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As the WoW Token Turns

You probably heard about the WoW Token already, and might even be aware it was finally implemented yesterday. What you might not know is that it does strange things to people.

Strange, terrible things.

Damn, so close to 2 years.

Damn, so close to 2 years.

What I knew going into this is that I wanted to jump on the opportunity the WoW Token represents, which is: a gold sink for the AH goblin that has (had) everything. Shit man, back in the day I was experimenting with selling stuff like Vial of the Sands, which was a crafted mount that required an extraordinary sunk gold cost right at the start. If it was not profitable, I would move on with the next bit of expensive AH R&D. It wasn’t millions of gold (Glyph spamming the AH was boring), but I was making gold just to make gold, you know? I couldn’t really bring myself to actually spend it on anything as I knew most things would be irrelevant by the next patch anyway; I wasn’t raiding, so who cares?

Queue my slight anxiety at the following error message:

Been down this road before.

Been down this road before.

Was I hacked? Had my sizable stockpile been removed? I mean, I can clearly see my fully-dressed namesake there in the background, so I wasn’t stripped bare. Plus, the Authenticator was still humming along, not to mention my frequent bouts in Hearthstone, which I assume might have been in jeopardy had my characters in WoW been banned. Then again, maybe not. Whatever the case, I wasn’t able to purchase WoW Tokens from the character select screen.

And the story might have begun and ended there. Purchasing game time so I could log in and purchase more game time kinda defeats the purpose of WoW Tokens, yeah? If you’ll notice in the first screenshot though, I was still able to redeem my free 10-day trial of Warlords and take full stock of the situation.

Where I logged off two years ago.

Where I logged off two years ago.


  1. Damn, the default interface is still really terrible.
  2. I’m glad I set up the Curse Client all those years ago to manage my addons.
  3. Oh hey, the Curse Client updates addons but doesn’t save any of the settings.
  4. Recreating an interface I actually want to use is going to be an all-night project.
  5. I’d rather be playing Dead Island: Riptide.
  6. Oh, right, WoW Tokens.

I ended up purchasing four WoW Tokens at around 31,000g apiece. Before I logged off, I poked around the AH some to see the general prices of things. Even though I’ve only been back for a hot minute, my mind already sees the dollar signs creeping in:

It has begun.

I can’t turn that part of my brain off.

It’s just a matter of time until someone writes a tiny add-on that projects these prices in-game.

But will it actually matter in the scheme of things? It’s hard to tell. I ended up buying nine (9!) WoW Tokens before calling it a night. The limit is supposedly ten tokens per month, and I might end up shuffling gold around to do just that. You know, to say that I did.

But then it hit me: I now have nine months of WoW subscription. Assuming I play the game at all, that means pretty much any gold I generate between now and the next expansion will be pure bonus. So while I can still see those dollar signs in a general sense, what they represent (i.e. additional game time) is not nearly as valuable as before I had nine tokens.

By the way, between the time I originally bought four tokens and the last five, the price had dropped to 26,000g.

Now the fun (?) begins.

Now the fun (?) begins.

It shall be an interesting dynamic, yeah? On the one hand, I find it hard to believe that enough people have spent $20 on tokens to sell in the ~2 hours between the first batch I purchased and the second. On the other hand, Blizzard has so warped the playerbase over the years that $60 boosts and $25 character transfers have long ceased raising eyebrows. I personally know a few people who have transferred characters a half-dozen times (or more) following a migrating guild or chasing progression. In that sense, what’s another $20 here and there for gold?

The alternative theory is a bit more grim. Perhaps instead of there being too many extra sellers, maybe there aren’t enough buyers? If there is indeed an account-level limit of 10 tokens, there can’t be a mass-dumping of gold into the economy as even AH barons cap themselves out. We also know that the vast majority of MMO players are poor. So the actual market for these tokens will just be a narrow wedge of players who can make gold easily and don’t care about raiding, else they would be chasing the BoE epics that give them 5% better stats. And as I mentioned before, even these players will likely tap themselves out before too long – once you go past 3-4 months of paid time, what’s a fifth month really worth?

