Those of us who enjoy playing the gold and auction house sub-game in World of Warcraft (lets just keep calling ourselves goblins shall we?) receive all kinds of flak for what we do. The simple act of owning more than 1,000g seems to incite rage amongst some people that throw around claims we’re all gold sellers or buyers. Mentioning you have 10k gold can incite envy in some players, let alone 100k or more.
Even people you know can start treating you differently when they find out you’re a bit richer than your average World of Warcraft player. I’ve head horror stories of people even being passed up for loot in raids, or being blackmailed or coerced into paying for the gear, because having all that gold means you can just buy this on your own right?
The kicker is that right along with the misconceptions about why we do it or what comes of it, no one really seems to understand how we can collect so much gold without cheating. They don’t see the market they way we do, they don’t see the manufacturing aspect, and so assume we’re into black magic or trickery.
You can’t really blame some of these people though, rich people don’t always have the best rep in the first place, and that’s not just in video games. With so many guides, blogs, sites, and forums discussing how to outright attack other players on the market; strangling fellow goblins out of the market, driving prices artificially high, forming up cartels, depriving a market of supplies, all tactics you can see on the web. Eventually goblins go to far, so far that the whole server revolts and blacklists the goblin, and then no matter how hard he or she tries to make a sale, they simply can’t because the whole server now refuses to buy their goods. Don’t scoff, it’s happened.
The true measure of an economy is how much gold is flowing, not how many items are on the Auction House, not how many items get posted per hour, not how much gold you’d need to buy out all the auctions, and not how much gold there is lying around the server. An economy is solely based around how much gold is in transition, moving from person to person to person, and so when someone attacks the market, or it’s competitors, it’s disrupting that flow. The economy is like a living thing though, and the sum of it’s parts can work together as I mentioned to force such contagions out of the system, either knowingly or not. Someone wrestling with the economy is like trying to redirect a river, not possible without some heavy machinery, machinery that simply isn’t available in World of Warcraft. You can guide the river, you can funnel some of the river for your own uses, but doing anything too big to the river causes you to be sucked under and swept away.
How a typical friendly goblin (alright a neutral goblin) operates in a healthy environment (not combating another goblin, not dealing with a screwy environment) is much different and generally a benefit to the server. A goblin running at 100% is a major player in the server economy, usually buying up large amounts of ore, herbs, leather, cloth, enchanting mats etc. while supplying consumables, gems, enchants, other enchanting mats, glyphs and more. These goblins operate as a giant stabilizer in the economy, keep mats priced higher (giving the farmers a decent GPH) while keeping finished products cheaper so the average player doesn’t break the bank raiding every night. This encourages more sales and purchases from the two groups, which increases the gold flow through the economy, which as I mentioned before, is a good thing. Goblins also ‘flip’ BoE items like weapons, armour, mounts and pets, keeping the price high and protecting these fragile markets from crashing or deteriorating prematurely. In times leading up to large content patches, many goblins stockpile certain items hedging on increased demand; so when a new patch comes around they theoretically have the stock to absorb the spike in demand, and avoiding a shortage of the in demand item on the server and keeping the prices more reasonable (while pocketing a healthy profit for themselves hopefully). Finally many goblins have the ability to ‘correct’ certain markets, resting them, steering them in a right direction to smooth out any wrinkles in the economy, sometimes forgoing short term profit to achieve this goal.
Lets not fool ourselves though, it’s not like goblins are in it for the greater good of the community, their number one goal is to make gold, and these positive influences on the server are just a happy side effect. Even going out of your way to ‘fix’ a market, and even loosing gold in the short-term, only benefits the goblin in the long term because a healthier economy means more gold in their pocket, even if it does take some good Samaritan work to achieve.
So it would seem that goblins are, despite popular opinion, a positive force on a server, so long as they behave themselves. In fact I believe servers could benefit from having more well educated, auction house savvy players on it, guiding it, nurturing it, and protecting it, for the greater good of the server, and their pockets.