Jun 1, 2006

Making Money in World of Warcraft

As a busy gaming parent, the acquisition of prestigious, expensive items such as Epic mounts in World of Warcraft seems like an unattainable goal. If you're like me, you might get to raid Molten Core or Zul'Gurub a few times per week (if you're lucky), but raiding has never made anyone much cash, has it...

Seeing as a raid here and there is pretty much the only WoW playing time I get, the normal (but time-intensive) money-making methods such as running the 5- and 10-man endgame instances, soloing Scarlet Monastery, or farming for crafting raw materials, are just not an option.

So, how else can an enterprising Night Elf make a quick gold piece? No, I'm not referring to dancing nude for tips on top of the mailbox outside the Ironforge bank! Instead, I have discovered that the Auction House is the answer to my gold flow problems. Just like playing the stock market, it is possible to make a considerable sum of money on the AH by the time-honored approach of buying low and selling high.

Normally, one does not give away their most precious money-making schemes for fear of losing their edge to bandwagon-jumpers. Seeing as how 90% of WoW players play on servers other than mine, perhaps I won't lose out too badly by being a nice guy.

Before you run off in a lather to log on to your favorite toon, be warned. An unprepared AH prospector will walk away with only moths in his pockets if he is not careful. Read on, Sir Warbucks. Smile

I use several tools to help me quickly identify good deals and verify that they should be a "safe" purchase. The first is a fairly hefty WoW addon called Auctioneer. This handy tool performs scans of the Auction House, cataloging price info about each item. One merely has to mouse over a particular item, whether in one's inventory or in the AH itself, and an enhanced tooltip appears describing such useful data as the average price that the item goes for on the AH, how many times it's been scanned by Auctioneer, and how much an NPC vendor would buy the item for.

Each time you scan, another snapshot of the AH prices is processed by Auctioneer's statistical algorithms, and the more accurate Auctioneer's prices become. Auctioneer can certainly be fooled by instances of outrageously-priced items, but in general, it is fairly good at identifying good deals.

But, you say, I don't want to spend all day pouring over every item on the AH looking for a good buy. Fear not, faithful financier. Auctioneer includes a Search Auctions function that does most of the work for you. This search function is even implemented as an added tab within the AH screen itself - how convenient! Simply specify whether you're looking for sweet deals on auctions soon to expire, or juicy low buyout prices. By changing several filter options, one can literally say, "hey Auctioneer - find me all Blue or rarer items with buyouts that should, upon resale, net me 10 gold or more per transaction". Viola, this great addon spits out a sortable list.

Now, as I'd mentioned earlier, Auctioneer can be temporarily fooled by crazy-high prices. Example: let's assume an overzealous seller places several extra-high 50g buyouts on a Nightraven crossbow, and that you had scanned a few times during that period. The following day, when a more reasonable seller puts a Nightraven up for the typical 25g price, Auctioneer might consider that "normal" buyout price for the crossbow a sweet deal. In reality though, if you jumped on that 25g buyout, you'd be lucky to sell it for that and break even.

So how do we make sure that Auctioneer isn't feeding us bad tips? I use two simple cross-checks:

My primary cross-check is a web site called Allakhazam. Using this site's search tool, one can peruse long-term pricing of one's target item. Allakhazam's excellent item price database shows all kinds of great AH statistics - median, average, and most common prices, and even a histogram. The only downfall to Allakhazam is that the data has been gathered across all servers and server types. Still, I have found it to be largely accurate, which isn't suprising considering that the sample size is typically very large. Allakhazam's data is typically based on thousands of sales of the target item, over a period anywhere from around a month to as short as only a few days!

OK, so Allakhazam says that my target item (say, our Nightraven crossbow) sells for a median price of 25 gold. How do I double-check that my server follows suit? Simple - my second price cross-check is to consult the AH itself. Once you find a potential deal, switch to the AH Scan tab (the built-in Blizzard AH scan that you've always used when looking for items). Check to see if any other instances of your item are for sale. This method will catch several potential problems:

First, if there are lots of other auctions for the same item, and several foolish sellers are unloading their swag for less-than-typical prices, you'd have a hard time selling your item.

Finally, it is possible that your server's market is simply a bit different than the "average" market predicted by Allakhazam's data. Perhaps one guild has been running UBRS non-stop and the AH is saturated with drops from that dungeon. Supply and demand will drive local prices down temporarily, etc.

The only other reality check that you need will be common sense. For example, this morning, I found a piece of mail armor that seemed to be a great potential buy. Upon second glance however, I noticed that the stats were basically Int and Spirit. No hunter is going to be very interested in that piece - it's actually a shaman item, hence the extra-low price. I never would have sold it for the attractive Allakhazam median price, which also takes into account Horde-side pricing.

Good luck, and strike gold!


Jack said...

I really think maybe Blizzard is crazy. In the recent 3 months,Most of chinese wow gold farmer in US servers had suffered seriously from the Blizzard's account banning actions.

Many 'world of warcraft' players may have realized that wow gold price is growing continuously in the whole market. The main reason, whether you know or not, is about Blizzard large-scale account closing. The official of Blizzard announced that they had closed 30000 accounts and eliminated 300 million wow gold which were hard-effort products made by many Chinese wow gamers. In the black July, the crazy closing-account behavior continues. As a result, thousands of farming accounts from China are closed and many game workshops in China are forced to close down. Is Blizzard crazy? Such closing-account behavior will lead to serious shortage of wow gold. Furthermore, many European and US wow players who are not willing to spend time on gold farming will lose much fun in the game because they fail to buy wow gold to purchase equipments in the game. In the end, Blizzard will lose a number of real gamers. Imagine what the Azeroth world would be like without Chinese wow gold farmers! Can a real wow gamer, take you as an example, continue to enjoy virtual life in world of warcraft?

Lance said...

Jack - I don't know what to feel about gold farming (defined as gathering in-game gold to be sold for real-world currency). I've never bought gold myself, and I'm not sure that I like the idea of players being able to do so, if only because such a system places less-wealthy players at a disadvantage.

Still though, our economy is based on supply and demand, and these gold farming businesses are certainly an interesting enterprise.

I assume that you must be affiliated with a gold-selling company, due to the links you'd inserted in your text. If you are interested in a continued conversation on the subject, and not to simply insert an advertisement in my blog, I would be very interested in continuing our talk and learning more about how a gold-farming company operates, etc. Please write back if you're interested in talking!

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