Greedy Goblin

Friday, April 17, 2009

Don't buy gold guide

I received an e-mail from a "reader":
Hi, I am the owner of and we will be releasing a Warcraft related product in the next couple of weeks. I was wondering if you may be interested in promoting it on your website (or email list) as an Affiliate.
The product will be a gold-making guide in video format. We will offer 20-30 high definition, high quality, step-by-step videos plus a few bonus tools and PDF guides. It will be a very complete package and unlike any other gold guide or ebook that is currently out. We value quality and customer satisfaction, so I can assure you that our product will be truly unique. The price will be around 70-90$ and we will offer the standard 50% commission to Affiliates. We plan to limit access to the product only to a fixed number of clients (we haven't decided the exact number yet), as to not devalue the product too much and increase scarcity (thus increasing burst sales upon launch).

We haven't publicly announced the product yet, we are currently building up a list and working on some pre-launch "buzz". A couple of days ago, we released a YouTube video that stirred a lot of interest in the community. You can watch it here:

Let us know if you may be interested in endorsing our product, we will be happy to give you more information on your role in the launch. Best regards,

P.S. Please keep this confidential, as we are not yet ready to disclose information about the product.

Well, we can see a standard marketing spam, something that you should never-ever consider accepting, no matter what they are selling. Usually they sell shit. This case it's obvious as they are selling a guide to a computer game. Let's analyze this masterpiece:
  • "Hi,": No "Hi Gevlon," these lousy bastards did not even care to insert my name into their spam. While it seems that I got a letter (social meaning: I matter to someone), they obviously don't care about who am I. They just crawled the web by robots creating a list of mails. Tip: whenever a "free" site require registration, register under a name like "Mickey Mouse". I love to get corporate spam starting as "Our Dearest Friend Sucker" or "Dear Valued Customer Mr Asshole" (as I registered as "Sucker Asshole").
  • "on your website (or email list)": same as above. They did not care enough to put a record to the e-mail address showing what kind of stuff I have.
  • "high definition, high quality, ... bonus tools ... very complete ... unlike any other ... truly unique": Yeah, surely.
  • "We value quality and customer satisfaction": The next person who tell me the word "customer satisfaction" will be killed. Slowly. This buzzword means: "we sell you shit, but treat you like a king, so you will socially feel good and come back, despite we sold you shit".
  • "The price will be around 70-90$ and we will offer the standard 50% commission to Affiliates.": here is the catch. I only make money if I can sell their shit. So my job would be to grind customers to them. Well, theoretically this could be a good business. The problem is that my content already made all M&S offended and leave. My readers are either goblins, or intelligent socials (like a certain brokkoli). I doubt if I could sell a single piece but I have no doubt that I could make a complete fool of myself.
  • "We plan to limit access to the product only to a fixed number of clients": So I can be a member of an exclusive club! I'm gonna be so special! It worth $35 to feel special isn't it?
  • "We haven't publicly announced the product yet": I'm already special! They informed me before the "public". They value me! They love me! I love them in return and gonna buy their shit!
  • "A couple of days ago, we released a YouTube video that stirred a lot of interest in the community.": everybody are talking about us in "the community". If you don't join, you'll be left out! You'll be that sad kid who stands at the wall as no one plays with him. Join now! BTW I watched the video. It had 56K viewers. The "ni hao" video (making fun of goldfarmers) has 3850K viewers, the Nihilum-Brutallus video had 350K.
  • "Please keep this confidential": I know confidental information. I am just as special as James Bond himself, I just love these guys!
Moral of the story: if you want to have more gold in the game and money RL than spare change, dump these spam into the dustbin. They are a mixture of lies and social manipulation.

If the offer includes MLM, they want you to lie and manipulate other people in your proximity. While I have nothing against manipulating others, there is a catch. If the product would be worthy, they could sell it without giving share to you. The only reason they are giving you money is that they expect you to sell shit to your friends. Well, unless you are befriending with idiots, you can sell them shit only once. Does $35 worth breaking long-term mutally profitable relationships?

PS: I anonimized their names and locations because I don't want to give any traffic to them.

Update: Catalin pointed out some errors. I assumed that "affiliate" is just a buzzword for "VIP customer", but she explained that it's MLM. Thanks, fixed. However the advices stay.


Larísa said...

Strangely enough they managed to type "Hi Larísa" in their letter to me. But apart from that - I got the same.

And I wouldn't consider for a second to promote or buy their products. Silly idea, really.

Plastic Rat said...

What's the difference between this and buying gold in game?

You're spending real money to get you in game gold. Sure the potential is there to make a practically endless supply of gold as long as the game keeps running with your newly bought 'knowledge' but how long will it take to make up the money you spent on the 'guide' in game gold?

Also considering that information on making gold in game is available free on the web. Stuff like this is simply a way of making money out of stupid people. Which is generally fine by me, as long as it stays out of my face.

