The Root of All Annoyances, pt. I

Posted: May 22, 2007 by Kendricke in Everquest 2

We’ve all got friends like this.  You know the ones.  The players who – intelligent though they may be – start complaining in that they are broke, that they don’t have enough coin to mend, or that they haven’t had the time to (*shudder*) …”farm cash”.

Gaining coin is ridiculously easy in most online games.  Just following basic fundamental economic laws and theories will net you a healthy positive cashflow in no time.  All it takes is some observation and a little backbone.

Personally, I find the most common mistakes in most MMO’s regarding cash flow are completely related to attitude and erroneous perception.  Here’s a few of the common complaints I hear coming up most often:

Complaint:  It’s too hard to make coin at low levels.  Low level items on the broker are overpriced.  How can a new player possibly be expected to gear up? 

Response:  If the items sell for that amount to low level players, then low level players can also sell the items for the same amounts. 

No, seriously.  I still start up new characters on different servers from time to time just to see how hard it is to make coin.  In nearly every case, I’ve managed to earn my first 50 gold by the time I hit level 10.  I can usually manage a platinum by the time I hit level 12 or so.  Level is NOT the limiter, folks.

Complaint:  Player X has a monopoly.

Response:  First things first: unless the item is an artifact, there’s no such thing as a pure monopoly in Everquest 2.  Items are generated daily out of 1’s and 0’s.  Just because Player X has 22 Master I’s on the broker doesn’t mean he has a lock on the market – though it does mean so-and-so can certainly exert a significant influence.  What’s important to remember is that just because Player X has a lot of inventory doesn’t mean your item isn’t worth the same. 

At this point, however, you have to make a choice.  Either sell the item for lower than you wanted, or leave the item up for sale longer.  How badly do you need the money?  Are you willing to wait for the price you want…or are you willing to shave 10-20% off to get a price now. 

(There are alternatives as well to kick the price down, but we’ll get to that down the list a bit.)

Complaint:  Player X keeps buying my goods and reselling them for more than they’re worth;  People keep “overpricing” items on the broker.

Response:  This complaint is really a non-complaint, and I shake my head every single time I hear it.  Reselling happens.  So what.  Who cares?  You wanted to sell X for Y price.  X sold for Y.  Why do you care what happens to it now?  You sold your item for the price you had it listed to sell at!!

Seriously, stop and think about this for a moment.  You hold a garage sale and tell me that you’ll sell me your old bike for $20.  I buy it and immediately take it back to my antique bike shop where I put it up for sale at $200.  You’re now angry because I “ripped you off”, right?  But did I really?  Or are you really just angry because you had no idea anyone would pay $200 for the old bike you’d found?

You want to stop getting angry at resellers and “price gougers”?  Start learning the value of what it is you’re selling.  Not the value you think something is worth, but the “fair market value” – the value that an item will sell for in a free and open market.  The phrase “you are your own worst enemy” applies frequently in this situation. 

Stop telling yourself that it’s “wrong” to sell an item for two, three, or ten times the price you’d personally pay for an item.  You’re not doing anyone any favors there.  No one will remember your loving act of broker charity.  You’re fighting economic forces…and you’re going to lose. 

If an item will sell for 50pp, put it up for sale at 50pp – even if you personally think the price is too high.  Let the price dictate what the market will bear.  Stop selling your goods for less than you need to sell them for. 

Remember, there’s no morality on the broker.  People aren’t forced to buy your goods at your prices.  No one’s twisting their arms here.  That’s why it’s called a “free and open market” – because there is no coercion. 

Besides, if the price doesn’t work, you can always lower it, later.  This leads me to my next ?

Complaint:  Nothing ever sells; I have items that haven’t moved in weeks; I already have the lowest price;  Why can’t I sell anything?

Response:  Market forces work on two basic principles:  supply and demand.  Most people are pretty good at figuring out supply.  Either you have it or you don’t.  Either it’s common or it’s not.  High supply tends to mean lower prices, whereas low supply tends to mean higher prices.  This is the half of the equation that’s easiest to explain to folks.

Where most people seem to get a little bit lost is with demand. 

