MMORPG Economics 101 – A Guide for the ‘Opportunistical’ Gamer

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MMORPG Economics 101 – A Guide for the ‘Opportunistical’ Gamer

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Although most MMORPGs out there have different trade systems, distinct and exclusive to the gaming environment designed by the developers, they all share a common concept — Wealth. Money moves the world they say, and it is the reality of life itself, as most game economics, are actually based on real life economics, and players who are have knowledge for it are able to manipulate and turn the system to favor them, making them tycoons of the MMORPG world.

Online game currencies(Gold, Credits, Adena, ISK, Plat, Zuly etc), may differ from name, but they are a players accumulated wealth, which players use to purchase items, materials etc to gain a higher place in the MMORPG ladder and not to mention a considerable amount of self satisfaction. What i’m going to explain here will be a simple guide for any player to be able to manipulate the games’ economy on a small scale, to go larger will require individual innovation and initiative, which is something that should be learnt best through experience(your own exprience that is). This guide will apply to most MMORPGs out there, i.e World of Warcraft(WoW), Guild Wars(GW), Lord of the Rings Online(LOTRO), Lineage 2(L2), etc.

Economy Mechanics
Like the real world, the economy is a radical, dynamic structure, a push and pull system with a close to infinite number of variables, determining the value/worth of items, weapons, services etc. Players will have to learn and excel from the basics of bartering, trading, negotiations and transactions. The value of an item is not just based on the selling price of it to the NPCs, but it is also based on the demand and supply of the item, how is the item(or service; I’ll be using the term ‘item’ to represent the object of trade throughout this blog) being transfered or delivered, and the difficulty of obtaining the item(s).

i.e. Player A just crafted an item called ‘Sword of Divinity’. He is now lookig for a price and sell it off to another player. Player A has to consider the following:

* The current price of the materials used to create the Sword.
* The difficulty of obtaining the materials,
* The current price of the Sword in the market,
* The rarity of the Sword(item class) and/or the recipe to create the item.
* The number of the same Sword currently available to the othe players,
* The future availability of the Sword,
* The demand for such a Sword(do you think other players would want it),
* The purchasing power of the players(How much are they willing to pay),

There are alot more factors to consider, but those stated above would be the basics on how to set a value on your item. If you know that this item could go higher(having heard that other players bought it for a considerable high price), set the price higher as other players would likely do so as well.

The diversity of the economy makes it hard to set an exact value or determine all the variables affecting to item values, but with a good knowledge base of the game you are playing, you can reap maximum profits(this is subjective of course, due to the ambiguity of item values) for the items you barter/trade.

The Trade Know-How
Business Ethics
When it comes to business, alot of people tend to say that most successful businessmen are ruthless, unethical and ‘shady’. I beg to differ, actions may seems misleading, but its how people conduct business, its how people make the most money out of something. I’m not asking you to cutthroat anyone whatsoever, when it comes to business, it’s about getting ahead of your competition, and looking for the best way to deal with your buyers/sellers so that you gain more profit, as long as it is totally legitimate and not a total con-job, you’ve got a deal.

Interactions
Trading, negotiating is a basis of most MMORPG transactions. Everyone can initiate trade for an item and receive them, but to do it the proper, so that you make the most out of it, that requires more wit. A bad trade conversation will end up with an undesirable deal or no deal at all.

[Dummy] is selling his Sword of Divinity

— [ThePro] pm-s [Dummy] —

[ThePro] How much is the piece?
[Dummy] ummmm
[ThePro] 100k gold
[ThePro] Sorry man, thats way over my budget, i’ll take it if it was 25k, no more than that.
[Dummy] hmm…alright, you got a deal!

Sounds familiar? im sure alot of ppl have went through the above situation, either being ThePro or even the Dummy. Dummy showed a point of hesitation and inexperience on the ‘ummm’ part, which was a tell-tale sign that he has no idea of the value of the item he is selling. ThePro, being the more intelligent one, took the opportunity to undercut Dummy and ending up with a high valued item for an outrageously low price.

* Never buy, sell, or trade something until you know the value of it
* Always allow the opposite party to make the price offer first
* Buying and Selling in bulk will provide a higher profit margin
* do not scam those who interact with you, you are looking at repear customers here for long term revenue
* If the price is too outrageous, just leave it. Use your sense to determine whether its worth it or not.

