NOTE: All prices quoted in this article are in reference to the prices on the [EU] Perento Server’s Elyos Broker. Therefore they will not be totally accurate across all Aion’s servers.
Double Experience is almost always met with an outcry of glee from people that want to level alternate characters (or ‘alts’). It’s a quick fix to the grind in Aion, and the leveling curve feels right at that point; the classes don’t seem to come into their own at any level before 30. But when Double Experience starts, I also greet it with concern.
It’s not unknown that I am someone who enjoys the in-game economy as much as the game itself. I enjoy finding niches in the market and exploiting them for money. It’s part of what makes Aion enjoyable for me. But Double Experience shakes things up immensely.
When Double Experience begins, experience for everything apart from quests doubles. Killing monsters, gathering, Aether gathering and crafting. Everyone sees it as the perfect opportunity to level alts, or to level up the skills which take time to work. Aether gathering is often seen as particularly boring so people level that up. But if you’re low on Vitality gathering (gathering plants etc), it’s a perfect chance to level that up and make some money on the side. I’ve been doing exactly that with Knute; she has gone from level 12 to level 34 in 16 days. I’m not done though; I want to get her to 37 for one of the new pieces of content.
But several things become commonplace when Double Experience is turned on; Alts leveling, Gathering to level up, Aether gathering to level up, and crafting. But here is where things start getting messed up.
Alts leveling at twice the pace means that, in terms of probability, there are half the amount of drops; be it Armour, Weapons, Fluxes, and even Vendor Trash. This means that the lower level armours and weapons become more desirable, and thus go higher because of the extra demand and the strangled supply. The doubled leveling pace also means that Kinah is often diverted from main characters to alts to keep up with the pace. This takes Kinah out of the market and into nothing; the most common use for the diverted Kinah is to buy skillbooks. The last set at level 34 cost me about 200,000 Kinah; money that Knute just didn’t have. Vendor Trash also halves in amount, further strangling the Kinah that alts and low-level mains have. But Fluxes then drop in price because in real terms there are more available and people are more interested in doing repeatable Work Orders to level their crafting than making Armour and weapons. More supply, less demand, and ultimately more confusion for anyone trying to work the market.
Crafting experience doubles in two ways; the amount of crafts it takes to actually level up halves, and the amount of experience a craft gives doubles. This means that in relative terms, it takes half the amount of Kinah and time to level from 1 to 399 in Double EXP as it does without. Crafting isn’t just setting up a queue and leaving it; if you’re doing Work Orders it’s a repeatable quest which is often helped by macros selecting the NPC to speak to and ‘Attack’-ing it (in the language of the macro tools in Aion). You can make massive amounts of usable items (consumables), but when your objective is to level up you keep changing the item you craft to make sure you get the most experience points. The gatherers keep up the supply for this extra demand, and thus the cost of the items to make consumables do not chance much; they ebb and flow in small amounts. But the cost of the consumable itself just collapses. I’ve found the worst item the Perer Aether Jelly for this; it’s a 440 craft which makes it ultimately endgame (before 2.0), requires a lot of crafting to up the craft (mainly Alchemy or Cooking) to 449, and while the Recipe is more expensive on the broker, more people are grinding the monsters that drop it to level up their main characters the last stretch to the top level (50, soon to be 55). Thus more people actually get the recipe, and more people make the item. The cost before the merges was about 4,500 Kinah. After the merges it dropped to about 3,800 Kinah. Now the price is 2,800 Kinah with a fluctuation of about 300. On a particularly productive day, the price during double experience is just over half that of before the server merges. And if you’re using Work Orders (for the wearable-based crafts Armoursmithing, Weaponsmithing and Handicrafting) you’re sinking Kinah into them and getting nothing in return. This removes Kinah at an increased pace from the market which could be used to buy materials to craft, or to buy the end result, or a drop, or anything else.
The gatherers and Aether gatherers seem to get the best result out of it; their prices stay the same due to relative increase in both demand and supply, and they get their levels in half the amount of time so they can get the rarer drops, and possibly level up to 400 so they can get the item skins from Vitality gathering in Balaurea when the expansion hits. This gathering feeds the crafters, and the crafters saturate the broker with items and drive down prices. And with many people hitting the upper limits and thinking that it’s a great source of Kinah, you may think it’s good for the in-game economy.
It isn’t. This price drop is going to make people who buy the items and produce them on a mass scale at the old prices just stop. The price for the materials is the same, but we lose money when we sell at a cheaper price. At current prices, crafting to get 2 Perer Aether Jelly yields a profit of less than 1,000 Kinah. A stack of 100 Jellies will yield less tan 50,000 Kinah profit, and this pushes people out of the market. But those that gather all their items now that they have the skill levels high enough to do so will continue battling at such low prices. It’s great for the buyer, but remember that sellers are also buyers. More often than not, they will try to buy that high-priced Armour or Weapon drop that you won but can’t use. But since the market forced them out, they can’t buy it. You lost your sale because somebody undercut the prices again and again, paying no respect to the market they’re selling to.
I can only hope that when this Double Experience event ends, the push for leveling at normal pace to 55 will increase the demand for consumables beyond supply. Only then will the economy recover. Since the merges, the Boiling Balaur Blood Stains (the item often seen as the gauge for the end-game economy) have dropped in price by almost 60% after a few deliberate and calculated moves pre-merge by a few players (myself included) trying to keep the prices steady rather than rising up to 300,000 Kinah a piece, to 115,000 Kinah which is the current price today, supplemented by more players and more characters at BBBS collecting level. Now imagine the prices if every Balic mob, NTC, Sulfur/Siel-based or any other dropped this item, and you were selling them before this change as a level 50 at a responsible and still profitable price.
That thought is how I feel when I see the Broker today. Not nice, is it?