It will be an interesting year for WoW, that’s for sure. And if for some reason it isn’t… well, I’ll just let the account lapse and then revive it once it gets interesting again. For free. Forever.

More Gold Strategies in Wildstar

I successfully purchased my first free month of game-time in Wildstar last week with a buy order of 2.25p. In case you’re wondering, there is indeed a fee for putting up a buy order, because sinkception.

Because why not.

Because why not.

Given how my highest character is level 23, you might be wondering how I did this. In no particular order, here are some of my gold-making methods:

1) Sell all the decor. I’ve gone over this before, but you should also get a feel for what’s on the AH in addition to vendor price. For example, one of the things that put me over the top was a 25g sell order for an Ikthian Holding Tank. I have no idea what that is other than the fact(s) that it vendors for 1.83s, I won it from a Housing Challenge, and there were none on the AH. In retrospect, perhaps I should have put it up for 1p and seen what happened.

2) Similar to the above: selling Dyes. Specifically, selling the Dye Collections (e.g. don’t open them) you can get from Housing Challenge rewards. This actually might be on its way out as a strategy on my server; they used to sell for 5g apiece all day long, but are now approaching 1g. That can still be a lot of money, just like with the nerfed-but-still-75s-apiece Challenge rewards I talked about a few weeks ago. The one that seems to still retain its value on my server is the Ikthia Collection, which hovers around 6g.

3) Tradeskill Reagents. In one of those WoW-esque bizarro scenarios in which you sell things to people capable of making it themselves, I was making a HUGE profit margin with Weaponsmithing, specifically making the Condensers (i.e. Titanium Elemental Condenser). Only Weaponsmiths can make this item and only Weaponsmiths can use it, so… the market for them should literally be zero. And yet it’s not. I actually blame Carbine for this, as their crafting interface is a steaming pile of unintelligible garbage, but I’m not above selling things people shouldn’t really have a need to purchase.

4) Abusing Buy/Sell Orders. This isn’t so much “abuse” as it is “profit-extraction,” but it basically entails noticing when a wide gulf exists between Buy and Sell Orders. For example, many AMPs have a Buy Order of 10s (below vendor price even before fees!) and a Sell Order of 2g or whatever. So I come in, create a Buy Order for 15s out of the goodness of my heart, then turn around and sell any that people inexplicably dump on the AH, for less than the best Sell Order. It’s passive, it’s not guaranteed, and it takes up a lot of your ridiculously limited Trade Orders (25 max)… but it works often enough that I’m on the lookout for such opportunities.

Provide no value, get paid.

Provide no value, get paid.

A rather ridiculous non-AMP example I have is with Roan Steaks. I only actually knew about this meat drop because I was trying to figure out if there was any reason to level cooking, and it was one of the requirements in the Tech Tree. At the time, the ~1s buyout price was nothing compared to the money I was making via Challenge decor vendoring, so I put in a 200 item Buy order at like 1.1s. A week later, I noticed that Roan Steaks had a Sell Order of 30s apiece. I sold all of them. To be clear, I turned 2.2g into 57.8g in the equivalent of a penny stock windfall.

Not only is this still occurring, by the way, I’m pretty sure by this point reselling meat has been responsible for half of my total wealth.

5) Vendoring crafted goods. Tobold actually wrote about this several times, but you can occasionally get X profit per cycle crafting and vendoring the product, depending on AH prices. For example, Fine Titanium Cleaver requires 6 Titanium, a Low Viscosity Flux for 5.27 silver, and a Sapphire Power Core. If you use Refined Sapphire Powers Cores, e.g. a blue one, the result is a blue version of the weapon, which vendors for more. In this case, any time the combination of 6 Titanium and Refined Sapphire Power Cores is less than ~55s, you profit the difference.

