Over the life of this guild, we’ve had many members ask about our guild trader, what guild traders are, how a guild acquires one, and how the whole guild trader system operates in ESO. And like everything, there is the easy, superficial answer and the longer, more convoluted in-depth one. So in this article I’m going to try to address questions that will delve into various intricacies of the guild trading system.
Just what is a guild trader?
A guild trader (or kiosk) is an interface where other players in the game, even those not in your guild, can access your guild store. In order for non-guild members to access the guild store, the player must go to the actual location of the trader in the game. If a guild does not have a trader, then the only people who can purchase items from the guild store are other guild members. As a guild member, you can access the guild store through any banker interface, as well as through the trader.
How can I find guild traders?
There are guild traders all across Tamriel. Generally, in each zone, except for the starter zones, there will be a group of guild traders in/near a major city and there will be two “outpost” traders somewhere else in the zone, but usually near a wayshrine. There is also a guild trader down in the underbelly of Tamriel in each Outlaw Refuge.
This means there are around 150 guild traders in Tamriel. (This is a guestimate - as each city/zone does not have the same number of traders available and the number changes as new DLCs come out.)
What about Cyrodiil? Are there guild traders there?
There aren’t any actual guild traders in Cyrodiil, BUT if a guild claims a resource or a keep, then the siege weapon merchant there also becomes an interface to the guild’s store. This is campaign dependent. (Meaning claiming Chalman Keep in Azura’s Star does not give you access at Chalman Keep on any other Cyrodiil campaign.) A guild can only claim ONE resource in Cyrodiil. There is no cost to the guild for doing this. Oh, and I should mention that if your faction loses the claimed keep or resource, so does the guild - AND that you can only claim a resource or keep that is owned by the same faction as the guild's faction.
How does a guild get a trader?
Obviously there are a lot more than 150 guilds in the game, so getting a trader is a competitive business. Each week, guilds must blind bid on only one chosen guild trader. The money for bidding on the guild trader immediately comes out of the guild’s bank, so you can only bid what the guild has. You can also bid on the same trader more than once over the course of a week. You are not allowed to bid on more than one trader. Once you’ve bid, you’re locked in for the week.
What’s a blind bid?
This means that you have no idea if someone else is bidding on the trader or not. If they are, you have no idea how much money your competitors are bidding on the trader nor how many competitors there are. Bidding is basically a shot in the dark.
How does a guild know if they won or lost their guild trader?
On Sunday evening, an event occurs that SaSa has coined “Sunday Kiosk Madness”. Each Sunday evening is guild trader changeover - which means this is when the guild finds out whether or not they’ve secured their trader for the week. For about five minutes or so, no one can access any guild trader. Whoever bid on the trader will receive a mail about the status of their bid. But the quickest way to find out your trader status is to hit over and over again, as the information will show up on the guild’s front page in game.
So the guild won the bid, now what?
If the guild is successful in their bid, they win the services of the trader for one week.
Oh no! The guild did not win the bid. Is it all over for the week?
Nope. If the guild was not successful, then a mad scramble erupts as guilds look to see if there are any available traders.
The reason a trader might still be available is if it had NO bids from the previous week. In this case, the trader is available on a first-come, first-served basis - which means it can be hired for 10,000g for the week. Generally speaking though, available, unbid traders in this round are generally not in very desirable locations. Of course, there are always exceptions to this. Sometimes the trader ways will result in a fabulous location - but most GMs don't count on that happening. In any case, having a poor trader is better than having no trader.
Hey - if we lost our bid - what happened to all of that money that we put into it?
If a guild loses its bid, the money is refunded to the guild bank after guild trader changeover.
What’s the difference between bidding on a trader versus hiring a trader?
You hire a trader after a successful bid. If you somehow lost your bid and there is an available trader which has not been bid upon, you can hire that trader directly.
How much does it cost to hire a guild trader?
The cost of a guild trader can run from the 10,000g minimum to upwards of 11 million gold. This is PER WEEK. The prices vary based on the zones and the competitive nature of the guilds bidding.
It used to be that you could get lower zone traders for 20,000g or so. But these prices have skyrocketed due to intense competition. Most players will not join trading guilds if they don’t have a guild trader.(It seems that about 90% or more of all sales come from outside sales - in other words, non-guild members.) Additionally, there seems to be a lot of prestige in having a guild trader.
Why does it cost so much to hire a guild trader?
There are lots of reasons:
More guilds than available traders
Gilds want them for prestige
Some folks have more money than sense
There are a limited number of guild traders in high traffic areas
Why doesn’t ZOS add more guild traders to the game?
Well, they did add traders in all of the Outlaw Refuges, but that didn’t do a lot to relieve the guild trader pressure. There are also traders added every time they add a DLC. But honestly, the guild trader system is a major gold sink for the game.
What’s a gold sink?
Since there is a steady stream of income-generating items in the game: mats, drops, etc. In order to balance that out, the game needs to have a way to remove gold from the game. The major way to do this is by having us send our gold into a virtual bidding black hole.
How much do we pay for our guild trader?
We get asked that all the time and we are really reluctant to broadcast that information - because if it becomes “public” we will be vulnerable to takeover by another guild looking to improve their selling situation and they would know how much to bid against us. This is why we vary our bids from week to week. With the fluid nature of guild membership, you never know who might use bidding information against the guild.
Is there really espionage and spying within the guilds?
