Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
 
Glyph selling strategies

Advice on selling glyphs has been one of the staples of World of Warcraft economics blogs for the whole of Wrath of the Lich King. With typical prices for a Northrend herb around 1 gold, the cost to make any glyph in the game is less than 2 gold. But looking at the auction house will probably show some glyphs sold for 60 gold, a profit margin of over 3000%. Seems like a good business to be in. Or is it?

Digging a bit deeper shows signs of trouble: Using auctioneer it is easy to find out how many auctions there are in total, and how many glyph auctions there are, and the percentage of glyph auctions of the total market is astounding: On many servers more than a quarter of all auctions are for glyphs. On my server this weekend of 15,000 auctions in total, a whopping 5,000 were for glyphs. As an auction lasts a maximum of 48 hours, it is obvious that far over 90% of these auctions fail to sell. And the prices you see are those of the *unsold* glyphs. The prices of the sold glyphs are lower, and the market is a lot smaller. The average player simply doesn't switch around his glyphs all that often.

Thus while yes, you can potentially sell a glyph which did cost you 2 gold to make for 60 gold, this only happens if at the moment somebody needs that particular glyph (and doesn't mind the price) you happen to be the lowest seller. But as those thousands of glyph auctions suggest, there are plenty of other glyph sellers. And if you just posted several hundred glyphs and somebody else posts his same glyphs 5 minutes later, it is likely that you'll just get "auction expired" messages in your mailbox instead of mountains of gold. Your profits depend a lot more on the other glyph sellers than on demand, which is probably pretty similar on different servers. But as the number of glyph sellers on each server is different, the profit potential differs a lot as well.

That explains why the WoW economic blogs proclaiming to have found the absolutely best glyph selling strategy that is sure to make you rich quick all have a *different* strategy. They all simply tested their strategy only on *their* particular server market. The same strategy which makes you thousands of gold on one particular server might be a complete washout on another server. I tried various of these "get rich quick" strategies on my server, but with there being so much competition, nothing really worked convincingly. I made gold, sure, but at the cost of spending an hour per day emptying my mailbox and relisting all the glyph, with over 90% of them coming back unsold again and again. Regardless of whether I undercut the competition by 5 copper, or did radical undercutting to as low as was just marginally still profitable, somebody else always undercut me. And while other glyph sellers argue that they automated the mailbox emptying and glyph relisting to a point where it needs very little input and they can watch TV on the side, I still count that as one hour of lost time which prevents me from doing something which is actually fun.

I also think that Blizzard designed the glyph economy badly. The glyph undercutting wars clearly show up the weakness of the World of Warcraft auction house system: A blind auction system where you don't see the prices at which the competition listed their wares, like the one used in Final Fantasy XI, would work a lot better here. When Blizzard introduced a limit of 200 transactions per day for the new remote auction house system, I couldn't help but think that it would have been a good idea to also limit the players in the game to that number. 200 auctions per account per day is more than enough for the vast majority of players, and prevents a lot of abuses of the AH system.

So, what is the absolutely best and surest method to get rich through selling glyphs? It is simple: You produce all possible glyphs and undercut the current lowest seller by 1 copper. Then you constantly watch the auction house 24/7, and whenever somebody undercuts you, you cancel your auction and undercut him by another copper, repeatedly if necessary until he gives up. That way you are guaranteed to be always the lowest seller, capture a 100% market share, and will make thousands of gold per week. At least until you break down from exhaustion, because with that strategy you will never be able to leave the computer or actually play anything. Hmmm, sounds like a job for 3 Chinese guys working in shifts in a WoW sweat shop in Guangdong. Oh, you wanted a "get a lot of gold for just 1 hour per day" strategy? Well, I'd recommend fishing, gathering herbs or mining. Unless on your server there are particularly few glyph sellers, there is no glyph selling strategy which gives thousands of gold per week and where you need to log on only once per day for 1 hour.
Comments:
As someone who made a killing on glyphs for a while, I have to completely agree with you Tobold. I've read multiple "sure-fire methods" that wouldn't work at all on my server. I find the typical strategy author response that "if the system doesn't work for you, you're doing it wrong or you're an idiot" to be hilarious.

When glyphs were first out, there was a huge market. People were experimenting with different glyphs and creating new characters, so glyphs were needed. As players were switching from raid glyphs to adventuring glyphs and such, some glyphs kept on selling. Dual-spec killed a chunk of the market because now a lot of people who would buy a stack of glyphs to switch with can just have to two sets of glyphs and be done with it.

It seems like most of these strategy writers cannot forget about the glory days and somehow think they're still around. To be fair, it's a human reaction, and you see it in real world businesses all the time too.


