Analyzing the Gem Store

10 Aug

Today we’re going to take a closer look at the items offered in the Guild Wars 2 Gem Store, and I will share my thoughts on the items and services that they offer and the prices they’ve put on them both in terms of Gems (the cash shop currency) and their literal cost in terms of US Dollars. I also made a Google Docs spreadsheet that has the costs broken down for euros and pounds for those of you across the pond and in…whatever other places use those currencies. And of course, I will be sharing a link to said document with you as well.

What is the Gem Store?
The Gem Store is GW2’s version of a cash shop, which is a common feature in free-to-play (F2P) games through which the game developers are provide items or services for real money in order to make a profit on their otherwise free game. Guild Wars 2 has gone with the most successful version of a cash shop, which is one that focuses primarily on vanity rewards that have no direct impact on the game or whose impact does not affect your character’s power in relation to another. This method keeps the game “fair” between players by not allowing one person to use real money to make themselves more powerful than another.

In GW2 you can spend real world money to purchase Gems, which are the currency of the Gem Store (the GW2 cash shop). These gems are sold in batches of 800 with a price tag of $10 (or £8.5). You can then use those Gems as currency for items or services, or you can sell them to other players at the Trading Post for Gold (the primary in-game currency). This means that you can get Gems either by paying $10 for 800 of them, or by purchasing them from other players with gold that you have earned while playing. So even if you don’t have any extra cash that you can personally spend, you can earn enough gold on your character to buy the Gems that you need to purchase whatever you’re looking for from the Gem Store.

Just keep in mind that the going rate of exchange between Gems and Gold is constantly fluctuating so even if you see that you can buy 100 Gems for 5 Gold today, that might not be the case tomorrow so if you’re saving up for something big then you’ll want to keep a close eye on the exchange rate and buy your Gems when they’re cheap.

What Can I Buy?
There are currently 34 “things” that you can buy in the Gem Store. Most of those are items, but some are also account-wide perks such as extra bag slots, or services such as transferring all of your characters from one server to another.

The items that are sold come in two varieties; consumables and vanity gear. Most of the consumable items are single-use and impact only a single character, while the vanity gear is available for all of your characters. All items that you purchase from the Gem Store, as far as I’m aware, will be received by your character through the in-game mail system.

It is important to note that not all of the items you purchase through the Gem Store are bound to your character, or even to your account. Many of the items, such as dyes and mini-pets, can be sold to other players via the Black Lion Trading Post. This allows you to earn gold by spending your gems, but it also gives you an easy way to give gifts to your friends.

Break It Down! *dance*
To start this off, I’ll give you this link to Psynister’s GW2 Gem Store Conversions where you’ll find my conversion costs to show you the true price of each of the items and perks offered in the Gem Store so that you know just how much each of those things actually costs you. The Google Doc also has a link to the Wiki page where I got all of my information, so big props to for providing me with the information in the first place.

We’ll take a look at all of them in this post today, but I will also be sharing my thoughts on whether or not I consider them worth their cost. Keep in mind that my opinions are just that — my opinions.

The following sections are broken down into the different categories of items/perks that you can purchase, and I’ll discuss each section in turn. I’m not going to talk about every item that’s for sale, because many of them are vanity and by their nature appeal to only certain people. So the items that I’ll actually address in any detail are ones that appeal to me personally, turn me off either from a cost perspective or from what they do, or ones that have some other information I want to pass on to you such as how some of these items can be found in-game so there’s no need to purchase them unless you want to speed up the process of collecting. The final heading in this post will be my summarized thoughts of the shop as a whole.


