Greedy Goblin

Friday, September 25, 2009

The GDP/player in WoW

How much economic value an average WoW player creates? This is a tricky question, but can be answered, since Blizzard have toplists of several activities of WoW players. The toplist doesn't show what playerbase is polled, I stronly assume it's the US only.

The reason for that is quest toplist show 2x70K (ally+horde) players do the most popular daily quest, the 15 cult members. If it would be the 11M world playerbase, then only 1.4% of the players would do it. Also only 400K do the "talk to the blue exclamation mark at brewfest" (this one time when I was drunk) quest, although even a lvl10 can do it, and often does. So let's assume the database runs over the 2M active US players.

Now let's get to the "gathered items" toplist. I've averaged the sept 15-21 period. The winners are:
Saronite Ore 3,681,017
Crystallized Earth 1,998,678
Crystallized Shadow 1,642,945
Copper Ore 989,800
Crystallized Life 880,910
Rough Stone 773,725
Emblem of Conquest 703,817
Lichbloom 673,594
Icethorn 665,034
Adder's Tongue 631,813
Pygmy Suckerfish 606,312
Nettlefish 603,811
Glacial Salmon 560,800
Goldclover 542,921
Musselback Sculpin 527,813
Raw Longjaw Mud Sn... 498,858
Champion's Seal 448,486
Cobalt Ore 439,435
Tiger Lily 434,929
Stone Keeper's Shard 404,356

Now let's see the looted items:
Frostweave Cloth 6,461,288
Borean Leather 5,368,842
Fur Clothing Scraps 4,810,907
Runecloth 3,855,663
Emblem of Conquest 3,790,834
Netherweave Cloth 3,639,729
Linen Cloth 3,545,022
Hoary Crystals 3,399,659
Silk Cloth 3,096,869
Relic of Ulduar 2,797,419
Thick Fur Clothing... 2,599,450
Wool Cloth 1,984,663
Chilled Meat 1,944,629
Vrykul Bones 1,747,451
Stone Keeper's Shard 1,519,878
Mageweave Cloth 1,512,573
Primordial Infusion 1,301,314
Drakkari Offerings 1,260,633
Light Leather 1,097,284
Borean Leather Scr... 992,774

You doesn't see anything strange? If we would distribute all items equally, then every day one player would have:
1.8 saronite ore, 1.2G
0.1 eternal earth, 0.7G
0.08 eternal shadow, 0.8G
0.5 copper ore, 0.1G
0.05 eternal life, 0.9G
3.2 frostweave cloth, 1.5G,
2.9 borean leather, 1.1G
1.9 runecloth, 0.4G
1.8 netherweave cloth, 0.5G

Surprisingly small numbers. If we add all up, we can say that the GDP/player/day is around 30G! That's more or less impossible right? Even the poorest M&S earns more. I mean, it's 1.5 daily quest.

Well, it's not the GDP of the WoW economy. It's the GDP of the WoW's material economy. Like in real life, most people don't work in the agriculture or the industry. Most of them are on the services area.

In WoW most of the services are consumed and offered by NPC-s. The daily quest givers are the customers of the services that the players do (kill this or that guy for him, bring her lilies, fish up junk for her...). The NPCs are also the major providers of services like repair, transport, education. Also the NPCs run the luxury "industry", selling vanity mounts, pets and epic flying skill.

It's very easy to get shamelessly rich. The reason for that is that the average player spends only a small portion of their income on "real" stuff, so even if you overprice them, they can pay for it easily. The cost of the 180% market priced crystallized fire is nothing compared the Mammoth.


Wooly said...

30g per day doesn't seem that low at all to me. I think it's a pretty decent amount as an average. Not everyone plays every day and even the ones that do might just play some BG's, level the millionths alt or just use wow as a chatbox with extra's.

210g a week is more then enough money to fund their simple playstyle, and could even be considered good income to a lot of them, making it an acceptable average.

Just think of the 1g beggars f.e.

Xanthul said...

30g a day is horrible, but it probably is pretty accurate. Thinking of the M&S I know, their money comes from daily quests. They make their gold only to spend it almost instantly on repairs, consumables, and gems/enchants.

