Economies have been a staple of the Multi Mass Online Role Playing Game genre for over a decade, so it is no surprise The Elder Scrolls Online will have a currency system. What is surprising, however, is the absence of an auction house. For those of us who are veterans of the genre, this news may come as a surprise as it will severely limit the use of gold, and other currencies, in the game.
The Elder Scrolls Online appears to be taking its players back towards more traditional role-playing roots. I suspect that players who craft items will be able to trade them to others for gold, or trade them for items. Player-to-player trades fit into the theme of The Elder Scrolls Online, too, and is an interesting thematic choice. The game’s story is about forming alliances, which is something that can only be accomplished through finding a community of players, joining that community, and slowly building trust. A worldwide auction house, which spans over factions that are at war with one another, does not make much sense in an alliance-based context.
So, where does that leave people who need gold but would rather play alone? Quest completion will result in several rewards, depending on the quest, including gold. Of course, many non-player characters that you kill in the game will also have gold that can be taken. It is unclear if stealth-focused characters can steal money from non-player characters. Merchants provide monetary rewards for items, but players will most likely trade valuable items to their friends.
Group quests, or instances, will provide more gold than regular quests. Of course, running an instance repeatedly for gold may not sound like much fun for very many players. Again, it would seem the developers are more interested in players forming alliances with one another, or forming friendships, than focusing on an in-game economy.
The Elder Scrolls Online does not put much emphasis on gold, unlike many other games in the genre. Gold is primarily used to repair items and buy crafting materials that cannot be harvested while exploring the world. At the moment, I think gold is an underused resource in the game. It is there because it is familiar, a staple of the genre, and serves as a method to acquire items from non-player characters. Besides the need to pay a repair bill, having it will not serve much purpose.