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Posts with tag economy

Zombies are bad for the economy


It's a good thing the zombies are going away now, isn't it? For the past few days, I noticed -- or rather my money-making wife noticed -- that the undead throng was badly tanking Azerothian commerce. The reason is that a lot of players' bankers and Auction House entrepreneurs are low-level alts that succumbed easily to the plague and random zombie attacks. When a Level 65 city guard turned into a zombie, it would naturally aggro the low-level bank mules and auction house regulars, killing them instantly. It didn't help that most players-turned-minions-of-the-Scourge usually targeted the Banks and Auction Houses for infection. Actually, we even recommended it as the best course of action as a (not so) mindless ghoul.

When the disease grew potent enough to transform anyone it infected within a minute, it became practically impossible to accomplish anything. Especially not with Argent Healers calling for a hasty retreat. Entire cities -- or key areas of cities -- were quickly transformed into ghoulish carnivals and it was simply too bothersome to do any business. As a result, players couldn't put anything up on the Auction House nor could anyone buy anything, either, slowing commerce to a crawl. My wife's daily Auction House profits of upwards 500 Gold dwindled down to nary a copper with her alt being unable to collect from the mailbox, move stuff from the bank, or scan the Auction House, as she died istantly to roving zombies.

What's next in store for us? Did Blizzard really cave in to the demands of players who felt that the World Event disrupted their normal routine too much? Or is there something more devious waiting in the wings? I know my wife was so upset by being unable to conduct her business that she decided to hold off from logging in at least until the event died down. Now that the zombie infestation seems to be under control, perhaps business will pick up again. Or maybe not, depending on what Blizzard has prepared for Azeroth. One thing's for sure, these Dawn of the Dead-type events certainly take a bite out of the economy.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Economy, Wrath of the Lich King

Insider Trader: Professions from the Wrath alpha

This week, Insider Trader will be taking a further look into the future of professions in World of Warcraft.

Although Wrath of the Lich King is still only in alpha testing, what little we do know, though it might change, helps us anticipate the direction Blizzard is taking.

In fact, we can even begin to see what the army of Death Knight Inscribers might take as their second profession, which will undoubtedly have repercussions on the market.

Not only will the amount of competition skyrocket, but opportunities to make a buck selling to lazy Death Knights will abound.

For these and more details, head on through the break.

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Filed under: Herbalism, Fishing, Cooking, First Aid, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Economy, Expansions, Making money, Insider Trader (Professions), Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King, Inscription

Revisiting epic flyer costs

Drysc has written a book about epic flying mount costs on the forums -- there aren't many goldsinks left in the game, but that 5000g you've got to pay for an epic flying mount is still there for sure (just ask anyone who doesn't have one).

He says that yes, the flying mount is definitely worth it (it makes playing the game much faster, since most of the time spent in the game is actually travel anyway), but also that actually obtaining an epic flyer was always meant to be optional -- only for players who want to "go the extra mile." Not sure how he can say both of those things at the same time, but there you go. He also says the main consideration in the cost wasn't any effect on the economy, but rather simply making sure that it took a certain amount of time for players to obtain all that gold -- they averaged how quickly players could pick up gold versus how long they wanted players to work for the mount, and arrived at 5000g.

There is some (kind of) good news on the horizon for players who don't want to spend all that money, however. If and/or when Blizzard releases a higher riding skill, Drysc says they'll probably drop the price on this one. Of course, that doesn't really tell us anything concrete -- with the onset of siege vehicles, there may be all kinds of changes to how riding and driving works in the game. Until then, keep grinding, because apparently the only thing that will get you flying fast is a whole lot of gold.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Economy, Factions, Making money

Do botters really matter?

Blizzard has had the big botting ban now in place for a couple of weeks, and there are a few people I've noticed who are not online. Additionally I've noticed a change in the auction house price. There are some items like low level enchanting mats that are going for tons more, and others such as high level crafting mats which are going for much less. This is outside of the normal market fluctuations on my server, and many people attribute to the removal of botters.

This could be a fallacy of causation – the removal of botters might not have lead to the shakeup at the auction house. There really is no way to prove it, other than the circumstantial evidence of price fluctuations timed with the removal of often-botted items. And in the end, these price fluctuations end up being a wash anyways – the extra that is spent on the lower level items is more than likely offset by the cheaper higher level items.

