Guild Wars 2 players have long enjoyed the ability to easily exchange gold for gems used to buy nifty cosmetic items in the game's Black Lion Trading Company store. Yesterday's game update changed all of that, and players are not happy. Update: ArenaNet has responded, and will be reinstating the ability to purchase gems as they see fit.

Previously Guild Wars 2's currency exchange worked like this: players would enter the interface and exchange the exact number of coins required for the exact amount of gems they needed, based on current currency exchange rates. Say they wanted a Black Lion Chest Key, used to get rewards from special chests awarded during their adventures. They'd pay the amount of gold needed to secure 150 gems, the price of single key, and that would be that.

Here's the new interface.

See the problem? ArenaNet has Microsoft Pointed the currency exchange. The lowest denomination of gems players can now trade for is 400 gems. That means if players want just a single Black Lion Chest Key for 150 gems, they'll have to purchase 400. It also means that if they want to purchase a five pack of keys, a much better deal at 450 gems, they'll need to purchase 800 gems to do it.

Here are the update notes, explaining the changes.

Improvements: New Currency Exchange UI

The Currency Exchange UI has been overhauled to be quicker to use and easier to understand.

  • Quick exchange options for both currencies are now visible on the front page of the Currency Exchange.
  • The comparison between Exchange for Gold and Exchange for Gems prices is much more obvious.
  • Fixed exchange amounts have been set to simplify the exchange process and remove confusing rounding points.

There was nothing confusing about the old exchange. You entered the amount of gems you wanted, and the interface told you how much gold you'd need to spend to get them. In the words of one of my Guild Wars 2 playing relatives upon seeing the changes, "How the hell is this simplifying anything?"

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Guild Wars 2 forum goers are similarly confused and angered by the move. Here are a few comments from the lengthy forum post on the subject.

The whole point of gems was being able to get the exact amount you needed. This new system is just awful and means people will have a hard time using all their remaining gems

I am FURIOUS about this change. Only need a few gems to buy some transmutation charges? Guess what? You're forced to buy 70g+ worth of gems to do it. This is a disgusting system that pretty much forces you to throw away needless amounts of gold or pay up with cash. The rehashed content for halloween was bad enough, but now you force this crap down our throats? Switching around my look was my favorite thing to do, and i just needed a few gold to do it if i was out of charges. Now? I need to throw away nearly 100g on gems i don't even need or want. I can't even put my frustration into appropriate words. You just effectively killed the gem store for me anet. G freaking G

This is completely unacceptable. How did this even get approved?

There's been more than a few times when I've used the exchange to get just 100 gems to be able to afford something. With all the odd/varying prices, we need options in buying amounts of gems.

It's bad enough that we are stuck with a minimum real cash purchase of $10, now this has spread into the exchange too.

This comment refers to the game's real cash store, where players can buy gems for actual cash.

Lewis Burnell of TenTonHammer (via NeoGAF) has posted a lengthy editorial speaking out against the changes, where he also details the replies to player outrage by ArenaNet communication team lead Gaile Gray.

Ok, guys. Some of you are unhappy about this change, I can see that. BUT… quite honestly, most of you are sort of (I hate to use the word) ranting (sorry!) instead of offering suggestions.

That is not the way to calm an angry mob. Gaile later returned with some information from the developers regarding the changes.

  • A lot of newer players had trouble with the interface. That doesn't apply to you, you're veterans who have been around the conversion block a time or two. But newer players will benefit from the updated system.
  • The goal was to make the Gem Store more like other shopping experiences, and if you think about it, there is more of that feel to it now.
  • You may be surprised to know this (I know I was) but very few people bought gems at smaller denominations than the first one offered in the new system. That's not to say they never did, nor that there wouldn't be the desire to do so. But overall, the current options were selected based on player purchases in the past.
  • The team is going to listen to your feedback and, if and when it's practical and desirable, they can look towards adjusting the new system to better meet your needs.

Newer players having trouble with the interface? I've got a character that's been around since the game launched, and I've not accrued enough gold to purchase anywhere near 400 gems. Granted I've not put in very much time over the past year, but I can't see new players coming into that much money anytime soon.

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From what I've seen of developer response so far, it doesn't seem like reversing these changes are high on ArenaNet's priority list. I've reached out to the developer for comment on the situation, and will update this post when I hear back.

Update: ArenaNet has responded with plans to update the Currency Exchange so players can use it as they wish. They offered the following statement:

"It's clear that quite a lot of you would like to have greater flexibility in using the Currency Exchange. Our intention when we designed the new interface was to streamline large volume purchases, which make up the majority of transactions.

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In light of your feedback, we will update the Currency Exchange so that you can decide how you want to use it. We will keep the new streamlined system and also offer a new "Custom" button on the panel that you can use to exchange any increment of gems or gold.

We anticipate rolling this out soon. Stay tuned!"