Path of Exile finally has an official (beta) trading hub

Path of Exile

Path of Exile is an excellent ARPG built on top of an unusual economy, where every item – even the most throwaway of identification scrolls – has intrinsic value in both usage and trade. There’s no gold or even premium currency used in-game at all, and to top it all off, there is no auction house. The only way to exchange gear is direct; player to player.

For the longest time, Path of Exile’s trade system has been a jury-rigged and unusual thing, routed through third-party sites tapping into an official API which allows item stashes to be shared online and prices posted, although the trade itself always has to happen face-to-face in-game. This week, Grinding Gear Games cut out at least half of a middle-man, launching their own trade network site, currently in beta.

Trading in Path of Exile is a thorny issue. Initially, there was no easy way to find other players to trade with outside of an overcrowded trade-chat channel. While it would be relatively easy for the studio to implement an auction-house style system to allow players to rapidly swap possessions, they have actively chosen not to, feeling it would dilute the essence of what they feel makes Path of Exile work; scavenging for gear, customising what you have and adapting the growth of your character around the items that you find.  Don’t just take my word for it – read the developer’s own manifesto on the subject.

Path of Exile Trading

Still, player demand for easier trading systems persisted, and Grinding Gear implemented their official trade API, allowing the community to handle the heavy lifting from then on. With the (beta) launch of the official trade network, almost all of this can be done from the game’s own official site, although there is no effort being made to shut down community-run trade hubs either. The API itself has been upgraded somewhat, displaying whether a seller is online, AFK or otherwise, which should help smooth out the process, although the final trade must still happen face-to-face in-game.

While trade is now becoming easier than ever, some players still want the thrill of improvising and adapting on the fly, and the bragging rights inherent in surviving against the brutally hard endgame this way. Grinding Gear Games implemented an optional ‘solo self-found‘ playmode with its own leaderboards in run-up to the Fall of Oriath expansion. In this mode players cannot form parties or trade with others at all and so your position on the ranking is entirely dependent on that ever-compelling blend of luck and adaptability that ARPG fans hold in such high regard – ideal for the hardcore crowd.

It’ll be interesting to see whether this new trading setup significantly affects the price of certain unique items being traded, or if it becomes standard for Path of Exile in the long-term. It could be the first step towards a more traditional market system as seen in most MMOs, but I don’t think so, especially after seeing Diablo 3’s own market faceplant so completely. Either way, for those who would rather roll the dice and take whatever the game chooses to dole out, there is at least Solo Self-found mode.

12 Comments

  1. Faldrath says:

    It’s really not that different from what we had before (poe.trade), so I doubt it’ll have an impact on item prices. People should read the manifesto, though – you can agree or disagree, but there’s no denying that they’ve put a lot of thought on the subject and are sticking to their vision.

    For my part, I very rarely have bad trade interactions – but I’m not a heavy trader, so I’m not speculating on the market and/or trying to snipe heavily sought after items. And I almost never try to buy something without a buyout, so I don’t get involved in the haggling that can quickly turn sour. Those two scenarios seem to be where most of the bitterness comes from.

  2. kalirion says:

    “This website allows you to search through items listed for sale in Shop Forums as well as those listed using Public Premium Stash Tabs in-game.

    You can search by an item’s name or an item’s base type using the “Search Items” field.

    Players will have their Online/Offline status updated every minute.

    While searching is easy, you will still have to contact the player selling the item in order to complete the trade. We provide an easy copy-pasteable message to whisper the player with, as well as a link to PM the player on the main Path of Exile website.”

    So it’s the same as poe.trade, basically. What the game desperately needs is a way for players to list their items for a price inside the game, and other players to buy those items without any additional interactions. How hard is that to implement? Oh wait, so they say it’s not hard at all, they just choose not to do so for a very dumb reason… >_>

    • Valyr says:

      Read the manifesto. Their reasoning isn’t dumb, it’s a fundamental element of the game’s design and something that they’ve given far more consideration to than the average complainer.

      • Daymare says:

        You know, they certainly have. I read their manifesto.

        Doesn’t mean their reasoning is sound in all places; or at least, that there aren’t lots and lots of arguments against their reasoning. Read some of the replies.

        The fact that it’s a fundamental element of the game’s design doesn’t make it better.

        Sorry, I’m awfully disappointed by this, better trading was the one thing that would’ve made the game perfect for me. Been playing since beta, fwiw.

