be achieved in less than 20 minutes. The low point was 1 gold as they weren’t counting anyone less than that. Think about it. There’s only a 2 gold difference between the median and the low point, that seems a bit off to me.

        No to mention that there would be a good percentage of people earning vast sums as gold in in a disproportionate amount than to these others. I know many in my guild who have said they have already made hundreds.. Hundreds of gold already and they are still farming. That is definitely a rather skewed sample.

        I agree I was wrong stating that using the median was useless, it definitely paints a bit of the picture about what the population is doing… but i still maintain it’s rather useless because you’re unaware of the sample size and mean so you can’t draw any defined conclusions.

        That’s the opinion of a person who hasn’t used stats in over 5 years though, and never used it in a professional sense so take that as you will

      • They need that small percentage of people earning a great deal more than others. It provokes the very human reaction to compare oneself to others and play the “keep up with the Joneses” game, which for some, may mean throwing real $$$ at ArenaNet for gold. 🙂

        I hear about people earning easily over 100 gold from this patch and I personally feel like hitting my head against a wall somewhere. The only time I owned more than 100 gold was when I was going for the Golden title.

        Then again, between all my toys, I’m sure my net worth in assets is not too shabby, though in no way matches any of the big boys who own Legendaries or TP flip.

      • yeh there are a few in my guild who have already earned a huge amount, you feel that certain pressure from it like you should be doing the same thing. Also, I’ve never had more than 100g =(

  2. Forgive me for being naive perhaps, but I really don’t see why it’s a big deal. If people want to run around all day doing the same boring things, does that affect what you want to do? It’s not like they’re farming you (not sure how that would work anyway) – let them bore themselves to death.
    I like spending my game time with world exploration, doing quests and recently a bit of PVP. Even just admiring my surroundings, watching Vistas, customising my outifts and stuff. Simple pleasures.
    Personally, I think people take it all far too seriously. Just get on with what YOU want to do, ignore everyone else.
    i have pool of 15 gold which stays at about that amount all the time now. It’s like real life – you spend what you like to keep yourself happy, but save enough back as a cushion should you need it. No requirement for continuous grinding – I mean, what’s the fucking point?

    • I find myself having to jusmp on board these things rather often. I have a few collections of gear of different stats for my necro, gearing up an ele..maybe a guardian as well.
      Then there is my WvW time..did you know i’ve been subsidising a bit of my play in here through the cash shop.Upgrades and siege (especially the advanced) arent cheap and so I grind a couple hours to further contribute to my server and guild, which I enjoy doing,

      I also like pretty things and if I don’t jump on board the farm wagon then these would always be out of reach. Customisation is a huge part in this game..and like I said to Lothirieth I think it is the focus. But it seems entirely limiting to only have these options available to those that spend exhorbitant amounts of time grinding out the same content. Now I’m not saying it should be done away with entirely the prices of things just seem to extrem in comparison with how much gold you regularly get in play. 45 gold for one piece of tier 3 cultural armor .. SERIOUSLY? someone even spent over 300g on chests and never got what he was after… is that right?

      I think there is a much happier point there that will appease everyone better but still provide a meaningful time sink.

    • The biggest deal is the influx of new gold being generated changing some of the price points of the game through inflation. Your 15 gold may not buy you the same value of goods now as in the past.

      For example, globs of ectoplasm which could be previously bought at 18-20 silver a piece are now climbing to 20-22 silver. This is, admittedly, a very controlled rise, but an indicative rise nonetheless.

      Some of the largest jumps lately have been certain level 80 food consumables, they’re anywhere from 10-20 silver now, from under 10 silver once upon a time. This has quite an impact on people who primarily WvW as their rate of gold earning is still constant (at least until the next Wxp patch.)

      Granted, there are two price benefits to the sudden zerg farm craze. Certain lodestone and core prices have gone down, and certain T6 mats too, while others have been holding more or less constant, and now starting to creep up a little.

      Stuff that is fixed price from vendors (like gear from WvW vendors or cultural armor) is comparatively “cheaper” now in comparison as it is generally easier to get say, 1-3 gold now than before.

      I haven’t looked at the dye market at all, besides selling unidentified dyes for a steadily rising amount, but I am willing to bet sight unseen that desirable dyes like abyss and celestial have taken a corresponding climb in price. This would eventually have some impact on anyone who fancies a little costume customization but did not participate in any way of sharing some of the wealth being generated.

      I’m still fairly calm about the whole thing because I do believe the economist is keeping a fairly close eye on it – I suspect the goal is a very controlled inflation – and due to the presence of the TP and currency exchange, it’s quite easy even for non-zerg participants to get a share of some of the wealth currently going around.

      What’s important is to 1) not feel like you’re locked into zerging or farming 24/7, but 2) do use the TP or currency exchange at some point to benefit from the hordes who -are- farming.

