The importance of trading in MMORPGs

Massively asked a Daily Grind question yesterday on the importance of person-to-person trading in MMOs. It’s something that I actually firmly believe should be in MMORPGs as one of several means for players to interact with others in economic terms. For me it is equally as important as having an auction house in some form.

Trading character-to-character is for me, first and foremost, of use for social and group play: when we’re opening all those endless loot bags in Secret World Legends (so many glyph bags…), it’s less tiresome because we can trade the unwanted weapons and glyphs back and forth. With us playing the game in a leveling trio, this allows us to maximise the usability of what we collectively receive.

Pistols I do not need…

With the game’s super-grindy upgrade system it helps that all three of us are collecting items and sharing them in this way. In SWL and other games you can also trade items back and forth if one character’s inventory becomes full, which can happen at the most inconvenient of times. Off-hand the one MMO that I’ve played a good deal that lacks any form of trading is Guild Wars 2 – you have to mail items to other characters even if they’re stood next to you.

Auction house but no trading

For my solo MMORPG questing sessions, having character-to-character trading is less of an issue – outside perhaps of the odd pug group that actually is friendly enough that I’d feel like sharing buff consumables or unwanted loot items. Having an auction house though, outside the scope of the linked question article, is also something I usually want to see in-game. I’ve made extensive use of the Broker in Everquest 2 to offload skill upgrades, crafting recipe-books, rare materials and unwanted armour to other players. It’s been a very good way to enrich my characters a great deal.

Brokering in EQ2

In some other games that I’ve played, such as Lord of the Rings Online and Black Desert Online, using the auction house in this way has always been a regular and lucrative activity. If I engage in crafting in a given game, then I usually want a means to sell excess items to someone without the need to spam chat endlessly.

Auctions in BDO

Elder Scrolls Online is the only MMORPG that I’ve played with the opposite restriction to GW2 – personal trading is in, but there’s no global auction house. In ESO you join a crafting guild to sell your wares and unwanted items, something I’ve often thought of doing, but haven’t as yet properly investigated.

A guild trader – you can buy but can’t sell if guildless

The lack of auction house in the game does irk me, I have read the justification for this, but the inconvenience of needing to go to a specific NPC guild vendor in the world to sell items is quite the shock when you compare it to games where auction house NPCs are generic and common (WoW, Rift), or even where access is only a mouse click away from anywhere (e.g. GW2, EQ2).

Do you have a preference on trading and auction models in MMORPGs?

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5 Responses to The importance of trading in MMORPGs

  1. bhagpuss says:

    I hadn’t really thought about it but it must be at least six years since I last traded an item to anyone face to face in an MMO. Probably over a decade since it was a normal part of day-to-day gameplay. I don’t miss it at all and if MMOs stopped including it I don’t think I’d even notice.

  2. To give you an idea of my habits, I am eternally infuriated by ESO’s lack of a global auction house, but until right now I had absolutely no idea that GW2 didn’t have person to person trading.

    Not that I don’t think it’s an important feature, but as a soloist I just don’t have much use for it most of the time.

    • Sylow says:

      Hehe. Most curiously, i am on the far other end of the scale. I still remember that when my wife (not wife yet at that time) and me went to GW2 for the first time, we in no time noticed the lack of player to player trading. Sure enouch mail allowed us to work around that, but it felt like the crutch it is.

      In contrast, the lack of AH in ESO didn’t bother me at all. At launch and the first trial a lot of other problems bothered me, but luckily they were addressed in the run of time. The lack of AH was not one of them. For me it mostly felt like a nod back to good old SWG, (Albeit with some restrictions. And while i don’t like the need of guilds to keep bidding for the slots, i can understand why. Old SWG had whole planets covered by one shop after another. )

      In the end, the lack of open AH just means that i am in just another guild. More people i have contact with, even if it’s not as tight as in my main guild.

      Both systems work, but for me ESO is the better one.

  3. Pingback: Please make NPC interactions easy… | GamingSF

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