The Bot Shuffle

Yesterday on the WoW Gold Blogger Hangout one of our listeners/viewers, Flarbish of Gnomish Gold, picked up on something I said. As I was describing the relationship between bots, gold sellers, players, and goblins like us he noted that it sounds like a shuffle, and I realized, yea, it is pretty much. Specifically I was talking about the psychological effects the Black Market Auction House will have on players, specifically if it will cause an increase in gold buying and in turn an increase in botting.

The reality of it is a fantastic amount of gold that gold buyers have comes from botters who sell it to them in bulk and then those gold sellers flip it for 15% – 30% profit. Where do botters get this gold? From goblins, who buy their ore and herbs as fast as they can produce them. Where do we get our gold? From the masses that buy our finished products.

Below is a basic diagram of the gold flow in game



Now obviously not every supplier will be a botter, and not every player buys gold (and not every botter sells the gold to a reseller) but this is the gist of it. See what’s going on here? We’re basically recycling gold in this process. We get a trickle of gold in from the players who go out into the world and do the things that actually generate new gold (loot, quest rewards, vendor items) and we lose a trickle of gold every time something goes on the Auction House either through a lost deposit or a cut on a successful sale as well as the various gold sinks that are in-game for players (vendor items, repairs, reforging, etc.).

What about botters that don’t sell the gold? Good question, it doesn’t change the chart very much, you just have a flow of materials from the players to the goblins, and some flow of gold back from the goblin to the players.

Hackers? All they do is take gold from the players and sell it back to other players, just recycling the gold again, but they’re basically printing money.

My point here is that goblins are an unfortunate gear in this whole process, we basically industrialize the process. Would the botting problem go away without us? No, because as I’ve discussed before goblins are a positive force on the economy. In fact we help the issue because we drive down prices for finished goods, and create demand for the raw materials which drives the price up, both of which is beneficial to the average player who’s not afraid to get his hands dirty a little and go out and farm.

Basically all this system does is hog a whole bunch of time (whether or not there’s an actual person spending that time is irrelevant) and moves around a bunch of gold in-game. Side effect? It also redistributes real world money.

In the end I suppose it’s not really important how the gears of the machine work, you can basically consider it a black box, you put time in, you get money (gold doesn’t leave the system, so it wouldn’t leave the box in this metaphor).

What effect will the Black Market Auction House have on this system? What Blizzard basically gave us here is a vending machine, gold goes in, cool items come out. And it’s not just vanity items either, top of the line raiding gear will be available as well; never before have players been able to spend gold directly for items like this before. This is going to put pressure on players to get more gold, and while the more honest players will turn to more farming or becoming a goblin themselves players that already buy gold will just buy more, and many who don’t currently buy gold now will feel pressured to do so.

This causes a chain reaction:

  • More players throw their money at the resellers for more gold
  • Resellers have more demand from gold, buy more off the botters
  • Botters sell more materials, prices of materials drop
  • Goblins can afford to sell for cheaper so finished goods get gradually cheaper as goblins approach their minimums

When laid out like that it doesn’t exactly seem like a bad thing does it? Here’s the catch though, the extra gold isn’t going back to the goblins oh no, it’s getting dumped into the  Black Market Auction House, completely leaving the system.

In a system with the Black Market Auction House you now have a mechanism were a player spends real money to remove gold from the economy in amounts previously unseen which is an absurd mechanism. Brings to light the question if Blizzard really thought this through or their only thought process was “we need some way to drain gold from the economy.”

Now time can only tell if I’m over-estimating the effects the Black Market Auction House will have on the economy, but as right now it stands to be a serious ward against inflation in Mists of Pandaria. How much of an effect this has on the economy will ultimately depend on how much gold players are willing to buy which in turn is effected by the quality of items Blizzard makes available through this service.

About the author

Eric Dekker

Gamer. Student. Nerd. Author of The Golden Crusade. Find him on + and Twitter.