Path of Exile’s trading system definitely isn’t perfect. Currently, players trade in-game items is through third-party sites. Grinding Gear Games (GGG), Path of Exile’s developer, was nice enough to open up their API to the public—this means sites like poe.trade and poeapp.com are able to see when players put items up for trade, and add these listings to their sites. Once players find the item they want using these sites, the actual trading (and in-game communication) is left in the hands of the players. But after letting third-party sites run the show for the past couple years, GGG has finally released an official Path of Exile trading site. (You can check it out for yourself here.)
Third-Party Trading Sites
Path of Exile’s third-party trading sites are incredibly powerful. On poe.trade, the most popular platform, players can search for items with specific parameters, filter out players that are currently offline, and run a live search that notifies you when at item that meets your specifications is listed. The biggest complaint players have about sites like poe.trade is that you’re forced to use an out-of-game tool for conducting in-game transactions. Some members of the community want the convenience of combing through trade listings without having to open up a browser. Others worry that if a trading system was implemented into the client itself, the game would become far too easy. In the end, what matters is that GGG has decided that running an in-game auction house isn’t going to happen.
Trading isn’t exactly a niche feature, especially for Path of Exile, and leaving it entirely in the hands of third parties is a bit strange. Furthermore, these sites rely on the stability of the API to run effectively. At the start of every league, the API gets bombarded and the trading sites operate extremely slowly—players have live item searches running, streamers and ladder climbers are using API-reliant apps, and the system just can’t keep up.
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For about two weeks after Path of Exile’s 3.0 update launched, items took several hours to be listed on poe.trade and other sites. For players trying to sell items, this just meant you would have to wait a little bit longer than usual to be contacted. For buyers, however, it was a huge issue. Most of the people you would message had sold their item hours ago, but there was no way to know this without contacting each of them individually. Experiences like these are frustrating, but they’re inevitable when you’re using a third-party tool that’s dependent on an API.
AFK Players and Scamming on Third-Party Sites
When API is actually working, finding the items you want on third-party trading sites is easy. But going from finding that item to getting it in your inventory is a massive pain.
First, you have to message the person directly. This isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds. Path of Exile has in-game AFK detection that activates if you haven’t moved in a while. Unfortunately, none of the trading sites can tell you whether or not a player is AFK. You find the item you want, message the person who made the listing, and discover they’re not actually there anymore. You can move on to the next listing to repeat the process, or wait for the player to respond. Of course, if the item that they’ve listed isn’t worth enough, many players simply can’t be bothered to reply to your messages. They leave the items in their stash out of laziness, and don’t reply to the trade requests, clogging up trading sites with items that are effectively unpurchasable.
There are also scammers and market manipulators that use third-party trading sites. Because you aren’t required to actually trade any of the items you list, people find an item they want to stockpile, buy a bunch of them, and put them them all up for trade at unbelievably low prices. The catch? They don’t actually do any trading. And when an inexperienced trader goes to poe.trade to price check this item, they’ll see a bunch of listings at below-market prices, and list theirs for the same price. The person who manipulated the price then quickly trades with this player, and gets the item for a fraction of what it’s actually worth. This is a common practice, and makes the market incredibly difficult to navigate for new players, and irritating for experienced ones.
GGG’s Official Path of Exile Trading Site
What does GGG’s official Path of Exile trading site have to offer? Well, it has AFK detection, which means you’ll waste less time sending messages. It also has a built-in ignore feature. If you see someone that’s clearly price-fixing or flipping currency at a terrible rate, you’re able to block their listings from appearing on the site.
Those are the two best parts of using GGG’s official trading site. Unfortunately, the new platform definitely has its share of downsides. The layout is unappealing and clunky, and it desperately needs a visual overhaul. Each listing on GGG’s site takes up approximately four times more screen space than one on poe.trade, which makes it difficult to quickly skim the listings and find what you need. The other downside is that currently the search functions aren’t nearly as good as what third-party alternatives have to offer. You can probably find what you’re looking for on GGG’s site, but the search parameters just aren’t as detailed. Thankfully, that should be an easy fix.
The Implications of Adding an Official Trading Site
The creation of an official trading site makes it clear that GGG won’t be adding an in-game auction house. They don’t want players to be able to find all the items they want without putting in a little bit of time and effort. Love it or hate it, but that’s the way it is.
The inclusion of the ignore feature suggests that GGG is most likely going to work on developing a solution to the price-fixing epidemic. And for good reason. Price-fixers can completely ruin the game’s economy for weeks at a time, and they’re manipulating it in order to trade in-game currency for real money. It would be nice to see them gone.
If GGG continues to improve the site, then we can reasonably expect that, at some point, it will become a better–and more popular–place for players to trade items than third-party alternatives. I’d be sad to see poe.trade disappear, but if GGG can offer a better product, it’s a good thing for players. And now that GGG has a legitimate stake in the trading system, we might be seeing more improvements to how trades are run in the future.