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5 not-so-simple ways Blizzard can fix the World of Warcraft Auction House

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or sacrificing your firstborn to him. And be sure to catch the return of Basil and Fox's podcast, Call to Auction!

Is the World of Warcraft economy broken? Not for everyone. Plenty of people get exactly what they need out of the existing WoW economy. High volumes. Quick sales. Strong profits.

For some, though, the economy is terribly broken. Plenty of folks are marooned on low-population servers with economies that crawl (if an economy even exists at all). There are few sellers and even fewer buyers. These players need help, and Blizzard isn't acting.

But what exactly can Blizzard do to help? Simple, small solutions won't help -- problems this big call for major action. And that's exactly what today's column is all about: major reforms to the WoW economy, any single one of which could right a ship that, for thousands of players, is sinking. For broken servers, a fix. For servers with humming economies, reforms that actually improve things and make the economy better and more fun.

So what are we waiting for? Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work.

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Filed under: Cataclysm, Gold Capped

Preparing a money making strategy for Mists of Pandaria

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or sacrificing your first-born to him. And be sure to catch the return of Basil and Fox's podcast, Call to Auction!

Yes, I know, Mists of Pandaria is a long way off -- too long for most of us WoW addicts. But in terms of making money, no event will mean more to your bottom line than the MoP launch. New patches and expansions are where fortunes are won and lost. If you dream of getting to 1 million gold (or even a more modest figure), the best time to do it are the few days and weeks following the launch of a new expansion.

If you're going to take advantage of the Mists of Pandaria gold rush, you're not going to want to wait until the last minute. You're going to want to work out a plan now, so you know exactly what to buy and what to make.

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Filed under: Economy, Gold Capped

What days should you buy or sell on the Auction House?

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or sacrificing your first-born to him. And be sure to catch the return of Basil and Fox's podcast, Call to Auction!

There's no question that time is a very powerful influencer of prices. Most typically, time affects prices via inflation, the natural and inevitable tendency of things today to cost more than things cost yesterday. But that's far from the only way that time affects prices. A Love Is In the Air holiday pet is likely going to be less expensive to buy now than if you wait nine months from now. The cost of i397 BoE gear is going to continue to decay right up to the launch of the next expansion.

It's not a phenomenon unique to the game, of course. Those Super Bowl cakes are going to be a lot cheaper at the supermarket today than they were on Saturday. And if you can wait until January to shop for your winter clothes, you're going to get a far better deal than if you do it in October. A lot of prices are cyclical.

But how do those cycles work in the game? If you're a buyer of mats, when should you head to the Auction House to grab what you need? If you're a seller of ore, should just skip listing it certain days to maximize your profits? Let's see what the data say.

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Filed under: Economy, Gold Capped

The WoW economy code of ethics

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him or tweeting him at @foxvanallen.

There's nothing more American than the idea of making money off the labor of others. Wall Street was built on it. Presidential campaigns are built on it. Even World of Warcraft fortunes are built on it. If you want to be a member of the 1%, you have to do it off the labor of the 99%.

The whole process sounds a lot more unethical than it really is. After all, just about any sale of a physical good involves someone else's labor. You may have put a lot of work into building that lemonade stand yourself, but did you work the fields to harvest the sugar cane? And while you may be the one selling that Darkmoon Card: Volcano trinket, were you the one who collected the thousands of herbs and Volatile Lifes? Or did you visit the Auction House and profit off a farmer's efforts?

Profiting off of others is simply how money is made. But we have a social responsibility to make money the right way. Without an in-game legislature or an in-game court system, what rules and laws should we operate under? As the engines of the World of Warcraft economy, what are our ethical responsibilities? How do we make money without causing social harm?

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Filed under: Economy

Gold Capped: Tracking the most frequently bought and sold items

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or constructing a multi-million dollar video wall for his benefit.

One of my favorite topics here on Gold Capped is World of Warcraft's problem with inflation. If affects just about everyone in a very negative way, regardless of whether they're an Auction House maven or a casual player. Inflation makes any gold your character is holding worth less and less by the second, making work you do now far less valuable than work you do later. It even affects the way developers approach the economy, from the amount of gold you get for finishing a daily to the creation of new gold sinks.

By most anecdotal measures, in-game inflation is wildly out of control. And that's one of my problems as WoW Insider's other market follower; the only evidence of inflation we have is ancedotal. There's no real solid way for us to measure inflation in the game and understand what's working to control it and what's not.

The question got my mental gears turning. In the real world, inflation is measured using something called the Consumer Price Index. Creating an in-game version of the CPI intrigues me, but to figure out the best way to construct it, we need to first figure out the answer to another difficult question: What do people buy the most of in-game?