Anonymous said...


fawr said...

30g is on the low side, but that doesn't count any expensive finds (BOEs dropping from bosses for example).

Wooly said...

Standards for M&S seem to have been raised. What I see as an M&S myself is someone that doesn't gem, enchant, or even repair unless he/she doesn't have any choice anymore. Even doing dailies is seen as too much of a burden to them, like anything that requires effort from their side to get gold. The ones that do, but just aren't good, I call the average players (or customers), as they are in vast majority. It is starting to look like that M&S are now considered those that don't have at least +100k gold and/or don't raid endgame. A refined definition would be in place, just so we're all talking about the same thing.

I think I'm well known with all corners of the wow society. This because of my twisted enjoyment of joining obvious pug fail-raids, selling enchants live every now and then, and also having a little nephew that has his own guild (awww). So I know what horrors of players are out there (and believe me, they're in high numbers). In case M&S now means the latter, I need a new label for those that have the mental capacity of an amoeba. Maybe something in the line of "Braindead & Hopeless".

Then again, I know a hunter that couldn't out dps a holy priest with mana problems, that still has +100k gold on his bank.. This confuses me..

Nick S. said...

I probably only generate about 50g a day from non-AH activities. A daily heroic quest or two, maybe picking up some Saronite if I happen to be flying over it.

Dàchéng said...

Wooly hit the nail on the head in his first post. The 30g/player/day figure for gathered/looted goods is pretty meaningless, since most players, believe it or not, don't log in every day. In fact many of the players in the 2M figure have not logged in for months.

Also, Xanthul, as has already been pointed out, this is only for gathered/looted items. On top of that characters are looting coin, receiving direct payments from NPCs for completing quests, and players are crafting gathered items and selling or disenchanting them. So the real GDP is much migher.

And finally, are you sure, Gevlon, that the gathered/looted items total really is 30g? There are so many gathered items that are not in anybody's top 500 that may nonetheless significantly add to this figure. For instance, if in 501st place (and thus ignored in your calculations) were, say, 4000 drops of "Disgusting Oozeling", worth 1000g each, that would add 4K*1Kg/2M =2g to the total, just on its own. What if, for instance, in position 1200, are 3000 gundrak hatchlings at 3000g each? I'm just saying: most common dropped/looted/gathered isn't a good basis for calculating GDP. You want a list that is ordered by the product of average AH price and number of drops.

Dàchéng said...

Actually even a list of gathered/looted items ordered by the product of number of drops and average AH value of each drop, such a list can have a long, long tail. If you just count the top 500 of these items, the ignored items in the tail could potentially add up to a significant amount.

And finally finally, over half the characters in the game haven't yet reached level 80. Their needs and earnings are significantly lower than those of the level 80 characters. Including such people in the list is like counting children IRL as part of the workforce (well, they washed my car for €10, last weekend).

Anonymous said...

Well, at least the service sector in the western world is big... can't say the same for developing countries.

Xanthul said...

@Wooly: The M&S I was referring to are social raiders. Sorry if I misused a term.

Heartbourne said...

What precisely did you mean by "real" stuff? This is a fascinating concept, but again, it doesn't take into account things like BoE greens/blues, which are worth at least 5g in enchanting materials, or the crafting service done by players.

Sten Düring said...

The AT run only is worth well over 150 gold, and it's a decent way to spend your time while waiting for people who are late logging on to an instance run.

It takes less than an hour, and eventually you end up with a vanity mount or four, which in itself is a reason for people to do it.

Grinding materials for 150 gold takes substantially more time unless you're grinding semiprofessionally.

Goth said...

9/10th's of these people never use the auction house to sell goods - they are buyers only. BoE's are vendered because they want a quick payout and move on the what they were doing. They are 80's with their professions in the low 100's because just don't care. The only time they focus is when they want something and Then and only Then will they do dailies or farm or sponge off of "US" until they hit their goal. They are the definition of M&S.

I don't know what percentage it is of these people, but sometime I believe they are the majority of players.