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Warcraft Economics 101

Crankshaft_Kirintor.jpgAs you may or may not know, I love me some World of Warcraft. Though it may sound boring, one of the things I really enjoy about the game is the complex economics. After my guy, Prof. Crankshaft Singlebearing, puts the hurt on some baddie, he often has loot to dispose of and I like to try to leverage every copper out of it. I enjoy making the marketplace work for me. Here are a few things I've observed about economics from playing Warcraft.

1. Knowledge = Time = Money - Yes, the old saw "time is money" holds up in Azeroth, but equally important is knowledge. Knowing where to find things saves you time and can also make you more money.

2. Lazy People Means More Money for Me - I make money off of lazy people because industrious people, for the most part, don't need my services. As a mage I make a good deal of money making portals for people to go from point A to point B. Now, they could get there for cheaper using other means, but they pay me because they don't want to take the time. Do I feel guilty about this? Not in the least.

3. Never Flood the Market - When I find that I have something that is of value I don't put it up for auction all at once. By putting it all up there, I actually depress the value of what I'm selling. Also, I risk being undercut by someone who sees my prices and decides they can sell it for a few silver less.

4. Never Be in a Hurry - People make bad financial decisions when they are in a hurry. Taking time is important on both the selling and the buying side of things in Azeroth. If you wait you get to see the fluctuation in the value of a thing and you can make a more educated decision as to what constitutes a good price for a thing.

5. It's Worth Whatever the Market Can Bear - So many times people say to me "I'm not buying that for that much! It's not worth it!" And, I have to agree. It's not worth it to them. But don't tell me that my price is wrong, because if I can sell it for that price, it is worth that much to that person at that time.

6. Novelty Breeds Greed -
A sure way to make money is to find whatever is the new thing and sell that. I remember a couple years ago when the Christmas related quests came out and people were trying to find small eggs to make cookies. The price for 5 small eggs on the auction went from being a few measly silver to well over a gold overnight. And then people flooded the market (see 3) and the price crashed. But for a few hours we who had the knowledge and the time were making a lot of money off of the lazy people.

Now, World of Warcraft is not like the real world in many different ways. In Warcraft resources are limitless. You kill a bird, and in a few minutes another one will spawn to take its place. You mine some ore, some more will pop up somewhere else.

Also, everyone has equal opportunity to make wealth. I really have no patience with people in Azeroth who beg because all you really need to make wealth is a mining pick or a fishing pole and some time. I would argue that not everyone has equal access to making wealth in the real world.

Further, cash is always coming into the game. People get cash from completing quests or booty from vanquished foes and, since there is no end to this, new wealth is always being created.

So, if you play WoW, I'm curious... what is your World of Wealthcraft?


I don't play that game, but I like Zoo Tycoon. The original version had more economics. Even my then-7-year-old knew people would stop buying hot dogs if the price was too high. Zoo Tycoon 2 is more for little kids; you can't set exact prices on it.
Also, Caesar III has economic aspects to it.

Also, you should not write you were going "to plug Beverly" on PDD. Thanks, though.

I used to play WoW in college, then picked it up again recently to experience the newest expansion. Once a nerd, always a nerd, right? Anyway, I actively avoid auctioning unless an item is really quite good, even though as a scientist (see what I mean about the nerd?) I see clear patterns about how to make good money. It's worth the "cost" of not making a few gold to spend my time questing instead. It seems like I play the economic game enough in real life!

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