While I've found a few glyphs I can still sell on a fairly regular basis, it's a fraction of the inventory I once carried. Most of the glyphs I post get undercut by the auction house campers. (Some of whom are either bots or using fully automated tools because I regularly see them undercut down below the cost of making the glyph.)

If I need money, I can make more money in a week now doing some gathering while I'm watching a movie than I can with the tools and glyphs that used to make me a couple of thousand a week.
 
I never played FFXI. I have a question about the blind auction house system.

How does that work exactly? If the sellers can't see the prices of the competition then how do the buyers know how much they're paying?
 
Shortly after WotLK came out, I was one of only a handful of max level scribes on my server (including maxing out the inscription research). Back then I was able to spend about an hour in the morning before leaving for work just making glyphs to put on the AH. I did make about 1k per day selling DK glyphs almost exclusively. But that was a unique set of circumstances that won't come again. The number of DKs being created and leveled back then was huge, coupled with the fact that only a few people could actually make the popular glyphs made for a nice little business.

Things have not been that way in a long time. Frankly, the herbs are worth more then the glyph. I only make glyphs now for guildies and alts as needed and earn my living in game off 2 alt alchemists.
 
Actually I log to glyph seller alt twice a day for 10-10 mins and once a week to the glyph producer for an hour and make like 4K a week.

Also the 1G glyph production cost is a bit low, nowadays it's rather 2-3, not counting work cost.

The point is exactly to decrease the insane glyph auction number by driving the prices low enough to make the campers leave. I spend around 3.3 hours a week with glyphs, most of them is AFK (while I DO something "fun", like commenting this blog right now). 4K in 3.3 hours is over 1000G/hour. Even if the whole market has 20K income, 24/7 camping would mean 120G/hour, that's EXACTLY why the chinese farmers don't run glyphs. If you have 24/7, you are better of farming ores for 300G/hour.
 
1) I don't understand why people cancel auctions. If you have capital, just relist new ones, no need to cancel the old.

2) I think most people who blog about glyphs are on backwater servers. Of the 6123 glyphs on my AH, 25% were below 373s and half were below 552s i.e.6g is an above average glyph buyout.

With glyphs never being destroyed in cata, the current system probably won't survive.
 
"On many servers more than a quarter of all auctions are for glyphs. On my server this weekend of 15,000 auctions in total, a whopping 5,000 were for glyphs. As an auction lasts a maximum of 48 hours, it is obvious that far over 90% of these auctions fail to sell."

This is a non sequitur, just as is most of your post today. I don't doubt your experience, but trying to cloak it in economic terms is misleading.

The simple truth is that WoW has never had a real economy or anything approaching one, especially wrt crafting. Raw materials continuously outpace finished products because crafting is fun for some players, but inefficient. The best crafted goods have never matched the quality of dropped items, thus making the market an overall failure. Glyphs were just one more addition to an bad market design.

There are constantly temporary trends and fads within the markets that can make some extra money, but until you can manage a portfolio of investment and arbitrage that works for you while you do other things (as, for instance, in Eve Online), there will never be much credibility to those who claim to have any auction house strategy that will produce, hour for hour, what endgame farming can in either gold or gear.
 
Making money in WoW is easy enough. There's no need for strategies like this really.
 
hm... first... im sure gev showed us that it works on nearly every realm.

second: selling glyphs works for me on 4 diffrent realms... and im not undercutting like shit every 10 seconds... crafting is timeconsuming but only once a week. rest of the time its just posting and collecting.

third: abusing the ah system?!
 
First, a bit of context to show that I have experience in gold-making. My first char hit 75k (with 8 gigantique bags) before I decided to reroll a completely new char on a different server. That char started from nothing and made 50k before I factioned transfer. To do so, I reduced my gold to 20k. Right now, my current char has 100k. Thus, I would've hit the gold-cap XD

For someone really only casually in the gold-making business, I can say Tobold's technical perspective is absolutely spot on. Gold making is tedious and there are absolutely no easy 'get rich quick' scheme. Some blogs (e.g. Gevlon) estimate a highly inflated gold/hr because AFK-time (i.e. standing in front of the mailbox, posting, etc) is not factored in. Many people fail to realise that are differences across servers and one technique which works wonders in one, may be fruitless in another. One blog which I read (I can't remember which) talks truthfully about how reaching the goldcap was a very long and tedious process.

In truth, making some gold is not that hard for I know many who have 20K+ gold. I know that in some GDKPs on my server, some high-demand items can fetch lots of gold (the DFO equivalent in RS25 the other day went for 42k). Many of these casual gold-makers usually make around 1-2k a week and don't really spend much time on it. What really separates casual people (like me) and the more hardcore sellers is the amount of time we are willing to dedicate to this tedious process.

