Greedy Goblin

Friday, February 26, 2010

Value in investing and arbitrage

Undergeared update: I gave invite right to all raiders, so you can join by finding any Undergeared raider online.

Klepsacovic wrote that buying frozen orbs low from those who are not reading patch notes is worthless. The "true businessman" gives efficiency to the existing market or creates new markets, serving people. While I'm a big fan of these things, and developed the glyph industry myself and always seeking new markets (like bloodstone crafting), I'm all in for buying orbs. And I don't think it's just a zero-sum action against M&S.

The price of an item is an important signal to its worth to someone else. For example you can use historical documents as toilet paper, but the world is much better off if they get to some researcher. You cannot know everything. You can't know all the possible usages of items, so it's impossible to find every item it's best use. It's not your fault that you don't recognize that those old papers are not the shopping list of your grandma, but an important part of history. It's the price that the dealer pays you tells you that those funny papers are better than toilet paper.

If the price you get for an item is higher than the price of a replacement that serves you just as good, you are better off selling the original item (the historical document in the example) and buying replacement (toilet paper).

Theoretically, every item would have a well-known market price, therefore making sure that everyone uses the cheapest acceptable item, maximizing utility. However here comes the M&S. The worst kind "farmed it for free". They find something valuable (for example a hunter finds a BoE BiS) wand, and instead of selling it, he wastes it by giving to his caster alt who only farms herb. It's pretty hard to stop this stupidity.

However if he is not using it himself, but throw it to the AH without researching the price, he might set a "too low" price. "Too high" price is not a problem, the items just returns. The low priced item is now at the mercy of luck. If someone who would use it well and would pay its normal price finds it first, no damage is done, and the lucky guy also saved market_price-M&S_price gold. But if another M&S finds it, who wouldn't (or couldn't) buy it in market price, the item is equipped and destroyed for the world. The BiS wand goes to some farming alt, or ungemmed 0/0/71 retard.

But here comes the goblin. He finds the underpriced wand, buys it and resells. He makes profit, and in the same time reserves the wand to those who know its real value. Granted, the above reasoning use the assumption that "wanting and able to pay it's price" = "would use it well". But that's the whole assumption of capitalism. He got rich exactly because he is not a retard.

Long term investing (like in the case of frozen orbs) does the same over a longer time. Frozen orb currently have not much use, and due to its vast oversupply, it's maybe the best to just vendor it. However it will worth more. What is better for the community? If the orb is vendored (5G income to the players) or the orb is saved and turned into a frost lotus (50G income to the players)?

Of course we can't expect the M&S to read (dirty word for them) patch notes, and even if they know about it, we can't expect them to wait for greater reward. So here comes the investor. He buys the now worthless item and stores it. The M&S gets some reward now and the item is saved for later. While the profit lands in the pocket of the investor, the item is saved for the whole community as all frost lotuses will be cheaper due to increased supply.


Ladron de la Noche said...

"But that's the whole assumption of capitalism. He got rich exactly because he is not a retard."

And that wrong assumption is indeed capitalism's biggest flaw.

Chopsui said...

You have a point. However, what I noticed on my server, was that when those patch notes went up on mmo-champion, the price of frozen orbs on the auction house and trade went up 1000%, from ~5g vendor price to 50g. What was more baffling was, THEY WERE SELLING. M&S does read the patch notes it seems, or if they don't they got pointed to them very fast. Following trade chat is/was common:

Buying Frozen Orb 30g each
Why are you buying them so expensive?
Lol read patch notes u tard
yea donkey go read up

As such "wisdom" of the patch notes spread blazingly fast. M&S figured he could make a quick profit, buying their orbs for 30g, then buying frost lotus with them, and selling those for 70g which is our current market price.

Now, obviously you could see what was going on here, and what was/is going to happen. Frozen orb went up in it's intrinsic price due to patch notes. They *are* worth more than 5g now, and most likely will end up at around frost lotus price after patch 3.3.3

From what I see now, that price will be at around/about 25g, it's what our market decided on at this moment. Frost lotus is still at 75g, and I still see M&S buying frozen orbs to trade for those lotuses, they don't realize that price will come down. Both the gathering buff, and the fact that you'll be able to source frost lotus from a readily available resource, along with a demand that didn't really rise, will mean the price goes down.