Slightly off topic. Gold making tip. Don't know how long this will last, but I noticed on our server that suddenly the price on 'Ultrasafe Bullet Machines' sits around 35-40g. Each bullet machine makes 2000 Bullets. The bullets stack in stacks of 1000. Guess what those stacks are going for on my server? 90-100g.

Check if it's the same on your server.

Anonymous said...

@plastic rat - unfortunately not on my server in regards to the bullets :( tried that trick, only the machine makers are moving.

it appears the silly huntards of the world have finally re-rolled :(

HP said...

Hahah, I always found it strange how marketing techniques like this exist but then again, if they didn't work, they wouldn't be in use.

spinksville said...

Awesome post!

Catalin said...

Gevlon, let me ask you a couple questions...

1. How do you *know* they attempted to sell *you* the product? "The product will be priced at xxx and we offer yyy commission." To me that means for each copy of the product you will find a customer, you'll get zzz amount of money. Standard affiliate business.

2. While I won't touch the moral/feeling aspects, as you rightfully pointed out several times are too subjective and can't be quantified, I am surprised to see you nail down a *potential* win-win proposal. You have traffic to your site. They have a way to monetize some of the traffic.

3. In the goblinish way, it is perfectly reasonable if you don't like a specific product, or don't want your name associated with it. But doesn't it contradict your goblinish greediness to give a blanket advice "something that you should never-ever consider accepting, no matter what they are selling."

4. 56K viewers to a youtube video could be pretty significant. You compare it with other videos, but leave out some specific information... such as the date these videos were submitted. If say the "Nihilum-Brutallus" video was submitted a year ago and had 350K views as you say, and this specific video was submitted a week ago but has 56K viewers already, I'd say the picture is quite different than just pure view counters, don't you agree?

To sum up, I was bothered with the fact that you turned down this particular offer -- I know nothing about them, and you don't give enough information so I can analyze them better. What did bother me is that you seem to give blanket advice -- never accept affiliate (partnership) offers -- no matter what they're selling.

If you get a poorly written proposal, such as the one you received, or don't like the specific product, fine. After all it's your site, and your name that's on the line.

But doesn't it contradict the goblinish ways to say "never accept a win - win deal where both parties get something valuable out of it?"

Catalin said...

@Plastic rat:

"What's the difference between this and buying gold in game? You're spending real money to get you in game gold."

There's a huge difference. Let me explain...

Buying gold in the game is against the rules established by the game owner. I won't touch the "moral" aspects of it, but drawing an analogy with the real life, it's breaking the law...

Blizzard made the game, they made some rules. You play the game of your own will, you have to accept the rules of the house. You break the rules, you pay for it.

That's all there is to buying gold in game -- if you do it you're knowingly breaking the rules. If you shoplift in a store, you're breaking the rules and if you get caught, you pay for it.

As for paying for a gold guide, this is a completely different matter. See, you're not buying the in game gold. You're paying for your own convenience. You're trading real money for your real time. Here's why...

You can either spend your time searching for "free" information on how to make gold in the game, such as the one you find often on this blog, then spend some more of your time figuring out the missing pieces of the puzzle and trying it out to see if it works for you...

... or you can pay someone else to do this research for you, and give you the exact steps you have to duplicate in the game to make the said gold. Monkey see, monkey do.

That's what gold guides do. Actually that's what all info-products are supposed to do.

The product creator spent time doing research on the subject -- finding "free" information on the Internet and elsewhere, analyzing the information, trying out the techniques, maybe even perfecting some to a degree, then offering you a blueprint for a price.

You're not paying for the information itself, you're paying for the convenience of having the research done for you and for the information delivered to you in a format you can immediately follow to the letter, without thinking or doing additional efforts. Monkey see, monkey do.

Both roads lead to the same destination -- your knowledge of the steps you have to take in the game to make gold. You're not given the gold in exchange for the money; you still have to take action in the game to make the said gold yourself.

You either use your time, and brains -- by the way neither of which I would call "free", since in the goblinish way you *can* use both time and brains to make real world money -- either money to get to the same objective.

Anonymous said...

I think Catalin has a very good point.

Havn't you said on more than one occasion, that you will make money (gold) from stuipd/lazy people ? , I'm thinking of ice cold milk and pets here.

The goblin shouldn't reject a proposal on the basis that it insults his "ego", but on the basis that it is a poor business proposal.

I say ego, because you seem to be rejecting the product because you-a savvy goblin- would never fall for such a pitch, but I assume you wouldn't pay 1g for ice cold milk either.

The proposal is good, (on the face of it, bear in mind I know nothing of the product), a 50% comission on a decent unit sale, no effort on the goblins part, free money really, and all generated as a spin-off from a GAME !