Even though this is effectively endless profit, I personally feel I can earn more money faster via other means, up to and including just killing mobs in the world. You can usually pack in more profit by creating your own Power Cores, but at some point it might be better to simply sell the Power Cores than adding the extra step.

6) Vendor everything else. Ever complete a Challenge and then get wildly disappointed by randomly getting the Salvaged Loot bag? It’s not actually a disaster: each of the random crap items you receive sells for 5s or more apiece. The last loot bag I opened actually had 45s worth of “vendor trash.” That’s, you know, almost half a gold right there. Also, if you find yourself looking at regular quest rewards and not seeing an upgrade, make sure to pick the one that vendors for more; it’s almost always the Heavy Armor piece. It all adds up eventually.

7) Runes. I only recently discovered this opportunity, and right now it’s both low-demand and low-competition on my server. Basically, Runes are the equivalent of Gems in WoW but, bizarrely, everyone can craft them. All you need are the mats and some idea of which ones are selling high.



In the above example, Rune of Finesse has a current price of 20g. There aren’t any Buy Orders, so theoretically the demand is questionable. Regardless, four Rune Fragments, two Signs of Air, and one Major Sign of Air costs barely 3g on my server AH. In other words, the potential margins can be HUGE.

Rune Fragments are the typical bottleneck for this, as the only really reliable source of getting them is via Salvaging, which necessarily requires you to gamble the vendor price of the item. If Rune Fragments are expensive on your server though, they can be their own source of profit; just follow this video by Noxious. So, really, you should be covered on both end of things – either Rune Fragments are cheap and you can craft a bunch to sell, or they are expensive and you make money creating them.

8) Level Up. Although this is clearly not the route I have been taking, gold is easier to come by the closer to the cap you get. At level 50, you earn Elder Points for each full XP bar you earn, up to a certain weekly cap. Beyond that? All extra XP is converted to gold. This is on top of gold from daily quests, mob kills, vendoring level 50 loot, and so on. Worst comes to worst, you could vendor the tier 4/5 mats you get from mining (etc) to the tune of 50s+ per node.

So there you have it. Between this guide and my first one, you should not really have any trouble getting a comfortable level of wealth in Wildstar, even before the level cap.

Making Gold in Wildstar

If there is one thing that I hate in MMO websites, it is when people allude to the fact that they are making gold (etc) but never explaining how. What’s the point? Bragging rights? In fact, that frustration was my part of my impetus for creating Player Vs Auction House way back in the day (which later morphed into this site).

Preamble aside, allow me the great pleasure of presenting one bulletproof gold-making method in Wildstar and two more that depend on the obliviousness of AH shoppers:

No assembly (usually) required.

No assembly (usually) required.

“But I’m not an Architect!” “The AH is flooded with these things!”

No, my friend. Sell them to… the vendors.

Bulletproof Method: Challenges

[Edit]: Carbine has since nerfed the vendor prices for many decor items, including the ones listed below, to about 60% of their prior value. The strategy still works, but not as quickly.

Extremely early on while leveling, I noticed that some of the Challenge options were awarding Decor. It’s kinda hard to get a handle on how valuable the Decor would be on the AH without seeing what it looks like, but there was one language I understood immediately: vendor price.

I’m going to be presenting you an Algoroc map to give you a few chances to nab the Chua-Tech Loading Arm (1.31g 79s) and the Shardspire Canyon FABkit (1.23g 74.1s). The following farming route is for Exiles only; I’m going to assume that a similar route exists for Dominion, but I have no such characters. Here it is:

Money Run #1

Money Run #1

In text form:

  1. Swiftpaw Slayer: Kill the wolves. Since this is a fairly early-level quest, you might actually have a hard time finding enough mobs depending on the number of other players.
  2. Skug Egg Destroyer: Kill the spider-looking eggs that alert/explode when you get nearby. You can typically dodge all the normal mobs in here and just kill eggs, which only have a few hundred HP.
  3. Scrap Yard: Pick up items off ground. It is highly recommended that you finish area story first. Once finished, 90% of the mobs in the area go neutral, which makes it considerably easier to pick up the scrap. Don’t bother with trying for gold-level; just click the “x” once you hit silver.
  4. Skittering Slaughter: Kill the spiders. The lone spider mobs seem to count for more, but I’m not sure. As before, don’t bother going higher than silver medal. There’s technically another easy Challenge in here to run through eggs, but it’s only worth about ~24s.

