Action RPGs tend to attract a wide variety of players, from casual gamers to more dedicated and highly skilled players, to gamers who stream their gaming sessions online. Beyond that, there is another group: those whose primary interest lies in the game’s economy.
Players who are not actually ARPG fans but instead approach the game with an entrepreneurial mindset are nothing new. In games where a significant amount of time and energy invested translates into more experience points and a well-developed build, capitalism has its place, and makes its presence felt.
Having an auction house, or at least an automated system for trading would encourage more beginners to play the game, simply by providing them with the opportunity to level their PoE items more quickly than they would by grinding. Even seasoned players whose recreational time is limited by personal or professional schedule constraints would also benefit from this system, as they can supplement their grind with the occasional purchase.
Of course, there are plenty of arguments against having an auction house in Path of Exile. As an Action RPG (and not an MMORPG), the collective mindset is more along the lines of “Play To Win” as opposed to “Pay To Win,” making the prospect of throwing one’s money at the problem to solve it less attractive to many players.
As far as currency is concerned, Path of Exile seems to have a sizeable currency sink, in that players cannot farm more currency than they can spend. Players can consume a large amount of currency in a small amount of time, especially during crafting. In contrast, MMORPGs feature the ability for high-level players to farm a large amount of currency, such as gold, only to have no use for it other than to sell to other players.
With an automated trading system for gems and high-end Path of Exile items, or a built-in auction house in game, player retention may be improved, reducing the amount of tedious and repetitive tasks, and also allow players to build multiple characters. This would increase playing time overall, thanks to the added variety that comes with being able to choose from several builds, as opposed to relying on the same build during every gaming session.
The current system, PoE Trade, appears to be sufficient for most players, is stable, and does not create more problems than it solves, at least from a seller’s point of view. However, for buyers, it does tend to be clumsy, as the transaction process is not as streamlined or optimized for frequent transactions or high usage.
For example, it may be of particular benefit for players to simply transfer an item directly from their public stash tab to PoE Trade, without the hassle of having to leave the map. Taking this a step further, to also be able to set a price, negotiate and accept the deal all while staying in the map would encourage players to use it more often. There would be less of a chance for the value of the items to inflate or depreciate, since trading is not a feature that all players use, or are obligated to participate in.