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Oct 03, 2005

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Comments

1.

I did something similar in SWG way back when. My initial intent was to do trading - buy from frontier planets, ship to the trade hub, sell at profit.

I quickly gave that up as too much work in travel time. Much more efficient was merely engaging in arbitrage-over-time. Buy undervalued goods and immediately resell them at a higher rate. Of note, I was doing this on the same market. The people here explained to me that I wasn't engaged in evil price fixing (like I had thought) but rather stabilizing price-over-time, which is apparently a good thing in the economic textbooks.

It was very easy money.

The most interesting tidbit I learned from it was that the price of minerals in SWG had the opposite order as the real world. Iron is the most expensive, followed by copper, followed by aluminimum. This may have been an artifact of the crafting system, but having noticed that there was a premium on "Carbonite" which I could not explain with the crafting system, I figured it was just psychology.

2.

I can already hear poor Atanarjuat's death screams as she gets killed by horde shoppers in Gadgetzan. Sometimes the urge to right-click on an easy kill is too strong to resist!

At level 40, I earned money for my mount (which is an expensive purchase for most level 40 characters) by selling pets on the Gadgetzan cross-faction auction house. I sold the useless pets that only Alliance NPCs sell, like cats and owls. Horde like having Alliance pets, and vice versa, because it is something most people will not have. People love feeling unique in any way they can. When an orc asks a troll, "Hey! Where did you get the little bitty orange kitty cat??" that troll feels oh-so special!

People will pay 1.5 gold pieces or more per kitty cat to feel so special.

I think the key to taking advantage of the Gadgetzan AH is to identify things that the other faction cannot access anywhere else. I have not noticed prices in the Ironforge AH being dramatically different than the Gadgetzan one. And I'm not sure that the Gadgetzan AH has as many customers.

3.

Well, one common one is buying epic mounts through characters with Master Sergeant or above, and selling at a 50 gold or so discount to the general public (if you wanted to split the 100 gold discount pvp rank gives you).

4.

Why not go whole hog and run a Horde alt down to get the spread from both sides. I suspect that you are best off buying raw materials Horde side, shuffling them to Alliance to re-sell or convert into finished products and buying finished products (especially the high end ones) Alliance side to sell Horde side.

For markets, I'd focus on level x9 (29, 39, etc.) for the PvP twinks.

5.

As far as I know, the most venerable tale of arbitrage in online games/worlds is found (not surprisingly) in Randy Farmer's The Lessons of Lucasfilm's Habitat. Quoting from there:

"In order to make this automated economy a little more interesting, each Vendroid had its own prices for the items in it. This was so that we could have local price variation (i.e., a widget would cost a little less if you bought it at Jack's Place instead of The Emporium). It turned out that in two Vendroids across town from each other were two items for sale whose prices we had inadvertently set lower than what a Pawn Machine would buy them back for: Dolls (for sale at 75T, hock for 100T) and Crystal Balls (for sale at 18,000T, hock at 30,000T!). Naturally, a couple of people discovered this. One night they took all their money, walked to the Doll Vendroid, bought as many Dolls as they could, then took them across town and pawned them. By shuttling back and forth between the Doll Vendroid and the Pawn Shop for hours, they amassed sufficient funds to buy a Crystal Ball , whereupon they continued the process with Crystal Balls and a couple orders of magnitude higher cash flow. The final result was at least three Avatars with hundreds of thousands of Tokens each. We only discovered this the next morning when our daily database status report said that the money supply had quintupled overnight."

Most if not all MMOGs since then have included (intentionally or not) such elements in their economies. The fact that all vendors (at least within one faction) in WoW will buy and sell for the same price prevents this. You and your gnule may have discovered a gap in this allowing for significant arbitrage.

Personally, I'd love to see MMOGs fully and knowledgeably embrace arbitrage, whether in the form of active trade routes or futures trading. It can be not only a terrific economic engine (especially if provided with sufficient drains - something else MMOGs have too little of, these generally being drags on gameplay), but can also be a catalyst for other kinds of gameplay. If there is more that must be done in arbitrage than sitting on a resource -- that is, if you have to make significant decisions in where and when to buy or sell, how to protect your investment, etc., then there are opportunities for gameplay that are currently being missed.

6.

Thanks all, for the followup.

