Friday, December 4, 2009

Tickled pink: Are you playing the gold game?

You’ve all heard about the legend of Midas, the Greek king who whished that everything he touched should become gold, something he deeply regretted after a while. Even so the iconic metal still has a strong position in the minds of mankind as well as on the market. Gold is the given currency of every fairy tale and Azeroth is no exception. For some players it’s the essence of WoW. The how-to-make-gold blogs and guides are thriving. Others couldn’t care less. Are you playing the gold game? Does a huge purse tickle you pink?

It took me at least until level 30 before I entered Auction House. To begin with I didn’t have a clue about where to find it. And when I did, I was terrified of doing anything. I was convinced that I somehow would lose everything I owned because of my ignorance.

Besides, I was constantly short of money as I levelled my first toon, not yet having grasped the basics of the game. Staying away from AH seemed like a good way to make sure I wouldn’t get tempted to buy something I didn’t need.

As I grew more experienced and inhaled the collected wisdom of the WoW community through blogs and websites, I understood that this probably wasn’t the wisest approach. Whatever you did, you should use Auctioneer. This would grant your purse to always be filled, more or less automatically.

So I tried the Auctioneer road for a while, but it was always rather out of necessity than of interest, and eventually I stopped out of pure boredom and gold was abundant in the game anyway.

Nowadays I haven’t even got Auctioneer installed. I don’t bother doing even a weekly run to keep the statistics fresh. I don’t try to do any cleaver undercutting transactions. I don’t try to get rich from converting eternals to crystals or the other way round. I don’t mass produce glyphs.

There are two simple reasons:

1. I don’t need that much gold to cover my expanses.

My main income comes from transmuting epic gems. One every day I log in (which isn’t every day of the week), sold at a profit of 100 g or more at AH. This 1 minute piece of action will easily cover my consumables and repairs for a normal raid night (flasks lasting two hours for an alchemist). If I would ever need some extra gold to gem and enchant new gear, I would probably convert some emblems of conquest to epic gems or emblems of triumph to orbs to sell with good profit, or possibly make a few spellthreads, being a tailor.

My fortune is steady at a level of between 5 and 9 k gold, and that’s enough to cover anything unexpected that will come up.

I’ve never longed to own a chopper, watching others driving them is enough entertainment for me. And the screen-covering mammoths are so clumsy that they’re annoying. So why would I bother to make more money?

2. The gold game doesn’t entertain me.

Some players get a kick out of the gold game. They want to hit the gold cap the same way as I enjoy killing raid bosses. Putting up a goal gives them motivation and direction in the game and they enjoy the process of building a business empire. I’m just not one of those.

Probably it’s because the gold game is so abstract, going on in your mind, as opposed to questing and raiding, which involves much more of your senses, attention and imagination. To be honest, I’d rather grind thousands of bears in Winterspring than posting thousands of auctions.

What I also know is that if I’d ever try out the gold game for myself, I wouldn’t think of buying one of those infamous how-to-make-gold-guides. Why would I? I would rather like to find out mechanisms and niches by my own thinking. Blindly following a guide seems to be just as entertaining as to play Lemmings, reading the solution of every scenario on advance. The challenge and the entertainment in playing the AH is to make up your own strategies.

Unlike Larisa I do play the auction house. While I'm not gold capped I have more than 100K in gold, more gold than I can even dream of what to do with since I don't raid and don't collect pets.

So why do it? Curiosity. Satisfaction. I'm an explorer and an achiever and for me playing the AH is just another way to explore and comprehend the vast world of Azeroth. For example, out of that 100K gold I'd estimate that at most 20K was earned by using any of my professions (mining, herbalism, inscription, enchanting.) And almost none of it was made by flipping things on the AH. The vast majority was made by being a trade chat channel habituate; buy up items cheap and selling them on the AH. Since I don't belong in a guild trade chat is my way of socialization. Flipping glyphs is ultimately more profitable in gold terms but I find it so so boring. I enjoy the sparring and negotiation that goes on in trade chat. I also strongly think that I learn so much more about the game and the people who play it that way. Playing the game via trade chat, once you break past the Chuck Norris spam and the Grammar Nazis, breaks down much of the insularity one finds in guilds. I probably know more about the economy on my server than anything Auctioneer could ever tell me. Why? Because I'm actually talking to six different leather workers and I know exactly how many BOE epics are being crafted and I know what is selling and what is not.

In other words, I agree 100% with Larisa when she writes that "The challenge and the entertainment in playing the AH is to make up your own strategies." That's what I do. For example, I won't sell epic gems and I won't sell flasks. Because I don't understand the epic gem market on my server and I won't invest in a area I don't understand. I won't deal in flasks because most flasks are sold by alchemists in bulk who are satisfied with a one gold return per flask. Mass production doesn't interest me. I can make 2-3k gold a week just selling two to three crafted purples. The key to selling purples is understanding what crafted items are best in slot for the various classes and keeping up with the various gear resets.