Reading between the lines (goblin on a high horse aside) it seems that maybe you don't want to devalue your site, cheapen it somehow, but really, is that the goblin way, there is money to be made from stuipid/lazy people here !

All in all , you have committed an aultruistic act (maybe by omission), you are protecting stupid/lazy people from themselves at the expense of your financial gain.

The goblin bleeds after all :)

Gevlon said...

@Catalin: thanks for the corrections. I misunderstood "affiliate". However this case its even worse. They wanted to catch me for MLM.

NEVER EVER go near MLM as it can NEVER EVER be good.

If the product would be worthy (and cost-effective), there would be no need for MLM. People buy cars, homes, food without MLM.

The price of an MLM product must cover the production costs, the costs of the MLM management, the share of the affiliates, and the profit. That's a lot of money. There is no way to get this money without fooling the customer.

While I have nothing against fooling some M&S, MLM by its nature means that I fool the people who trust in me enough. Maybe it's a goblin thing to fool them for profit. But it's definitely not a goblin thing to fool them for lousy $35!

@Catalin 2: This is a GAME. You don't have to play it. If you want to save game time, simply don't play. The game gold you grind/market/get with the help of the guide is worthless.

The only worthy thing here is the skill you get in the process. By researching the information yourself you learn researching. By figuring out making money in the AH, you learn economics. By reading a gold guide you learn only to grind gold in a video game.

Catalin said...

Case noted.

However I think if there was additional followup on the communication between you and the said product owner that made you realize it's not an honest affiliate proposal (even poorly formatted like yours was) but instead a MLM scheme, it is in the spirit of your blog to be pointed so clearly in your article in question.

As it is now it is misleading, and considering the kind of readership you have dangerous for the souls that take your advice to the bank, with the two points I tried to raise in my earlier comment:

1) Disregarding any affiliate proposal, no matter what they offer, on the sole term of... what? That you think they're spam? That you don't like this type of business -- helping other sell for a share of the profits?

Affiliate business is a very profitable business, you see it around you everywhere, and when done right is a win - win proposal for everyone involved.

From a certain angle supermarkets are affiliate businesses -- few of them sell their own product. The libraries are the same, and so forth. The largest part of our economy is driven in one way or another by affiliates -- help the product creators sell, for a share of the profits.

2) Omitting potentially important factual data (in this case launch dates for several videos on youtube) that could yield an entirely different picture than the one you're trying to draw.

"If you want to save game time, simply don't play."


There's no issue of black or white, there never was and never will be. It's all in the shades of gray in between...

The choice isn't between saving *some* game time or not playing at all...

The choice is between not doing something (grinding for gold, spending months to figure out on your own how to make a certain amount, etc), versus doing something else -- paying someone to find these things out for you so you can apply them immediately then move on to other things in game.

Save "some" time doing things not productive, and willing to pay the price -- in real world money -- to focus on what is more productive to me.

In the same spirit of your blog -- helping readers learn something they can apply not only in this game but most importantly in the real world -- let's draw the analogy here...

In real world, as a business owner, if there's something you need to do in order to make your business move forward, you have two options:

a) Spend the hours/days/months of your time doing research, applying and trying to figure out things on your own. Cost = number of hours spent x your average hourly income + additional costs of your attempts, or

b) Spend some money and have an expert in the field teach you (or do it for you) the exact steps you have to take to move forward.

If cost of a) > cost of b), then it's a reasonable business decision, and more profitable in the end, to pay someone for their knowledge.

Catalin said...

And a small addition to my last comment, as I just noticed you made an amendment to the article...

Affiliate business is not MLM. MLM is not affiliate business. There's no equal between those two terms, they mean completely different things.

Affiliate business is/should be part of any business that wants to be successful, even if you sell services and not only physical goods. Is the act of "hiring" an intermediary to find you customers, for a share of the profits.

The business owner gets more exposure and in turn more customers than he would be able from his own efforts, and the affiliate gets a percentage of the profits he helped make.

It's a viable and recommended business model both online as well as offline.

Carra said...

Mlm? Sounds like m&m, jummie.

For $70, I could also buy some nice gold from a chinese farmer. Kind of have to feel pity for those who buy gold or gold guides, it's easy to make a few thousand gold a week.

Gevlon said...

@Carra: MLM: multi-level-marketing. You know, the neighborhood woman who harasses your mother to buy aloe vera.

@Catalin: I have no doubt that affiliate business is a very profitable one. For the company. The buyer ends up with something useless or at best terribly overpriced. The affiliate ends up with his reputation ruined. And not with "the people" but with their inner circle, their close friends and business partners.

The only way out is assuming that the consumers are plain idiots and never-ever find out how bad business they made. I don't think that the readers of my blog are idiots (there are some surely but I try my best to offend them away).

