PWE announced today that it will strip the Coalescent Ward, Preservation Ward and Blood Ruby from the Trade Bar Store on the PC version tomorrow. They had already removed them from the Xbox version earlier this month, which resulted in a major shit storm by the community. This time though, they went out informing players beforehand.
After all it might have been foreseeable. Not only because, as we already reported in our Community Watch on Sunday, the reasoning that they don’t want to have the same items featured on both the ZEN and the Trade Bar Store also applies to PC, but because Wards were not worth their ZEN value and hence not likely to be bought.
It has been an ongoing fight for the devs (and probably the worst kept secret as well) to adjust the market in a way that ZEN Wards are actually viable. There have been several changes of drop rates and bind statuses involving them and starting with Module 3: Curse of Icewind Dale, they indeed did sell at ZEN value on the auction house. Even a little bit above that, because the PC version had a huge exploit that led to a crazy high backlog on the ZAX and people were willing to pay more than the 500:1 rate to avoid the waiting game on the exchange.
But then one thing spoiled the devs temporary success: The VIP program. Since Wards are also available on the Trade Bar Store, the price was not only dependent on their ZEN value, but also on their Trade Bar value and cheaper keys through the VIP subscription also meant cheaper Trade Bars and cheaper Wards. Already with the introduction of Strongholds the market took a hit, because 1,000 ZEN invested to a VIP subscription would land you 30 keys per months and 266 Trade Bars on average, or 1.33 Coalescent Wards for example. It’s no coincidence that the market for them settled around 375k, which is exactly the amount of ZEN (1,000) multiplied with the ZAX at that point (500) and divided by the amount you could get (1.33). 1,000 * 500 / 1.33 equals 375,940. That’s basic economy math.
Of course the ZAX would soon drop after Strongholds and the Trade Bar Store price reduced with Underdark, which raised the Coalescent Wards you could get to 3.54 per 1,000 ZEN and brought the prices to the level we had until today. 1,000 * 380 / 3.54 equals 107,345, exactly what they sold for in February.
It also meant however that the Wards form the ZEN store have no longer been the cheapest alternative since Module 7. Saying that adding them to the Trade Bar Store generally had “a negative impact on the economy” and was “confusing” simply means they would like to reverse that. There was zero negative impact on the economy as long as having them on the Trade Bar Store didn’t challenge the ZEN price and if it was so confusing for the player, then why would it take eight mods to do this simple change? Sorry, but that’s classic PR bullshit from guys that don’t have the guts to tell you the truth and want to protect their wallet.
The impact of the change is pretty foreseeable. Wards will instantly be worth their ZEN value again and clever players with the necessary funds have already started to buy up the market. To get a raw idea in related categories it’s generally the best to use our sandbox market tools and adjust the prices of the Wards manually to the new expected values. If you are not among the early winners of the change you can still use your stock of Trade Bars to buy Wards today. And the advise is definitely to simply use ALL your Bars for that no matter what you originally planned.
Wards will never be as cheap again.
*** UPDATE: The first version of the article advised to look up pre Stronghold prices to get an idea of the market impact, which was definitely wrong because the price reduction of other factors, most namely Marks, have to be incorporated as well. Thanks for the hint in the comments. ***