Item Gem Cost Bulk Discount Cost in USD ($/€) Discount in USD ($/€)
Aviator Sunglasses 150 0 1.875 0
Serious sun protection. This item occupies the head slot of your town clothes. Town clothes cannot be worn while in combat.
Cook’s Outfit 700 0 8.75 0
Get cooking with this 5 piece outfit (hat, shirt, pants, boots, gloves.) Town clothes cannot be worn in combat.
Inventor’s Sunglasses 150 0 1.875 0
Keep your focus and fashion at the brightest times. This item occupies the head slot of your town clothes. Town clothes cannot be worn while in combat.
Pirate Captain’s Outfit 700 0 8.75 0
Is a pirate’s life for you? If so, this outfit (hat, shirt, pants, boots, gloves, toy sword) has what you need. Wear all the pieces and gain access to 5 pirate themed skills! Town clothes cannot be worn in combat.
Reading Glasses 150 0 1.875 0
A more sophisticated look for the educated. This item occupies the head slot of your town clothes. Town clothes cannot be worn while in combat.
Ringmaster’s Hat 200 0 2.5 0
The hat of a carnival ring master.
Sailor’s Beanie 200 0 2.5 0
Keep your head warm on cold breezy days. This item occupies the head slot of your town clothes. Town clothes cannot be worn while in combat.
Sport Sunglasses 150 0 1.875 0
Can be worn at night. This item occupies the head slot of your town clothes. Town clothes cannot be worn while in combat.
Top Hat 200 0 2.5 0
Good day, sir. I said good day! This item occupies the head slot of your town clothes. Town clothes cannot be worn while in combat.
Transmutation Stone 0 125 / 5
225 / 10
500 / 25
0 0.3125
One Use. Combine the appearance of one item with the attributes of another. Items must be of the same type. Usable on items up to level 79.
Wide Rim Glasses 150 0 1.875 0
Style that pops. This item occupies the head slot of your town clothes. Town clothes cannot be worn while in combat.

I’m not going to break every one of these items down to analyze them all individually because these are the vanity items which everyone will have their own opinions on. Personally, I’m not that big on having a certain look so I won’t bother purchasing the majority of these. The ones that I do purchase will most likely come from converting gold into gems so that I’m not actually spending any money on them.

If I were to pick out those that I found to be the most fun/interesting I would say Aviator’s Sunglasses, Ringmaster’s Hat, and Pirate Captain’s Costume were my top three.

Transmutation Stone: This is the odd item in the group because it’s not actually a piece of vanity gear, but rather an item that allows you to transform one piece of gear into the image of another. It’s basically a consumable version of WoW’s transmogrification system. One thing I’d like to point out about these is that you can also get them as rewards from certain quests in-game. I want to say the ones that I got from the BWE3 event all came from chests that I received for accomplishing different goals in PvP. It was either those or the Mystic Chests that I found. The point is, you don’t have to pay money for these if you don’t mind being patient while you collect enough from rewards.


Item Gem Cost Bulk Discount Cost in USD ($/€) Discount in USD ($/€)
Asuran Bank Portal 35 125 / 5 0.4375 0.3125
Each portal allows access to your bank from anywhere once.
Dye Pack 200 0 2.5 0
Each dye box contains 7 random dyes (5 common and 2 uncommon/rare). Once a dye has been unlocked on a character it can be used as many times as you like to color armor and town clothes. Collect them all!
Evon Gnashblade’s Box o’ Fun 250 1000 / 5 3.125 2.5
Spawn a box full of random fun for everyone in the area. Any allies can interact with the box every 15 secs to get a fun effect. Color changing, shape shifting, and other fun tricks can be yours! Each box will remain in the world for 5 minutes.
Mystic Forge Stone 0 250 / 5
450 / 10
0 0.625
This stone can be used in many mystic forge recipes to add a random element to Zommoro’s gifts. Head to Lion’s Arch to discover the mystic forge and its secrets.
Mystic Key 125 0 1.5625 0
This key will unlock one Mystic Chest. Mystic Chests can be found randomly on enemies or in hidden places in the world.

Asuran Bank Portal: Remote access to a bank is something you often wish you would have access to in other MMO’s. In GW2 that’s not quite as big of an issue because you have instant access to a mailbox everywhere in the world and times where you need access to a bank such as while you’re crafting or when you’re trying to sell things on the Trading Post, you’re generally within a few seconds worth of travel between the locations. The one big draw of these is that the mail system, as it currently stands, cannot be used to mail items to your own characters, you have to do that through the bank or by mailing things to a friend and then having them mail it to your alt. At 44 cents a pop, or 31 if you buy in bulk, these are fairly cheap.