Brask> I did something similar in SWG way back when. My initial intent was to do trading - buy from frontier planets, ship to the trade hub, sell at profit. I quickly gave that up as too much work in travel time.

The most interesting thing for me since recently starting WoW (I've resisted it for ages, and finally buckled bout 4 weeks ago) is the fact that Blizzard haven't gone this route. The mailbox is conveniently placed near the AH and the bank. So arbitrage is only a mail message away. This makes me question their commitment to banning RMT, but that's another story.

Neil> I can already hear poor Atanarjuat's death screams as she gets killed by horde shoppers in Gadgetzan. Sometimes the urge to right-click on an easy kill is too strong to resist!

That's why I play on carebear server, at least for this economic game stuff. Reduces the transaction costs of data collection.

Neil> People will pay 1.5 gold pieces or more per kitty cat to feel so special.

Nice observation. IRL there are lots of studies on rarity value. Hardly surprising that we'd see it here.

Neil> I have not noticed prices in the Ironforge AH being dramatically different than the Gadgetzan one.

Interesting. I'll let you know what the data says, but the difference doesn't need to be dramatic as long as there are low transactions costs and high volume opportunities. Don't know yet whether this is true in this case.

Which leads on nicely to Josh...

Josh> Well, one common one is buying epic mounts through characters with Master Sergeant or above, and selling at a 50 gold or so discount to the general public (if you wanted to split the 100 gold discount pvp rank gives you).

Is there a transaction limit on this? Presumably a Master Sgt can't buy one every 5 seconds and offload, otherwise it would have to depress the spread to zero pretty quickly.

Chris> Why not go whole hog and run a Horde alt down to get the spread from both sides.

We obviously think alike. This is tonight's exercise. Looking at the maps I'm thinking a lvl1 tauren could make it pretty easily from Thunderbluff. But would welcome thoughts.

Chris> For markets, I'd focus on level x9 (29, 39, etc.) for the PvP twinks.

Ok, you've completely lost me here. Don't know why the x9 lvl commodities would differ. Remember, I'm new at this, and haven't been on PvP much.

7.

The best, to mess with the market would be to have access to 2 differents accounts. You place an alt. of each account in Ogrimmar and you trade item from factions there. Then from both acounts you put stuff in the AH at Ogrimmar/Ironforge.

"prof. farmers" are probably already doing this trick to move items from IF to Ogrimmar with ease.

8.

QUOTE
Ok, you've completely lost me here. Don't know why the x9 lvl commodities would differ. Remember, I'm new at this, and haven't been on PvP much.
/QUOTE

x9 is based on PvP Battlegrounds. BG can be entered based on player lvl.
20-29
30-39
40-49
50-59
60

Players that PvP a lot have spend their time in BG at level x9. A very good piece of PvP equipment that can be wear at lvl x9 would be a must have for those players.

Entering a BattleGround at lvl x0-x8, is risky to suicidal, since your char would get owned by x9 players in the instance.

9.

LEKO, thanks for the x9 details. Got it now. But I didn't get this...

LEKO> The best, to mess with the market would be to have access to 2 differents accounts. You place an alt. of each account in Ogrimmar and you trade item from factions there. Then from both acounts you put stuff in the AH at Ogrimmar/Ironforge.

I don't follow how you can swap the commodities from Og to IF. I have account1 and account2, with main1 and alt1, and main2 and alt2 respectively, then I can bounce commodities between main and alt (or indeed any of main1, main2, alt1, and alt2) but only if they are aligned with the same faction. If main1 and alt1 are in different factions then they can't talk, even though they're on the same account. So I can't arbitrage using them.

Outside Gadgetzan, I can't see how I can swap the commodities from IF to Og, which is what I need to do if I'm gonna price arbitrage.

10.

Dan said, Outside Gadgetzan, I can't see how I can swap the commodities from IF to Og, which is what I need to do if I'm gonna price arbitrage.

You can only do this in Gadgetzan, and only if you have two accounts (two computers helps too). Keep an alt from Alliance on one account and an alt from Horde on the other account, both in Gadgetzan, both with plenty of cash, and then buy and sell items between the two of them, on the Gadgetzan auction house. You'll lose money on the actual Gadgetzan transaction, but as long as you can sell the item for enough in IF/OG, you'll do just fine.

