In today’s post I’d like to go back to a specific event that happened on the 27th of February in 2014 on PC and deserves memorabilia status. It’s not a meaningful one for the game per se, but it tells you a lot about Neverwinter, MMO players and economics.
The first Angel of Protection
Most of you should be familiar with the Angel. It’s a purple login reward that players can claim after having prayed on 360 days. Today the Angel is pretty non-special both as reward and as companion. Our tracker shows it’s selling for around 100,000 Astral Diamonds on the Auction House and there are plenty available. Praying is a must even on idle alternate characters. So nowadays Angels are claimed in the Vault of Piety every day.
But that of course hasn’t always been the case, because it would take a full year after the open beta launch until the first Angel would hit the market. On February 21, 2014, a player did some date math and posted it on the forum. Invoking worked a little bit different back then. Characters could invoke once, claiming their Ardent and Celestial Coin for the day, and then invoking would go on a day-long cooldown. Like in other areas the devs didn’t choose a full 24-hour cooldown, but a 20-hours one. This enables players to invoke at the same time every day. A true 24-hour cooldown would technically postpone invoking, even if it’s just a few minutes per day.
But that also meant under ideal circumstances getting 360 Coins would only take 300 days. For most the open beta started on April 30, 2013, which set the date for a first Angel of Protection at the 24th of February in 2014. Again: Ideal circumstances as someone would have to exactly pray every 20 hours, minus a few extra Coins that were available during the first Challenge of the Gods event. And you bet someone did. Player dardove missed the date by three days, but I say it’s still pretty darn impressive. He posted a picture of the Angel on the 27th.
The market went crazy
Dardove was smart and didn’t use the companion. Instead he or she posted the Angel for a ludicrous amount of 20,000,000 AD. And sold it. Dardove did sell another one for 15,000,000 a few days later. Much has changed in the Neverwinter economy, but now and then that was an effing bunch of Astral Diamonds.
What’s even more astounding is that the Angel wasn’t even good. The standard were augment companions, Bondings a thing of the future. The companion market of course wasn’t as rich as today and a purple one stood out, but that was about it. Yet somebody paid 20 million ADs for a healer companion that was only marginally better than the Cleric Disciple for five gold.
The reason for the investment is as simple as amazing. The Angel was the ultimate status symbol, it was THE reward. It was about the only long-term goal the game had.
Looking back today it seems silly somebody actually paid the first price tag of the Angel. But people back then probably also didn’t anticipate that praying would be majorly exploited by botters, leading to mass Angels over time. Players thought the Angel would remain a major reward and maybe settle at 1 million AD. But that mark was already undercut in June 2014 and the Angel continued to consistently fall to the value we have today.
The devs tried to make the Angel bound so it would remain a special reward and had to be earned. But a poll showed that the community was widely opposed to it and in the end it never happened.
A unique story
The story of the Angel is a special one because it’s unique. There has never been a comparable reward, an equally anticipated one. The devs failed to ever introduce something similar and instead chose to gate the best rewards behind RNG and repetition. In terms of itemization there is no longer a clear goal, only roads. Effort should be rewarding, as rewarding as the Angel once was. I think it tells you a lot about determination and thirst for a challenge. Players like dardove and the buyers showed what players are willing to invest.
Not only the incident is history. Player dardove would leave the game a few months later and with the decline of the Angel also Ardent Coins became pretty non-desirable. Most stuff in MMOs simply doesn’t age very well. It’s typical for Neverwinter (and MMOs in general) to not only replace old content but make it irrelevant. Games moves on to new content and never look back. Likewise the Vault of Piety has not received major updates and probably never will be. Most players have piled up Coins on so many characters that any added reward would instantly be widely available. The only way to revitalize the feature would be a wipe.
Nowadays the Angel is common, but for some players it might not only be an inventory slot, but symbol of a true achievement. Have you been around and remember dardove and the first Angels? Do you think the game needs more of those epic rewards or was it a misconception from which only very few could profit?
Share your thoughts in the comments below or visit the corresponding thread on our message board!