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Filed under: Economy, Gold Capped

The Fastest Way to 10,000 Gold: The Fox Van Allen counterpoint

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or sacrificing your first-born to him. And be sure to catch the return of Basil and Fox's podcast, Call to Auction!

Basil, you ignor... Kidding.

Last week, I found out that my Auction House teammate Basil Berntsen was writing an article for WoW Insider titled "The fastest way to make 10,000 gold." Before I even read the first word of the column, my first instinct was that it was a great idea for a column. My second instinct: I'll bet my idea of the fastest way to getting 10,000 gold is different than Basil's idea of what's fastest.

To be sure, Basil has some good ideas. Ore shuffling. Converting herbs to ink. But I've got my own ideas as to the fastest way to earn money.

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Filed under: Gold Capped

Profiting off the Darkmoon Faire

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or sacrificing your first born to him.

Hey everyone, great news! The Darkmoon Faire is back in town! From now until Saturday, Jan. 7, you can play some games, eat some carnival food -- and oh yeah, make a ton of money off it.

Usually when new content is released, it's only the level 85 characters who can make money hand over fist. But the coolest thing about the Darkmoon Faire is that you don't need to be a level 85 character to participate or even profit off it. A level 20 character can have just as much fun at, get just as much benefit, and even make as much money as a level 85. It just takes the right amount of knowledge.

And, oh yeah, it also takes a Darkmoon Adventurer's Guide. You're carrying one of those on you at all times, right? Right? Well, according to Wowhead, most of you sub-level 85 players aren't. And that's a gigantic missed opportunity for a lot of money -- thousands upon thousands of gold. The kind of money that's just unheard of at lower levels.

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Filed under: Economy, Gold Capped

Gold Capped: A tailoring leveling guide

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or sacrificing your first-born to him. And be sure to catch the return of Basil and Fox's podcast, Call to Auction!

Here at WoW Insider, we've been on a beginners' class guide kick. But after taking the time to put together my shadow priest leveling guide (and after reading the warlock leveling guide written by my less talented coworker), I realized that we didn't have any kind of leveling guides for professions. Time to fix that! After all, you need professions to make money.

But first, the most important question: What professions should your character choose? The best answer is always going to be "whatever appeals to you most" -- but if you're a magic-using, cloth-wearing class, I'd recommend you at least take a look at tailoring. By leveling it, you get access to Lightweave Embroidery, one of the best level 85 buffs in the game for casters.

Of course, you can level tailoring on any character, and a lot of the craftables you make can be sold at a profit. But if that character can't use the buffs from the profession, you're missing one the key benefits to max leveling a profession.

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Filed under: Economy, Cataclysm, Gold Capped

Gold Capped: Pokemon pandas, the economy, and BlizzCon 2011

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the auction house. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him, tweeting him at @foxvanallen, or by participating in your city's Fox Van Allen 5K Walk to Support Leg Tension.

Any time a new World of Warcraft expansion is announced, a flurry of information and speculation comes with it. For us auctioneers, the announcement of Mists of Pandaria at BlizzCon 2011 was no different. Pets, professions, and more -- Mists of Pandaria will going to bring plenty of major changes to the game's economy.

To be sure, the Auction House wasn't the most talked-about aspect of WoW at this year's BlizzCon, at least directly. But when you consider how major the announcement of non-combat pet combat was and start considering how these pets will be fully tradeable ...

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Filed under: News items, Economy, Gold Capped, Mists of Pandaria

Gold Capped: Cashing in on the Molten Front

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the auction house. Feed Fox's ego by emailing him or tweeting him at @foxvanallen.

If you'll allow me a moment to editorialize, I'm pretty damn sick of the Molten Front. This new questing area for level 85s, released with patch 4.2, is the grind-iest damn place I ever had the misfortune to grind lately.

Basically, how it works is this: First, you clear a solid chunk of the regular Mount Hyjal quests that have been available since Cataclysm's launch. This opens up a small new quest hub, the Sanctuary of Malorne, with a couple of non-repeatable quests and a few dailies. Grind those dailies long enough, and you'll get access to a new daily quest hub inside the Firelands. Grind those dailies (and the old ones), and in another week or so, you'll gain access to another set of dailies. Keep grinding, and ... yes, you guessed it, another set of dailies becomes available.

Eventually, after about 40 consecutive days of grinding dailies in the Molten Front, you'll gain access to your choice of three vendors: one with tailoring and leatherworking patterns, and one with blacksmithing plans and engineering schematics. The stuff you can make from the patterns, plans, and schematic are neat -- 36-slot profession bags and some epic i365 gear.

There's an awful lot of grind-y garbage keeping most players from these rewards. But for those of us who play the auction house, that's a good thing -- players are always willing to pay a premium to avoid a long, boring grind.

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Filed under: Economy

Gold Capped: How patch 4.2 broke the auction house

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the auction house. Capitalism is the best, and communism is for dirty, Soviet-sympathizing hippies. If you disagree, Email Fox or twitter him @foxvanallen so you can be added to the CIA's "list."