Anyway, I sold all my orbs at the time of the market bloat, at 40g each. Unfortunately didn't have many, but after that I figured the market would go lower, and unfortunately you cannot speculate on a falling market in WOW.

If only there was such a thing as speculating on a falling market in WOW.... *dreams*

Xaxziminrax II said...

A number of points reiterated from a previous post, but your updated examples and to-the-point explanation makes this an easy read.

Anonymous said...

"If the orb is vendored (5G income to the players) or the orb is saved and turned into a frost lotus (50G income to the players)?"

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this false? After all, the way you say it makes it sound as if somehow, due to this transaction, the total sum of gold in the game increased. The only thing thing different is who owns that gold.

Unknown said...

I am currently grabbing all Frozen Orbs below 20g each.

It just can't go really wrong, since the demand for flasks is hight enough that I really doubt frost lotuses will go below that.

In the very worst case scenario I still will be able to use them with profit in inscription offhands and various leg armour patches.

Also I am expecting to abuse the patchweek temporary market crash, when not so bright stockers will unleash their stack and undercut each other to the ground.

Klepsacovic said...

In the frozen orb example there is some value created by driving up market prices prematurely and perhaps encouraging more farming and supply than there would be otherwise; resulting in more of the more valuable orbs later on. This doesn't happen with BoEs, they're not farmable (for the most part).

Our ignorant person posts the wand for less than people would be willing to pay, and gets from the AH effectively what he was most able to make. Then our goblin marks it up to take it out of range of similarly ignorant people, ensuring that it will more likely end up in the hands of someone who will actually use it. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. And a bit of wealth put to the side by the person organizing it.

Arbitrage is really only a bandage at best anyway. It can only redirect those items which end up on the AH. What about the endless BoEs that people hit DE on? Or the ones which go to unplayed alts? These can only be solved by educating people, encouraging them to think. There are those too stupid to do so, but for the most part, people can be given some concept of a more profitable way to do things. Think of them as your months-ago concept of the trained M&S.

Newton said...

Concerning the frozen orbs. The worst kind of M&S is those that put it on the AH below the guaranteed VENDOR PRICE. I've picked up stacks of orbs below vendor price (3-4.95 gold each) and stored them because I don't need my bank slots for anything else and I can always make that money back plus a little profit if I just vendor them. Now my investment sitting in idle bank slots is going to pay off.

However, what's the opportunity cost of hoarding stacks and stacks of orbs for someone that has a high inventory business like say, Glyphs? Is a bank slot better used to hoard frozen orbs for weeks, or months at a time or for your glyph inventory that might turn over completely a couple of times in the same period?

Someone complained that if they had only known, they wouldn't have sold all those orbs months ago. I asked 'what did you use those bank slots for?'. The response was 'I'm a miner, I used them for ores'. This guy then acknowledged he probably made more money off those bank slots gathering and selling ores for a couple of months than he would have gotten if he had kept those slots 'blocked' with a frozen orb investment.

Zamboni said...


"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."
- Karl Marx, 1875

And yes, you can speculate on a falling market. It's called gold.

Anonymous said...

Sitting on gold doesn't make you money; the person wanting to speculate on a falling market wants to sell short. And that you cannot do in WoW.

I'm no visionary, but somehow I thought Frost Lotuses would be a good investment 6 months ago at 9-12g ea when they were in abundance on my AH.

After ICC was out for 3 weeks, they hit 70g and I sold all 67 stacks (1340 lotuses) for 60g ea. I'm at 340k gold now... such a fun little mini-game this AH nonsense.

Anonymous said...

The assumption that M&S don't have lots of gold is flawed. Gold is easy to come by, and there are plenty of M&S out there that will spend lots of it on BoE items that are not good for their class. So your example of if the BoE wand was priced correctly it'd end up in the correct hands isn't necessarily the case. I've seen plenty of people that are M&S walking around in BoE epics that boost their gearscore but are poor choices of items if they actually understood itemization.