There you go. The exact odds are unknown, but silver medals give you a 4x higher chance of getting the decor. Nab all four, and you’ll walk away with over 5g 3g in vendor loot for something that likely took you less than 10 minutes (assuming mount, already completed area). Challenges can be repeated every 30 minutes. The one downside of this reset period is that time only counts down while you are online.

And why the hell not, here are two more in Celestion that can award the same items:

Bonus Round.

Money Run #2

In text form:

  1. Dancing with Data: Perform a DDR-esque mini-game. If it’s your first time here, you’ll need to complete the quest at the same console to unlock the challenge. I recommend using the default Ctrl-F1-F3 buttons rather than trying to mouse-click them.
  2. Licking Lolli-Lopps: Click the mushrooms. This is actually a bit harder than it sounds, as you receive a low-gravity buff and have a tendency to lose all forward momentum when running around. There are some mushrooms higher up in the trees, but they’re tricky. High chance of out-right failure if there are other people doing this one.

Nab both, walk away with 2.5g. Nab all six, and you’re looking at possibly 7.5g 4.5g every 30 minutes until you can’t stand it any more. There’s always a chance the dice roll against you, but it sure beats whatever the hell else you were doing to make gold.

…or maybe not:

Vendoring the AH

That’s right, my friends. Despite the fact that most items default to their vendor price when you list them, somehow the AH gets stocked up with below vendor priced goods. While I fully expect things to be fixed soon – either with a patch or an add-on that will vacuum all these deals automatically – for now just keep in mind to check the vendor price when looking at items. For example:

Three-way profit.

Three-way profit.

There are actually three ways to profit here.

  1. Straight-up buy items to vendor. I don’t recommend vendoring mats (see below), but if you’re looking for quick cash, this is literally free money.
  2. Check Bid prices to see if they’re beneath vendor. This FABkit, for example, had a bid price of 1g and yet vendors for 1.79g. The guy was actually trying to sell it at 5g or whatever with his Buyout Price, so technically you could try and flip it if that’s your style. For now, I’ll take 79s profit for tying up 1g for ~24 hours or so. Also, keep in mind that just bidding for shit is a good way to nab normally expensive things.
  3. Create Buy Orders for less than vendor. This one is a bit trickier, because there is a minimum charge of 5s for Buy Orders; in other words, you’ll definitely want to put in a large order and otherwise do the math to make sure you’re coming out ahead. In my case, I basically put in an order for 100 of these items (it really doesn’t matter what they are) and each one I get is +1s to me. Low-margin, sure, but the overall principal can scale to whatever size you please.

Here’s a third-level method to making gold, and the one I assume many “I can’t tell you” players are doing:

Crafting the AH

One again, we’re focusing on ultimately selling things to vendors. But instead of looking at mats to vendor, we’re looking at mats to craft into vendor bait. Example:

Something like this, but better.

Something like this, but better.

The above isn’t actually the best example, as the margin is (relatively) razor-thin here; mats cost 15.93s  (2.6*3 + 8.13) and final product vendors for 24.87s, for a net profit of 8.94s. Will you churn through the crafting interface for almost 9s a cycle? Maybe. There’s crafting XP in it for whomever would rather do this than find a tree that drops Ironbark wood. Due to the nature of crafting, you might be able to toss a few copper towards additives that can morph the final product into a slightly more valuable vendor good.

The other professions should work the same in principal, although I don’t currently have a non-beginner Weaponsmith (etc) to try it out. Just keep in mind that all of the various components (Power Cores, etc) have their own costs, and also the vendor price seems to be a function of the overall stats of the item. For example, I “over-charged” a weapon (adding more stat points at the cost of chance of failure) and it increased the vendor price by 2s. Might not sound like much, but these margins can become important later.