Whether or not they’re worth the cost is going to depend on how much of an altoholic you are, how often you play solo versus playing with other people you could trust, how much of a hoarder you are, and how often you find yourself in need of accessing a bank. They don’t really appeal to me because I will almost always be playing with my wife and/or guildmates who I know I can trust, and when I’m not I have my wife’s account information and computer sitting 2 feet away from me so I can load game at any time to transfer things on my own.

Dye Pack: Welcome to the Guild Wars 2 lottery! People are going to be buying these suckers left and right both to collect them for their own use as well as selling them on the trading post. There are somewhere around 475 different dyes in the game right now, and I guarantee you these are going to be a hit with a large portion of the playerbase. I don’t really care what my gear looks like, so I won’t be buying them for myself, but I’m sure we’ll end up buying some for my wife and all those duplicates will either end up on her alts or on the trading post.

For those of you who haven’t had a chance to play GW2 yet, you can find dyes by just playing the game. Some of them are sold by vendors, and others are drops from killing mobs or opening chests. So don’t feel like you need to buy these to get the colors that you want. Everyone also has several dyes that they have access to by default, somewhere around 16 or so, so even without having any special dyes you can still change your colors up enough to be just another cookie cutter Necromancer. At $2.50 these have a pretty hefty price tag on them, even considering you get seven dyes in each pack.

Evon Gnashblade’s Box o’ Fun: A purely vanity item that’s just fun to play with. I haven’t seen one of these myself, so I don’t know how much fun they actually are, but I expect we’ll see quite a few of them since having fun is the whole point of playing the game. [Update: I got to see one of these in tonight’s stress test and it was actually quite fun so I could definitely see these being used a lot.]

Mystic Forge Stone: I didn’t have time to experiment with anything like this while I was playing during the BWE or stress test events, so I really have no idea how good this is. At 56-63 cents each, they aren’t all that expensive, but I have no idea of their value so the price is equally meaningless to me. Surely one of my readers can help fill you in, though. (Right, readers?)

Mystic Key: This is another item that you can find in game, but they’re supposedly quite rare. I’ve only managed to find one so far, and that one was a quest reward during (I think) my class story quest. The Mystic Chests that you open with them are uncommon, but certainly more common than the keys. The rewards inside the chests are usually quite good, so you’ll need a way to open them if you want the goods inside.


Item Gem Cost Bulk Discount Cost in USD ($/€) Discount in USD ($/€)
Bag Slot Expansion 400 0 5 0
Add an extra bag slot to your inventory. Each character can have up to 7 bag slots.
Bank Access Express 35 125 / 5 0.4375 0.3125
Each portal allows access to your bank from anywhere once.
Black Lion Merchant Express 35 125 / 5 0.4375 0.3125
Allows you to summon a merchant anywhere. This merchant has some basic items for sale and will buy any items you have. The merchant is usable by anyone and remains in the world for 5 minutes.
Black Lion Salvage Kit 35 125 / 5 0.4375 0.3125
This kit is guaranteed to remove upgrades from any sort of armor, weapon, or trinket and give the best chance of quality material returns.
Black Lion Trader Express 50 200 / 5 0.625 0.5
Allows you to summon a Black Lion Trader giving you access to Trading Post pick up anywhere. The Black Lion Trader is usable by anyone and remains in the world for 5 minutes.
Instant Repair Canister 70 300 / 5 0.875 0.75
Each canister fully repairs your items without the need of a repair merchant. This item cannot be used while in a Dungeon.
Revive Orb 250 0 3.125 0
Revives your character from death slowly. This item cannot be used in World vs World or PvP.

Bag Slot Expansion: This will probably be one of the more frequently purchased “items” in the shop, as MMO players are always crazy about having extra bag space. This is also SUPPOSEDLY one of the account-wide perks, so buying it once means all of your characters get access to an extra slot. I say supposedly because there’s an argument on the forums about whether this one is account-wide or per character. You can have up to seven slots total, and you start with either four or five. Up to BWE2 you started with four and needed to unlock the other three, but BWE3 through the stress test on 8/10 we started with five and needed to unlock only two.