Anonymous said...

There used to be a differense in a wow players wealth from how he made his money, it can be simplyfied to:

Daily quests < Gathering < Crafting = investing

However blizzard has lately been making a lot of atempts to even out the profitability of theese options, by making items previousy only obtainable by using a specific proffesion obtainable by others who don't have that particular proffesion. good examples are:

1:Epic gems for honor/emblems
2:DE leaching for all who group with enchanters
3:Arctif fur tradable from other leathers (much cheaper in AH)
4:Removal of CD's on transmutes and titansteel.
5:Removed skill requirement to fish in high level zones.
6:Orbs and primordial saronite available from emblems.
7:Frost lotus avalable from Frozen orbs.

All theese things are do is to increase the supply, and sometimes decrease demand for items that comes from proffesions, this will make those who use their proffesions make less gold compared to the daily grinders.

Of course it's impossible for daylies to give more gold than proffesions as no one would bother mining if they could do daylies for the same amout of time and get more gold, and the following lack of miners would increase the demand for items gathered by miners, and thus get miners mining again.

Ater next patch the price of lotuses will drop, and herbalists will have their proffesion raped by blizzard in the same way that enchanters, and skinners have.

It is this ruin of proffesions, that is making wow turn into a comunist game, the excessive amount and quality of whelfare epics is a much less important factor.
When M&S get free epics out of thin air that does not hurt you, but when they get free stuff generated from your proffesions it does, A miner may not be a rocket scientist in terms of intelligence, but he is productive, and punishing him to give M&S free/cheap stuff is communism in a nutshell.

Guderia said...

@Last Anonymous:
"I've seen plenty of people that are M&S walking around in BoE epics that boost their gearscore but are poor choices of items if they actually understood itemization."

Some people might do this to achieve the GS that is required to get into decent raid for TotC or ICC.

Pugs are abundant these days, so many people get away with it these days, and compared to when you had to raid with a proper guild.

On the Frozen Orbs.
I am a hoarder, and since Frozen Orbs have been next to worthless for some time I have two stacks of them in my Bank alts Guild bank.

Prices of eternals and lotuses will surely drop, especially in in the first days or weeks after the patch, so 35g (they are around 25-45g on my server at the momeent) for a Frozen Orb will most likely not make a profit.

Klepsacovic said...

@Anonymous who thinks Blizzard is Communist: Spreading the wealth isn't necessarily socialist. Mechanics changes are effectively the technology of WoW. These changes are like factories; creating more wealth for everyone, and yes, losses for the artisans, but they are not government takeover of professions. Maybe the auto-DE, but the rest are not Blizzard seizing our assets and redistributing them.

Miners are not having their wealth stolen. The price of titansteel will go down, but that's the same as mass-producing hats: the price goes down. It's not Communism, it's the market determining a new price.

As for enchanters having their profession raped; mine is making more gold than ever. Lower mat prices are a loss on the 'gathering' end, but they are a huge buff on the crafting end as more people are willing to get the high-end enchants, and pay.

Taemojitsu said...

It's tricky, in an MMO... higher efficiencies in a market will lead to greater output of the final goods. But while in the normal world this leads to things like better constructed houses, more electronic goods, etc... in an MMO it just means that in-game goals are easier to accomplish. But difficulty is proportional to achievement, as long as it isn't seen as grinding necessary to be able to start some other goal.

I think it's a neutral moral judgement either way (prices partly determined by desire for quick turnaround and avoiding reposting considering unpredictable demand), except in the case of spurring supply by artificially raising demand to the most efficient point despite lack of information in a market to cause that result naturally. As you have pointed out, in an economy with magic gold creation it's not like anyone needs it for anything but brown bears/mammoths/motorcycles.

I think I ended up giving away most of the rare items I encountered in MMOs, but this is hardly a normal thing to do and I didn't expect others to do the same. I also had three characters from 45 to 50 on my first WoW server, none of them able to afford a mount.