In any case, there you go: three methods of making gold in Wildstar. Needless to say, I highly recommend Challenge farming. It is profession agnostic, simple, and relies on nothing more than Carbine not nerfing anything. I have identified six Challenges worth more than a gold apiece, right in the starter zone for Exiles – now that you know about them, you can keep an eye out for similar payout in future Challenges for yourself.

Gold-Making in MoP

I had a guild member ask me what I have been up to so far on the AH side of things, and I figured I may as well share here too.

The backbone of my routine is/was the Saronite Elementium Ghost Iron Shuffle. Basically, you buy stacks of Ghost Iron Ore at X gold, then through Prospecting/Alchemy/Enchanting/etc you turn it into a product worth X+Y gold. Every realm/faction market is different, so individual research will be needed to find the values for X and Y. Right now, for example, I buy Ghost Iron Ore at 4g apiece (and below). This ore ends up being:

  • Smelted into Ghost Iron Bars –> Transmuted into Trillium Bars –> Transmuted into Living Steel
  • Prospected –> Rare gems cut for >60g minimum
  • Prospected –> Uncommon gems turned into necks/rings –> Rare necks/rings procs sold for 300g, uncommon necks/rings Disenchanted for Dust
  • Disenchanted Dust –> Enchanting scrolls and/or sold for mats

After a while, I started getting exceedingly lazy and stopped prospecting altogether. Instead, I keep an eye on the Golden Lotus market and snatch any up that are 50g or less. From there, I keep ~5 of each flask up on the AH and then Transmute the rest into Rare gems which I cut and sell for a minimum of 60g, but generally 100g+. This probably lowers my margins significantly, but once I made it back up to my 300k starting gold reserves (even after gambling ~100k on Darkmoon trinkets), relisting hundreds of auctions a day becomes less and less interesting.

One market I was surprised to find was the Ghost Iron Dragonling. While most Engineers will be dumping a bunch on their way up to 600, what I have found is that in 99% of the cases they list them without bothering to fill in the Cog sockets. Considering the item is damn near useless without them – and taking a cue from someone spamming trade chat for an Engineer to make some – I started selling mine with a variety of useful Cogs already slotted in; configurations like Haste/Mastery/Spirit, Haste/Crit/Mastery, Hit/Expertise/Dodge, and so on. Remarkably, they continue to sell at an absurd mark-up: 750g apiece compared to the empty ~200g models.

Presently, I am buying up a bunch of Ghost Iron Ore again, in preparation for the new Blacksmith changes coming in 5.2, and the whole Lightning Steel Ingot deal. I am somewhat doubtful that the price of ore will jump up in the long-term on my particular backwater server, but I figure I may as well start stockpiling now. In fact, it is far more likely that my server will experience a lack of availability than a lack of affordable goods. Until a week ago, you could not find Blood Spirits at any price, for example.

MoP Thus Far

It has been weeks, and I just hit level 88 on the paladin.

I have established a pretty stable routine based on daily profession cooldowns, which is a good sign to anyone that wishes me to continue logging in everyday. Scribe, Tailor, and then JC/Alchemy. I mentioned before that the AH on Auchindoun-US is pretty garbage, and things have not especially improved since that first impression. Instead, I have adapted. Glyphs, for example, were a market I avoided previously because the value for my time just was not there with the botting and the undercut wars. Now? The competition is basically one baron with a 699g fallback that I undercut by 100-200g depending on my mood. In fact, since I’m just using Auctionator instead of a more robust addon, I simply order all glyphs by highest price and use that as my guide for production.

By the way, many virtual tears were shed when I realized how utterly useless my 50 stacks of banked Twilight Jasmine and hundreds of other Cataclysm herbs became. The two dozen stacks of Pyrite Ore got prospected into gems which turned into rings which turned into nicely priced Enchanting materials. Blackfallow Ink, though? Good for only a single glyph… and Mysterious Fortune Cards. Better than vendoring the herbs, I suppose. I hope.