However, I philosophically disagree with Tobold about the "badly designed" glyph system and "abuses to the AH". For me, the AH is a efficient system - the fact that players are free to do what they want without limit means that prices will be forced down and consumers will benefit.

What I consider an abuse of the AH system is that players putting up pages of ridiculous prices for items or people selling ammo for "cheap" when they are only putting stacks of 10. They do so in the hope of someone making a mistake. In my opinion, the AH interface should protect against such schemes or Blizz should put out some kind of ban on these players. After all, in the real-world, there would be protection on this kind of thing.
 
I actually came to the same conclusion:

1. On populated servers - 'letting market work itself out' doesn't seem to work very well. There are plenty of other auctioneers ready to undercut you AND keep the market full.

2. At the same time 'heavy undercutting' someone else also doesn't work very well - they are able to do the same to you.

Some thoughts:

1. Use a different addon. I've found auctionator and quickauctions3 both work a lot better for me with less time spent on AH. Auctioneer was only good for the snatch

2. Just go farming instead.

3. Glyph market is horrible.
 
sry... now i get it... should have read my blogroll before posting here ;)
 
I agree. I maybe picked up the wrong professions when I rolled my SAN character - herbalism was always going to be a given, and I took a long time deciding whether to go Alchemy or Inscription.

Sure, some of them sell, and I sometimes get lucky with one selling recently for 47g, but most of my 'wealth' (if you can call it that as I am still nowhere near my epic flappy) has been from selling greens and consumables that I collect from questing.

It is building a little faster now I am in Northrend as the bop items vendor for better prices on the whole, and the quest rewards give more gold, but selling glyphs is not the way.

I dont bother cancelling auctions, I just turn them over as soon as I can using the post feature of auctioneer and hope they sell - as the listing price is not much I tend to make it back, if not from selling the glyphs, then from other things.

I am still at a loss as to how to make pots of gold for one of those mammoths :)
 
I'm a bit confused at how a blind auction works.

If I am to bid on something, I'd have to know how much it is.

If I can know how much I need to bid, I can know the price.

If I don't know the price, how can I bid, without accidentally bidding much more than what I wanted to bid?

Sorry if I'm ignorant about this, just don't deal with auctions much in the first place, let alone blind auctions.
 
The glyph market did give me thousands of gold. But it's an exhausting market. Get all your unsold glyphs from the AH, craft new ones, relist them all... It takes quite some time and isn't much fun.

As for the strategy? I personally scanned the AH and put glyphs on there which were either not on or were priced >15g. Then I'd just put them on for 15g. Not a great strategy but worked for me.
 
The worst part about glyphs is the unpredictable demand. You can nake up for the random income and make it steadier by selling other items on top of glyphs. The market requires shrewder tactics like watching when opponents log and immediately undercutting them. But until you've triedminscripton don't knock it too much! There are definitely ways to make great gild even if you don't make glyphs. Check out my blog for my own write up on the issue.
 
you think this undercutting is bad? try trading in Jita in Eve Online. People literally watch the markets all day to undercut you by 0.01 isk per unit.

And automation of anything there is more or less against the TOC, and will get your account banned.

I agree that the glyph market looks good, but in reality is awful. Gems can be that way to, but luckily people need and change gems more than they will glyphs. Now if there wasn't a dual spec option, then more glyphs would sell.
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
I'm baffled by your suggestion that the glyph market is "badly designed". Some people make money on it, some don't. Since it's a level playing field, it seems to me that it's working just fine. People who are skilled at glyph selling make money, those who aren't, don't.

It seems to me that rewarding skill is exactly what the game should do. What's bad about it?
 
I see what you did there. During a quiet time in the wow cycle you noticed the re-newing of hostilities between Markco and Gevlon.

The thing that the three of you don't give is which servers you've tried to run glyphs on. I think for Gevlon it's two maybe three, and Markco maybe two. But Tobold have you only tried it on one server or more than one server?

My own experience with toons on three servers (a) horde pvp, (b) horde pve, and (c) alliance pvp (all european). Is that different things work in different markets in different ways, and the intelligent player has to be flexible in his approach if he wants to make gold.

Also if you run two accounts, auction house trading can be done in lulls whilst the main account toons are raiding.
 
Blizzard needs to steal a feature from EVE that would greatly improve the Auction House experience and set a much better "market price" for items.

The Buy Order.

