Earlier this month, Elder Scrolls Online was at QuakeCon. Not only did they provide us with a fantastic live game play session streamed via Twitch, they also gave us some new information. CVG had the opportunity of having a one-on-one interview with Paul Sage (Creative Director of Elder Scrolls Online). During this interview they talked about some of the new features that have been implemented into the newest build of Elder Scrolls Online, including the guild store.
When asked about it Paul Sage had this to say:
“With our megaserver system, with so many people playing at the same time we had to be very careful about the way we introduced shopping, so to speak, to the game. What we did is we broke it out into guilds, and one of the reasons we let people join five different guilds is because then they can have a guild store and the guild store is where you as a guild member can put your items up for sale or buy items or whatnot.
What we are hoping people will do is kind of start forming almost trade consortiums so to speak, where their guild will be like, okay we’re kind of known for armour goods, or we’re kind of known for weapon goods and that is what we do.
When people are looking for that our guild has a name and we think that will really improve, number one, getting people to join guilds, which is that social mechanic. Number two, having people really participate in the economy without being able to find everything all at once. And number three it should provide this almost organic reason for guilds to communicate with one another and we’re hoping that really starts to form a spider web of community as our players do it. Players just naturally find these patterns out, they are really smart and I’m looking forward to see how it goes.” (source)
So it sounds like the guild store is their version of the auction house. Instead of having one central auction house for everyone to have access to, they broke it up and let the guilds control the market. This sounds like a great feature in some aspects, but several possible negatives come to mind as well.
“[…] we think that will really improve, number one, getting people to join guilds, which is that social mechanic.”
Their number one reason for doing this type of feature is to promote guilds, and have people join them and be social. This concept will without a doubt have people joining guilds, but is it promoting or forcing people to do so?
In order for someone to be able to browse the market and see what potential upgrades are available they’ll need to be in a guild. If they want to sell their items they need to be in a guild. So in order for anyone to contribute to the economy they have to be in a guild.
Not just any guild though, this idea only truly succeeds with large guilds, as smaller guilds won’t have the massive market that a large guild will have. In games like World of Warcraft or Star Wars: The Old Republic, when you did a raid you would sometimes get items great items that weren’t useful to the members of the current party, like Bind on Equip (BoE) Epic items. Typically these items would get placed into the bank and members of the guild would ask if they can buy it, an officer would have to stop what they are doing, meet up with this person and do a manual trade. For one item this isn’t too bad but when you start talking multiple items, throughout the day, it becomes very tiresome.
With the guild store, guild members will have the ability to place the items they want to sell to other members at whatever price they want. Need potions for raid? Just buy them from the guild store. Crafters within the guild that are creating the items needed for PvP and PvE raids will be able to offer them to the guild at a discounted price without having to constantly say anything in chat or go through the hassle of trading with people prior to raid, and vice versa players won’t have to beg the crafters for items.
However, larger guilds will have that bigger market base and they will be looked at as the places to go to buy items. Smaller guilds that want to be that place to buy items will have a difficult time competing against them, especially when the game is well past release and the trading guilds have been around for some time. Any new guild wanting to make a name for itself will have next to no chance in competing against the trading guilds that have been proven to be the most resourceful place to go.
As for the social part, of course people in the guild will be “social” talking to other members in guild chat trying to find specific items. Most of the members of the trading guild joined it for one reason only, to buy and sell items. They didn’t join the guild because they want to group with anyone in it, they did it out of necessity. Any time people join something out of necessity social communication goes out the window. We’ve seen this exact thing happen in World of Warcraft’s Looking for Group (LFG) system.
Now of course there are those people that are truly social and want to form groups with other people. In terms of PvP they’ll ask in guild chat if anyone wants to PvP. They’ll create a small group at start, but other people will want to join them, and then more people and then the Zerg is born. Once one faction has a Zerg the other factions will feel forced into creating their own large group. This system not only promotes large guilds but it in turn will promote people to creating large scale groups to conquer PvP giving the small groups no real chance to compete.
“[…]Number two, having people really participate in the economy without being able to find everything all at once.”
With the typical Auction House, World of Warcraft for example, you would have one central location where you could buy and sell your items to members of your server and within your chosen alliance. With Elder Scrolls Online using the Megaserver where there is no breakdown of individual servers this type of system would not work. An Auction House that is global to everyone creates a market where crafted items are low in value due to the saturation of the craft.
Diablo 3 has a global market and the game revolves around the auction house. Of course you can make the choice of not using the auction house and using Found Gear only; however, if you are a Min/Maxer or want the ease of playing without any work you’ll use the auction house. The market in Diablo 3 is a great example of items being saturated. Imagine you’re playing Diablo 3 traveling through the world trying to rid it of the Demonic Hell spawns and a legendary items drops. Unfortunately the item is no good for your class but it is a legendary after all, so it’ll be good for someone else. You go to the auction house to check to see if anyone else has it listed. After hitting Search you’re left starring at a screen filled with the same item as yours. You notice the price going from 250 million gold all the way down to 1.4 million gold. Due to the amount of players that are playing and have access to the same market place those rare items are no longer rare in terms of the auction house.
To keep players participating in the economy ESO is dividing the guild stores up—even if you’re a member of five guilds (each having a guild store), you’ll have to look in each guild store manually. This will spread items across more guilds giving the players access to more items, yet not everything. Maybe you’ll buy items from one guild store, but sell on another, or perhaps certain guilds will specialize in specific types of wares. Maybe you’re the type of person who wants to master the art of commerce and you buy low from one guild and sell high on another. There are many ways people can use the guild store, but all of them will affect the economy in some form.
So breaking it down into the guilds is a good idea, however, it is also very limiting as well like Paul said, which brings us to the third reason Elder Scrolls Online is going this route.
“[…] and number three it should provide this almost organic reason for guilds to communicate with one another and we’re hoping that really starts to form a spider web of community as our players do it.”
Because of the limitations with this system you won’t be able to just go to the Guild Markets and find exactly what you’re looking for, it is going to require a bit of work on your part. This is how they are trying to promote people to use the social networks within the game (friend of a friend). By not giving us everything in one location and making us do some leg work, they are trying to promote the players to be a bit more engaged in the community. After speaking to people it could lead to adding them to your friends list, even if it is just for the purpose of asking them if they have an item you’re looking for in the future. This small connection a player will make with this other player could branch off into someone asking if they know someone who has such-and-such item, and thus creating the spider web of community.
If it wasn’t for the issue that this system promotes and rewards the larger communities within the game I would say this is an excellent system. With my main focus of the game being PvP I have a premonition that it is going to turn into a Zerg vs. Zerg warfare because of this simple mechanic. One of my main aspirations for myself in Elder Scrolls Online is to run a successful small group PvP guild. With the Guild Store promoting large guild communities I feel my endeavor will be for not.
This article has left me with some unanswered questions. Is there a fee to post items on the guild store similar to what you would expect from an Auction House service in World of Warcraft and if there is, does the fee go towards the owner of the guild for hosting the market?
What are your thoughts on this Guild Store mechanic? Do you like this concept or you think it will create a Zerg PvP scenario?