At $5 per slot these are one of the more expensive purchases you can make, but you only ever need to buy 2-3 and then you’re done (assuming they are account-wide). I would like to say that early on you won’t really need the extra bag space, but I guarantee you we’re going to see level 80 characters before the first week of September is finished and even those who don’t rush through the leveling process are going to find themselves in want/need of extra storage after the first couple of weeks.

Are they worth it? Rather than do all the math over again, how about I just point you to a fantastic resource I found on the GW2Guru forums: Inventory and You: Maximizing Space on the Cheap. I’ve gotten some mixed replies as to whether or not these are actually account-wide or if you have to buy them for individual characters. If they are account-wide, which most people seem to think they are, then I would consider them potentially worth the price only after I’ve leveled my crafting enough that I can make at least 12 slot bags for all of my alts.

Bank Access Express: See “Asuran Bank Access” in the first section as these are exactly the same thing. I think one of these was a typo caused by name change somewhere along the line, but I could be mistaken.

Black Lion Merchant Express: Summoning a merchant that anybody can use for 5 minutes isn’t too bad considering he can both buy and sell. How useful it is depends on how much farming you’re going to do and where you’re going to do it. They’re pretty cheap at 31-44 cents each, so if I end up getting into a farming frenzy at some point in the future then they might get a consideration. From my limited experience with the game so far, I don’t think it’s really worth it. But again, if I find myself in trouble from an inventory standpoint I can always just mail things to my wife and have her keep them in her mailbox until she gets to a vendor and then keep the money from selling them while I do the same for her.

Black Lion Salvage Kit: Top of the line salvage kits are probably going to become a big deal for high level items and probably the mid-level items as well. Salvage kits are used to break down items and gear that you find into material components used for crafting. The better the salvage kit, the better the quality and quantity of goods that you receive from destroying it. Are they worth 31-44 cents a piece? That’s hard to say right now since I haven’t tested them on anything and I no one can accurately predict the value of crafting materials beyond the level 20’ish range. Will I buy them? Not likely. That’s largely due to the fact that I enjoy crafting and I enjoy farming and I always end up with way more mats than I could ever possibly use because of my crafting and alting obsessions.

Black Lion Trader Express: Access to the trading post (auction house) from anywhere could be a good thing for those of you who are farming, and it makes it easier for you buy/sell mass quantities of materials since you can use it when you’re already standing at a bank. I don’t think I’ll be playing the auction house enough to ever bother with this

Instant Repair Canister: This one doesn’t interest me in the least. It might be good if at level 80 you find that repair costs are ridiculous, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case and even if it were I’d rather buy gems, sell them for gold, and then decide for myself whether to spend gold on repairs or other things. Of all the items under $1, this is one of the more expensive ones and one that I feel is one of the more useless. I haven’t seen high level repair costs though, so maybe I’m judging it a bit too harsh.

Revive Orb: Is the time it would take me to run from a spawn point back to my current location ever going to be worth $3 to me? I don’t think so. If it could be used in WvW PvP, then people would probably spend gems on these, but since they aren’t there’s no reason to bother. Not in my opinion, anyway.


Item Gem Cost Bulk Discount Cost in USD ($/€) Discount in USD ($/€)
Bank Tab Expansion 600 0 7.5 0
Add additional storage to your bank (30 slots.) Any character on your account can access the storage in your bank. You can have up to 8 bank tabs on your account.
Character Slot Expansion 800 0 10 0
Gives an additional character slot.
World Transfer 500 Low Pop
1000 Med Pop
1800 High Pop
0 6.25
Allow the player to change his or her home world (limitation : only one transfer every 7 days). Cost is based on population of the server you are transferring to (low, medium, high).

Bank Tab Expansion: An extra 30 slots in the bank is pretty good. Is it $7.50 good? That’s up to you, really. Is it worth it to me? Possibly somewhere down the road. If I get to where I’m earning a lot of gold in game then I’m sure I’ll convert to gems and grab these.

Character Slot Expansion: This is the first purchase I’m going to make, and the only one that I’m 100% sure of. There are eight professions (classes) in this game, but you only start out with five character slots, so I am definitely going to open up three additional slots for both myself and my wife right away. We haven’t received any indication of what the actual limit is to the number of character slots, but I think eight is all that I’ll need. If we really get sucked into this game and they allow more than eight slots, then I could see us buying more slots at some point in the future maybe.