Also, this whole deal is significantly safer on PvE servers. ;)

11.

Oops, that last one was me, sorry about that.

12.

For a few months, I ran a "smuggling operation" on my (RP) server. And I did RP my work for others. On my main account, I had alliance operators in Ironforge and Gadgetzan, and a horde buyer in Orgrimmar. On a second account, I had a horde operator in Gadgetzan. I've both swum to Tanaris, and I've been ported there by a warlock.

On my experience, prices are generally the same or lower on the horde side than they are on the alliance. So, I try to make my profit by buying items with a large differential on the horde side, mailing them to Gadgetzan. The the horde Gadgeteer puts them up for auction cheaply during a quiet period, and the alliance Gadgeteer buys them immediately. If I remember, the Gadgetzan AH charges a 15% fee or thereabouts, so I try to minimize currency shifts. (And yes, I've been burned by a third party buying my cheap item, but only once.) Once on the alliance side, it gets mailed to the Ironforge operator, and then put up for auction. On the return trip, I buy commodities which can be resold at the same price quickly in Orgrimmar. This is cheaper than trying to pass currency over.

I usually only bothered to log into the Gadgetzan toons once each day.

While this was interesting, I found I could actually make more more gold per hour simply doing arbitrage on the value of armor sold on the Ironforge AH versus the value of the disenchanted reagents.

13.

Well, in the case of epic mounts, you're limited to the number of people who have 900 gold sitting around and have not bought an epic mount yet. You can buy as often as you like. Finding customers for a one-time purchase for a large amount of gold can be a bit trickier. Usually you spam IF for customers -- asking if anyone wants to buy a mount. I've done it, and made a fair bit off of it (although the trade seems to have petered out a good bit as the number of 60s with epics rises quickly).

14.

Really cool experiment, Dan. Though I must say, I was disappointed at first, as I thought your post was going to be a story of something like how much of WoW you could see as a Level 1 gnome. (I still dream of taking an all-gnome party into Gnomeregan, but I suppose to accomplish that I'd have to play WoW at least occasionally, which I rarely do these days.)

As far as arbitrage goes, though, that's one of the things that you can build an entire career around in EVE Online. You can do it in any of the ways described above, and with fewer alts (though alts help). One thing you can do is sit in a station and remotely buy undervalued items and immediately either resell them at a higher price or place a sell order and wait for someone to come along and buy them. Or you can fly the stuff around and deliver it yourself. You can't mail items, though, as you can in WoW. (But you can create courier missions if you want to have someone deliver them.)

EVE features several dozen regional markets in which you can check the prices within that region only. With a few alts and a strategic trading route you can investigate prices in several different regions and find some great arbitrage possibilities. You can take this to another level by considering the four different races of EVE and what equipment each one is best suited for. Laser weapons, for instance, are best fitted to Amarr ships, while the Caldari prefer missiles, the Minmater prefer projectile ammo, etc. Then consider the fact that player-manufacturing of ship modules, weapons, ammunition and ships themselves is a common part of gameplay and with a bit of analysis you could probably set up a pretty rich trading route. Or at least find some interesting divergence in prices from region to region and racial soveriengty to racial sovereignty.

And don't let the low subscriber numbers of EVE (70,000) fool you. The markets there are quite robust, and CCP is kind enough to provide a trailing average chart for each good in each market. EVE would be a great place for an experiment like the one you describe.

15.

Oh and btw, Dan, have you seen the movie "Atanarjuat"? Highly recommended.

16.
And, if you like, this is an appropriate forum to recount your stupidest noob-run story as well.

Aside from RP reasons I'll never understand why people do that sort of thing in WoW. Its far simpler to just travel while dead, and hit the spirit healer closest to your destination...

17.

Thanks again all. Only a couple of things to follow up on:

Eric> On my main account, I had alliance operators in Ironforge and Gadgetzan, and a horde buyer in Orgrimmar. On a second account, I had a horde operator in Gadgetzan.

Why do you need the horde operator on a second account? I haven't set up the entire chain yet (Horde:Og<->Horde:Gad==Alliance:Gad<->Alliance:IF) but since I have horde toons on my main account I can't see any theoretical objection to doing it all on one account. (Samantha also had a comment to the effect of multiple accounts, and I wondered why this was necessary)

Mark> I was disappointed at first, as I thought your post was going to be a story of something like how much of WoW you could see as a Level 1 gnome.