Demand is a concept which translates to the desirability or necessity of an item.  Entire industries have evolved around this concept – around telling you what you desire, and why you need it.  Every advertisement you’ve ever watched had something to do with demand on some level.  Even if it’s just a simple reminder of a brand’s name, it’s still a reminder to you and your brain on how much you desire or need that particular brand over others. 

Now, it’s easy to build demand for some items.  The Ubersword of Godslaying  probably has a tiny bit more demand than a bit of canine saliva.  There’s likely a tad more desire for a Shield of Hammerfelling than there is for a spotted butterfly.

When you put an item up for sale, it’s easy to see what the supply looks like with a simple search.  It’s not quite as easy to see what demand looks like.  Some folks don’t quite grasp the concept and just put everything up on the broker (especially if they see other folks selling the same thing).  Four weeks later, the item is still there. 

The problem?  Demand wasn’t properly gauged, I’d wager.  Either people don’t want the item…or don’t know they want it.  If you have an item you think folks should genuinely want, then ask around.  Start with your guildmates and friends and find out if the item has any recognition at all.  People may not even realize that the item exists in the first place (and as such, might overlook it on a search). 

If the item seems to have some value in their eyes, then you might be overpricing just a bit.  Reign it in slightly – drop the price by 10% per week or so till it works.  Demand is tricky, and unlike supply (which is easy to quantify), demand is more art than science. 

If the pricing doesn’t seem to be the issue, then maybe it’s time to advertise.  Hit the auction channels, the level channels, and even a server forum.  Get the item linked around.  Build up some impressions of the item. 

The bottom line?

All in all, just remember that no matter what, patience always wins out.  It’s a rule that given enough time everything eventually sells, no matter the price.  One of my guildmates used to sell common vendor items on the broker just to prove it.  He’d walk over to an alchemist, buy a torch or something for a few copper, and put it up for sale at 1 gold.  It might take weeks or even months, but eventually someone would buy it. 

Also remember, like a haircut, it’s always better to start conservative with pricing and slice some off later if you don’t like the results.  You’ll never regret an item not selling half as much as an item selling for far less than you thought you could have made.

Lastly, as Michael Douglas said it best in Wall Street, “Greed is good”.  In the virtual world of the Shattered Lands, it might seem contradictory to practice “need before greed” in a dungeon while protecting groupmates you’d just met,  only to switch gears and try to accept that avarice can be a good thing, but trust me, the broker is no place to practice your good deeds.  If you want to give items away for well below market value, just find someone and strike a deal away from the broker…because the moment you put an item up on the free market, you’ve signed over control on who is allowed to purchase your goods.  Either sell your items for profit, or don’t complain when someone else buys you out for it. 

That’s it for now.  May Xev bless your dealings, and may your wallet be fat.

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Comments
  1. wilhelm2451 says:

    I remember a few huge threads on the Crushbone forum that were ongoing “why doesn’t SOE do something about people buying and reselling items I put up on the broker” whines. Rants about what is “fair,” faulty logic, and calls for “action” in the form of boycotts, petitions, and other nonsense were the order of the day. It was humorous, sad, and discouraging at the same time.

    As for monopolies, there was a player on my server who maintained pretty tight control over the sale of bank boxes. He always had a lot of them up for sale. If you put one or two up at a cheaper price, he wouldn’t do anything, but if somebody really tried to compete with him, he’d go into price war mode until his competitor gave up. (That was the time to buy some boxes.)

    In the end though, he never really had a monopoly because the barrier to entry for any potential competitor was pretty small. If he raised his prices too high, people would come into the market. He could never rest easy, but he did make a lot of money.

  2. kendricke says:

    I like the reference to the strong box seller. On the surface, most people would look at that as a monopoly. After all, he’s effectively controlling the market, right? Wrong.

    The main difference with an online economy as opposed to a real world economy is the idea of overhead costs. Ignore your monthly subscription fee for a moment (for purposes of this argument, the presumption is you’ll pay that fee whether you’re selling or not). What other costs do you have?

    Rent? Not required. Food? Not required. Drink? Not required. Listing fees? Not in Everquest 2. No, the only fees are involved in the actual costs of producing the product in the first place, and most of those are nominal.