That being said, extra character slots are the third most expensive item in the Gem Store at $10 each. The only thing more expensive is a world transfer to either a medium or high population server which we’ll talk about next.

World Transfer: In GW2 you can play with anybody from any server at any time, with the sole exception of World vs. World PvP. That’s important to know because you’re only allowed to have characters on one server. Period. Transferring is only important if you end up on a server that absolutely sucks at WvW PvP, and even then only if you care so much about receiving the Power of the Mists buff you get from succeeding in WvW that it bothers you. You can be in multiple guilds at once and you have almost unlimited access to your friends regardless of which server they call home, so I see very little point in ever purchasing this.

The World Transfer has the two highest costs of them all. I thought it was quite interesting that they decided to have three tiers of payments for transferring servers, based on the size of the server you’re going to. It makes it more expensive for those who want to move to high population servers for the WvW benefits, and makes it cheaper for people to flee the overflowing servers for a bit more peace and quiet. This was actually the item that stuck out to me the most because of how they’re handling it and I think it’s actually a rather brilliant move given how servers are handled in the game. If you don’t want to spend over $20 to transfer all of your characters to the top servers then you better choose wisely when you roll or accept the one you end up on and deal with it. The real answer to not having the WvW buffs after all isn’t to leave your server for a better one, but rather to inspire your fellow players, offer them leadership and coordination, and teach them how to earn it for themselves. You want cohesive server communities? Well here’s your chance, ladies and gents. Here’s your chance.


Item Gem Cost Bulk Discount Cost in USD ($/€) Discount in USD ($/€)
Crafting Booster 150 0 1.875 0
Improves your chance to score extra experience from crafting items by 50% for one hour.
Experience Booster 150 0 1.875 0
Gain an additional 50% experience from kills for one hour.
Killstreak Experience Booster 125 0 1.5625 0
Gain an additional 100% experience from kills for 30 seconds. Time remaining is reset with each kill. How long can you keep it going?
Magic Find Booster 150 0 1.875 0
Improves your chance to get rare loot by 50% for one hour.
Multi Booster Pack 300 0 3.75 0
Contains boosts to increase karma gain by 50%, experience gained by killing enemies by 50%, and chance to find magic items by 50%. All boosts last 1 hour. Use them all at once or each one individually!

Crafting Booster: If you want to power level your character and your crafting at the same time, then this might be a fantastic purchase. It costs just under $2 so it’s not exactly cheap for a one-time use item that only lasts for an hour, but if you know you’ve got the mats and/or gold to power level your crafting then this could potentially earn you a huge amount of extra experience in just one hour. I haven’t found anybody who’s done the research to see how much of an impact this will have, so I can’t say for sure whether it’s worth it or not from a cost vs. reward perspective, but I think it has potential.

Experience Booster: This one sounds like it might be really cool, but actually the experience you get from killing mobs is one of the slowest forms of farming experience that you can find, so even with a 50% boost it’s not really all that impressive. When you compare it to crafting, they cost the same amount of money/gems, but you can craft items significantly faster than you can farm mobs so I don’t think this one is worth the cost.

Killstreak Experience: Now this one shows some potential. If you’re big on farming mobs for experience and drops, then this could be a great item for you. The question is whether or not you can find enough locations in a enough locations across varied level ranges to make it worth the cost. I don’t know the answer to that right now, but since this one renews itself as long as you kill something within 30 seconds I see a lot of potential here. If this works in a group setting where as long as you’re in combat with something that gets killed will trigger the reset then this thing has huge potential. If you have to actually land the killing blow, then I’m not so sure. It’s a gamble either way though, because you could always walk right into some server lag or a disconnect that kept your timer going and end up wasting your money.

Magic Find Booster: An extra 50% magic find is nothing to sneeze at. That being said, I have no idea how effective it actually is, or where you would find a rewarding enough area to farm kills to fully utilize it. I could see this being a hit in dungeons, or in certain locations if we find a large population of mobs concentrated in a fairly small area, or if they end up making certain magical gear drop from specific mobs (like WoW does).