Something I always find interesting is how much Blizzard changes the paradigms with each expansion. After two straight expansions of alt-friendliness, Mists is the most alt-unfriendly expansion I have ever seen. The whole Spirit of Harmony thing in particular is maddening as someone with alts of every profession. Specialized crafting components being BoP is nothing new (Frozen Orbs say hi), but what is somewhat new is how early in the process they are required for goods. Level 85 blue Blacksmithing weapons requiring 2 Spirits at skill level 545? Why?

Speaking of crafting, I don’t know how I feel about its present trajectory. Blizzard has been simplifying the process for years, of course, but my return after a 1.5-year break makes the culmination stand out. Specifically: do people really like random-stat crafted gear? Or how Ghost Iron is basically the de facto resource for all Blacksmithing? Or completely interchangeable Enchanting ingredients? Some historical aspects of crafting were becoming increasingly obtuse as the game aged – Enchanting rods come to mind – but there is something to be said about requiring more than two moving parts and/or working towards a specific item. Hell, I was immensely relieved when I saw the level 90 crafted JC rings/necklaces were specific things with concrete stats.

Anyway, my immediate goal is to get the paladin to 90 so that I can unlock the farm. While that sentence was a bit depressing to type, it is more painful to me knowing that while I make it a point to log in daily for the profession cooldowns, I am continuously missing all the easy Spirits of Harmony (etc) that I could be gaining while I putz around looking for a new main. I have not tanked on the paladin yet – part of me rebels against the necessity of memorizing yet more mob/boss abilities – but I am definitely not a real fan of the Retribution rotation/kit anymore. At least compared to how fun/fast I was mowing down mobs as the warrior anyway.

Although… well, I did have a bit of a giggle Bubble-Hearthing away from two separate gank attempts. Just like old (TBC)  times.

Things Are Looking Grim

Yeah… I’m not sure about this whole WoW thing anymore. Again.

I have not really bothered logging in since the last time I wrote about it, which means I am less than 10 quests into the expansion on any character. On Tuesday, I had an extra long length of time available to play, so I buckled down for the long-haul. Before heading out of Stormwind again though, I decided to continue feeding Auctionator some additional data and perhaps looking into pimping my 85s a bit with some blue gear. Or, hey! I have alts with professions that need leveled, so why not kill half a dozen birds with some AH stones in the form of buying some crafting mats?

Let’s see here… wait a minute…

Wait, that's TOTAL?

Wait, that’s TOTAL?

I thought Auctionator was bugging out on me when it completed the AH scan in literally two seconds, while also stating there are 52 epic items scanned. “That can’t possibly be correct… can it?” Yes, in fact, it can. A generic search for epic items in all categories reveals a total of 137 auctions (presumably 52 unique items). Now, it is certainly possible that I have missed a major announcement when it comes to scaling back BoE epic items, and Wowhead is telling me there are are only 134 epic non-BoP, non-heroic raid items in this expansion.

But what is being presented to me here is truly ridiculous. Aunchindoun-US was always a low-pop server, but as my early posts under PVsAH demonstrated, there was at least a functioning marketplace where you could be a big fish in a little pond. What I am seeing is not a little pond, it is moist patch of earth. Checking even the expansion staples like Ghost Iron and Green Tea Leaves only confirmed my suspicions. My faction’s AH officially qualifies as a failed state.

This discovery completely killed the mood, and I logged off. It is obviously possible to level up and even raid without a functioning economy, but why would you? I have mentioned before that I want to play games I can invest in, or at least feel the simulation of investment. Knowing the economy is dead, knowing the server is dead, and knowing that Blizzard isn’t ever going to bite the goddamn bullet and put realms like Auchindoun out of its misery means my incentive to push forward is dead. Server transfer, I hear you ask? Literally $250. Otherwise, if I have to abandon all my alts with all their professions (and pay $25 on top of it all) just for opportunity to have fun playing your game on one character… well, I politely decline.

