Greedy Goblin

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Where size does matter

Quick note on Tol Barad: Blizzard messed it up again, now it's theoretically impossible to defend. We won it in mins against full raid with bad play. Don't worry if your good old "let's def TB" turns into a huge defeat. It's normal. TB is messed up again.

The quality of the economy depends on the number of AH players.
  • They buy out the cheap stuff before some M&S would grab it and waste it.
  • They buy when low and sell when high, preventing huge price jumps
  • They craft (or finance the crafting of) items that are needed but not available
  • They have huge industries to cover the versatile business of glyphs and gems
  • They transport rare vendor items to the AH
Since the number of fields is limited, the smoothness of the market increases as more and more businessmen enter. Of course it decreases the individual profit, but hey, the business is about "competition serving all".

The only thing that is better on high population servers is the quality of economy. It's easier to make gold on low pop servers, exactly because of unclaimed niches, but harder to make a decent living. When I just want to buy something for myself, I often have to seek crafter because the ones in the AH are terribly overpriced in lack of competition (of course I buy lot of mats this case, get them all crafted, use one, sell the rest).

How could the size of markets be increased? Blizzard could do it with a few clicks: replace the auction NPC's affiliation from horde and alliance to Blackwater (making every AH the neutral AH) and decrease the AH cut of the neutral AH to 5% or 10%. This way the horde and alliance would use the same market, the number of AH players would be added, therefore market effectivity would increase.

No further GM action would be needed, the auctions in the horde and alliance AHs would simply expire and return as there couldn't be buyers in the absence of auctioneer NPCs. The redundant code can be purged after a week or two.

This would largely increase the customer satisfaction without significant effort as the winners of the effective market are the simple buyers who don't do serious calculations. They can be easily tricked by monopolist, but on an effective market the seller competition would lower the prices.

Magma posted this suggestion on the US official forums. Please support it there if you like it.


Anonymous said...

All neutral AH would delete the sociality of "us" and "them" in the economy, I don't think Blizzard would do that. There is little enough diference between the factions anyway.

Personally, I wouldn't be able to contact the sellers. I like to do that everytime I buy a high-ish priced item, ie 359 stuff for all my chars. I never understand the people whining on /2 about how expensive these are when all you have to do is talk a guy into a decent price.

Grim said...

Haven't actually visited TB since patch, but this sounds like a terribly hasty conclusion.

Everyone is used to defending being super-easy and thus it being legitimate to goof around or just AFK in a base for minutes at a time.
Everyone is also used to attacking being super hard and organization and everyone's best effort to be required to even have a shot at succeeding.

Now imagine that TB is perfectly balanced and defenders enter expecting an easy victory and attackers enter expecting to fight tooth and nail - what's gonna happen?

Dzonatan said...

This is a great idea but there is also one problem.

There is a reason why both Alliance and Horde are opposed to each other and why the game has "War" in its name.

While sure I shouldnt mix game mechanics with lore like why undead can be priests but still... your suggestion goes too far.

Tazar said...

I wish I could make it an official suggestion, but I'm in Europe and developers ignore the European forums. "

I honestly disagree with this.

1) I had thread in WOTLK about Blessing of kings and why it should be merged with Mark of the wild. It happened.

2) I had suggestion of ability to write noes to charaters in your friend's list. We have this feature.

3) I had suggestion to have a feature to be able to write your friend regadless of character he is online right now. (Well I do not like real ID much but we have such feature now)

4) They made changes to the game because of your blog several times.

I know that I cann't prove any of 1-4 but it was written here or on EU forum and things changed so I disagree that developers do not read sugestions outside of US.

Azzur said...

I actually don't see why some ppl say that it's too far away from lore. The goblins would do anything for profit, including selling to both horde and alliance.

Pheqbeast said...

This is a great idea, I believe you'll get alot of support.

Magma said...

I posted it for you.

Ðesolate said...

all theese things were suggested in US-Forums since alpha spare of MoW don't really know when that came up but merging buffs were suggested thousands of times and it didn't start at WotLK.

All things that Gevlon pointed out were written in the US-Forum same as the EU-Forum. But there has never been any suggestion picked up that was only stated in the EU-Forum. Since almost everything got its way into the US-Forum.

OT: Blizzard has a true interest to keep the neutral AHs seperated and both factions.
Players usually transfer horde-alliance via the neutral AH. For this you need two accounts. Of course not both yours, you can ask a friend or anything. But playtime is wasted on both sides. This time distracts you from Bugs, M&S, bad content, etc.

Why do you think there is no true "teleport spell"? Time wasted is money made. You will be playing longer to achieve your goals. So you pay 1-2 Months more. That's it.