Between the recent wave of bannings and the seemingly nominal impact the ban has had on the overall economy, this begs the questions – do botters really matter? And should Blizzard just ignore them?

While it might seem like the answer is a firm no, let's take a look at some of the underlying reasons and assumptions that people bot and why it's considered bad. In particular we'll look at reasons surrounding leveling, playing the economy, and engaging in PvP.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Economy, PvP, Features, Leveling

The art of the Arena point sell


What's a good way to earn Gold? Some PvP players seem to think that Arena point selling is a viable option. As detrimental it is to the spirit of competition and working for achievements, it currently does not qualify as a violation of Blizzard's Terms of Use. This small loophole has helped make it a rampant, although unsupported and unsavory, practice. It's an old practice that dates back from Season 1. There are a couple of ways by which players sell Arena points. One is through outright sale of a moderately ranked team. Players take a team to a decent ranking of, say, 1800-2000, and sell the team wholesale, transferring leadership of the team to the purchaser. Depending on the size of the team, costs can vary. A 1900 2v2 team can sell for maybe 900 Gold, while a 3v3 team can go for about 1,300 Gold, and a 5v5 will cost anywhere from 1,700 to 2,000 Gold.

The one caveat of team buying is that players will almost never get what they're paying for. The irony is that those who purchase teams are almost never equipped or skilled to compete at the level they're purchasing. These players often end up tanking their newly-bought team a couple of hundred points just to complete the minimum 10 games to qualify for Arena point gain. In this way, team purchases are an unwise investment unless players can competitively maintain the team's rating. In some dastardly cases, very high-rated teams are bought by win traders who use the purchase to inflate their team ratings.

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Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Arena

Buyer beware in the Auction House

After a player complains that they mistakenly paid 75g for wool cloth in the Auction House, Drysc confirms that Blizzard is all about caveat emptor: the auction house market is all about open trade, so if you buy something for the wrong price, it's all on you.

This, of course, leaves the system fairly open to rampant fraud -- I know someone on another server who would often buy anything epic on the AH, day in and day out, and inflate the price an extra thousand gold. In many cases, the free market (which I'm pretty sure this is, right economists?) can usually correct itself -- you have to stay on top of a certain market if you plan to dominate it, since if anyone posts a lower price than you, you'll lose out on a sale. But in terms of a fraud -- the original poster in the thread claims that no one would ever have a serious reason to sell wool for 75g -- it's always "be careful what you click." Blizzard isn't completely laissez-faire when it comes to the economy, of course; they control the flow of gold in all kinds of ways. But when it comes to the auction house, you're on your own.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Making money

Blizzard on Live Gamer: No way, no how

I've been reporting on our sister site Massively (just like WoW Insider, but for all MMOs) about Live Gamer, a startup that claims to be legitimizing RMT (real-money trading, which is spending real money on virtual items) in MMOs. But while there are a few big names supporting them already (Funcom, which is making Age of Conan, and Sony, which makes lots of different MMOs, including all the Everquests), there is one name that's missing from their supporters: Blizzard.

And now we've heard that that's not going to change anytime soon. A "Blizzard rep" says in no uncertain terms that they're not interesting in RMT at all, in a sanctioned form or otherwise. "Not only do we believe that doing so would be illegal," they say, "but it also has the potential to damage the game economy and overall experience for the many thousands of others who play World of Warcraft for fun." Wow. Tell us how you really feel.

If I can be biased for a moment, that's great to hear. Blizzard has definitely been taking steps to make RMT obsolete rather than legit (by doing things like adding in daily quests and requiring things other than gold-- reputation, turn-ins-- to buy virtual items). There's no question that there's a lot of money to be made in RMT-- every day, virtual items seems to gain more and more real world value. But it's good to hear that Blizzard is invested in making their game fun, not selling the virtual items they create.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Economy

The future of Activision Blizzard

So now that the news has broken, the CEO has been interviewed, and the dust has settled on this weekend's merger, it's time to ask the big question: Why? Blizzard and Vivendi are on top of the world in terms of their field right now. Why would they combine with Activision, especially if, as they claim, nothing at all is changing? Why go to all the trouble if it'll make no difference in either company's business?