For the past three expansions, Blizzard has been solving all the problem elements of low-pop servers except the one that matters: the server itself. Play BGs with everyone else, run dungeons with everyone else, raid with everyone else, and now even quest with everyone else. Isn’t it about time you let us be with everyone else?

Systemic Concerns About the GW2 Economy

It may seem a bit premature to wonder about the Guild Wars 2 economy, considering the game has only be out for a week or so. But a comment by Chris K over on Syncaine’s GW2 Review post got me thinking about whether the game’s structure makes the economy unlikely to ever “recover” from its current bizzaro state:

“The trend [of crafting being pointless] will not persist. Currently people are levelling crafting only for the xp gains. It is, essentially, buying levels with gold. When the majority of these people hit the level cap then you’ll start seeing a decent economy forming.

At least I hope so…”

I have reported before that the GW2 devs made it a point of pride that the crafting system alone can get you to level 80, assuming you feed an alt enough mats. But Chris makes an astute observation that crafting, even when the market is vendor+1c, has a point: easy, scaled XP gains.

So think about it. Going 1-400 in one profession will net you 10 levels of XP at increasingly large costs (primarily in vendor mats, but also karma recipes, etc). Or you could simply go 1-40 (etc) in all eight crafting professions and net 8 levels’ worth of XP much more easily. Why wouldn’t you do this on all your alts? Or your main for that matter, considering that you continue earning Skill points for “leveling” past 80 to spend as Mystic Forge currency.

Changing crafting professions to a new one is a completely painless process with no upfront costs, and all your progress in a dropped profession is saved. Switching back to even a 400-level profession only sets you back 40s – not a completely trivial amount at current gem exchange rates, but way less than I expected. There are no profession bonuses that I know of, and even if there are BoP gear recipes, the lack of gear progression at endgame makes it a mostly moot point.

All of this + the global Trading Post + the existence of Buy/Sell Orders makes me think it unlikely that the Guild Wars 2 economy will ever meaningfully mature from its current state. I have every incentive to start all eight crafting professions on all five of my character slots, and so does everyone else. Doing exactly that will continue to put huge Demand pressure on low-level mats, even if gold inflation raises prices across the board. I can maybe see higher level gear selling for more than vendor+1c once fewer people are leveling crafting past 125 (etc), but the moment it does there will be ten thousand wannabe goblins squeezing into the margins.

Not that I am particularly complaining about the ease in which I can finance cash shop purchases here. I just think ArenaNet really screwed up in the incentive department, on the same level and scale as Blizzard did with Diablo 3. I never thought I would look back on WoW’s discrete Auction House markets and extreme Profession-hopping disincentives with nostalgia, but here we are.

If there is ever a Crafting system failure metric, the “vendor+1c” phenomenon is it.

Black Market AH

Heeeeeelllllloooo, nurse.

Yes, please.

So the lede here is that Blizzard may be introducing a “Black Market” AH into Mists that is capable of selling, say, the Ashes of Al’ar. We can have the discussion as to whether that devalues the 0.13% mount or not in a moment. What I am more interested right now is in the very notion that:

  1. These mounts (etc) potentially becoming BoE or otherwise Bind on Use.
  2. This being a brilliant money-sink into a rapidly inflationary economy.
  3. Blizzard getting into the business of selling in-game items with in-game currency.

That last point may seem odd (vendors have been around since Day 1), but what I mean is not necessarily the selling of the Ashes of Al’ar, but of any of the mounts/items that otherwise are only obtainable by grueling hours /played.

The initial reaction may be to say that this is counter-intuitive; by definition, what Blizzard is doing is making these items easier to obtain, which not only reduces their scarcity, but allows players to actually eat the carrot. In the long view, players actually accomplishing their goals is bad for business. As the classical argument goes, the Black Market AH should be the equivalent of cheat codes, which hollows out the enjoyment that comes from restrictions and limitations – an infinite life Super Mario Bros is a less fun Super Mario Bros.