That's a project for another day. But a good project.

Mark> EVE would be a great place for an experiment like the one you describe.

Yes, agreed. Nate keeps telling me to get onto it since it is really structured for this sort of economic gamesmanship. Unfortunately my career and marriage is already suffering with the WoW stuff. I can't handle more than one MMOG at any one time (I canned my CoH account, for example, before moving over to WoW).

Mark> Oh and btw, Dan, have you seen the movie "Atanarjuat"?

No, but I've meant to for ages. When I came up with the idea of running a gnome, I thought, "Hang on, there was that Inuit movie which was Anglicized as 'fast runner', wasn't there?" Hence the name.


18.

Dan asked, Why do you need the horde operator on a second account?

If you're going to move things from Horde to Alliance or visa versa via the Auction House in Gadgetzan, you'll need two accounts, with an alt from Horde on one and an alt from Alliance on the other account, because you can't bid on auctions another character on the same account put up. So if your Gadgetzan Horde alt and Alliance alt were both on the same account, and you put up something with the Horde character, the Alliance character wouldn't be able to buy it.

19.

WoW does not allow you to create characters from both factions on the same server using the same account. One faction per server per account.

20.

Actually Neil, you can have characters on both factions on non PvP servers. PvP servers are the only ones that have that restriction, PvE servers do not. But if you were trying to move things between factions on a PvP server, that would be just another reason you'd need two accounts.

21.

Interesting! I'm not sure why Blizzard sees such a distinction between pvp and non-pvp servers (especially role-playing servers) to have that difference. But that's a completely different discussion.

22.

> Aside from RP reasons I'll never understand why people do that sort of thing in WoW. Its far simpler to just travel while dead, and hit the spirit healer closest to your destination...

You can't do that. It will resurrect you at the appropriate graveyard, which is the one closest to your body. It hasn't been possible to do this since beta.

23.

I was always under the impression that the Auction House in Gadgetzan had too little buyers and sellers to be terribly worthwhile. It will be interesting to see whether this method is signifcantly more profitable than regular AH trading.

24.

>>
I'm not sure why Blizzard sees such a distinction between pvp and non-pvp servers (especially role-playing servers) to have that difference. But that's a completely different discussion.
>>

The reason is cross-factional PVP trashtalk, which was a MAJOR problem back in the pre-battleground days which existed only on PVP servers. People would log out of their level 29 main character onto their level 2 alt on the other side of the fence and say "D00d WTF did u gank m3? G3y." This is also one of the major reasons why you cannot interact with the other faction at all (although there are also some theme/versimilatude issues there which make that policy game-wide rather than PVP-wide).

25.

Quite a few guilds hold regular newbie races such as the Running of the Bulls, where you all make level 1 Tauren together and run (the long way round) to Orgrimmar, or similarly a gnome race to Stormwind (again, the long way round). They're quite fun to watch, though none of my European compatriots seem to have initiated one.

26.
Samantha>If you're going to move things from Horde to Alliance or visa versa via the Auction House in Gadgetzan, you'll need two accounts, with an alt from Horde on one and an alt from Alliance on the other account, because you can't bid on auctions another character on the same account put up.

[Slaps head]

Yes, of course. Didn't think far enough ahead. Thanks.

27.

Unfortunately, the driving factor in working the auction house seems to be "ignorance" rather than "scarcity."

I made quite a bit of money working the AH, and found that Gadgetstan is not worth the trip. Buyers out there are few and far between and (even worse) more savvy. If someone goes all the way to gadgetstan to look at the AH, they are probably somewhat aware of the relative values of things. The only thing I have ever found worthwhile is the occasional non-soulbound rare class-specific loot (shaman loot falling to alliance, palading loot falling to horde).

There are four specific areas that so massively dominate the WoW economy (at least on our server), it is barely worthwhile to pursue anything else (except as a curiosity, or for amusement value, of course). They are:

1. Certain low-level trade materials.

Because of the number of people with large numbers of alts, certain trade materials are very valuable. Basically, you want stuff that your average alt-maker doesn't want to be bothered with farming, but that will power him through the low crafting levels quickly.

