That Which Has No Life
The other day I noticed I was undercut on cut gems within approximately 30 seconds of posting. Could be a coincidence, right? At the time I was talking within guild about The Undermine Journal and the voyeuristic possibilities (“Hey, your sister posts auctions only between 7pm and 11pm Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat”), so I decided to go ahead and eyeball my competition:
I actually knew about this guy for a while, as he is “that guy” on my server who has 3+ different toons with slightly different spellings who runs a Glyph racket. This particular specimen is in the
blood diamond gem market and appears to be ran by a bot – even if he was unemployed, there simply is no way that he would be posting ~40 auctions every hour on the hour, seven days a week.
The question becomes: short of acquiring the Sword of A Thousand Truths, how does one compete with this?
Answer: the only winning move is not to play.
More specifically, what you do not do is play the game on someone else’s terms, especially if they are bad terms. Is it possible to combat this seller? Sure. There is a lot of different things you can do to try and counteract addon automation and/or botting behavior. For example, most of these programs/addons have threshold limits you can probe with trial and error – other gold blogs have detailed this specific gambit, in divining a competitor’s threshold and then “tricking” him into posting a bunch of stock at that price, then buying him out and relisting.
My issue is that fighting someone with a competitive advantage is almost never worth it in the long-term. This does not mean you have to give up making any gold in a particular market, it just means you have to start thinking in shorter terms. This guy undercut my five auctions of 275g Timeless Demonseyes with his own three auctions at 274g 99s 90c within one minute of my posting them. I don’t believe this market is deep enough to sell four of them in a given day* so I am left with the dilemma of whether to just leave them up or cancel and repost. What I ended up doing was canceling and reposting them for 225g each. As I talked about in my Foundation article on undercutting, one of the (emotional) advantages of the savage undercut is the fact that even if your competition continues undercutting you, in very real terms you have taken gold out of their bags. In this case, if the bot cancels and reposts, he loses his own deposit fee (which matches mine) + 50g per gem. That 50g doesn’t go into my pocket of course, but by driving down the profit margin I potentially discourage the bot while also reducing my own desire to even be in this particular market.
There is a tendency to look at the Auction House game as being Player Vs Player. In some respects, it certainly can be. As the title of the blog suggests though, I consider it simply to be Player Vs Auction House. Part of that philosophy is to not shoot for Pyrrhic Victories when I am just here to make some gold. If someone wants to be an AH hero, the floor is all yours – I will quietly exit an overextended market and find the lower-hanging fruit elsewhere or start exploring un(der)developed ones.
I am curious as to what other peoples’ gut reactions are though. If you noticed someone like Harry Botter** muscling into a market like this, what would be your response, if any? Would you try to undermine him? Fight fire with fire? Mosey out of town? Go to the mattresses? Let me know in the comments below.
*The first question that should pop into your head after you read that is “Hey, if you don’t think the market is deep enough for 4 Timeless gem sales, why would you post 5 of them?” I wish I could respond with “It was a test to see if you were paying attention” but it was honestly more a combination of oversight and laziness. Or possibly optimism.
**It occurs to me that I might be reading TUJ’s “heat map” wrong and/or having an overly broad definition of botting. My guildie and I figured out that canceling auctions registers as “sold auctions” on TUJ, for example.