      • As far as the economy is concerned, I think Jeromai hit the nail on the head when he observed that this will make it less attractive to buy Gems with Gold and more attractive to buy them with real-world cash. The current exchange rate is the lowest I have ever seen it and still falling. I don’t monitor it obsessively, but for a while a few weeks ago I was paying close attention for over a month and throughout the whole of that time 1 gold bought between 30-33 gems. As of today 1 gold buys you 25 gems.

        I don’t believe that’s a co-incidence. It may not be the only reason these changes were made but I would bet it’s one of the reasons.

        You can already see inflation setting in although in a way I confess is beyond me as an economic newbie. The price of most Level 80 Rare quality weapons has been falling for weeks, with the average price for all but the handful people actually might use (Berserker 2-handers mainly) going as low as 14s. Run-of-the-mill yellows, even underwater weapons, are now back up to around 18s. I would have thought the vast influx would have lowered the prices not raised them, so maybe someone can explain what’s going on? Ectos, as Jeromai points out, are back over 20s, where they haven’t been for a good while.

        It’s not the effect on the economy that bothers me, though. It;s the effect on the culture and the community. The days when I would happily hold up the GW2 community as a an example of cheerful, good-hearted co-operative gameplay are very much over. GW2 open chat sounds as mean-spirited and snarky as the average MMO now and yelling at people for not conforming to perceived server or game norms is commonplace.

        In my opinion, and in my experience, these recent changes have in and of themselves significantly degraded the social environment and made GW2 a less pleasant game to play. WvW is still a haven of thoughtful, reasoned conversation and behavior, at least on Yak’s Bend but whether that will continue after the next round of WvW “improvements” we’ll just have to wait and see.

      • that’s very true.. my main worry for the game isn’t about the economy either, it’s the way such activities are shaping the communities behaviour. Its becoming a more competitive environment where people look after themselves first.

        Also WvW..reasoned. I guess being on a tier 1 server is a whole other world

      • i had thought with all that gold coming in it might result in a bit of inflation, to be honest I thought it was going to be more. I’m not really involved with it at all though so didn’t really want to comment on it. I’m guessing there has been a price hike on the precursors then as well, the people farming are obviously the ones after these so i’m guessing the price will rise with their wealth.

        The it doesn’t look so bad from what your telling me so I”m guessing they do have a handle on it. And thanks for the tip, I might just sell a lot of the materials I’ve been accumulating over the months to take full advantage of it.

      • I’m quite the economic newbie myself. I just keep an eye on certain TP prices to see where the wind is blowing from time to time.

        To explain the yellow rare thing to Bhagpuss, salvaging anything above level 68 gives a chance at ectoplasm. As ecto prices rise, people hoping to get lucky with 1-3 ectos per salvage, instead of 0, are more willing to pay a bit more for the yellows.

        Certain yellow weapons, usually staff, greatsword, possibly dagger or bows, that yield desirable precursors have a tendency to be valued a bit higher than the baseline as people seek those out to throw in the mystic toilet, hoping to strike it big with a precursor lottery.

        Other sneaky people can and do place yellows for a couple silvers cheaper, hoping to trick people who don’t check the average price to post theirs a little more cheaply as well. They then scoop them up and repost for the going rate.

  3. Sorry, I had to create an account to comment, but I’m seriously peeved at all the hyperbole and misinformation going on around here about the economy.

    First of all, inflation is an overall increase in price of goods due to the devaluation of currency. This occurs when gold faucets far, FAR outpaces gold sinks. We don’t have the exact numbers, hence we cannot judge. A simple increase in price of one item doesn’t necessarily mean inflation is happening (i.e. can simply mean more people are farming camps, less people PvClawing, less rares.)

    We can observe inflation if, barring any changes to supply/demand, you see an overall increase in prices of goods all across the board. While lots of things in GW2, supply/demand may change, but the best indicator of inflation has remained remarkably stable.


    Gems are a great indicator, because there’s nothing changing it’s supply, and its demand is a cyclical thing that we can overlook to look at the overall trend. (Remarkably stable since beginning of May, when IMO GW2’s economy really stabilized.) It’s hard to judge whether this patch truly has had an impact or not until a month or so after the fact, but so far nothing truly earth shaking has happening. Jeromai’s 15 G is still worth 15 G.

    John Smith even tossed us a great statistic, where he basically cut off one tail of the distribution (players earning less than 1G). This pretty is hard evidence that overall, the impact this update has had on the economy is insignificant next to all the hyperbole that is going around.

    Second, runaway inflation is impossible in GW2’s economy. Impossible due to the two gold sinks which scale with the value of gold. The TP tax and the Gold/Gem exchange both are downward forces which become stronger as prices increase. Which, by definition, makes runaway inflation impossible and forces prices of everything to hover around an “equilibrium.”

    Third (and a bit unrelated to the economy), the cosmetic grind has always existed in the GW franchise, It’ll be foolish the pretend it didn’t. The grind was always there, and the whole point was that it doesn’t gate you from content. That guy with his 1500G with his legendary will do Arah as efficiently as you would with your 2G exotic weapon.