Item Gem Cost Bulk Discount Cost in USD ($/€) Discount in USD ($/€)
Minis Pack 300 0 3.75 0
This pack comes with 3 randomly selected Minis (2 common and 1 uncommon) to add to your collection. Minis are tiny models of your favorite monsters and characters from the world of Tyria.

Minis Pack: Getting three random mini-pets is a pretty great idea if you ask me. I don’t know how hard it is to find pets in the game itself because I’ve never seen one. Knowing that at least one of them is guaranteed to be uncommon raises is value though. I do know that these can be sold on the trading post, so it’s very likely that you’ll see these flooding the auction house off and on as people try to buy them with gems and then sell them for higher amounts of gold. Would I buy them? Eh…maybe, maybe not. It depends on how cute they are and whether only my wife falls in love with them or if I end up falling for them too. I haven’t even seen a pet in GW2 yet, so I have no idea what any of them look like or if they have cute little animations or sounds, I really don’t know.

They are pretty expensive, but I know I’ve spent way more than $3.75 on loot cards for my wife to get pets in WoW, so I’m sure we’ll end up tossing some green at these in the future.

Overall Impressions
Overall, I think ArenaNet did a good job with the GW2 Gem Store. I think they went with a very solid model for it by keeping out any form of gear that gives stats and by not making players pay to open content or make content easier. There are some options to speed up your experience gains, but I don’t think that any of them is going to have a significant impact on how quickly people actually level up, with the possible exception of the crafting one depending on what the actual math is behind that whole process.

I’m glad to see that we’re able to get the extra character slots, though admittedly bummed that we have to in the first place just to even the number of slots versus the number of professions (classes) in the game. It’s understandable, but that’s one of my personal pet peeves in MMO’s is not having enough character slots to sample all of the classes without deleting and rerolling to do it. Again, I understand it and think it’s a good idea from the business perspective, I just personally don’t like it.

While there are a lot of things that I won’t bother buying in the Gem Store, I think that they did a really good job of keeping the things that they offer varied enough to have things that appeal to everybody. Some people love vanity gear, some love being able to dye their gear to be whatever colors they want, others are more interested in buffing their character with things like the experience boosts, some collect mini-pets, others like to increase their storage for things like crafting and working the trading post, and people like me are addicted to rolling all the alts. I love that they didn’t try to stick things in there that everyone would feel like they need to buy. They put plenty of things that will appeal to a large number of people, but they did a good job of staying away from needs and have-to’s.


Posted by on August 10, 2012 in Guild Wars 2, Share Your Opinion


Tags: ,

7 responses to “Analyzing the Gem Store

  1. Siha

    August 11, 2012 at 12:57 AM

    In one of the BWEs they gave everyone 2000 free gems to test out the Gem Store, and I bought some of the minipets. They were very much like WoW’s minipets in terms of scale and cuteness; some of them were quite ho-hum but I wound up with a mini version of an Asuran robot that was pretty adorable.

    And thankyou for this post! The number crunching is very handy, and makes it nice and easy to decide whether something is worth the cost or not. I expect to be referring back to this a lot come the end of August ;)

  2. JJ

    August 12, 2012 at 7:18 AM

    Thanks for the work on the spreadsheet!

  3. gw2 gems

    August 15, 2012 at 4:13 AM

    Some of the boosters will be really fun! Like the Killstreak Experience Booster, I’m guessing we’re going to see some crazy stuns when people starts to upload videos on youtube using these boosters. Like level 1 to Max level using the Killstreak Experience Booster :D Might be impossible but it would still be rather bad ass if somebody would try :)

    • Psynister

      August 17, 2012 at 8:16 AM

      I could see that becoming a blogger’s challenge at some point. In fact, I might start it up myself. “How long can YOU keep the buff active?”

  4. Riftstalker

    August 17, 2012 at 5:17 AM

    I don’t understand why you’d spend 30 bucks right away form something you might never need. I have 2 chars in Diablo 3 and I don’t plan on adding more. Maybe it will be different in GW2 but somehow I doubt it. Maybe you’re an altoholic ;)

    • Psynister

      August 17, 2012 at 8:14 AM

      Altoholic? Me!?

      Guilty as charged!


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