Mobile AH Game Changer?

[Edit: I may or may not have been a bit premature. If the change below doesn’t auto-update the price as I assumed (in a sort of reverse-eBay bidder style), it merely matches the functionality of addons like Auctionator et tal. Apologies for the excitement, although if Blizzard continues down a road of making canceling/relisting easier, it could begin to cross over into premium competitive advantage.]

This is, by far, one of the most game changing features to the World of Warcraft AH I could ever imagine:

The iPhone World of Warcraft Mobile Armory has just been updated! Check out all the improvements we’ve included in the latest version:

  • Automatic price undercutting: Set the default buyout price of your auctions to match or undercut the current lowest buyout price for an item.
  • etc (source)

In one fell swoop, Blizzard has introduced a premium feature that simultaneously grants an unbeatable competitive advantage that destroys an entire economic methodology AND damn near makes AH botting obsolete. And possibly even entire addons. What am I talking about? I am talking about how AH barons can become immune to undercutting for $3/month. The simplicity and genius of it boggles my mind.

Just think about the glyph industry in WoW. The entirety of blog posts and guides devoted to becoming a captain of the glyph industry revolves around pushing other players out of the glyph market. Why? Because glyphs, by their very nature, are easy to create and have trivial listing fees. If I post a glyph for 200g and someone else lists the same glyph for 199g99s99c, I just lost that sale. In order to recapture it, I will have to cancel my undercut listing(s), collect the mail, and then go to AH and A) undercut the other guy by 1 copper, B) undercut deeply, or C) engage in economic/psychological PvP to drive this guy from the market.

Simply put, this changes everything. There are thousands of articles across the internet about setting up addons like Zero Auctions (etc) in creating Fallback prices and thresholds and so on, which this change completely invalidates. Toss your Glyph of X on the Mobile AH for 300g and set the threshold at 20g (or whatever). If someone pulls a 299g99s99c, they instantly get undercut by you. While they are spending time canceling, emptying the mailbox, and relisting, you are doing nothing. Relist goes up to 299g99s97c, automatically undercut again. There is no way to beat this. No longer will you be checking your glyphs 2-3 times a day, doing 12 hour posts, posting at 6 AM or other odd hours, emptying thousands of mails, etc. Assuming you set a sale threshold you are willing to accept, camping the AH as an economic strategy becomes obsolete. I am trying to come up with historical examples of strategies that have becomes this obsolete… and I am drawing a blank. Knights in full plate armor against the crossbow? Castles as defensive structures after gunpowder? Trench warfare after the invention of mustard gas?

One of the biggest reasons to NOT use the Mobile AH feature, aside from it costing $3/month, was how it was always more efficient and convenient to use your existing addons. While I do not think the Mobile AH is particularly well-suited for heavy AH usage interface-wise, the auto-undercut feature alone makes not using it impossible in an environment where anyone is. Forget glyphs for a second… what about gems or epics or other goods with non-insignificant deposit fees? I assume the auto-undercut feature will not charge you each time (that seems too large a trap for an unwary premium feature user), but if that is the case then you can literally bleed other stubborn goblins dry as they cancel and relist items with Xg deposits. Assuming the undercut logic is programmed well, you may not even need to care what the market price is for a good at all: just list everything starting at 300g and let it auto-adjust downwards for you.

The one negative implication – aside from people who forgo the app and to whom this entire announcement spells economic ruin – is when you get one or more persons with this app in the same market: without collusion, prices will automatically bottom out at the lowest threshold. Good news for the average player, of course, but bad news for anyone looking for margins that justify the crafting time. Then again, perhaps you could bait someone with this app into automatically bottoming out their prices, buying all the stock, and then relisting higher as they blithely go about enjoying their day in the knowledge that the app is doing their work for them. So perhaps some of the old strategies can still work…

In any case, this feels like a strange new economic world, my friends.

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Posted on September 2, 2011, in WoW and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I took this to mean that, at the time of posting, the app can automatically price your item to be the lowest (in much the same way that many AH add-ons do already).

    I find it hard to believe that Blizzard would introduce the change you suggest – one that drastically alters the economic minigame – so blithely.

    • Now that you mention it, you are likely correct. I have included an Edit at the top, and this post seems excessively excitable in retrospect.

  2. If you were right and the app allowed you to automatically undercut, you could see how the teardown of a rule (you cannot automatically undercut) destroys an entire journey. In retrospect I could ask you: was thinking about the perfect AH strategy fun ? ;)

    • There actually is nothing at all fun about trying to work around AH campers, especially given the prevalence of AH botting. Working out “glyph wall” style strategies might have (briefly) been fun and considered a journey, but by and large the journey part of the AH was finding deals and exploring markets. Once the items were listed, the meaningful part of the journey was over.

      The only real case against auto-undercuts in the form I was imagining when I first read the update is how profit margins would plummet, removing/diminishing the goal aspect. Of course, on smaller servers like Auchindoun, there were still be profitable markets considering that not everyone even with this app would have the mental bandwidth (or the alts) necessary to be everywhere. If I find a better deal on mats, I can have a lower threshold than someone else, etc.