    Do you enjoy exploring? Do you enjoy dungeoning? Do you enjoy PvP? Are you poor? Well great, because being poor doesn’t prevent you from doing ANY of the above.

    And lets not forget a pretty significant portion of skins in the game which can’t actually be bought. Dungeon skins, cultural weapon skins, the countless backpieces showered onto us due to the LS, etc. etc…Not to mention BiS gear which cannot be bought with gold.

    To call this game Gold Wars 2 is being incredibly disingenuous.

    Fourth (also unrelated to the economy), the snarkiness and bad community are a direct result of BADLY DESIGNED EVENTS, not the economy. Anytime you have something like the Ember farm where players intentionally try to fail events to “farm,” you’re going to have bad blood between people who want to farm and people who just want to finish the event.

    Woo, was quite a mouthful. Though guess this means I’ll start commenting on your blog more often =)

    TL;DR: “Inflation” may not exist, if it does it’s not a big deal.


    • Oh and one more thing (just so I don’t appear completely belligerent o_O). I’m in total agreement with you that reward structure for dynamic events (the most pure fun in game) is super out of whack, which leads to few people doing it, and is less fun to people who would do it even without rewards.

      But I highly disagree with WvW being more “rewarding.”

    • haha, welcome and please do call e out on my BS which I will and do speak from time to time. It’s actually nice to have the divergent opinions as well rather than just me ranting and raving.

      I really don’t know what to say in reply, as I said before I have no interest and experience with the gw2 economy. I tried once upon a time to use it as a get rich scheme but never made it anywhere. I don’t follow the trends nor do I understand what those trends usually mean. Thanks for the comment and I do see what you mean. Jeromai gave a few prices but it really isn’t that much of a change, it does show an upward trajectory but it’s far less than a few other events I can remember.

      Gold is a bit more important than that as there are still quite a few stat sets that need to be crafted, which either cost materials to craft or are bought off the TP. I agree that none of it is really needed as you can still play all the content, that’s actually what I love about the game, but it is hard not to compare with others the haves and have nots. Having a cosmetic grind is fine I just think they went a little far with how much they are compared to how much the regular player earns.

      =p Gold Wars hehe. sorry. Sometimes I just like having a flair for the dramatic. Kind of a way of amusing myself when I write but yes, it is a vast overstatement.

      MY main complaint above all of this is the lack of iteration, polish, and scale of the dynamic events. They can be so much more and are the place (apart from WvW) where I’ve had the most enjoyment. They will be the games legacy.

      • I can’t disagree with you there. Dynamic events, and GW2’s open world is so so so amazing, and yet strangely…overlooked.


    • Ursan:

      I’m going to point out that your gw2spidy link for gold to gems ends Jun 27. The average was 3g14s then. Take a look at the currency exchange in-game, and you’ll see that it is, as of this moment, 3g 79s.

      I maintain there is some inflation going on. Not runaway, because I agree that the TP and currency exchange are serving their purpose well.

      Is controlled inflation good for the economy overall though? Probably.

      • Which is why you don’t look at snapshot of prices and instead look at averages over time, which is what spidy’s plot shows. It was 3G49S at June 11th. 3G15S at June 5th. This tells me absolutely nothing. (Though upon further inspectinon of spidy it somehow cuts off at June….so eh! I withdraw my previous conclusion)

        There’s most likely a bit of inflation going on, but no where near significant to be concerned with. The point I’m trying to make is though, it’s a correlation/causation thing. Inflation will cause higher prices, but higher prices of certain items doesn’t mean it’s caused by inflation by itself.


      • To echo Ursan on needing to smooth out the exchange rate, on TP there is also a exchange rate graph in-game that covers the last week. The Gold/Gems exchange rate fluctuates quite a bit over the course of a week. That may be a function of some people playing the TP with huge buy/put orders.

        The put/get mechanism in TP seems to be ignored by most players (I WANT IT NOW!), I know when needing some T6 mats for some flashy skinned exotics, I lowballed some orders for the hell of it, about 3 days later they started trickling in.

        Keep in mind, TP takes a percentage of any any transaction, there’s a built in buffer from that to discourage people playing the market for small gains.

        For the overall effect of the loot changes, I’d be more concerned with the hot spots where the most efficient farming requires open world dynamic events to fail and reset.

        Do we know if ANet is even looking at a heat maps of player activity and judging from that what needs tweaking to keep the less used dynamic event “rides” going in this theme park?

      • That is why I quoted the average price on the exchange, not the 5 day high or low, for lack of any better data. Eyeballing the graph should suggest that it hasn’t been matching the June average of ~3g14s for a while.

        Believe what you will. 🙂 Though, given the alternative may be mudflation (deflation), Anet is likely on the right track with this. They’re pretty adept at controlling supplies of stuff too, if one thinks back to the Bazaar of the Four Winds and the boatloads of butter escapade that gave rise to the Mystic Forge Conduit.

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