2. Certain high-level trade materials.

The widespread availabilty of molten core strategies has made it accessible to a larger and less hardcore player base. Certain potions are needed in Molten Core, so selling the ingredients that go into them is fantastically profitable.

3. Certain low-level blue items.

Again, the twinking of alts has led to an inflated market for mid-to-low blue items. Since many of these drop to low level players who are not familiar with the Auction House, the people who collect them tend to dramatically underprice them. Simply buy them and re-list them for a much higher price.

4. Certain recipies/patterns.

People will pay absurd mutliples on these, even ones available from vendors. I made a fortune just running an Auction House alt over to the Enchanting store in Ironforge and buying a low-level enchantment for 10 silver, and then running back to the auction house (also in Ironforge) and reselling it for 5 gold.

You can make equally good gold just camping a vendor with an alt, purchasing the item when it spawns and mailing it back to your Auction House mule. People just don't want to go to Moonglade to buy a rare recipie, even though a low-level druid can get there easily.

The major check on people like me seems to be a lack of things to buy. I literally just stopped working the AH one day, because I didn't have any use for money any more.

28.

Jimpy> I literally just stopped working the AH one day, because I didn't have any use for money any more.

I wonder how often that happens IRL.

29.

I think the x9 question has been answered. A good blue x9 item is worth proportionally more than a x0 item.

As for arbitraging low level enchants... yes!

I did that for a while, but it got boring. Basically, I'd buy any green item listed below 10s (which limited me to under level 20 items), disenchant it and sell the results. I'd have ~150 auctions I was bidding on at the time and I'd make 4-5g a night for minimal work - log in, bid on auctions, pull down previous wins, disenchant, put mats up for sale, log in character I'm working on and start to exp. The nice thing is that anyone can do this (and it's pretty simple, there are certain items (as alluded to) who always yield shards which always sell for more than they items sell for).

I understand there's also some nameds that you can skip to in instances who always drop an item that always disenchants into a large shard. 5g? or so for 15 minutes work. Even without resetting instances repeatedly.

30.

I call my Orgrimmar character "my agent". I've been doing what you describe for over six months, and it has allowed me to buy three epic mounts without doing much farming/raiding and letting me enjoy whatever aspect I want to partake in that gaming session. I've been two boxing since DAoC four years ago and WoW when it launched, and this is just something I fell into, not really planning it ahead of time.

The Process
Two tools (add-ons) help quite a bit. Auctioneer and a relatively new one called AH Favorites (to save retyping search terms for what I'm looking for.)

With Auctioneer, I wrote a program to scan the two Auctioneer output files (two desktops running an account each) from a laptop, filter out the information I want, then convert it into a formatted Excel file which I can have up on the laptop almost as soon as Auctioneer finishes both scans. I can then look this over at my leisure (like riding a Gryphon), run a few analysis macros, and see if there's anything interesting.

With AH Favorites I look in real time for a handful of recipes which are normally hard to find and one or two items which may be normally obtainable to only one faction. Even before this add-on, it didn't really take all that long to run through my list.

Thanks to automation the whole process takes maybe all of six minutes or so. I do it right after I first log on and right before I log off for the session.

When it is time to transfer, I hearth my agent to Gadget, move one of my characters to Gadget and transfer from one to the other. The alliance character pays 1s for any item and going the other way, just enough to maintain a set amount of gold on the Horde character so as to transfer profits.

My Observations
I can only speak for my server, but I believe that on this server there are much fewer Horde players. Part of this is simply observing traffic in IF and Org and by noticing that the Org AH has somewhere between 1/2 to 2/3 fewer items than the IF AH. I don't know how valid this as the Horde may simply spend less time in the city and/or may sell less. However, since it's just regular people behind each avatar, there's no reason to think that they would behave dramatically different.

The Org AH does have lower prices on the average. They also seem to have access to more unique items than the AH. They seem to have fewer people who follow AH prices. On the other hand they have more consistent "outrageous" prices for some very rare items.

An example would be the very rare "Rich Purple Silk Shirt" pattern. On many occasions I have seen it from 200g to 400g at IF while I have also seen it from 700g to 1,000g at Org. I also don't often see them relisted at lower prices so I have to asume someone is buying them.