Azuriel said...

I'm not convinced such an AH environment would be as intuitive as you seem to believe.

On high profile auctions, it is a smart move to whisper the buyer or send them a mail with a lower offer. Unless they update the UI, there won't be a way to know if the seller is even on your faction or not. You can sometimes get leads on crafters (who has a certain pattern, etc) if you notice an item up, but again they could be uninteractable outside the AH itself.

Finally, unless you were suggesting this merge only on low-pop realms, you end up with an AH of unmanagable size on high-pop realms. You know those idiots who put up 400 individual auctions of cloth? Now you get them x2. Addons has twice as many items to scan, etc etc.

Kring said...

They won't do it. It's basically the same idea as letting horde and alliance team up together for 5 man dungeons. Would have been an great help in the days before LFD and would still increase the LFD pool. Same for raiding.

Blizzard likes to make their game worse then it could be because of strange and stupid concepts.

Gevlon said...

@Kring: they already did it. There is the neutral AH, it's just problematic to use. However if it's a lore problem, they can still keep the old auction houses and just place a Blackwater guy to the major cities.

@Azuriel: I can't tell how much I'm annoyed by those whispers. I put the item on auction for X for a reason. I won't sell you for X/2 just because you spammed me.

Riptor said...

One AH System for both Factions would be great. Aside from your mentioned improvements, the raiding Guilds would also benefit greatly from this form of trading. When I think back just how much effort and Gold Raiders put into the Neutral AH in order to swap BoE Epics and Crafted Items from Drops (Sunwell Robe for example was not available on Horde side for 4 Months on my Server in BC) all the way through from Sunwell to ToC. Also more access to people selling their Frost Badges for Primodial Saronite would have saved us a huge Amount of Gold when the “you just have to farm a shitload”-Legendary was available in ICC.
But I don’t think that will happen. Imagine if Arthasloldk can not flame the Seller when he finds out that Dust of Disappearance can be bought elsewhere than in the AH for 50g a piece? Also I think the “us vs. THEM” Mechanic is as important in a Social MMO as the “you can be a pro gamer” illusion you mentioned yesterday

Anonymous said...

@Gevlon: You'd be surprised at how many people would. On my server I've seen a guy advertising some BoE-epic for around a week now in /2, and it's usually on the AH. (Of course I could be wrong - he could simply be buying up epics to sell them or whatever.) If I were to ask him if I could buy it from him at, say, 80% of the price outside the AH, he'd probably be happy to do so, despite this being a problem he could fix easily by not selling over market price. If you also keep in mind that he doesn't need to give the AH a cut, you could even argue that it would be a win-win situation.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised a goblin like yourself would 'wag the dog' like you did on this post. If this were implemented, the BY FAR most profitable gold scheme in the game would be over. Sure, inscription, alchemy and JC are profitable but those profits get absolutely dwarfed by arbitraging.

Bobbins said...

Barriers are what define markets.

Transfer between alliance and horde for profit is an industry itself. An industry which some it would seem some would like removed. Surely your not thinking of using the state (Blizzard) intervention to change the markets?

Anonymous said...

Many of those who played WoW before TBC can tell about a time when the neutral AH was frequently used, because it actually had a purpose. In those days the Horde did not have paladins, and the Alliance did not have shamans. The only way to sell spellpower plate for Horde was in the neutral AH, same for spellpower mail for Alliance.
This was incentive enough to take frequent trips to neutral AH, and many had bankalts in the goblin cities.

Now the neutral AH is a curiosity used only to sell faction pets and do transfers. Any auction put up there would be available to more, but seen by just a very few.

People are not against cross faction trade, they frequently did it in the times when world PvP was big, and cities was raided on a regular basis, not just for a bear mount.

People choose what is most convenient in the short term, otherwise there would be no tanks in the dungeon finder, they would all assemble a good group in 5min, instead of risking to wipe with rofledots for 1 hour.

Moving the neutral AH to capital cities would make people use it. There are many servers with great differences in price levels for Alliance and Horde, even big enough to justify the increased posting fee and AH cut.
But the neutral AH is far away, so no one posts there and for the same reason no one bothers to check it when they need something.

It's all about convenience.

Phelps said...

@grim, TB is certainly broken. I was on a full raid that was defending smart, and we got roflstomped (if you'll pardon my leetspeek) in six minutes.

Sthenno said...

Don't be silly, Bobbins. The State in this case defines the totality of what is real. If we are able to give things to one another or exchange currency in any format it is because of state intervention. Blizzard is not he Government of WoW, they are the Gods of WoW.

Anonymous said...