Let me give another example. On my server the trick to making money during the summer is to buy raw materials during week and sell them for a profit on the weekend. During the school year this reverses. The weekend drives all the prices down as all the kids come on-line and flood the market with supplies while on the weekdays the prices shoot up because all the raiding guilds are active on Tuesday and Wednesday after the raid resets. But here's the deal. The fun part for me isn't in the exploitation of these supply and demand imbalances. The fun part is learning about them in the first place. It's in talking to people and asking, "Why are you doing that? Why do you care?" Making gold is a confirmation that I identified the market trend correctly; its a way of smiling to myself and thinking, "Oh ho! I was right."

So I guess I'm different from King Midas. I don't touch things to turn them into gold; I touch gold to turn it into mind.


Klepsacovic said...

I am, with mixed success. It's fun to try to see where things are going and how to make people still want what I sell. It's PvP without gear imbalances! :)

Kamiken said...

It's definitely pvp, but instead of gear imbalances it's gold imbalances. If you are looking to start up in a well established market that someone with 150k gold already has a fairly large stranglehold on and you have only 3k starting gold you can be pushed out very easily if they so desire.

Same way with pvp you go in with blue pvp gear against the all relentless pvp geared player and you are going to get squashed if you go head on. You have to float just out of their radar and slowly build up your resources so that you may someday fight head on with them. The auction house makes this alot easier then the pvp in battle grounds.

Daniel said...

Yes, I am.

The auction house can be a fun sub-game for players who do not have time to raid seriously but like to be very good at something in game.

I no longer use Auctioneer-type addons as I specialize in certain markets and beliee my analysis to be of better quality than these addons. I do not recommend this approach if you do not have time to develop spreadsheets and/or databases to crunch numbers.

Tesh said...

If I were presently playing the game, I'd probably be playing on the AH on the side. I'm like Elnia; it's one more facet of the game to explore and excel in. It's also likely the only PvP that fits my tastes and reflexes, since it's more about strategy and careful deliberation than "real" action PvP.

It's not about the gold, it's about the play.

Raddom said...

I love the auction house. In-game trading fires me up. I tend to use auctioneer to trade quite extensively, although I am a strong believer that you should not let programs make decisions for you, you should only use those programs (AddOns) to help you make educated decisions.

I respect others who aren't as facinated with the art of trading as I am. To be quite honest, this is why the game is so beautiful. It's amazing when you can bring in different people with completely different interests all into the same game. That is what makes wow unique.

Shintar said...

I don't care about the "gold game" at all. Like Larísa I find it quite easy to make enough gold for my expenses without putting too much effort into it, and I'm okay with that. The auction house is just a tool I use to buy things I need, and to sell things that I reckon someone else could use so it would be a shame to vendor them.

Carra said...

I've played the WoW market in a number of ways and it's a fun thing to do. You really have to have fun in it because there's little use for the actual gold.

Indeed, it's a lot of fun to figure out ways to make gold. I wrote a small money making guide a long time ago. Buying during the cheap weekend periods, selling during the week. Farming low level items with high value, selling quest items, getting someone to provide you with raw materials, flipping horde/alliance items,... Lots of ways to make gold and a big part of the fun is trying things out.

Kromus said...

I' wouldn't mind playing the gold game but I'm too layed-back to do it. Seriously, if I see 5 level 80 greens I'll leave them on the floor instead of selling them. (its pathetic, really, that'd be a lot of gold for just 5 clicks, silly me!).

Stilll, I like my layed-back nature.


until the repair bills arrive.

Kromus said...

in above comment please read "Click" as "click" for some reason the c and L have joined up to form a "D" on my screen :P


Larísa said...

: aww... a sort of PvP. I guess that enhances the experience. You need to identify your competitors and go for them without any mercy!

@Kamiken: interesting... building up your fortune and postitionin a sneaky manner, without anyone noticing...

@Daniel: wow. personal spreadsheets and analysis... not my game, but I can understand it may be interesting.

@Tesh: AH, the PvP for keyboard turners? :)

@Raddom: yeah, it's definitely not one game, but 10 different - at least - in one. Good money value imo.

@Shintar: with all those AH enthusiastic comments I started to think I'm the only one. Welcome to join my non-gold-grinding club!

@Carra: it's just that I can't find the fun in it. But it's a matter of taste. Some people prefer comedy movies, other can't stand it and want action. To each one his own...

@Kromus: oh, Kromus, you're even worse than I am! I hope you don't manage your rl assets like that!

WIshart said...

I didn't play the auction house game at all til I got to lvl 80, I never really had time between raiding. But gold wasn't needed that much my characters had everything covered from alchemy and cooking etc (that and at 60/70 epics weren't given out ten a penny like they are theses days). It was only in WotLK that I started to replace all my kit every few days that life got expensive gold wise.

Ngita said...

I only care if I dont have enough. I do my transmute, and turn honor into gems and cloth into moonshroud etc. Funnily enough I finally got motivated enough to turn my unneeded triumph emblems ito gold. Its been something I should have done for the last couple of months and in the meantime their value gradually drops.