Tobold's Blog
Thursday, May 20, 2010
WoW remote AH application on the iPhone

I was going to write some terribly intelligent thoughts about the new remote AH application for WoW, but Ixobelle beat me to them. Just like him I don't think it will be possible to combine the new application with an addon like auctioneer, whether you use the app on the iPhone or a browser. There are limits to how many auctions you can do per day, 25 at the start, maybe 200 after the beta. And while you can buy and sell and bid, you can't craft, so that typical AH sessions of mine (buy herbs, make pigments, make inks, craft glyphs, sell glyphs) will be impossible.

In consequence I don't think the introduction of the new app will have a huge impact on AH prices. Who is going to post 200 items from his iPhone, one by one, entering all prices manually, and having to remember or written down typical market prices?

Interestingly I would say that the inefficiencies of the new remote AH application are good for people who like to trade on the AH. The reason for that is the efficient market theory, which in spite of having been badly mauled by the economic crisis still has some grains of truth in it: If there were enough people using the auction house, and they would have efficient enough tools, profits from trading would disappear. The reason why you can make a profit by buying something and then reselling it more expensively is that the market in WoW is inefficient. With a lot of competition, sellers would underbid each other until the profit margins would be too low to be worth the effort. In the end every single item in a game like World of Warcraft has an inherent value which is proportional to the time it takes to gain this item for yourself instead of buying it. With enough people trading, the market value of all items on the AH converges towards this inherent value, because the buyers think "I'm not paying more than that, I'll go gather the stuff myself", and the sellers think "I'm not selling for less than that, because otherwise I could earn more gold doing something else like running dailies". The fun of AH trading lies in making a profit, and that only works if the market is inefficient. So fortunately the remote AH app isn't going to change that.
If something is on the browser it can easily be botted. While crafting cannot be done offline, 1c undercut can. The bot finds being undercut, cancel, relist.
If it would be reachable from a browser then you could indeed create a completely automated money maker. Keep a database with prices, scan, find the bargains, list them,...

Some manual checks might still be needed to prevent white items being worth 1g being put up for 1000g for three days and on the fourth day for the "bargain price" of 500g.
Interestingly I was just reading about this same thing on an economics blog
I find it disturbing that markets work "best" when they are "inneficiant". As in, a few clever people are making money off of a lot of stupid people who don't put the effort in to find the right prices. Funny how it's the same in WoW as in the real economy.
Interestingly, your last paragraph describes the core reason I stopped playing both Champions Online and Star Trek Online, and don't plan to ever return to them. Cryptic's model of "everyone in the world plays on the same server" does not make for a happy economy.

Not a single item in your bag is worth the time to list on the auction house, because there's already 500 listings up that are barely a few credits above what I could get from vendoring them.

As much as I hate the fact that separate servers prevent me from playing with my iRL friends (because we're all established on different ones) I'd much rather have an economy that's fun to play with.
@anarki - I think the point was markets work best for consumers when they are efficient. markets work more profitably for producers/traders when they are inefficient. Which is why various interest groups keep fighting free markets. The same [WoW] efficiency that would make it less profitable for producers would make the products cheaper for the people who buy them.

@gevlon - but the daily transaction limit will keep macros from doing it too many times for too many products. especially if the new system will count a cancel and a relist as two transactions. I suppose it will work much better for high ticket items rather than high volume. It can be amusing to post a single item under theirs to see if you can get them to cancel and relist. Someone with QA3 and posting one item would not take too long to consume a simple bots transaction limit.

It may be the way to go is use the web to monitor and still use the legacy client with all your addons for the traditional duties.
I think the remote app will be great fun. Just the ability to take some time when you're in queue or otherwise stuck in the real world - and post a few auctions, get your gold back, maybe make a couple bids...

I just hope the web version works on my Blackberry Tour 9630, it has definitely raised a few eyebrows that theirs no mobile app for Blackberry/Android phones since these smartphones are in many more hands then iPhones.
Now this piece stirred up a question that could be fun to play with.

How would the Europe:Greece<->Euro<->Germany relation which is going on now compare with the reduced but possibly similar model of Raidguild:PlayerA<->DKP<->PlayerB?

Or maybe even two players playing the Auction House PvP?

Maybe Tobold has the insight into both to shed some light on things? :-)
How would the Europe:Greece<->Euro<->Germany relation which is going on now compare with the reduced but possibly similar model of Raidguild:PlayerA<->DKP<->PlayerB?

I don't think these situations are all that similar, because sadly enough DKP are better designed than the Euro. In the Greece-Euro-Germany situation the problem is Greece weakening the Euro, and Germany having to bail them out to keep the Euro stable. In the raid DKP situation player A doesn't care how carelessly player B spends his DKP, player B can't weaken the value of DKP to other players (only to himself), and thus player A will never feel tempted to bail out player B.