In EVE, you can list an auction to sell an item just like you can in WoW. But you can also place a "Buy Order" if you are interested in BUYING an item at a specific price.

Potential buyers can then list buy auctions at a price they are willing to buy. This allows sellers who want to avoid all the undercutting and still get fair value for their product to sell the item.

The BUY order also cuts down on the need to spam the trade channel to sell items.
 
I'm making easiliy 4k a day with my strategy... not sure why mr Gevlon is only making 4k a week.
 
A lot of these comments show a clear lack of understanding of the AH.

First, if you use auctioneer to sell you are flat out doing it wrong. Its a terrible addon for selling.

Second, Gevlon is flat out wrong, his methods cost you money and make you do more work. Yes you make profits but a fraction of what you would otherwise. Your selling methods have to vary based on server. If you have the market mostly to yourself you'll function completely differently than if there are already 3 or 4 active sellers. "Driving the prices low enough to make the campers leave" doesn't work...they have the same resources as you and they run two accounts just tabbing between them. The only thing driving the prices down does is cripple your own profits. Its just stupid. Its demonstrably a bad strategy.
 
Blizzard hasn't poorly designed the glyph market.

It's more accurate to say that they didn't really put very much thought into the market at all. It's just not a very important part of the design process to them. "There's a place for people to sell stuff. Feature done, let's move on."

Blizzard seems to be, as a matter of policy, against the Auction House player. Things such as cooldowns to keep production from dropping prices through the floor are almost entirely unheard of, and have even been removed from most items which needed it. The only thing I'm aware of which still requires a cooldown is epic gems, and that even has a way arund it by allowing people to buy them with badges or honor.

The idea seems to be that "What's good for the AH player is bad for the regular player". Blizzard has constantly provided many alternate routes of getting almost anything you could need and the only people who really make much money are the people who are willing to do mass production and sell for just above production cost on most servers I've seen.
 
@sid67

The other thing that the EVE marketplace does is tell you how much things are actually sold for. The WoW AH doesn't do that.
 
I am confused about this "blind auction" system. I've never played FFIX, but doesn't it make it difficult, if not impossible, to buy things when you can't tell how much they cost? Any way I, as a buyer, could find out how much they cost, I could use that same method to find out the cost of my competition as a seller.

The only thing I can think of is if there were no buyout option, and you have to enter in how much you'd be willing to pay for something without being able to see how much it's currently selling for, but that sounds incredibly annoying.

And I experienced an auction limit in Star Trek Online, and I have to say -- it was terrible. So many valuable items I found got vendored simply because they weren't as valuable as some of the other items I found. Whenever I wanted to buy a certain item that vendored for a few hundred credits, it simply wasn't available on the auction house, because everyone else was similarly using their limited auction house slots for things that were worth twenty thousand.

But then, that game also taught me how horrible it would be if we had cross server auction houses. When the entire world's playerbase shares the same auction house, all you end up with are dozens of pages of auctions, all of them priced at just a few credits above the vendor sell cost.
 
The absolute best method to get rich through selling glyphs? Destroy the herb market. No herbs, no ink, no competitors, everything sells at stupid-high prices. We all have our perfect fool-proof methods for setting thresholds and caps and fallbacks and post cycles, but it really doesn't matter when you're the only one posting.

Then again, everyone knows the real money is in cards...
 
I'm making easiliy 4k a day with my strategy... not sure why mr Gevlon is only making 4k a week.

To be actually able to compare which strategy is better, you would need two people running the different strategies against each other on the same server.

I tried glyph selling on two different servers, and on neither of them the current daily TOTAL market volume for glyphs is 4k, so even if I had a 100% market share I wouldn't make 4k gold a day. 4k a week maybe, but on my main server there is a guy who isn't as easily discouraged and who didn't give up even when I posted glyphs at very low prices. He just undercut me by a copper 5 minutes later every day.
 
Well I guess it wouldn't be fair to say 4k on glyphs but it is 4k total if I post 4 times... this includes armor/weapon vellums, off hands and runescrolls as well as glyphs.

I had a reason for my recent post on my blog which I will reveal friday. I hope it shocks a lot of people who support either Gevlon's method or my own.
 
@Pangoria, and the other people who don't understand (because they apparently didn't read or comprehend the whole post)

First, there is no "price" in an auction. There are simply the intrinsic and subjective values of an item.

Secondly, the closest thing to "price" in an auction is the price that the item sold at previously.

As Tobold says, this information is included in the blind system.

Example: You want the iLvl 4059876 Leet Epic!!11!, so you check the AH. A window pops up and lists the price the last 5 sold for. You now have your "price". Understand?

Please read thoroughly next time.
 
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