And the answer-- in my analysis-- is, as usual with most mergers: money. The fact is that Activision wants to be the biggest gaming company in the world. They want it all-- consoles, PC games, you name it-- and connecting with Blizzard helps them get a big part of that. World of Warcraft has turned Blizzard from a quality game designer into a videogame powerhouse, and Activision, in reaching for the top, has invited Blizzard on their team.

Blizzard will profit from it as well-- Activision knows how to get games published and marketed (just look at Guitar Hero III, which has done incredibly well for being a game that was not only not made by the original developer, but actually released up against a strong competitor made by the original developer). Blizzard knows how to make great games, and Activision knows how to release them, so both companies obviously think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

But is it?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items

Breakfast topic: How can you tell a gold farmer?

A couple of days ago, I did something that I never, ever do in WoW. I ran past someone fighting a mob and took a ore deposit. Why did I commit this evil deed? Because the other player was a female troll hunter with a letter-salad name and a pet named "Cat" -- in other words, someone I strongly suspected of being a gold farmer.

After she said "lol" and ran away, I got to thinking about gold farmers. (Edited to add: After the lol, I asked if she was going for the ore and she said no. Armory also provided that her only prof was skinning. I'm not quite as evil as you may believe.) This led to today's two-part breakfast topic: How do you tell a gold farmer, and what do you do about them when you find them?

I have a sort of mental checklist for suspected gold farmers:

  • Hunter
  • Female
  • Blood elf/night elf/troll
  • Cat named "Cat"/Boar named "Boar"
  • Beast Mastery in the Armory
  • Only profession is skinning
  • Inappropriate gear/Appropriate gear that is all BOEs
  • Random name
  • Will never go away when you attack and will never beat you in a fight

I usually don't do anything about them unless they're farming the stuff I need, in which case I'll report them. I'll also grab mines and other nodes from beneath their feet. How do you tell a gold farmer apart, and what do you do when you find one?

Filed under: Economy, Breakfast Topics

Inside the accounting files of NPCs

I've already said a few times that I'd love to see Blizzard's population figures, but a query (from an MVP, strangely enough) brings up another set of figures that I wouldn't mind a look at: NPC vendor sales numbers. Crepe wants to know how many items Griftah has sold (and how many hula dolls he sells post 2.3), but unfortunately, Nethaera deflects the question and leaves us with nothing. Additionally, I'd like to know how many heroic badges G'eras is going through on any given night-- maybe the fact that he's not selling many of his Heroic items is the reason why Blizzard is going to start dropping Badges in both Karazhan and Zul'Aman next week.

Blizzard has given us peeks at a few numbers behind the game, but they haven't updated that page since it went up (and with all the exceptions on those lists, it's not much help anyway). There is a whole new world of statistics to be had in Outland, and it'd be nice for Blizzard to let us at just a few of the most interesting ones.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Economy, NPCs

Things I learned from WoW

Sydney has a cool list over on WoW Ladies LJ, about what she learned from videogames, and most of the items sound specifically like they're from World of Warcraft. Diplomacy and Leadership are probably pretty obvious, and we've already heard that some companies are seeing a stint as a GL in WoW as a bonus to the resume. But Sydney also learned the value of a savings account (because saving up for an epic mount might be the biggest amount of saving some players have done), math and economics from WoW. There's no question that the math can get pretty complicated, and if you can wrap your head around how much agility you need to break 25% on your Dodge, you're definitely on top of algebra, if not a little bit of calculus.

But the two items I was most surprised by were that Sydney says she learned vocabulary and problem-solving from videogames. I don't doubt at all that they're true, but learning vocabulary is not something that's normally expected from playing games, either online or offline. Still, words like "mitigate" (her example) are used all the time when theorycrafting, and while there are a lot of jargon words floating around (you'll probably never use "tanking" in a real life conversation), just using that vocabulary can help. And problem-solving is obvious, not just in WoW, but in all videogames-- you could argue that all videogaming is simply being presented with a problem for the player to solve.

I'm not saying that we should all play WoW all the time instead of going to school (sorry kids). But when people with self-control and a good center play videogames (as opposed to people who don't), all kinds of good can happen.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Economy

A look back at the sale of Wowhead.com

Now that we've had a few days to think about it, I think it's worth taking a bigger look at the Wowhead acqusition news that broke over the weekend. On Friday evening, a blogger named Ahmed Farooq posted that as a person who'd previously worked to acquire websites for goldseller IGE, he'd heard from "three different sources," all unnamed, that Wowhead had sold to Affinity Media for $1 million. That's when we reported on it, and more than a few other sites also picked up the story. We also were one of the first sites to report in conjunction that Affinity Media had supposedly sold IGE, and claimed they were no longer in the business of goldselling.

