As we begin the fifth week of Dragonflight, it’s clear that WoW’s profession overhaul and crafting order system isn’t quite aligning with player expectation. Many expected the public crafting order board would represent a thriving market of eager buyers looking for a specialized crafter to make gear for them, but so far that hasn’t been the case. There are a number of reasons why public crafting orders are so rare, but simply put, players are only willing to invest in the highest-quality items, and public crafting orders don’t give customers the power to dictate quality. This has pushed all of the professionals into the public trade channels to advertise their business and make private deals with customers to ensure they’re getting exactly what they want.
The result is a system that relies on players to do their own legwork to find each customer and strike up work, which feels a little strange when there’s an entire in-game market set-up for that exact purpose that no one is using. This subject came up in a forum thread over the weekend and a developer, Drough, responded with some interesting insights into Blizzard’s philosophy behind crafting orders. While they acknowledge that the system isn’t perfect and identify some areas that need improvement, Drough says the system is largely working as intended.
The developer lists a number of ways that crafting orders are working well, each stemming from a core goal of enabling crafters to make useful gear for other players. Public crafting orders were only ever meant to be a quick and easy way to obtain items when you aren’t worried about the quality, and therefore were always going to have a pretty bare market. The developers like that players are connecting in the trade channels and having a more social experience that way because it brings to life the fantasy of actually being a professional crafter. Blizzard intended for crafting orders to be more social than a faceless marketplace like the auction house.
A lot of players are responding positively to that aspect of crafting too. In a Reddit thread linked to the forum post, players are sharing anecdotes of positive customer interactions that have lead to repeat business and recommendations. A lot of people are getting a strong sense of community from crafting orders and it’s making their servers feel more alive and connected. I’ve personally had some great experiences working with crafters that were fast, reliable, and generous with their prices. The problem isn’t the social aspects, it’s the muddy process of starting those interactions.
Drough identified this specifically in their forum post as an issue the developers want to improve. “Helping better connect customers and crafters,” they wrote. “There is nothing wrong with a bit of effort to get the best gear, or to attract customers. This is currently mostly accomplished through trade chat though, which while it does have a nice social component to it (something we love to see more of), it is by no means an ideal way to find a crafter for a specific item, or a customer to craft for.”
Using the trade chat to find crafters or customers is the equivalent of everyone standing in the middle of town and shouting for help. The chat window is an endless stream of spammed offers and requests (as well as memes and the occasional racist comment) that are impossible to keep up with and sort through. There are so many variables that go into a crafted item – quality level, optional reagents, inspiration level of the crafter – that can’t be communicated clearly in a single trade chat message. Private crafting orders do work well, but they don’t have the support of a reliable communication system.
Drough doesn’t suggest any actual solution is in the works, but something like a job board seems like the way to go. The job board would function like a public list of crafters advertising their specialities, prices, and inspiration to potential customers, so that players could reach out to the right crafter for the gear they need right when they need it, instead of relying on chance encounters through trade chat. This way, customers could search through crafters at their leisure and choose the one that’s going to give them exactly what they want.
This would certainly solve the trade chat issue, but it may not meet Blizzard’s goal of creating a more social experience. A job board is essentially a reverse public crafting order board – instead of buyers supplying requests, the crafters supply their products. Buyers would simply submit their crafting orders without any need to communicate directly with the crafter. At that point it’s just another kind of auction house, which isn’t what the developers want.
It would also require a ton of work from the developers. The job board would need to link directly to the crafting order menu so that players could submit their private orders, and ideally, it would have some way to filter and organize all of the ads on the board. It may need to keep track of how many orders each individual crafter has created to give buyers a sense of their reliability, or it may even need an actual rating system so customers can communicate essential qualities about the crafter to other potential customers, like whether the item quality met their expectations, how fair the price was, and how long it took the crafter to fulfill the order. Even with all of that, there’s still so many variables involved in crafting that it might still be better to talk with the crafter directly. Just because someone is willing to take on crafting jobs doesn’t mean they want to find hundreds of requests every time they log in, so the system would need to account for desired output as well.
There isn’t a simple solution here, and while it’s unfortunate that the system still needs some work, at least the developers are acknowledging the problem. Those calling for a job board are only concerned about the efficiency of submitting and filling orders without considering Blizzard’s agenda to create a better social experience. It’s going to take a while for these concerns to get addressed, so unfortunately, we’re all going to have to get used to spamming trade chat for the foreseeable future.
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