Tobold's Blog
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Improving the auction house

World of Warcraft is over 10 years old. And at some places that shows, with some game design elements being somewhat dated and far from optimal. I would argue that one of these outdated game design elements is the WoW auction house.

Basically MMORPGs have two major opposed concepts of player economy. One is the individual concept, where trade is supposed to strengthen social bonds between players. The best example of that would be games like Ultima Online or Star Wars Galaxies having player-run shops. If you wanted the best armor, you had to go to the shop of the best player blacksmith. People could make a name for themselves as master crafters. The opposing concept is the one of maximum convenience: A centralized auction house manages trades, and connects buyers and sellers as quickly and efficiently as possible.

While the WoW auction house leans towards the latter, it carries with it some elements of the former: Each auction is individual and shown with the name of the seller. Unfortunately this middle way ends up being no good: Nobody cares who the seller is, and the individual listing makes the auction house less efficient. Anonymous auction houses are frequently far superior, for example in Wildstar.

One advantage of anonymous auction houses is the efficiency of buying some crafting material. The WoW AH frequently has goods listed in a quantity of 1. If I want to buy 200 Sumptuous Furs, I sure as hell don't want to buy 200 individual auctions of 1 fur each. And the standard interface without addons doesn't even make it easy for me to find the 200 least expensive ones. In more modern auction houses I'll just give an order for 200 fur, and the AH interface sorts out the price for the 200 cheapest ones for me.

The other advantage of anonymous auction houses is that it can be slightly less precise in order to prevent micro-management. For example it can show the price of the last item that sold, instead of showing the price of the cheapest item on offer. In the WoW auction house you frequently get the case of a seller seeing all the prices of the other sellers and then underbidding them by 1 copper piece to become the cheapest. Then another seller logs in, cancels his now more expensive auction and posts it at another 1 copper cheaper. You can get long 1 copper underbid wars that serve absolutely nobody, because they don't really decrease the price, but force everybody to keep watching the AH.

It is probably not a priority for Blizzard, but I would hope that at some point they patch in a more modern, anonymous version of the auction house. It would be more efficient and practical for both buyers and sellers.

That is something I hadn't really noticed until I saw it in action in GW2. The consolidation of same priced items is very useful. Unfortunately it wouldn't be possible in WoW while it continues to have separate buy and bid prices.

I miss purchase requests. I was hoping that the cross faction AH merge would let them to flip the sign convention on the Goblin AH so that we could use it to place buying orders.
It's probably one area where Blizzard will catch up, simply by copying some of the more successful mods. Nobody of the old-time players I know uses the standard interface. The hard-core AH players all use TSM (trade skill master), which is vast overkill if you just want to buy and sell some stuff. All the normal people use Auctionator, which does more or less exactly what you ask, without any extra fluff and superfluous functionality.
Just like Grid got "integrated" into the standard WoW interface, it's likely that sooner or later the same will occur with Auctionator.
The biggest problem with WoW's Auction House is that it thinks it's an Auction House.

An Auction House would be great for that rare or expensive item that needs to be treated differently than the commodity items.

So here we are, trying to conduct commodity and mercantile trades, and all we have to work with is this damn Auction House.

You should be able to walk into the Commodity and Mercantile Exchange and say "Yo! Gimme 200 Sumptuous Furs!" and get the best available price right back for the cheapest 200 of them available, all repackages as a single stack and everything.

Now, there is a potential problem. Some might be bought in the time it takes you to do that, so the price quoted is only an estimate. Also, scammers will stick in onsies at huge prices to try to get them inserted into your bundle. So you need controls against that.
Well, I do care about the name of a seller to a degree.

I like to buy stuff from real players, not bots/dupers. Back in Cataclysm it was very clear that most of the epic gems were sold by cheaters so I looked up the sellers to see if they raided and only had a couple gems for auction. While they still could be resellers of duped gems the probability to get honest gems was higher.

I also don't buy from my competitors or 0.01 punks. Deliberatly wasting gold makes me a moron, but when I sell a trinket for 2k I don't care if I paid 1450g or 1400g for the individual cards. Would probably be otherwise if I'd spent more time in the AH but with the low volume of my sales I look at names.
"Nobody cares who the seller is"

I totally care. If 'bankertoon' has 20 auctions up for cloth and its obvious he just undercut 'playerlikeme' who has 1 auction up for cloth at a slightly higher price...i'll spend the bit more and buy playerlikeme's cloth.

I always look at the name of the person selling before I buy.
"Duping" in WoW is a myth. Botting and stealing things from accounts? Those are real things.

I hate the "long stream of 1 copper lower" items. It's stupid and serves no good value, but it's the only tool available. It's impossible to ascertain the "true" value of an item, only start high and sawtooth wave it down until either all the auctions expire or they sell. It's a broken system.

Without knowing how many of an item actually sell, and what it's base component value is, you can't know the proper price position to be at.

Another issue is that ALL the sellers are in the store at once, but the buyers are only there one at a time when they buy.

Note: Now I'm talking about mercantile items... "durable goods" as it were. Before I was talking about commodities like Sumptuous Fur. The two need to be treated differently.

Duping a myth, seriously Smokeman?

There were thousands of red epic gems in the AH and trade chat, many more than the limited raider base on a dying faction could possibly earn via rading. Even if every single honest gem found its way into the AH it would by far not be enough.

Account stealing worth thousands of gems doesn't stay a secret. You had to kill bosses in dragon soul for the gems so botting is out of the question. And even if it could be somehow botted: where were all the orange gems? You got about the same amount of orange as red gems but for every 1000 red there were about 10 orange gems on the AH. Gem duping was very real.
You got about the same amount of orange as red gems but for every 1000 red there were about 10 orange gems on the AH.

That is exactly the proof that it wasn't duping. There sure was some bug that enabled some method of gaining illicit red gems. But if that had been a duping bug, then how come it only worked on red gems? Must have been something else, otherwise everything would have been duped, not just this one item.
Orange gems were much cheaper, no point duping them. Essence of Destruction was also heavily duped btw. I wouldn't touch a spectral tiger with a ten foot pole either.

A simple google search will provide you with enough evidence and even video guides to accept that wow item duplicating is real.
Ok, I'll rephrase that to:

RAMPANT duping in WoW is a myth.

There have been and always mill be obscure bugs and exploits that allow for creating extras of items, or not removing the mats when crafted. But these are few and far between, and are crushed when found.

The red gems were probably brought in by someone doing a "Cross realm arbitrage" scheme from a realm where they were cheap.
I think that that AH needs some work but alas don't expect it.

Note the undercutting is more a result of minimal features in the existing rather than AH concept. NYSE used to have "quanta" - you could bid/offer only in eights - so 12.5 was OK but not 12.4 or 12.49. eBay has an automatch - so if you are not logged in it will up your bid to the limit you set.

I like the other games where commodities and "unique" items sold differently. Buy orders (Rift added them) would help. Buy orders that worked across battlegroups even more so. I want to say I will buy up to 1000 fur at 1g each and have it happen without me camping the AH.

There was all sorts of objections from the unemployed and socialist - I mean 1337 non-casual gamers - over the D3 AH using real money. but Bliz finessed all that with tokens. Just sell everything for gold and there is a separate mechanism to RMT buy gold.

I use addons and never see the seller.
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool