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Gold Capped: Out-of-game auction house access


Every week, Gold Capped (from Basil "Euripides" Berntsen) aims to educate players about how to make money on the auction house. For the inside line on crafting for disenchanting, transmutation, cross-faction arbitrage and more, check in every Wednesday. Also, feel free to email Basil any comments, questions or hate mail!

A couple of months ago, Blizzard released the mobile auction house, which is a feature of the armory that lets you buy and sell without having to log into the game. It's available on mobile devices like the iPod touch and Android handhelds; however, it's easiest to use in a browser with a full-sized screen.

This feature has sparked such innovative out-of-game tools like The Undermine Journal (see Gold Capped coverage), which crawls the armory auction house's listed auctions and provides some excellent aggregate data. Blizzard hasn't officially provided support for third-party applications yet, however they're close enough to in-game addons that I suspect it's only a matter of time.

The armory auction house isn't perfect, and since the beta ended, the product seems to have been left pretty much alone, bugs and all. That said, it accomplishes its purpose: You can buy and sell on your auction house instead of working or studying. Join me after the break to explore methods of work avoidance!

When the mobile auction house was still in beta, I wrote up a guide on how to use it. Everything in there is still true, especially the part about mixing up unit prices and stack prices. A long-time reader and Call to Auction contributor, Tyberiuss, emailed me a screenshot showing some spooky pricing behavior that you should be aware of before jumping in.

Spooky action at a distance

Changing the stack size in the posting panel will change the bid price (but not buyout) and switch your auction from unit price to stack price. I think I speak for every single user when I say that this one single bug can single-handedly claim responsibility for all of the inadvertently lost profits I've suffered in 2010. You should do two things in reaction to this bug:
  • Always check that you've reset it to unit price before you click create.
  • Periodically check out the stackable auctions of your competitors to see if any of them got caught by this bug, allowing you to buy stuff at a deep discount.
That last one has earned a lot of people a lot of money, including whoever it was that bought those 50 stacks of greater cosmics from me at a tenth of market value. For a while, I was so paranoid that I always searched for my new auctions before listing another batch, just to make sure.

Stalking without entering

I cautioned against stalking the AH in my initial article; however, I'm a convert. I will not sit in front of the AH (whether via armory or in game) refreshing for undercuts, but the time cost to doing a quick doublecheck is now so low that it makes sense for me on certain types of products. Here's the comparison:
  • Before the armory AH, I had to log in to each character, run to the auctioneer, search for my auction, cancel it if it had been undercut, run to the mail, pick up the item, run back, and relist with a new undercut.
  • Since the armory AH, I can click "search" directly from my auctions and cancel any undercuts from the same panel. Relisting can be done straight from my mailbox.
What kind of products does this make sense for? I'll give you a hint: if you need QA3 to manage posting, it's probably not worth it. Any market with a bunch of different types of items at different costs will quickly become more work this way than it would be in game, especially since you can intelligently mass cancel with QA3 in game. What's the sweet spot, then? Markets that have only a few types of items with higher volume: meta gems, belt buckles, flasks, raw mats, food, epics, etc.

My argument against wasting time "babysitting" auctions still stands. However, the new reality is that most serious auctioneers have the armory auction house, and if you don't take advantage of the faster turnaround to check in more frequently, they will, and you'll see more of your stock come back unsold.

Where will this lead?

I imagine that if the admin of The Undermine Journal can build a product that makes Blizzard's auction data stand up and bark, it would be possible for someone to write a better interface for the tool. Also, it's probably just a matter of time until we have price alerts built into The Undermine Journal, which could add a whole new level of reactive automation to the AH game. Imagine having an email trigger a script that would automatically go and buy out some stock whenever it hits a certain price low.

No matter what else they do, I sincerely hope that Blizzard eventually makes some of the awesome features available to those who pay the premium available as base functionality of the in-game AH. I'd love to be able to clear out my entire mailbox of money with a single click, relist straight from my expired auction mail without having to log out, and access the neutral auction house without having to park an alt there.

Maximize your profits with more advice from Gold Capped, plus the author's Call to Auction podcast. Do you have questions about selling, reselling and building your financial empire on the auction house? Basil is now taking questions for a special series, "Ask an auctioneer," at basil@wow.com.

Filed under: Economy, Gold Capped

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