Kill the speculator

| Monday, May 24, 2010
Speculators are leeches. They buy low, sell high, and contribute nothing. They're a symptom of a poorly functioning economy, an economy filled with ignorant and lazy participants. In other words, they're your fault.

Sometimes infinite dust is around 1g each. Sometimes it's closer to 2g each. There's money to be gotten by buying it at 1g and selling it at 2g. I do this when I'm tired of all the thinking involved in being productive. I could get a greater profit by making and selling scrolls, but I'd have to see which scrolls are up, track mat costs, figure out demand, etc. Speculation is lazy gold.

It's not entirely worthless as an activity, despite my hyperbole at the start. Buying when there is excess supply helps keep up prices, supporting suppliers when they would otherwise be having trouble selling. Conversely, selling when there is a short supply helps keep down prices, supporting buyers (who are probably crafters, and therefore the productive ones) when they'd otherwise be unable to find profitable crafts.

But the speculator is unnecessary. He does nothing that others cannot. Instead he has a small piece of knowledge which is very valuable: You do not have to sell anything at a given time, nor do you have to buy. Gatherers and crafters could use this too and they'd be richer for it.

You've just farmed ore for two hours and are headed to the AH. Check the prices and... why is it half what it is normally? You'd better sell twice as much, just to break even! Or, don't sell any. Don't add your ore to the obvious over-supply. Hold on to it. Wait a few hours or a few days. Surely you can survive that long. You can keep farming, just don't sell it yet. Let the crafters buy it up. The extra gold you'll get from this would have otherwise gone to a speculator, or a crafter who got a really great deal, either way, you have more gold.

Why is the AH flooded with belt buckles? You can't sell at that price, you'd be at a loss! So don't. Keep crafting if you want, but don't sell. Check if material prices have crashed and that's why the crafted price is so low. You don't have to be part of the problem, in fact you can make more gold by being part of the solution.

You've probably figured out that all I'm really saying is to self-speculate, to "hold low, sell high". In effect, there are still speculators, they're just using their own materials. But there would be no speculator 'class', meaning they will no longer be able to make preachy bossy self-promoting economics posts about how they're brilliant.


Stabs said...

Just because people post in an annoying way doesn't mean the entire hobby of playing the AH is wrong.

At the end of the day it's just another way of playing, and these guys pay the bills so Blizzard can spend more $$$ on game development.

In pure game effect terms speculators perform a "correcting" effect on the market. Should someone sell cheap they buy and relist. Should someone sell dear they'll seek stock to undercut him. Because of speculators people looking for quick deals can find them. Certain rarely used items would not be on the AH without speculators.

Speculating and bragging about it is kinda dumb though. It's like kicking the ball into a net while people are lying on the grass reading or something and running around going I scored, I scored. Easy to make gold off people who don't give a rat's arse about playing Monopoly Online with you.

SlikRX said...

I used to speculate quite a bit. I paid for my epic flying (in part) by speculting on ore & bars. I just got tired of monitoring the AH every day. I still have.a ton of ore in my bank toon's guild bank. I basically got tierd of it and now only deal in titanium and Khorium since they are almost always over priced.

I don't think Klep is raging against speculators as much as he is encouraging farmers to be more diligent in their own listing.

Anonymous said...
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The Gnome of Zurich said...

I think you nail it silk.

I'm actually astounded at the extent to which people in game are anchored by what is currently on the ah, even when they have been selling in a market long enough to know the price is too high or low to last.

"I usually sell these for 10g, but they are on for 7g now, so I'll list for 6g or whatever."

And never asks, "Wait, how many are on there for 7g? Only 2? and nothing after that for less than 12g? Maybe I should just list at 10g anyway and they'll sell after the 2 up there? Or maybe I should buy those out and list them for 10g too?"

When I am buying up mats for stuff I craft (essence of X for twink enchants especially, and pearls etc.), I often leave a couple cheap ones up, in order to anchor the next seller. And it works.

One reason it works is that a lot of people use quick auctions which has a very simple algorithm. But it also seems to work on people at times as well.

On the other side, you get people who buy out everthing except a few bits listed for way over normal price. And then people will come in and just barely undercut the uber high price, even when they have a lot to sell and would make way more profit listing at 150% of normal than 300%.

Klepsacovic said...

That's exactly what I was trying to get at: farmers and crafters need to think more about their pricing.

I think I touched on the issue of undercutting only one or two items a couple months back. But I'm glad you brought that up. I'm certainly no expert in pricing, and I doubt most people care to be, but just adding a few more guidelines can be a big help; such as not worrying about undercutting one stack of saronite when it's absurdly low. Someone will probably buy it to resell anyway, and the market moves so much product that it's going to be sold.

I should remember that anchoring trick, especially when prices go something like 30, 30g, 30, 35, 60g.

On an unrelated note, do you have a secret hidden blog somewhere? Anytime I see you commenting you seem to know your stuff and have something to contribute, but your profile only lists an empty blog.

Anonymous said...

Do you think your suggestion is in any way shape or form a plausible one? Do you think the elimination of the speculator class IRL through education blog posting is also plausible? Are you going to delete every comment that points out how your ideas are nothing more than unreasonable attempts to troll more successful and reasonable bloggers on a forum where you can control the discussion absolutely? Yes, I rather thought you were.

Klepsacovic said...

I think my suggestion is perfectly plausible, seeing as I've applied it myself and gotten a good bit more gold. All people have to do is think more about their pricing. It's not at all complex. The speculator class in real life is unlikely to go away any time soon, but in this game, it could be much smaller.