A Game of Poker
Trading is like a game of poker, never let the opposite party(s) know what you’ve got. The more they know about you, they more ways they can think of to manipulate the trade to their favor.

If a player was selling to you and he knew how much you had, he could raise the price just because he knows you can afford it and eventually it would be harder to lower it.

Only reveal information that is ‘enough’ to keep the trade going. Keep ur wealth status to yourself, do not let others know about it as they would ask for it or have their way and try and get it from you. To be an ‘economy manipulator’ is to be mysterious and ambiguous.
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Re: MMORPG Economics 101 – A Guide for the ‘Opportunistical’ Gamer

Cashing In
Trade Calling
Refers to the trades initiated through chat channels, one of the most used methods as you are able to reach a wide audience, and providing on the spot contact for your potential buyers.

Trade calling over channels are great for reaping in money by using bartering skills and as well as the way it affects impulse buyers, who obviously do not have the time to research on the item that they wish to purchase and end up getting it on the spot from you. This enables you to set high prices than what others are usually willing to pay.

There are a few types of Trade Calling:

* Trade Calling for Auctions : Using a notepad, call out your item into the channel mentioning its up for bids and record them one by one. When a buyer expresses interests, tell them a reasonable but profitable current bid. Works great with rare and hard to find items.
* Trade Calling for Single items with no price tag: Calling out an item over the channel without a price , not only offers more attention to the item in question(as the more items you post, your items will get skipped easily), it also offers ambiguity and does not allow others to undercut your price in anyway, making price negotiations much more simpler, giving ample room to for price negotiations.

Auctions
Most games do not come with Auctions Houses, but for games like Final Fantasy XI(FFXI), World of Warcraft(WoW), the auction house is widely used to sell various items, from armors to materials to reagents. There are also web based auction houses in various forums over the net, using the forum as the bidding grounds.

Auction Houses provide players a place to place their items for sale, without them being there, saving time and energy as one can go out questing and then wait for the item to be bought. The disadvantages, are of course the set price(minimum bid) and the deposit for each auction posted up.

Here a gew general auctioning tips:

* Get familiar with the auction system(i.e. point of delivery, deposit rate, can you check how many similair items are being aucitoned right now, can you cancel auction etc.)
* Check the auciton house for the item that you want to post, so that you can do a proper price-to-availability survey.
* if an item you desire is too expensive over the auction, contact the seller and negotiate a price.

Crafting
Most games come with a crafting profession, allowing players to use materials to create items. As most crafted items, they can only be acquired by crafting and not drops, thus making them quite valuable to a certain point that whoever has the ability/recipe to create a certain high demand item, he/she is able to get loads of money in no time.

Consider these factors before setting up sale for your crafted items:

* The current economy’s price and materiasl to create them
* Difficulty of obtaining the materials
* The current economy’s price of the item.
* The rarity of the item/recipe
* The current and future availability of the item

Crafting is not an easy route, but once you have excelled in it( at the cost of time, effort and money), you will be able to get higher profit margins due to your high crafting skills and recipes.

Get your guildmates to gather the materials for you at the same time when you plan to mass produce, but take note of the items value as the supply gets higher, the price will eventually drop, keep in control so you won’t end up losing out too much.

Offering to buy materials that you require will also help in your crafting profession, just spread the word around and soon you’ll have alot of ‘farmers’ getting the materials for you. Keep informed aobut the current economy’s value of the materials/items you have set your eyes on.

Be Informed
Keep yourself informed of the current changes, fluactuations and act fast. Be the pioneer, do not hesitate, if you perceive something that could bring in profit, go for it. Start of at a small scale to ensure that you do not lose too much(worst case scenario). As other players pick up the trend, the market will be flooded and there goes your cash.

Patches. Take note of patches, when there is a new item/recipe available, or drop rate increase/decrease, it will mean that the market trend will shift, and take that opportunity.

Raids. When it comes to raids, some raid venues might require certain buffs that are only available from items. Research on the most frequented raids and what would players require to get through it the best way and capitilize on those items.

To manipulate the economy is not an easy task, but with sufficient knowledge, one can manipulate the system to their favor, gaining more than what usual players would gain.