However, I must ask this: is a Konami Code-less Contra a less fun Contra?

Contra Title Screen

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, get off my lawn.

Nethaera on the Blizzard forums mentions:

It’s worth noting that since we’re in beta, we’re still looking into what our philosophies are for what should and what shouldn’t be on the Black Market. We’re also trying to discern the frequency/rarity of what shows up there as well.

So perhaps we will not ultimately see the Ashes of Al’ar on the Black Market after all.

But… why shouldn’t we? I brought up Contra because, as anyone who attempted to actually play the game without the Konami Code can attest, the game was stupidly difficult to beat within the default number of lives. So much so, that I imagine few would even try without the Konami Code. Thus, the Konami “cheat code” probably generated more enjoyment in the aggregate than was lost from “bypassing” the difficulty.

In other words, while the “legitimate” owners of Al’ar or the TCG items or whatever Blizzard ends up selling on the Black Market do “lose” something of value (scarcity), I believe the incremental gain by everyone else results in a net positive. Obviously, the average player doesn’t have the 200,000g+ that it will require to actually obtain these items, but they couldn’t get a group together to farm Kael’thas either. What the average player can do is farm herbs or run dailies and otherwise set X amount of gold as a goal to reach in the pursuit of Al’ar; something that was largely unobtainable before, but now has a “reasonable” path towards.

Will these undoubtedly obscene prices encourage gold-sellers? Maybe, maybe not. Just keep in mind that unlike the sale of BoE raiding epics – whose prices already can encourage gold selling – the final gold price of Black Market items are removed from the economy permanently, regardless of whether they can be resold or are BoP from the mailbox. Any reduction in inflation is a net positive for everyone.

So, I say: bring it on. And not just because I have oodles of gold with nothing else to buy.

P.S. The Daily Blink has the right idea:

WTB that Actual Subscriber Data.

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.

WarcraftEcon Interview

The 500k milestone interview is now up at WarcraftEcon.

If you read my 500k post two weeks ago, you will basically already know what is inside, gold-wise. It does have some more personal tidbits, however, including two mini-rant-esque paragraphs that I have hitherto keep out of this space, vis-a-vis the terrible design of Glyphs and my opinion on selling gold guides:

Why did you choose to collect this amount of gold?

My ultimate goal was to hit this level of gold without relying on selling Glyphs, to demonstrate that the worst piece of game design Blizzard has ever released was not necessary to generate wealth. Fundamentally, turning herbs into Glyphs should not be any different than turning herbs into flasks, but I abhor the way Glyphs ended up playing out. Instead of accessibility, here is a profession that discourages competition, encourages collusion, and has a ridiculous add-on requirements before you can even hope to get started. When the “right way” to run a profession is to have three guild banks and process thousands of canceled mail a day, you know it should be time to go back to the white board. […]

How did you learn to do it? Anyone or resource you would like to thank?

I was more or less self-taught by experimentation, back in the TBC days when it seemed like no one really knew what they were doing. I would like to thank the members of my guild, Invictus, for putting up with all the unsolicited, in-game financial advice over the years. Also a shout out to all the gold bloggers selling gold guides for giving me the incentive to try and undermine their business by running a free blog without any advertisements of any kind. It may not be working out that way, but it is the thought that counts.

Regarding the latter, 5+ months into this process I can begin to see the appeal. I remember a post by a blogger a month or two ago talking about they get somewhere around $120/month from ads, “not enough to live on,” but that is basically my car payment, so… wow. Then again, once you start down that road the motivations change, not to mention websites become an unreadable mess without AdBlock running. I checked out JMTC on a particularly slow day from work and could hardly even see the post below a 128×128 pixel ad from IRL gold sellers (height of irony, eh?).

In any case, new viewer or old, welcome to Player Vs Auction House. I post once or twice a week, usually close to midnight EST as I work second shift and enjoy playing WoW for a bit when I get home. Bookmark or blogroll, I hope to see you around.

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