Suppliers and Expansions

This forum post is dead wrong. For those who cannot click through, it is someone complaining about the auction house prices of consumable items and the components needed to craft them. Down-thread, he goes on to rant about price-gouging and arresting merchants who raise prices when items are in short supply. I left after he took the surreal turn of equating (not just comparing) the expansion to Hurricane Katrina and calling for tools to report and perma-ban sellers the same way that gold-spammers are banned.

We have covered this before, but let’s refresh for the economically illiterate. When supply is low, you want prices to go up. This is especially true in a MMO market for crafting materials, where the cost of entry is almost nil. If prices do not rise, supply will not rise, because people have better things to do with their time than farm materials for a few silver pieces (while getting mail and /tells about what horrible gougers they are). Higher prices induce more people to sell, which brings back lower prices with more supply.

Consider the original poster, who we will refer to as the whining, greedy destroyer (WGD). WGD sees the new expansion pack and wants to experience the new content. Does he want to log on an alt, grow tea leaves, make buff food, and transfer it over? Does he want to grab a different alt, run around the previous expansion’s zones to gather materials, craft consumables, and transfer them over? No, nor did he plan ahead on any of those. WGD wants to go do the new content now. He wants to raid and run skirmishes, which produce few to no consumable components. With a worldview that even Karl Marx condemned, he wants to consume without producing.

WGD instead wants someone else to do the farming and producing so he can consume. And he wants them to do it cheap, with a smile, instead of playing with the new content. And they should be banned if they will not. I mean, with all the extra gold being pumped into the economy by having higher level enemies, why should crafters get any of it? WGD has also missed the point that banning producers leads to even less supply. Because nothing helps the situation like actively making the problem worse.

If you think prices are too high, cash in. Leveling a gathering skill is quick, so you can even start from scratch. Farm, sell, and profit until prices are too low for it to be worth your time to farm and sell. If prices are too high for you to buy, but too low for it to be worth your time to farm and sell, why do you think it is worth anyone else’s time to farm and sell to you?

: Zubon

If you want to argue that there should be no crafted consumables, and everything should be available cheap on an NPC vendor, that’s a different design argument. This is just the stupidity of making a outraged claim to others’ time.

13 thoughts on “Suppliers and Expansions”

  1. I clicked through and it turns out that the OP has been on my ignore list… probably since I discovered the ignore list.

    Chronic Troll or Chronic Jackass? Probably the latter. It’s a shame, but he probably isn’t the only one that needs to hear what you’ve said here.

  2. Let’ not forget the side argument that they often use “How will new players survive the AH at these prices” which always assumes that a new player can only figure out how to purchase from the AH and not sell the in demand products as well. I have observed these arguments about the AH or “Bazaar” for maybe 10+ years now.

    My time is precious, I should not have to waste it in front of a crafting station or farming stuff.

    Since you choose to play in a way different than the way I play, your playing the game “wrong” and you should be at my command for your product. I’m not lazy; you’re greedy!

    Now if I argued that I hate raids and would like to exchange my wares and tea laves for raid gear; what would they say!

    The AH in any game is simple: I determine what I think the item is worth, the buyer determines if it is worth that.

  3. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve found Moria to Mirkwood so bloated with loot, my bank account has swelled from a previous high of 15g to over 31g in the last month. That’s without selling anything other than rep items I collect while doing other things.

    Where the heck is this guy’s money going that he has to complain about AH prices?

  4. Great article Zubon.

    @Bhagpuss – Nothing in a game is “essential” by definition. The fact is that player economies add depth, alternative play styles, and an opportunity for even more replayability. For people like me who like to play the economy like a game in itself, it provides a reason to stay subscribed to a game even when I don’t feel like adventuring.

    From a publisher/designer’s point of view that is a compelling reason.

    Not to mention that for lots of people, it’s interesting. Which is a pretty essential component of gaming for me and for many others, I would wager.

  5. While there may be some instances where folks are playing the market (buying all cheaper items to resell them at higher prices), many times it’s just that all reasonably priced items get snatched up by other players as quickly as their posted – so the few that remain are the ones too expensive for anyone not truly desperate.

  6. I get nasty tells for undercutting the black dye market to a horrible degree. I don’t give a crap if I lose 70s off of a 5 black dye sale, I just want my shit sold.

    People that complain about ANYTHING in the AH, except functionality, do not understand that the AH does not work like an NPC merchant.

  7. “And a more interesting one, too. Why don’t we have that one instead, since this one is the same price-gouging merry-go-round I first encounterdd in the East Commons Tunnel.”

    Since everything that someone else can get in a game is available to every subscriber in the game, how can there be any “price gouging”? If someone chooses not to do something, but wants the item that is produced/rewarded by that action, then they must be willing to pay a price for that.

