The “collectibles” tab in the Guild Wars 2 bank seemed like a neat idea at launch, but it has become apparent that it is essential to the crafting design and that crafting as implemented would be completely untenable without the storage component. Alternately, one can take the lesson that storage problems are a feature, not a bug, and potentially see merits in competing designs.
GW2 has a lot of crafting materials.
- There are six crafting tiers.
- Each tier has metal, cloth, leather, and wood. Some tiers have different metals for jewelry and armor/weapons and/or a supplemental material (like coal) for refining metal.
- Each material type exists in both a raw and refined form. Cloth scraps become bolts of cloth. You will also want a tier-specific thread for crafting armor.
- Each tier has eight types of “fine” materials that determine what stats the equipment will have.
- Five tiers have eight types of “rare” materials for special recipes.
- Each tier has six to eight gems for jewelry.
- There are assorted untiered, random, and otherwise miscellaneous crafting materials, most of which have a slot on one of the crafting storage tabs.
- And then there is cooking, which is a tab unto itself with dozens of ingredients. Cooking alone could demand a dedicated mule without crafting storage.
GW2 characters do not have bank vaults. They have warehouses with hundreds of stacks of materials, and then many will have overflow stacks in the bank and/or on mules. Would you like to see my stock of candy corn?
I think that just enumerating the hundreds of types of crafting materials demonstrates the necessity of powerful inventory management tools, but one could take an opposite approach. A GW2 crafter problem is that crafted items have little value. Most items sell for less than the cost of their materials, and where profit exists, killing things is usually more profitable per hour of effort. Because crafting has additional benefits (xp) and storing materials of all types is trivial, everyone is encouraged to do a bit of crafting. When almost everyone crafts, you have almost no dedicated crafters. There is no market for them. There is certainly no market for rising crafters because nothing impedes top tier crafters from also making and selling mid tier items.
Take the same system but remove the storage solution. Now you have no conceivable way of holding all those crafting materials. Either you spend a lot of gems on storage or you liquidate materials as they arrive. Fewer people craft, as they do not have the option of just getting to it someday while materials accummulate in the bank. Most crafters service fewer trades or tiers. The supply of crafting materials in the trading house explodes while demand shrinks. The prices of crafting materials plummet, and the prices of products rise as supply shrinks. A new equilibrium gradually develops with fewer crafters at higher profit margins and lower volumes. (If you also eliminate the (multi-)serverwide auction house, you see a market for traveling traders, people who check the assorted consignment markets to buy low and sell high, although the instant travel network makes that relatively incoherent, in comparison to EVE Online’s local markets.) Project Gorgon has some interesting explanations of how inconveniences are intentionally left in a game to create desirable effects.
This, however, would be contrary to other parts of the GW2 design, notably the scaling content that is intended to keep all zones viable even at the level cap. If you want to encourage people to visit zones across the level range, you should not then create an inventory situation that punishes them for doing so. We just discussed that and why lower-level crafting materials cost more than the top tier, and mid-level materials cost even more. That effect is likely more extreme in other games that have less encouragement to visit mid-level zones, although the storage solution moves many of those materials into the bank rather than the trading post, so I am interested in comparative market data between games.
The convenience of the storage and trading house make the richness of the crafting materials design almost irrelevant. With the “deposit collectibles” button, crafting materials become almost invisible, and they can be entirely invisible if you have the crafted bag that automatically gathers materials outside your main backpack. You only notice them when you have too many of a basic material to deposit or when you go to craft and find that you need more of some tier of blood. Whatever the intended fun was of having 48 fine materials, it has been optimized out by the tools necessary for managing 48 fine materials.