While crafting cannot be done offline, 1c undercut can. The bot finds being undercut, cancel, relist.

Yep, now imagine thousands of players with thousands of bots doing that, or just two players with no limit to the number of transactions: After some time the relisting price will either be down to 1 copper, or to whatever lower limit somebody set minus 1 c. Efficient market hypothesis in action.

And due to listing fees the botters end up having paid a fortune in fees for ultimately listing an item for 1 copper.
This change will enable bot-automated sniping on rare items, which will increase the costs of some rare items dramatically.

I have no problem paying what an item is worth, but I don’t like the idea that I’ll be paying that to a guy who is (undetectably) running a robot buyer instead of the player who got the rare drop.

I like the idea that you do well in WoW because you are good at playing WoW, not because you found a PERL AH-bot on the internet.
An efficient market is the best overall as we all fit into the machine and it churns out whatever it is we're demanding. But that's boring. I'm glad that in this game there isn't a perfectly clear market price, stable demand or supply, and therefore opportunity to do something other than a repetitive and slowly profitable grind.
I'm rather surprised at this move from Blizzard. It's going to completely destroy the auction house for people who like to "play" it. While 1 bot might have 200 transactions a day, the 1 million bots running will have quite a few more.

It will be impossible to play the auction house by hand in game. And crafted goods will sell for just above vendor prices.
I agree that possibly the most serious bad consequence of this move is that it will enable people to run bots which are completely undetectable by Blizzard.

I'm not so sure that it will drive any prices up, except those really rare cases when somebody completely stupid posts a valuable epic for far under value. How many cheap epics did you buy like that? Not many, in my case.
I'm interested in this from a technical perspective. If blizzard doesn't open an api for it, I'll try coding my own scraping program to capture the data from the browser, once I get into the beta. That combined with another program I hope to write to identify negative cycles in the AH should yield some interesting and profitable results.
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How would the Europe:Greece<->Euro<->Germany relation which is going on now compare with the reduced but possibly similar model of Raidguild:PlayerA<->DKP<->PlayerB?

Player A produces epics. Player B buys them with DKP. To be able to pay with DKP, player A also gives player B the DKP, in form of a DKP-credit.

Eventually it turns out that player B will never be able to repay his DKP. Player C-F think that it doesn't make a lot of sense for player A to just let'em go. Instead they consider the fact that player A and B have now some power over player X, who is able to create DKP from nothing. They fear that player X might do exactly that which would obviously reduce the value of DKP.

Thus, they sell DKP and buy Snake Kill points (SKP) instead. They don't feel good doing so, because Player Y is the one who can print SKP and he might not be able to repay the dept to Player Z in the future. Markets, however, usually concentrate on one thing at a time and the individual player is more busy thinking about what the other players think than about what might actually happen.

Evtually it turns out that player A never had an interest in DKP in the first place. All he wanted was to have soemthing to do. He produced epics, because that gives him something to do and having a raid is good - even if you need to give people a credit so that they buy your epics - and even if you will never get the credit or anything back.

What happens just doesn't matter. What matters is what players A-Z believe that players A-Z believe.

I find it disturbing that markets work "best" when they are "inneficiant". As in, a few clever people are making money off of a lot of stupid people who don't put the effort in to find the right prices. Funny how it's the same in WoW as in the real economy.

Now, that is bullshit. Sorry.
They work best for the consumer when they are efficient. Since wellfare of the individual depends mostly on how well he can consume, you can say that they work best when they are efficient.

Otherwise you could also say that dictatorship is the best possible way to govern - for the dictator - or inefficient markets are the best markets - for suppliers.

Now, some markets just aren't efficient and it is not within human power to make them efficient. In that case many things that are true for efficient markest are not true anymore. This is at the heart of so many problems of the political right. (And don't even get me started at the political left :)
All very interesting economics aside, this move is a very clear attempt at monetizing goldfarmers. Even if it is released with artificial restraints, they will later be lifted for the 'convenience of the players.'
Tobold: From my experience with running a bunch of raid guilds I would look at Greece as a raider with very low productivity, some type of noob that dies all the time but still is allowed to get DKP from participating in raids.

A typical DKP system gives equal DKP to all participating raiders and the Euro would be a kind of guild that once you join it you will be participating in all the raids and earn all the points.

The spending side of the equation is interesting. I did not really think of it that way. I wonder how a raiding guild would operate if all members were allowed to "borrow DKP" at about zero interest from a guild reserve. I guess the one who borrows would be expected to participate in future raids at increased productivity. That gets complicated when the one who borrows is the one who dies all the time. :D
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