For an opposite example, I can look at the so-called "Christmas recipes"; the Greatfather Festival quest recipes which were only available for a week or so. They show up on occasion at Org (have never seen one at IF since February). Usually they are priced as one would expect considering their unavailability, but on occasion, such as last month, someone put up the Engineering "Snowmaster 9000" schematic for the princely sum of 5g! What's even more interesting is there's no idea how long it had been there before I got around to seeing it. Needless to say, I bought it and sold it for 300g at IF (within 3 minutes of listing it and with no trade channel spam). 300g is actually a low price for it, but it was all I wanted.

My focus on recipes is probably because I started off as a recipe collector (with all alts I have 300 in all professions) and I also think recipes are under appreciated by most regular folk.

I can't say I understand why prices are lower, but it may also be reated to a population imbalance. I guess more proof(?) that the Horde are outnumbered on my server.

To be honest, I only buy true bargains and always make a good profit. This usually only happens once a week at most. I suppose one could spend all of ther gaming session doing this and accumulate a large amount of gold... I'd rather play and have enough for a few luxuries when I really want them and when they're reasonably priced!

31.

In EQ2, each faction has an independent broker system that charges a 20% markup. There's also a fence in each city who accesses the other side's brokers - at 40% markup.

Serious crafters are very aware of it; on many servers the Freeport (evil) side complain that they have to price lower because most of their buyers are Qeynosian (good) and thus seeing an extra 20%.

Unlike WoW, the two sides are allowed to communicate, and even cooperate (and players get *one* chance to switch their initially-determined allegiance, just before level 20). Apparently large guilds which aren't heavy into roleplaying commonly have a few members of the opposite faction, in part for the practical reason that player can save them the fence's fees, buying items in the other market and then travelling to an open area of the world to hand things over to their guildmates.

On the forums there are plenty of people who claim to be arbitraging, buying things up when they drop significantly below the usual price.

32.
The was still at level 1 at this point, and so the difference between her level and the level of the beasts around her meant that she drew aggro like Texas Republicans draw prosecutorial investigations.


Could we please keep the off-topic politics out of Terra Nova? I imagine a lot of us get overloaded with politics in other places or aspects of our lives, and don't need to have snide political comments (regardless of their accuracy or inaccuracy) spliced into otherwise interesting discussions.

On the actual topic:

* A good resource to look at trading between factions are whatever materials are needed for the paladin mount quest. Those materials are generally cheaper in Og than IF since there are no paladins on the horde side. A friend of mine did this for a few weeks (using his GF account to make Horde characters and his account to make Alliance characters) to get supplies for his paladin epic mount quest.

* Overall, most items tend to be significantly more expensive on the Alliance side than Horde side. This is because so many more people play alliance. More people = more gold over time = more inflation over time. The differences can be staggering, and frankly, Blizzard should be embarassed by how blatantly this once again demonstrates their poor planning regarding Horde/Alliance population balance.

33.

So, why stop with PvE servers? We know that the population on the Gadgetzan AH is quite low, probably too low for any real profits. But it still serves as a point of exchange. Imagine a horder player trades on the Orgrimmar AH, mails to a horde alt in Gadget, puts items up in the Gadget AH for a reasonable profit. Then another player's alliance alt buys the items from the Gadget AH to resell in the bigger Org market. Everyone makes a profit, everyone's happy.

The Dark Iron server has a new economy that I'm experimenting in, but doesn't suffer from the low population problems and horde:alliance imbalance associated with other new servers. Anyone want to roll a couple of Alliance traders?

34.

All these ways of "playing the market" have been going on since beta, I believe. Simply scanning through the lists, especially that of raw materials and potions, and purchasing underpriced items for instant resale can be remarkably profitable. Many players sell at or near the 'defalt' price given by the auction house, which seemed to generally be a fixed markup on the raw vendor price. It did not reflect market demand or rarity value.

A better way of making money exists as described above. Transfer alliance and horde pets to the auction house of the opposite faction. The market can only bear limited demand here, and you will have competitors. There is more of a demand for alliance pets for horde characters, despite the generally larger alliance numbers, as alliance pets are 'cuter'. I observed that it was usually more profitable to buy enough bulk of identical pets to last through a day on auction, and sell each at a reasonable markup, than to only sell one of each pet type or even only one pet of the opposite faction at an artificially high markup. Unfortunately for the unprincipled seller people tend to have more market knowledge than that: they realise more will be along soon at more reasonable prices.