Absolutely. When we lost our guild trader, we shut down general guild invites for three weeks and then had limited invites for another three. It really hurt our guild member numbers, but there are guilds who are KNOWN for spying. Believe it or not, there is a blacklist circulated about known spies and bank robbers.
Recently, ZOS changed who could see the bidding information within the guild. But there are still plenty of ways for spies to track money in and out of the guild bank.
Yes. It happens on a regular basis.
Are guild traders really that important to a guild?
YES! Most of the guild’s sales come from non-members of the guild. When recruiting, the first thing experienced sellers ask is information about where your guild trader is located.
Why are there guild traders that don’t have anything in their stores?
Who knows? There are no restrictions on who can bid on a trader. It’s annoying that some trading guilds can’t get a trader and yet someone without an active store is able to pick one up. It’s really frustrating.
How does a guild get gold to bid on a guild trader?
There are four primary ways that guilds get gold for their trader bids.
Taxes - A bit of gold from each sale goes directly into the guild bank.
Donations - Members give the guild gold.
Guild Bank Compensation - When members take items from the guildbank, they either put in new items of equivalent value or just reimburse the guild that amount in gold. Items in the guildbank are donated by other guild members. The guild bank can only be accessed by members who have been promoted to Guild Wars Prophecy status.
Fundraisers - Fundraisers consist of raffles, lotteries, auctions, poker games….anything that guilds can come up with to get people to give them gold. It has become a necessary and vital evil for the trading guilds, because it rarely possible to hire guild traders with just the gold made from taxes - even the biggest and most successful guilds.
Because of the high competition for traders, most guilds fund the majority of their guild trader bids through fundraising. It is a time consuming, energy-sink for guild leaders. Since so much of the guild’s success depends on having a trader, and having a trader depends on having money and fundraising, many guild leaders leave the game. This is why there are so many dead guilds. It is also why some guilds have minimum per week sales or donation amount. It’s not just enough to keep your guild roster current and have members sell items in the store. And when people are in five guilds, you’re also competing for member fundraising dollars.
It has always been Guild Wars Prophecy policy to not enact minimum donations or selling amounts. We want this to be fun, not a job. But that being said, we still need to raise funds.
Can’t the guild change the tax rate so they don’t have to require so much fundraising?
Nope. The tax rate is set by the game and all guilds are equal in this. And maybe that’s not a bad thing. If the rate is too high, folks will just sell in zone to avoid it. And some guilds would reduce/eliminate the tax rate to encourage members to join and then up the ante on fundraising.
Many guildmasters wish that ZOS would change the system since it seems that guild trader bidding is on the edge of becoming unsustainable. Unfortunately ZOS does not factor in the human cost of the system in terms of game leadership.
Why don’t the ________ get a guild trader in _____________?
The answer to this is simple: at this point in time it is not economically sustainable or feasible to move to a “higher” zone. We really have done the math, researched various zones and the general going costs of the traders, and evaluated the options available to us. We believe that we are in a sustainable situation while still giving our sellers a good selling location.
Many Guilds have had members leave over this. We’re sorry that this happens, but moving to a capital city or Rawl’ka isn’t in the cards for us in the near future. It would require a MUCH larger, more involved leadership team, not to mention much stricter membership requirements to maintain it. We don’t want to force weekly sales minimums and/or fundraising participation and that’s what the big guilds have to do when they have to maintain 4-6 million/week bids. To be honest, it’s very, very stressful and a major cause of guild leader burnout, The one week we went without a trader was really, really depressing and difficult. So we have no plans to move in the near future. We may reconsider this as the game and membership changes, but we’re doing pretty well where we are now. Could we move? Yes. But we think that cost would ultimately be too high.
How can I help the Guild Wars Prophecys be successful?
There are lots of ways to help - and it’s not all about gold.
Be friendly. Help us build a great community that people want to be a part of. Greet new members. Answer questions. Participate in guild chat - at least occasionally.
Sell stuff in the guild store. This is really important! The guild can’t make gold if you’re not making gold. Read the articles on this website! But here are the sacred three rules to selling:
Don’t leave items in the store more than 10 days.
Don’t sell ANYTHING (except recipes) for less than 99g. Seriously. Just don’t. Stack items to make it worth at least 99g.
Sell at competitive prices. Don’t overprice items - they won’t sell. But don’t undercut your guildmates either. You might need to get an add-on like Master Merchant and/or check out the current going rates in the guild store and the guilds selling around us.
Buy stuff from our guild store first. (If the price is reasonable.) The guild gets taxes. You support a guildmate. Win -Win.
Participate in guild events. We have social events as well as fundraising events.
Help recruit new members. This is an on-going drain. There is a fairly high turnover rate and we have to recruit constantly to keep a majority of active, selling members. Invite friends or other folks to join the guild. You’ll be doing a huge favor to the guild. Even just one new recruit per week per person would make a big difference. We offer raffle ticket incentives for people who recruit.
Volunteer to be part of the leadership team. We need a few good officers.
Volunteer to do one small thing. You don’t have to take on a huge role as officer. But maybe you’d organize and host one event every few months. Take people fishing. Do a skyshard run. Put together a Saturday night social event like the Goofy Ball or our Fashion Show. Organize FB events - like our Screenshot Contest. It doesn’t have to be an on-going commitment, but something short term and limited. We only ask that you pitch it to the leadership team first before making announcements.
Donate. It can be prizes or gold. Every little bit helps.
Hopefully this has answered all of your questions about guild traders and the guild trader system. As more questions come up, we’ll amend this article!
Thanks for your interest in learning how the system works!