Could you perhaps explain how this is remotely trollish? Perhaps you're not so good with self-deprecating humor.

If you think I seek to control the discussion absolutely, you should look around some more, and see that I am more than happy to leave up and respond to dissenting and disagreeing comments. I'm less a fan of people who worthlessly troll. Oh look, your comment is still there. How strange.

Anonymous said...

You DO realize that this post is almost something Gevlon could have written, right? In a perfect market, there would be no speculators, because everyone would be buying and selling at the prices were supply meets demand, but because there are people too stupid (moron) or too lazy (slacker) to hold unto their stuff and wait for a better price, there is room for goblins to exist and make a profit.

SlikRX said...

@anon - Um, no, you've completely missed gevlon's tactics: he'd say buy ALL the low priced and re-list, OR he would say to completely undercut, depending on your server.

Gevlon is NOT about controlling the prices, per se. He just wasnt to ensure that his stuff selss.

Seriousl, if you read ANYHING on his blog, you would realize that his main tactic is to undercut.

And, to repeat AGAIN< what is the point of this post: he is asking the FARMERS to list their goods more intelligently, NOT trying to completely put speculators out of business.

Anonymous said...


I don't think you understand Gevlon at all. WoW gold is utterly worthless and Gevlon knows it; he only continues to make money just to show he can.

Why is it important that he can continue to make money? Why do you think Gevlon has a blog in first place? It's not about the money, if it were he'd never have started either the Undergeared or Ganking Projects.

The point is to show Socials (people who are not M&S or Goblins) why they should be more like Goblins, because if you don't act like or tolerate M&S, you can be more successful in raiding, in PvP, or just in making money.


In hindsight, I'm not sure where you got the "controlling prices" bit from. Some basic economic theory: supply is proportional to price (because you can sell something for a lot, more people will want to sell it), and demand is inversely proportional to price (because when something costs a lot, more people won't want to buy it). So, if you graph an item's supply and demand curves based on price, there will be one point where the curves intersect: at that point, everyone who wants to buy the item will be able to do so and there will be none left unsold. Consequently, when you price an item not at that intersection, the difference between those supply and demand curves is where the speculator makes profit. That's what I was talking about.

SlikRX said...

@ Anon - I really have no clue WHY Gevlon continues to do what he does. Boredom? I make no claims there.

But what I WILL assert is that the basic financial philosphy that gets preached on his site can be summed up in 2 words:

Endercut everybody.

There are a couple suppositions that are required and implied:

a) Do so until you control/dominate a particular item. (and, ideally its supply chain)
b) Still make *some* profit, no matter how small

On Gev's virtual "wall of shame" there are tons of examples of folks being riduclued for pointing out a fundamental REAL WORLD point that is completely lost:

-If you don't undercut the prices to such an absurdly low price, you can STILL make the same profit, but with half the work. AND multiple people can do the same.

But that fundamental concept is completely lost on the Gevlon Goblins. Mainly, because clicking the "create all" button takes the same amount of time (player action-wise) regardless if it's 5 items, or 500. (And they automate the auction process as well)

That is price control. Nobody can (or will bother) to try to undercut, since the profit margin is barely there. It's not worth the time or effort for most folks to bother, so they don't.

NOW, there *IS* an intrinsic value that the Goblins get by doing this, which I suspect is their entire reason for doing it: self gratification for the act of control, in and of itself. As you said yourself, the gold isn't their reason. Exerting that control IS the payoff. Its a meta-game.

The big downside, is that everyone else trying to play the game as generally intended (ie, craft stuff for a reasonable profit to fund other game related activities) gets derailed. And this gives the Goblins their second payoff: Making fun of those "M&S" folks that are simply trying to play WoW as an MMORPG, and not as a economic manipulation meta-game.

Don't get me wrong, I can respect the effort, planning and implimentation that makes a Gevlon Goblin successful.

But, as has been pointed out elsewhere at great length, Gevlon, et al don't "get" what the real definition of social is. To them "playing for fun" is nothing more than M&S personified: if you aren't optimizing and maximizing every aspect of the game, you are wasting time.

I didn't follow Gev's other projects, other than tidbits that got mentioned around the blogosphere, so no comment there.

Can I appreciate the methods and implimentation for their meta-game? Yeah. But from a "social" or "societal" point of view, it's fundamentally flawed.

The Gnome of Zurich said...

On an unrelated note, do you have a secret hidden blog somewhere? Anytime I see you commenting you seem to know your stuff and have something to contribute, but your profile only lists an empty blog.

That is my real blog (well I have an lj and a facebook under my real name, but they don't talk about wow at all and are still relatively sparse). I'm not much for thread starting, and a sucker for back and forth conversation, coming from my usenet days. I have the blog to give me something to sign with, and as a placeholder for the day I start actually posting to it.

Can I take that as a promise to blogroll if I ever post regularly enough to justify it?

Klepsacovic said...

@SlikRX: On and off I ponder the concept if "fun optimization", basically meaning attempting to maximize fun, possibly with reduced momentary fun. It can' quite be quantified, but if it could, imagine it as having half as much fun for ten minutes which will allow for twice as much fun for ten further minutes, resulting in 25% more fun than without optimization. So you might do a daily you really hate but which offers a good reward, in order to avoid doing other dailies which are just so so fun, freeing up time for something really fun like raiding or PvP.

This shouldn't be confused with the mistaken notion that people who aren't playing the way I'd play must be having less fun and are therefore doing it wrong. Fun is a personal thing, so perhaps that apparent moron camping your alt for two hours is actually having tons of fun and would be stupid to do something else.

@The Gnome of Zurich: Gladly!

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