@Gevlon "I put the item on auction for X for a reason. I won't sell you for X/2 just because you spammed me."
But you might sell for X-10 if that's still greater than what you'd get after the AH cut. Or you might be willing to sell for less if they wanted to buy several items or in bulk. Or just sell for less for a guaranteed sale, rather than having to relist a few times and eat the deposit fees.

Graylo said...

I've often wondered what would happen if Blizzard took this suggestion a step farther and made AHs Battlegroup or Region wide just like they did for the LFD tool.

If it worked it would probably create an increadibly efficent market for the consumers, which would be a good thing for the majority of WoW players. However, I'm not sure it could work.

The first big problem I see is Addons. Since most goblins use addons like Auctioneer to scan the AH, region wide AH's would dramatically increase the work load of these addons. I'm not sure if they could handle scanning 1,000,000 records, and without these addons the markets would be less efficent.

There are several other problems I can think of as well, but I would like to see what would happen if they tried it.

Anonymous said...

If they are going to adjust AH code, why not go all the way?

It looks bad when any game company has to close realms. Yet really low-pop can be frustrating to achieve certain critcal mass in people and mats/gear. LFG and battlegroup PvP addressed this for heroics and BGs but not AH items. And neutral AH only addresses things for low-pop factions; it is not as much help for low pop realms.

So why not continue the recent trend of allowing you to pull from your battlegroup, not just your realm?

Two optional extensions to the idea:
Personally, I miss not being able to place buy orders. So you could make this high-commission, through the nether BG AH only allow buy orders. THhs won't happen because some people have a problem with the existing mechanics so more complexity may not be appreciated.

The other takes advantage of a recent trend: Web based AH. The existing Web AH is in many ways superior to the in-game one now. So make my Battlegroup-wide AH be web based. So there is much, much less issue with bandwidth and lag. Nor do you risk destablizing the client or servers. You could let everyone do something for free but the $3.95/month subscribers can do more. Blizzard is pretty fond of money.

Anonymous said...

Upon reflection, is TB broken or just doing something different than we want/expect?

I.e., isn't a nearly impossible to defend TB about as good as Bliz can do at the moment?

TB was very poorly designed. I am not sure Bliz has many resources to allocate to its development atm. It's only PvP after all and not the ratedBG/Arena that matter to that minority; 4.1 Raids are far more important than TB balance. Bliz's QA let ship LoveIsInTheAir quests to go to non-existant parks and give bracelets to no longer there kings. I.e., Blizzard does not have an excess of [competent] development resources.

Can they really spare much effort for TB? TB is for the minority who like PvP yet it provides neither the unscheduled immediate access of unrated BGs, nor the better gear/competition of people who do RBG or arena.

The recent win-trading, 1800 vs 180, made sure each faction got to run the other dailies and BH several times a day. Alas, this offended the e-Bushido people. So with little effort, Blizzard can postpone doing something significant about TB until 4.2 or 4.3 or 5.0.3, allow each side access several times a day,and not have any of that evil win-trading.

It may be the changes are mere incompetence, but TB could be working as Blizzard intended.

Soge said...

What about cross Server Auction Houses? Maybe using the current battlegroup system, or having "auction groups", so that low population servers can be grouped with low population servers, and High Population servers AH can be left as they are right now.

Bobbins said...

The scenario is not as far fetched as you believe. Two countries alliance and horde want to set up direct trade links bypassing the neutral country what was acting as a go between.

Away my response was based on the fact that the 'free market' is not an instant success as the laissez faire crowd make it out to be. People in the real world routinuely argue the benefits of free trade/laissez faire economy and yet when things don't work to their benefit they change the rules. This is what is happening here the 'free market' is not to their chosing so rather than let market forces work they argue for a fix. Either the self righting of the free market works or it doesn't. Apparently in this case the greedy goblin is arguing in this case small free markets can't work well.

VekTor said...

The current problems with large auction houses (over 851 pages of results) would be magnified significantly by this.

Blizzard has been reluctant to fix their broken API to deal with larger auction houses, and have even made changes that have made the problem significantly worse.

Merging two (or more) auction houses without first fixing this underlying issue would be a recipe for disaster, in my opinion.

If they fix the API to handle over 43,500 auctions on one AH, then I'd be in favor of making several alternate AH options available in main cities, rather than just de-facto merging them.

Have one Auctioneer serve Horde-only, one of them serve a combined/neutral AH, and one of them serve a battle group AH. That allows people to do arbitrage (and profit from it), while still allowing people to sell to smaller, server-specific markets if they prefer.

More choice is generally better than less. Mashing them together with no chance of having a narrow market available means less choice.

Just my two cents as an addon developer and heavy gold bug.

- VekTor