Every once in a while, a player (likely to be newer than a veteran) would complain how hard it is to trade in Path of Exile with others. A majority would ask for an Auction House or similar mechanic, which would make everything easier. However, that’s not something the devs would like, as written in their ‘Trade Manifesto’. PoE trade would have to stay as it is, unfortunately.
First up, being able to trade for everything trivializes building. GGG would rather players earn their gear, either from crafting or getting drops. This kind of slow progression means players run maps more for the items or materials. With better, more convenient trading, players would just buy something close to what they need and blaze through content. Then, they’re done with their goals faster.
When the company wants player retention, letting them reach their goals too easily isn’t a good idea. Players would lose motivation to play since they’ve achieved what they set out to do. In contrast, since trading is a hassle, players would rather find the item themselves. They would keep hunting for that small chance that they get the item they need on the next map.
Second, it would mean reducing drop rates. Otherwise, the game would end up lacking a challenge, since you can just buy your way out. A reduced drop rate when there are easy trading balances the challenge with the convenience.
Third, it will divide the player base. In a game with easy trade and reduced rates, you’ll see the difference between those who trade and those who don’t. For example, in PoE, someone who doesn’t trade could get about 2-3 PoE currency items, while traders get 100+ in the same amount of time. The latter could get the gear they need for their build all too easily, while the former has to struggle.
Of course, there’s a disparity in the game currently. However, the difference isn’t too stark. Traders do have to struggle a bit so they can trade. Instead of traders getting 100+ currency, they get only about 30 or so. With more effort, they can reach higher numbers, but it’ll be sporadic and a little unsustainable.
Fourth, it opens the door to automation abuse. Sure, bots exist in PoE trade right now, but it isn’t too much of a problem. There’s still a process to go through to trade with them, and that keeps it from being impactful on the economy. If there’s a system for trading without having to talk to other players though, bots will soon dominate the market. That would lead to large-scale consequences for regular players.
So Would an Auction House be Beneficial?
Quality-of-life updates will make playing more convenient. Yet, consider that it could change the game drastically. Look at World of Warcraft. All the updates through the years made it different than what it once was. Some players like it better, others like Classic more, and a minority is ambivalent or likes both.
The current state of trading in PoE can be a hassle, yes. However, it’s keeping the balance of having challenging content and a slower pace of gear progression. An auction house would make things easier, but it won’t make things necessarily better.
GGG would rather keep the game in this rather tenuous state. While items and trading are important, they don’t want trading to be the focus of progression. Trading can be a tool for you to get something that you can’t get on your own, but it was never going to be the source of all your gear.
Some things feel better when you work for them. Farming drops or crafting can be difficult due to the nature of RNG, but it’s a challenge. At least, it would make you play the game more, which is what the developers want. An automated trading system opens up avenues of destroying the current game experience, which the devs aren’t willing to risk yet.
That said, if you’re new to the game and want a trading post or similar mechanic, consider these points first. Many others have complained of the same thing, but it’s probably not going to happen. That is unless they figure out some way to keep abuse from happening or they figure out an automated trade model that keeps their slow gear progression model. Both possibilities are improbable, though.
At any rate, it’s an aspect of the game that players have to live with. Hope you still enjoy Path of Exile and continue finding fun in playing the game!