      • kalirion says:

        Their reasoning makes no sense. Say I want to buy a certain piece of gear.

        Current system:
        1. Alt-tab to trading site.
        2. Search for gear.
        3. Find piece I want, message seller, no reply.
        4. Find another piece I want, message seller, no reply.
        5. Find another piece I want, message seller, no reply.
        6. Find another piece I want, message seller, no reply.
        7. Find another piece I want, message seller, get reply.
        8. Accept seller’s party invite
        9. Portal to seller’s hide out.
        10. Conduct trade with seller through the trade window.

        Suggested system:
        1. Search for gear with in-game search
        2. Click “buy”.

        Now tell me, how does the second system make it so that they have to change the drop rates?

        • Horg says:

          The seemingly unintuitive hassle of 3rd party trading and the requirement to have premium tabs, or a forum post ‘store’ up to date for item listing, keeps a lot of items off the market. Make it trivial to list and buy items and suddenly availability of everything would increase dramatically, and prices would drop for all but the most elusive gear. This trivialises gearing to the point where you only need to farm a limited amount of currency for any given character, and the act of finding things yourself becomes a secondary consideration. Basically, PoE would suffer from the D3 launch problem of ”playing the auction house, not the game”. To counter this they could reduce drop rates across the board, but that would simply make playing the game yourself less effective. The key point of the manifesto is that loot hunting must feel rewarding or players will be turned away.

  3. racccoon says:

    Everything is better outside of Steam. :)

  4. funky_mollusk says:

    So I guess some people like for trading to be a part of their ARPGs. Weird… I can’t say I totally understand that impulse.

  5. MrLoque says:

    PoE lacks a decent “buy/sell” ingame tool and this is what made me turn away from the game. No auction house makes sense but the current “check website, pray the seller is online, whisper, port to seller, fail, go back to website and repeat the process” method is a major turn off for me.

    Unless you’ve got some friends, a guild, whatever… If you play “solo” the trading and currency system are a major pain in the back. When you’ve got the “money” to buy something you want it now, not “when the seller is online and has some time for you“.

  6. flagg49 says:

    At least two of the responses here point out that not being able to reach the seller is a problem with the current system. That’s true, and something the devs are trying to address by including whether the buyer is afk, both on the official trade site and as data available to third-party sites through the API.

    That’s a separable problem from whether having to conduct an in-game sale with another party, as opposed to just being able to instantly pay and receive goods through an automated system, would be better design. As some other posters pointed out, the devs are very aware of this tradeoff; in the xbox version and the Chinese version recently launched, they made the tradeoff differently by making sales instantaneous but making the search interface more cumbersome.

    Their assessment is obviously–and explicitly–that robust search coupled with instant purchase, akin to the d3 auction house, would make itemization and upgrading so easy that a small amount of currency/grinding would get you very desirable items (6-linked items, good corruptions on uniques, etc.). They also think it would make in-game drops unexciting most of the time, which is already a problem for the most advanced and efficient players. You can disagree, but I think that to do so, you need a theory of why their assumptions about drop rate and itemization are wrong, as well as to acknowledge that you disagree with their vision of their own game, which is driving the design decision.

    Personally, I have found afk sellers to be an annoying problem, but beyond that don’t mind having to go to another instance to buy. It’s always fun to see someone else’s stuff (sellers usually sell from their own “hideout,” a custom ingame space), and sometimes you end up discussing the item or something else about the game. Also, if you know the game and builds well, you usually don’t have trouble getting what you need, in my experience.

    • MrLoque says:

      I agree with your analysis but we could summarize it in one sentence: “The developers want people to spend more time looting/finding gear so they decided to slow the trading process by making it more tedious and annoying“.

      If you think about it, this is a “clever” way to make the game last longer.

  7. TomCat86 says:

    How unfortunate, I was excited to hear POE had a new trading system and it appears nothing is new at all.. Its the same asinine visit third party website nonsense, yet now you visit a POE website. Seriously, I get the devs are stubborn but countless people are turned away from this game because this system is utter trash. Trading is the WORST part of this game. Why do they keep the WORST part of the game? Reading their explanations have no merit either.. Back to playing other games again. POE can sit on the back burner once again, unfortunately this gem of a game has an extremely bad system. I understand the real reason dev’s don’t make trading easier. If trading was easier, you wouldn’t need to buy 10 stash tabs and fill them with items you probably would never sell or use. So they keep the broken system to sell you tabs.

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