On Saturday, Wowhead posted a confirmation on their site, and then this Q&A with their CEO and the head of Affinity Media, John Maffei. They claim to be "100% sure" that since Affinity reportedly sold IGE, Wowhead will never carry gold ads. Farooq, the original tipster, posted an update on his site that says Affinity was "still very much involved with IGE," but Wowhead's Q&A says "the individual who leaked the story about the Wowhead sale" (apparently Farooq) also "owns competitive content properties," including a real-money trading (goldselling) site, and calls the act of that person spreading rumors about Wowhead "the height of hypocrisy." By all appearances, Affinity Media is no longer associated with IGE at all, and at the moment, the proof is in the pudding: there are currently no gold ads on Wowhead or Thottbot.

As for IGE, this report about the CEO at the Virtual Goods Summit makes it seem as though there are stormy waters ahead for their company and the entire gold selling market.

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Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Economy, Guides

Weekly AH data on Curse

This is interesting -- I had no idea they were doing it, anyway. Apparently Curse Gaming has been running a weekly story where they post the median global sale prices (from WoWEcon) on all sorts of high-selling commodities. It's a nice read, and helps me get a feel for how my server is compared to the global average, as well as giving me a touchstone for how to price things.

It's broken down into categories, like flasks, food, recipes, trade goods, etc. There aren't a lot of surprises on the list (well, I spend a fair amount of time at the AH, so that might just be me). Mage books top the spellbook list, as always -- why is that? Perhaps it's because mage books teach new ranks of core spells like Conjure Water, whereas other classes' books just tend to teach group versions of buffs; you can get by longer without those. There's an interesting discrepancy between Fel Armaments, at around 20g, and Arcane Tomes, at about 17g. I guess Aldor is more popular than Scryer. Fel Iron is worth considerably more on my server than usual, though most other prices are about in line.

In the recipes section, it looks like Blacksmithing has the most in-demand stuff -- people are paying 1200g for Plans: Dirge, and 1000g for three other plans. None of the other professions have any recipes that high. Anyway, go check out the full list over at Curse -- it's pretty neat, and has coloring depicting whether the price of an item has risen or fallen since the previous week. Thanks, Curse people, this is a nice resource.

Filed under: Ranking, News items, Economy

Ask WoW Insider: Are BoE drops still worth selling on the AH?

It's time once again for our weekly edition of Ask WoW Insider. Last week we asked you about WoW client performance on a Mac, and this week reader MrRaist wonders about the usefulness of listing BoE drops on the auction house after the expansion:
My question to you is: Are BOE drops still worth it? It seems that anything that drops for me, green or blue, never seems to sell anymore on the AH. Most quests give better rewards than BOE drops, and I end up vendoring the drops for instant cash, rather than paying the AH fees. Even a decent BOE blue drop was vendored after 7 or 8 shots at the AH, lowering the price every time. Consumables still sell really well, but not weapons and such. What is WOW Insider's thoughts?
What's been your experience with selling your BoE drops since the expansion -- harder? easier? Do you have any tips for selling items -- set at lower buyouts? advertise in trade channel instead of putting on the AH? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and send us your questions for next week to ask AT wowinsider DOT com.

Filed under: Economy, The Burning Crusade, Ask WoW Insider, Making money

Why the IRS won't invade Azeroth

The Weekly Standard is the latest media publication to take up the flag on an interesting but so far theoretical subject: the idea of placing taxes on goods bought and sold in online universes, including our own World of Warcraft. Their latest issue has a look at the markets, both virtual and real, appearing around online games, and they claim the markets are "much bigger than you might expect."

They quote both CNET and Wired on studies of the interaction between real and virtual dollars inside games like Project Entropia and Second Life, and come up with what seems like a pretty inflated figure to me: $880 million to $1 billion annually in the market for virtual goods. That, they say, is a big target for the IRS to go after. They end on a recent summit, at which an economist apparently claimed he was striving to determine "what is a taxable event in a virtual world."

Interesting article, even though it does get a little bit too overspeculative at the end. For those of you who want it, my analysis is after the break.

[ Thanks, Vince! ]

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Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Economy

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