Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Blind auction system explained

Several people yesterday commented that they didn't know the blind auction system some MMORPGs like FFXI use, so here is a basic explanation of how it works, and why it is less susceptible to market manipulations:

When you look up an item on the auction house with a blind auction system, you don't get a list of all the different prices for which these items have been posted. Instead you get only the number of items available, and the prices of the last 5 sales or similar historical price data. To buy an item, you make a bid, basically stating how much you would be willing to pay for the item. If there is an item available for that price, you get it. If there are several available, you'll get the one from the seller who put it up for the lowest price. Easy.

But you pay your bid, not the sellers offer price. In fact you never even see the sellers' offer prices. In theory you could buy the cheapest item at the offer price by incrementally bidding up the price copper by copper until you hit the lowest item, but that would be a lot of work. In practice you'll fire off a low bid hoping to get lucky, and if that doesn't work you up your bid towards historical prices until you get to buy what you wanted.

As you can't see what other players put as price on their wares without buying them, it is also not possible to undercut the competition by 1 copper. And the player who puts up some copper ore for 10000 gold in the hope of manipulating auctioneer averages also has no luck in the blind auction house system. But the main advantage of the blind auction house system is that the prices you see are those of items that actually sold, which is a lot better than the WoW system in which you only see the price of items that didn't sell.
A bit like how the stockmarket works!
Pirates of the Burning Sea also used a blind bidding auction system. Though, overtime you realized that it is equally easy to game the system.

If the history is only last X number of sales, you can easily flood purchases and wipe out the past history to make it insignificant. Essentially resetting the market price to whatever you deemed correct.

For a new player, they don't understand why when the auction house says last 10 sales are 100g, and there are 20 items still for sale, they can't offer 100g and immediately win an auction. It's extremely confusing.

It only seem like a better solution compared to WOW because people haven't been exposed to different systems.

I consider it just... different.
Continue my rant for new players:

*It's extremely confusing.*

A majority of the players for PotBS avoids the AH. They ask their guild to build ship for them, and produces resources and give it to the society (guild) in exchange for ships.

Then you have someone in the guild who loves spreadsheets to work out all the little deals. But those aren't the norm.

Depends on how you want to see the Auction House as a mini-game. Do you want lots of people to use it, or do you want only 10% of your players to use it and the other 90% run away (which greatly reduces the offerings available on the AH and drives up the prices).

At the end, serious ship-makers don't use AH as it is overpriced. They organize all their resources within the society.
While that's a good overall Tobold, it's actually not how FFXI's worked. In FFXI, the item sold was the item listed with the lowest price; listing low, even down to 1 gil was done very commonly to get a quick sell on items which move very quickly.

Personally, it also got me lots of hate messages about being a douche for buying items which were posted at 1 gil, even though the market sustained values that were orders of magnitude larger :)
JThelen, that is exactly what I said in the last phrase of the second paragraph.
If the history is only last X number of sales, you can easily flood purchases and wipe out the past history to make it insignificant. Essentially resetting the market price to whatever you deemed correct.

Unfortunately that doesn't work in FFXI unless you have the sole monopoly of supply to prevent other people entering the transaction history (and must have multiple accounts too to make the history look legit rather than PlayerA selling to PlayerA or PlayerB for all transactions).

Other people who regularly buy/sell the same thing will know the "real" price either higher or lower than your fake price.
The Stock Market works a lot more like the AH on EvE online actually.

Which I think is the best system of all. Buy and Sell Orders are both shown AND a Historical Trade Price as well. Can't beat that for openness.
Just copy/paste the stock market. There are good reasons for why all stock markets around the world work like that.

It's not even especially hard to understand and codes that are very efficient at calculating prices already exist.
City is Heroes/Villians works the same way. Both buyers and sellers only can see what the last five auctions went for. You bid say 100, and the person with the cheapest buy out, say 75, wins, receiving 25 profit from what they posted. I like how the system works, though generally I find items that sell for about 5,000 and put in a buyout of 1, and make close to 3,000. It just makes selling so much faster and simpler.
I want to add one thing though, I find the idea of blind AH as great, but the decision to sell the cheapest item first is the one that I have an issue with. The first item sold should be the oldest item that has same or lower price as the bid. That way it would prevent full-on constant undercutting as being cheapest no longer guarantees faster sales.
Interesting. I am not sure i would prefer it to WoW or not.

However, one thing glossed over in a lot of the comments is a big difference is whether you can place GTC(good till cancelled) buy orders or not. E.g., if I want to buy Frozen Orbs at 20g each, then do I need to log on, run AA, and run Snatch. Or can I place a buy order?

The former just rewards people for camping the AH. Someone who scans the AH four (or forty) times a day will do better than a once per day person.

Regardless of what is visible real time, I think you should be able to get a complete history of sales - even if yesterday's but not today's. I like transparency in finance, government, most everywhere.

Blizzard keeps making the crafting less sophisticated: I level professions to 450 in a couple of hours and they are working on making some crafts give multiple skill points? I wish Blizzard took crafting seriously but they don't. So I don't expect much AH innovation either.
FFXI did not have a true auction system. The first person to bid over your hidden buyout price immediately gets the item with no chance for competitors to bid higher.

As said, many times you wouldn't be able to purchase an item at the listed price history, even when many were in stock.

RMT easily controlled many items on the AH in FFXI by lowering the price selling amongst themselves, in order to buy legit items, then raising the price dramatically. To the casual user, you would never even notice this as they flood out the previous history. All it takes is 1 item to do this.

Regular players did this as well, no multiple accounts needed, just willing guildmates. Considering how much AFK time there was in FFXI it wasn't even inconvenient to help in this way.
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