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Nov 19, 2005

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Comments

1.

Nice interview and good guides. I've come to pretty much the same conclusions while I've been playing the market. Others grind mobs for gold, I grind the auction house.

By far the easiest, most time-efficient and effortless way to earn money in WoW AH is arbitrage. There are several items which are used only by a profession which is available for only one faction (Lightforge... for Alliance, ...of Elements for Horde), but these items drop in end-game instance for both sides. So when Cord of Elements drops on Alliance side they usually put it up on Alliance AH where it doesn't sell at all.

Most people either don't know it's meant for Horde shamans or they can't be bothered to go across the world to the cross-faction AH. That's where I come in. I buy the Cord from Alliance AH and send them to my alt who puts them up on cross-faction AH. I make 5-25g on each of them. At the same time the alt checks if there's any good prices on Lightforge at the cross-faction AH and puts them up on Alliance AH.

This is not something which will make you rich, but it's certainly something that pays the repair bills.

2.

When I began to play WoW last year I quickly learned the ways of the AH as I'm also interested in Economic PVP.

Naturally the weakness of all Capitalist sytems is Cartels/Price Fixing so I set about exploiting it the good old fashion OPEC way. I found semi-scarce commodities and watched them with Excel for a week. I made special note of who the players were and their price points. After establishing which commodities had the fastest sell rate/highest demand - disappearing before their time went to "short" - I contacted the top market player for the specific commodity.

This is where a highly developed nack for Social Engineering comes in, which is beyond the scope of this comment. Essentially I play on the top players greed and fear of losing his hot money maker; offering that if we work together we can both get rich which wouldn't be the case if we worked against one another. I never failed to make a new friend and thus we begain to maintain a steadily increasing selling point for the commodity.

This was before Auctioneer, and I no longer play WoW, but the principle should still work if you have a basic understanding of economics and a strong understanding of human nature.

3.

Thanks for the info. I am an avid AH trader. I have grown up on Skinning/Leatherworking, but I don't think those are very profitable, generally. Right now I am level 44, and I agree that the leveling grind is not for me. I have been an avid user of percentless since it came out. At first, it was incredibly profitable. I started using it at around 39 when I had 30g to my name and my mount just around the corner. Within a day, I was able to make it up to 100g through trading. Since then, I have gone through about 400 gold in 5 levels, and I have 150g bank. However, the market has dried up a little bit recently. It is getting much harder to find highly profitable items. Thanks for the info on playing the players. I will use that to my advantage.

4.

I'd like to try to shift the conversation away from a "WoW How To" if y'all don't mind...

Are there any games that offer in-game character types or skills that improve the economic ability of the player? It would be easy for Blizzard to offer cheaper auctions or seller features for example. In WoW terms I guess this would be a fourth skill tree available to all players.

Other meta-game professions seem possible too. Dungeon masters could play monsters to give players more challenging encouters. Artists could create new 3D models and/or textures for game objects.

These meta-game professions seem more interesting and rewarding than the in-game professions. Would they break the game?

5.

Eve Online has market skills and all sorts of other skills that could be said to improve the economic ability of the player, as well as a much richer manufacturing (/crafting) system. I think it's a much more interesting platform for the study of economic gameplay than WoW.

As for other meta-professions, I'd have to say that Second Life must be the king of meta-gaming, but that said, I don't see many other games adopting user submitted content for things like art assets very readily. The obvious issue is that most games want to maintain a consistent quality and look, and that's a very hard thing to manage once if you believe that most user submitted content is just not going to be up to scratch.

6.

It is very striking how easy it is to (apparently) manipulate the AH. My personal poorly controlled experiment didn't start until after Auctioneer became popular, so I can't say for sure how much is due to Auctioneer and how much is due to the nature of the game.

I say it's striking because WoW and the AH look like they not be very manipulatable. Cartels should be hard to maintain because there's anonymity, and entry is pretty easy It's certainly not costless to skill up in a new profession, but it's easy and fast for the craft professions given a decent cash stake. (Is it easier to manipulate the markets for gathering professions' output since those do require time to skill up? Or simply because crafted products (weapons, etc.) really are substitutable while recipes require specific gathered inputs?)

In any case, entry is pretty easy, and cartel enforcement should be very hard given anonymity. One explanation is that the market is too small for normal economic forces to come into play. But one of the lessons which has come out of a number of economic experiments is that the "large number of buyers and sellers" supposedly needed for efficient markets is often actually quite small (it depends on the specifics of the market, but in some cases you get clear efficiency with 4 buyers and 4 sellers). The WoW economy is much larger than this. Even if you don't allow for people entering a market, there's a good number of people involved on both sides of most commodities.

So, what is it? Is it just too costly for people who are in it for hack'n'slash to spend their time making sure they get a fair price?

Why aren't there as many stories about people manipulating prices *down*, to support their appetites for some commodity?

And does the same thing go on in other games? Or are there features of the markets in other games which prevent it?

7.

In my recent paper in the USF IP Law Bulletin, there's a brief mention of my career as a member of a leather padding cartel, which began, really, as conscious parallelism, at least on my part, but ultimately I got tired of signalling and just started telling folks I'd match their prices at X, and we gelled.

It worked well because demand was high enough, generally, to allow us to sweep up the small-fry who tried to undercut us, and co-opt the new entrants into the market if they grew too large to swallow up.

Now and again, I make some leather padding, even though the price is no longer worth my time, and I undercut the market (some of the sellers are my old co-conspirators) and almost universally, the cartel, not a consumer, buys me out overnight.

(This is also a handy excuse to publicize my recently published paper, which I hope the management here posts once USF has the issue on its IP Law Bulletin site)

Andy

8.

Of course, I guess actually posting the URL would help:

http://home.pacbell.net/andyhre/copyright_and_eq_final.doc

9.

Before the casual reader of this thread jumps off to try and make a ton 'o money, a caveat that needs to be highlit and underlined (just in case all you see are $$$ signs.)

It has bee mentioned but not explicitly enough. I really want to stress that before you go about controlling a market sector, you really need to know that sector first. My area of expertise is crafting recipes, and I have made a tremendous amount of gold from that sector.

The reason I stress this is for the very flaws Auctioneer has which are mentioned in this article. It is a great tool, but it is a only a tool. It is a hammer that can just as effectively smack you on the thumb as drive a nail into wood. If you don't know your sector, you will be wasting a lot of gold.

The AH is a fantastic mini-game, and the only thing that keeps me playing after leveling four 60 characters. The funny thing is that except for the AH game, I really have nothing I spend my gold on anymore... that's kind of sad in a way.

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