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EVE Evolved: Four ways Guild Wars 2 is like EVE Online

Posted by srtrny on January 13th, 2013

With its single-shard server structure and sandbox ruleset, EVE Online seems to have little in common with a sharded fantasy themepark like Guild Wars 2. But dig a little deeper past GW2's fluffy exterior and you'll find it shares some core game mechanics and ideas with the world's biggest PvP sandbox. GW2's Trading Post bears a striking resemblance to EVE's Jita 4-4 market, and many of the same market tricks that work in New Eden have proven just as effective in the land of Tyria.

EVE's PLEX system lets people buy game time for in-game ISK and undercuts illicit RMT by giving players a legitimate way to buy ISK, a system that's very closely mirrored in GW2's gem trade. GW2's Karma system resembles a heavily restricted version of EVE's loyalty point mechanic, and PvP in both games may be more similar than it appears. The same strategies that work for faction warfare fleets in the depths of space are currently helping guilds win World vs. World vs. World PvP.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at four Guild Wars 2 game mechanics that are similar to those in EVE Online and how lessons from EVE can be applied to GW2.
Trading is probably the most effective money-making profession in EVE Online, with top traders earning billions of ISK per day and maintaining a stranglehold over entire regions or products. The majority of players buy their goods from the game's main trade hub in Jita IV Moon 4's Caldari Navy Assembly Plant station, so it's here that the highest trade turnover can be found. Some players don't even leave the station; they make money by playing that single market. Others set up region-wide buy orders for items at below their potential resale value and use courier contracts to move the items to Jita 4-4 for resale or refine them into minerals.

The Guild Wars 2 Trading Post operates under many of the same market conditions as EVE's Jita 4-4 trading. It's a global marketplace on which players from all servers can list their goods, making it an enforced analogue of EVE's Jita 4-4 trade hub. Players can list items for sale and set up buy orders just as in EVE, and that means the same laws of supply and demand are in effect. High supply of an item will push its lowest buy order price down until it hits the vendor price, but some items can be turned into profit before they hit that low.

When the price of particular crafting materials like copper ore is high, certain items can be bought en masse and salvaged for profit. Crafting ingredients and intermediary components can even sometimes be bought for close to their vendor prices and then crafted into products you can resell or vendor for a profit. As in EVE, there's also big money to be made from predicting market trends in GW2. Keep an eye on gameplay trends like the increasing median player level and predict which items are about to rise in demand or drop in supply. Certain products will also sell on a cyclical basis, dropping in price during peak play times and rising later in the day or week.
In 2008, EVE Online released something I consider to be one of the most important business model innovations in the MMO genre: PLEX. These are tradeable in-game items that can each be redeemed for 30 days of game time, but the clever part is the effect this has on the game economy. Every PLEX is initially purchased by a player for cash and then injected into the game to be sold to another player on the in-game market for ISK. This simultaneously provides a way to play the game effectively for free and a way to safely buy ISK that bypasses RMT farmers.

Other MMOs have since adopted similar Archeage gold systems with microtransaction currency in place of game time, and Guild Wars 2 is one of them. Players with cash to spare can buy gems and then sell them to other players for gold in the gem exchange. Players with a lot of gold can then buy up gems and buy cash shop items without ever spending a penny. With this system, every item in the gold auction house effectively becomes a microtransaction as it has an equivalent price in gems, and every item in the cash shop has an equivalent price in gold.
Most MMOs have some kind of reward token system that lets players grind for something other than just currency. In EVE, players who complete NPC agent missions are given loyalty points with the agent's corporation. Each NPC corporation has its own loyalty point store, and there's some variation in what each organisation stocks. All corps carry essentials like implants and their faction's navy issue ships, modules, and ammo. Offers always cost both LP and ISK and sometimes require items like navy tags. Since everything in EVE is tradeable, players usually try to maximise the amount of ISK they can cash out per loyalty point.

Guild Wars 2's Karma system started off as the same kind of token reward scheme, but it differs on a few key points. Karma is collected for completing events and quests but isn't locked to any particular faction or NPC. Various vendors throughout the world sell equipment, salvage kits, and crafting supplies directly for Karma with no gold investment required. ArenaNet also isn't awfully fond of players finding ways to convert Karma into gold, preferring that it be used to buy crafting supplies and items for use rather than for resale. Some players took a leaf out of EVE's book and began selling cooking supplies on the trading post and salvaging Karma equipment. Neither of these is possible any more, but you can be guaranteed players are still finding roundabout ways to convert their Karma into gold.
PvP is one of the core aspects of EVE Online, and though it's possible to find solo PvP in EVE, it's always been a primarily group-oriented activity. Each side brings as many ships as it can to every fight, with nullsec battles often reaching hundreds and sometimes even thousands of players. Though brute force of numbers can be a huge advantage, it's usually the group with the superior strategy that comes out on top. Experienced fleet commanders are worth their weight in gold for their ability to read the field of battle and give strategic orders to the fleet in realtime.

Guild Wars 2's PvP is far more action-oriented than EVE's, with active dodging of attacks and area-effect damage popping up all over the place. While individual players can join World vs. World vs. World PvP and charge straight into the fray, it's the organised groups that are taking it by storm. The most effective groups are large guilds with dedicated voice communications and a clearly defined guild commander calling the shots. Multiple organised guilds working together and drawing on the map to co-ordinate can decimate the other side, and a good commander who can rally even non-guildmates is a huge bonus. It has a similar feeling to EVE's public faction warfare fleets, though without the death penalty or any serious consequences for losing the battle.

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