    A monetary reward is no different than any other reward offered in a game. Kill 500 rats, slay the Boss Mob, deliver the items and get [insert item] for your effort. Now do we allow that item to be sold on NPC’s because it’s not a fun task for everyone?

    Some players (many players) enjoy playing the economy part of the game. Since you can obtain every item in the game with a subscribed account, no one can force you to utilize the economy. Once you do however, your “paying” for my time and effort. You determine what your time/effort is worth, not mine.

  8. Undercutting has always been an interesting point to me when dealing with virtual economies.

    Real world economies do put a limit on how low you can go when selling (x) because, generally speaking, it takes money to make money. There will come a point in real world economies, no matter -what- you’re trying to sell, that you set the price so low it does not make sense to sell anymore. You cease doing it for a profit and start doing it for other reasons (ex: console manufacturers taking a profit hit on each unit to get more units out, etc).

    But virtual world economies tend to not have this low entry barrier; you could gather stuff as you go along, put it up for the absolute minimum amount the AH will let you (1 copper piece or equivalent) and, technically, you still have made a profit. Granted, the expended resource to produce that virtual money is not work or sometimes not even materials, it’s time.

    Then we get into the question of how much is time worth to each player, which is another bag of cats. But for someone to whom time is not really an issue (and there are many of those) it makes a lot of sense to undercut. More or less of it, a sale is a sale and whatever they get is profit. They begin to worry more about when it sells instead of for how much it sells.

    Established “sellers” always complain about undercutters because “they destroy the economy” or some other hogwash, but the answer is in a similar vein to Zubon’s; you -want- undercutters in your virtual economies. Lots of them. Because on a long enough timeline, profit is meaningless in virtual economies. What matters is the actual goods reaching the players so they can be used (ask CoX veterans if Influence means anything to them anymore and if they’d prefer to have (n) influence or the equivalence in an actual enhancement).

    Having 100 players who are extremely wealthy in game currency that sits in their pockets does not help the economy as much as having 10.000 players being able to purchase useful items to be better equipped (so they have an easier time progressing and due to this an increasingly higher chance to contribute to the economy meaningfully as time passes).

  9. Stop using logic. Logic doesn’t win elections.
    We arrest people who raise prices during emergencies because it makes us feel good. The fact that the victims of disasters have to do without because of it isn’t important. They can wait 48 hours for FEMA and their local national guard.

    Last year (or was it this year?) there was supposed to be a huge disruption in gasoline because of a coming hurricane. In response a few states in the south instituted price controls to make sure no one “gouged” the people. Well what happened? Immediate shortages, which is what happens when you have artificially low price controls. Neighboring states did not, and they had no shortages. Prices went up and people bought less gas, but still had enough to get them through. In the end the hurricane wasn’t bad at all. But will anyone learn?

    You could say the same thing about vaccines. It is selfish to make a profit when they save lives, but 20 years ago we had 25 vaccine makers and no shortages, and now after many laws were passed in the 90s? 5 makers and shortages constantly.

    There was a case of guys who broke through washed out roads to sell ice to an area, because all the restaurants and even people need ice (which is something that is low priority to government agencies). They were arrested and the ice melted. All those selfish greedy bastard restaurant owners can just eat their profits, they don’t need to preserve inventory, there is a disaster don’t you know!

    Just earlier this year the appalachians were without power for months. It did not even make national news, but it was a huge disaster on the level of katrina, with practically zero response from our current administration. I read an article about a guy who bought a bunch of generators and drove around reselling the generators and installing them for people. He made a profit and provided a service because otherwise those people would die. Of course, because he made a profit does that make him evil? To some it does. But then, who would go around giving away generators and installing them? No one else was doing it, and the emergency agencies weren’t helping anyone.

    If we all learned that no matter if your society is capatlist, socialist, communist, bartering, anarchy, whatever, there is one fact: you cannot escape the supply demand curve. Lower prices demand goes up. If it’s too low to make a profit then supply will not match demand. It makes me die inside a little every time I hear people in government railing against profit and wanting price controls. Sure, let’s have shortages and huge lines to get anything. It will be cheap, but if you can’t get any then the price doesn’t really matter.

  10. It is sad that folks react this way, I know I find myself going through more consumables – but long ago I decided it was worth my time to have a farmer and cook, such that I could make my own food. I have yet to do a scholar (which seems to be his major complaint) but I know enough in my kin that it isn’t a problem.

    The new combat system has made some tasks more difficult and as such it appears WGD (nice name btw) is using consumables to combat these changes. Perhaps if you’re running into a similar problem you might try to see what you can do with your toon to make consumables not as critical. Maybe your traits need to be changed, equipment improved, weapons changed, etc.

    But back on topic, if there’s demand for products the price should go up – I’m sure WGD would be all sorts of upset if he was forced to sell his new 65 2nd age legendary weapon for 50 silver as there’s high demand for them.

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