    So, what this means is you can sell your product for whatever price you want…and you never have fear of being put out of business. That fear is completely artificial and self-created. We just illustrated that by pointing out the lack of fees or costs. A merchant in Everquest 2 can’t go out of business…because there’s no real costs to speak of.

    So what if the guy undercuts you. Let him. He’s trying to goad you into dropping your own prices…and if you ignore the advice about patience, you’re going to let him. Honestly, I should go back and add in another piece of advice from the Godfather: “It ain’t personal, it’s business.” Keep your head. Don’t get emotional. Don’t take it personal. Wait.

    What’s the worst thing that happens if you don’t lower your prices? He keeps his prices low? Let him. Let him keep the prices low. If you don’t mind playing the waiting game, he’ll either (A) keep prices low, effectively shooting his own profits in the foot, (B) get tired of waiting for you to lower your prices and eventually raise his own prices as well, (C) buy out your higher priced inventory and then raise his own prices again, just accepting the loss, or (D) trying to work something out with you – trying to “cut you in” on the action, as it were.

    It’s not a “real” monopoly. People just buy into the perception that it is. That’s the first mistake. The second mistake is invariably that they react to that erroneous perception emotionally. It just snowballs from there.

  3. Spyte says:

    Two points: First off a lot of folks are too impatient to use the broker at all – let alone to wait for months until someone pays the price they’re asking. A lot of complaints that “I can’t make any cash” are really complaints that “I don’t have any cash right now”. There’s no answer to these complaints: if the devs increase the size of cash drops from mob kills, that just inflates the economy more. Anyone remember the ludicrous prices on T7 rares after KoS was released and everone made a few plat grinding the basket quests?
    Second, I disagree that everything will sell eventually for any price. Well, ok, if you are preapred to wait 10 or twenty years, maybe. But there are plenty of items on the vendor at 1cp that sit there and sit there and sit there. For months. This is either because they are very easily obtained or because they are of no decorative or practical value whatsoever. The lesson: Work out what these items are and don’t waste your broker space with them.

  4. […] to speak of, you can certainly be well on your way to making coin in this game, even at low levels. This post piqued my interest since I had already started going on about how easy it was to make coin in […]

  5. Kilanna says:

    I know it is a bit late but hope to add a little something to the discussion.

    While I absolutely agree with your proposition that it is not difficult to make plenty coin at low levels, I would argue that brand new players to the game may have find it more difficult getting into an established economy.

    A brand new player will be learning so much about the basic interface, it can take time to learn about even basic things like how to set up a broker box to sell loot, about what will sell for how much and so on – let alone how crafting works, about harvesting and harvesting tools and so on. New alts of experienced players know where to adventure for good loot. Not to mention how excruciatingly rare some harvests are eg Feysteel cluster (I know they are supposed to be rare but an inability to find even one cluster after regular harvesting for a couple of weeks sheesh.)

    No matter how much research you do, I would argue that some of what I describe above only comes from experience and is MUCH easier with alts compared to a brand new player.

    If I am say a lvl 32 warlock, to make my level 32 mastercrafted armour I must be a tailor of about lvl 35. This means harvesting rares for my level 32 mastercrafted armour in areas that are above my ability. So then either I need to spend 7 lots of say 40 or 50gp to buy the rares, or get my level 70 main to go farm for the rares. I would argue that a majority of players at lvl 32 would have a spare 4 plat lying around on their first toon.

    Without the benefit of experience that a long time player has (or a darned patient mentor who has been playing the game a while) , then that is difficult. Someone who has a lvl 70 main will probably just buy the rares for their toon as they have the cash and realise that it is probably more efficient to just pay now and get their toon adventuring to earn that money back.

    I definitely agree though – it is about suppy and demand, together with a little bit of effort and patience.

  6. kendricke says:

    I hear what you’re saying, and though I don’t entirely disagree, here’s where I point out:

    1) Root of Annoyances, Pt II
    2) Ask if brand new players should even be able to make the same amount of coin as established players – capitalist vs. socialistic valuesets.
    3) I can list several posts on the forums where brand new players stated they’re having little to no problem making coin. We’re always quick to jump on the “but think of the poor newbies” argument, only to find out that several of them are doing better than established veterans.

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