On June 24, 2010, I woke up at 4 a.m. I grabbed some coffee, got into my car with my roommates, and went to the Cambridgeside Galleria mall to stand in a ridiculously long line. The goal: to get an Apple iPhone 4. It was the latest and greatest thing, and we all had to have it.

A very similar dynamic is happening right now in the World of Warcraft. There are a slew of new-for-patch-4.2 items currently available on the auction house. New BOE gear from Firelands. New tailoring and leatherworking patterns. New blacksmithing plans. Living Embers. New PVP gear. They're all -- at least in theory -- high-demand items. After all, given players' insatiable lust for better gear, customers should be lining up around the (virtual) block to be buying all this stuff.

But on many servers, they're not. The demand is clearly there, but markets are struggling to function.

What happened? Why did the market break? What are players doing wrong? And how exactly are you supposed to play the market with these new-for-4.2 items?

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Filed under: Economy, Cataclysm, Gold Capped

Gold Capped: Selling glyphs in Cataclysm, part 1

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aims to show you how to make money on the auction house. Email Basil with your questions, comments, or hate mail!

When Cataclysm launched, it came with a design change for the glyph system. Whereas players who wanted to change glyphs previously had to buy a new one to overwrite an existing one, they could now use Dust of Disappearance to overwrite their glyphs with any of their learned glyphs.

I split markets in WoW into two segments:
  • Items that players will only buy once per character
  • Items that are bought multiple times per character
While glyphs are now firmly in the first category, honestly, they seemed as if they were there anyway. The vast majority of glyph demand, throughout Wrath of the Lich King, was not generated by elite raiders or PvPers keeping stacks of commonly used glyphs in their bags so they could micro-optimize, but rather from people leveling new characters. The demand for glyphs remains strong, and that means someone is making money.

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Filed under: Economy, Gold Capped

Insider Trader: Easy gold before Cataclysm

Insider Trader is a column about professions, written by Basil "Euripides" Berntsen, who also writes Gold Capped on how to make money via the auction house.

This patch has been a windfall for gold-seeking professionals for a few reasons, but there have been some changes that affect everyone, no matter what addons you use or how much time you spend in the auction house. Let's start with the more subtle changes.

What's the most annoying part about mining and herbing? Unlike skinning, which simply lets you gather from a large number of creatures you are killing anyway, mining and herbalism force you to go out of your way to gather. Before patch 4.0.1, you could only track one thing at a time. Now, you can track everything at the same time!

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Insider Trader: Market alerts from The Undermine Journal

Insider Trader is a column about professions, written by Basil "Euripides" Berntsen, who also writes Gold Capped. This week, we're discussing something near and dear to every trade skill user's heart: prices -- specifically, how to get better prices.

You remember The Undermine Journal, right? Here's what I wrote when I discovered the alpha. The creators have been busy managing the growth of the site, adding servers and realms, as well as periodically adding new functionality. It's in beta now, and they just added the most interesting feature: market alerts.

You can now set up the site to email you every time stuff you're looking for hits a certain price. For example, if you are buying Saronite Ore to prospect so you can take advantage of the removal of the epic gem transmute cooldown removal in patch 4.0, you can go to your realm on The Undermine Journal and set it up so it will email you whenever the price goes down to your target.

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Filed under: Economy, Insider Trader (Professions)

Insider Trader: Inscription and glyphs in Cataclysm

Insider Trader is a column about professions, written by Basil "Euripides" Berntsen, who also writes Gold Capped. If you're looking for general auction house advice, you'll find it in Gold Capped; Insider Trader focuses on specific trade skills.

Glyphs and inscription are getting a serious overhaul in Cataclysm. I read an excellent write-up of the new system on my friend Kraklin's blog and realized that I haven't yet posted an Insider Trader on the new system! This will have an impact on people who make their money with inscription, as well as be a nice quality-of-life change for people who find themselves changing their spec and glyphs a lot.

As soon as the pre-expansion patch 4.0.1 launches, we're no longer going to have to buy glyphs more than once per character. Once you learn a glyph, you will always see it in your spellbook and will be able to switch between your known glyphs with a Dust of Disappearance, made by scribes from the same ink used to craft glyphs. While this won't mean much if you tend to stick with a single set of glyphs, if you change them around a lot, you will find it easier to manage and less expensive. On the live servers, every time you make the change, you often end up paying enormous markups on glyphs -- there can be sporadic supply due to the massive number of auctions that need watching if someone is selling glyphs. After 4.0.1, assuming we know the glyph already, we'll just have to buy a single dust, and every scribe in the auction house will be competing for that business.

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Filed under: Economy, Insider Trader (Professions), Cataclysm

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