But the final point is: if I decide to fool my inner circle, why not keep all the money? In my case, I could also make an "high definition, high quality, ... bonus tools ... very complete ... unlike any other ... truly unique" gold guide (like anyone else who can cut a video). I could sell this guide for the whole $70-90.

About gold guides at all: since the game pays me $0/hour, my time here is worthless. So if I don't enjoy playing it, I won't do it. If I think the game gold does not worth grinding, nor researching, I'll live cheap in the game.

Catalin said...

Good point.

Why don't you make a complete gold guide, with step by step pictures, high quality movies and such? And keep it updated.

As you're highly qualified to do one -- something I can't say about some other gold guide authors out there -- I'm sure there would be a lot of profitable real world business heading your way.

As for the other part, here's some food for thought that may even turn into an interesting topic for a future article...

You have one hour per day you can allocate to the game, or any game related activities.

This can be an hour actually spent in the game, or reading blogs about the game, or forums about the game, you get the idea...

Just one hour per day, 5 days a week.

And you start with 0 knowledge about how to make gold in the game, or as much knowledge as the "average" game player has right now.

Would you stop playing completely because there's not much you can accomplish in this little time? Would you try to make it as fun as possible?

What would you do?

Markco said...

I received an identical email gevlon, and I told them lieing was the worst way to get me to become an affiliate. That's BS that they would sell a limitted number of guides and it's also way too expensive for a gold guide.

The funniest part was that I sell my own gold guide for less than half their price...

csdx said...

I will comment on the slight irony that is point 1. Specifically it reads to me like you are complaining that they're not being 'social and friendly' enough to you in their spam email.

Further I can completely understand and support your objection to their (perceived) sleaziness that tends to follow most WoW related third party services (leveling services, gold buying, et al).

I will then object to your stance on MLM. Really that's just about how everything you use was gotten to you. And unless you think everything you own is junk and useless, then clearly MLM is useful in some regard. Allow me to expound: Specialization is what enables us to create society and economy in the first place. MLM is merely another extension of this phenomenon. Why do I assert that just about everything is subject to it: wholesale. Typically a manufacturing company rarely has retail outlets, instead they sell to retail stores to market and promote their product.
But how can this be more efficient? Well this due to two factors, specialization and economies of scale.

Looking from a store perspective, if they wanted to manufacture their own goods, they only sell to a relatively small population, thus would only produce a small amount. However a massive manufacturer could sell to thousands of stores, producing many times more the volume. With their expanded size, each unit of good can be produced for significantly less than an individual store could make, so it's cheaper to buy from them.

From the manufacturer, they are exceedingly efficient at converting raw materials into (useful even) goods. However, an independent retail store has the advantage of being able to carry many different manufacturer's products. Thus much more likely to attract sufficient business to keep it profitable.

And a few examples: The car industry. Dealerships are basically affiliates peddling a manufacturer's car to a customer. Any shipping service (UPS, FedEx) all they do is move boxes, but are able to do it well enough that it is cheaper than say driving down and delivering the package yourself.

Though I'm sure you understand the basic economics I outlined, my point really is that all these are MLMs. They make a product viable and cheaper, by giving the consumer a better value than either entity could acting independently.

csdx said...

Also to specifically address this MLM scheme.

I agree there may be little value in the product after all this information is usually given away for free (like here for one). But I could see a legitimate case to be made for a real service here. Basically if they gave a person similar advice but were willing to provide support and coaching on their particular situation. Much like one can find a lot of health information for free, but a doctor will specifically deal with you and your situation instead of just giving general advice.

Further, if this were a somehow legitimate service, this MLM scheme is useful. Since in order to promote their website they'd otherwise need to pay for ads. But they'd be largely ineffective, because untargeted marketing rarely is. If however, they manage to convince other people to market for them, they only need to pay 'advertising revenue' for successful sales. Also they have the added benefit that each 'affiliate' might be more in touch/respected by their local segments, allowing their campaign to be more successful overall. The benefit to the promoters of course is the ability to make money with significantly less effort and expenditure than it would take to otherwise do this on their own (their g/hour from advertising should be greater than if they went into their own business).

Also gold making guides can be worth it to some people. Assuming it worked out, I'd be able to make more gold in less time, thus either get more enjoyment out of the game, or do other things I like. It really depends on how well their guide is, and how much I value my time. If like you I say it's worth $0/hr when playing wow (actually it's $15/month), then it'll never be worth it. If I value my playtime then clearly there's a break even point. Additionally, I could value my time at some other activity, and if this reduces my WoW time so I can increase that it could also be worth it.

jake1274 said...

I'm new to this blog and there are a couple acronyms used in the posts quite a bit that I've not heard before:
1. MLM and
2. M&S

What do these two stand for? (and yes, I know they are derogatory, I just can't figure out what they are)

Frnit said...

MLM Multi-Level Marketing,

M&S, Morons & Slackers

Ash said...

Don't buy it but download it :D