Occasional real killings could be made through buying vastly underpriced items and components and reselling at a fair or inflated price, depending on your ability to absorb risk/associated costs from a failed sale at an inflated price. I shall come back to fair versus inflated prices later.

Some money can be made transferring items orientated towards the paladin class from the horde market, where they are useless, to the alliance market, where they have significant value.

It is interesting to note that prices on PVP servers are significantly higher than PVE servers, and auction houses are generally more active. So I was repeatedly assured and some brief visits convinced me. RP server markets are generally even less keenly priced than the other servers, though a significant market exists for 'pretty' items of little or no practical use. Though I am certain this exists on all servers, I suspect the organised sale of matching outfits solely for RP purposes only occurs on RP servers.

The markets are complicated by the role of transactions occuring outside the auction houses. These may well constitute the bulk of transactions, and are deeply involved with the status of each player character as a craftsperson and/or raw materials provider, and each characters status and reputation within circles of friends, guilds and the wider community. As a moderately influential character I often sold crafted items at a low or zero markup as I would obtain goodwill, gifts and repeated custom in exchange. I would be interested to see whether a male avatar experiences so much goodwill as a crafter!

I also would give friends discounts, sell items at cost price to friends, and give gifts to friends and guildmates. As in any social network there is a natural expectation of return and I was not dissapointed.

One commodity never sold on the auction house is potentially the most valuable: player knowledge. Intimate player market knowledge can make large amounts of gold. Without the help of other players levelling, item aquisiton and neccessary social interactions are much harder. This is the flipside to the largely barter, non auction house economy, and it is significant. Of course good information can also be obtained from forums and other extra-game sources, obviating the in-game transactional nature of such relationships.

Back to the markets. You will observe many rarer items being sold at very high, seemingly outrageous markups. These seem to be sold by certain sellers as a pattern. Obviously some players, seeing no other source for rare items, will buy at these inflated prices. This seems to give a higher profit to the sellers as the practice endures. I strongly suspect such sellers have a higher capacity to absorb costs incurred as a part of this strategy, the most significant being repeated fees to re-enter rare items in auction after their previous auction duration expired unsold.

Basically I strongly suspect that in-game cartels exist and are highly profitable. The exact nature and ownership of these cartels is unknown. As gold is frequently sold on e-bay this would appear to be a likely motive. Whether the cartels consist of genuine though obsessional players or whether groups of people are employed in countries with low wage costs as a part of this system is unknown.

I frequently encountered characters camping the auction houses and mailboxes at all hours. These characters were always very low level and frequent sellers of sometimes very high level items. Certainly some organised market fixing exists on every server. How organised it is and whether it exists for real-world profit are questions I was unable to answer!

Amarylla, former 60 shaman, ER Europe

35.

For a long time, my sole source of income (apart from gold disbursed in raids) was conducting arbitrage trade in Cord of Elements (shaman) and Girdle of Uther (paladin). Both belts are nearly equivalent for each faction - rare item for a popular unique faction class that happens to be the best pre-MC BoE piece and drops for both factions. For shamans, it's also part of the pre-MC class armor set. Once a day, I would check the three Auction Houses for either item. With help from a guildie, it was a simple matter to buy low from one faction AH and sell high to the other faction AH. I've found it's best to buy on weekdays when auction prices are low and and sell on weekends when you have most visibility to encourage bidding wars. I'm sure there are other items which probably fit the mold. In the last few months before I retired, the price on the Cord started to level off as more Horde guilds matured and became MC-capable. I'd assume with the introduction of the Zul Gurub instance and new, superior class sets, demand for the Cord has dropped even further. The Girdle remains a superior non-set item so I assume it still commands a premium price on Alliance AH.

36.

>"Atanarjuat" is the Inuit word for “Fast Runner” and is also the name of a young gnome in WoW.

I couldn't care a rats ass about the gnome, but the movie is amazing! A rare case of the quicktime movie site bringing you something new. It's mesmeric, much like "Jesus of Montreal" in that sense. A deeply weird, yet deeply cool film. Highy recommended.

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