It is the official launch date of Guild Wars 2. Many people have planned what they will do as the first thing and what should be saved for later. There are many ways one can approach crafting and trading in Guild Wars 2 right after the launch, and this post aims to offer some things to think about.
Many people wish to start crafting very early on in the game. Crafting is fun, it helps your character progress and it gives you knowledge and first-hand experience of one of the greatest aspects of the game. Some people are also very curious about the high level items and often hope to be able to make a good profit by crafting them and selling them forward to other players who have not yet trained their crafting disciplines as high. This drives them to level their crafting disciplines early on and in a fairly short period of time.
In the beginning people own nothing. Slowly through different methods - most often by exploring the world - players will accumulate their assets. When it comes to crafting, the most important thing that makes it possible are the materials. There's two options for acquiring them: buy them or gather them yourself. The usual way of thinking is that the most profitable way of training one's crafting discipline is by gathering all of the materials themselves. This of course works in the sense that one is not required to pay for the materials that could be gathered for 'free'. However, this is when one forgets two important things that really make up the essence of trading, and which are closely bound together: time and opportunity cost.
Time is an important resource in online games because it is used for profit calculations and the prices fluctuate in time. A very common term is gold per hour, which simply means the amount of gold one can obtain via a certain method in one hour. The question for which people often seek the answer for is what method gives the greatest gold per hour. Gathering all the materials might seem like the cheapest way to level crafting skill at first, but it is often more profitable for one to obtain gold via some other method than running from node to node, and then use the money gained for buying the required materials.
Opportunity cost is the price one pays in theory for missing a trade opportunity. All item prices fluctuate and it is important to recognise the right time for selling or buying the item. Naturally one wishes to buy items with a low price and sell them with a high price. If one did not buy an item when it was going for 2 silver, but instead when it was going for 4 silver, they theoretically lost 2 silver. Same applies when selling items: one should not sell an item for a low price if they think the prices are soon going to rise. Opportunity cost can also be seen in the previous paragraph: if one spent an hour gathering materials instead of obtaining money via some more effective method and using that money for buying materials, they were theoretically losing money.
It is impossible to predict the future. The best one can do is to look at the many factors that can have an affect to it from all sides, and then try to calculate the chances of them happening. When the chance of something happening is higher than the other options, we can say that it is likely to happen, but it is never definite. It can't be said for sure how the prices are going to fluctuate in the fairly near future; there are probabilities but no definites. In general there are so many things that affect the price fluctuation and opportunity cost that should be taken into consideration when trading, but which are not yet known enough about to actually make proper conclusins or extremely likely predictions. Some people say that the material prices will start high and then drop due to the peak in demand, but at the same time people's assets continue to increase and they have more money to spend. There is only one thing that can be said for sure: there is a risk of missing trade opportunities, no matter what route one chooses; whether one sells materials now and crafts later or the other way around. It is important to realize that it is not humanly possible for one person to take advantage of every trade opportunity because of the limited and uncontrollable resource: time.
There is one thing I wish to stress regardless of the general idea of this post: Even though optimizing and looking for the most profitable way of doing everything is a major part of the trading process in online games, one should not rush too much or let the gaming become an execution of exact processes. Guild Wars 2 is a beautiful game, something that should be enjoyed like a fine wine, or for example ice cream if one does not particularly appreciate such beverages. The time when everything is still unknown and exciting should be treasured, and there's plenty of time later on for building a fortune. There is no rush and one can take their time; the economy is not going anywhere.