All About the Gold Cap

First off, here are the answers to a few of the more regularly asked questions about the cap:

  • The in-game maximum amount of currency that a single toon can have is 214,748 Gold, 36 Silver and 46 Copper.
  • The gold cap is specific to one toon and not to an account. You can exceed the cap by spreading the currency amongst your alts.
  • Mail with gold attached, be it from other players or the AH, cannot be picked up. Attempts to do so will result in the warning message flashing on the screen “At Gold Limit.”
  • No more money, even a single copper, from any source including player-to-player trade or looting a corpse can be attained until some currency is removed from the player that has reached the cap. Most attempts to attain more money via these and other methods will result in the same “At Gold Limit” message.
  • There is no award, title, in-game achievement or special designation for reaching the gold cap. It is simply an achievement, in the most basic and personal sense of the word.
  • Items sold to vendors while at the gold cap do not yield any gold. The gold is lost although the item may be repurchased from the vendor, and you charged. Note: we didn’t test this one ourselves but it stands to reason.
  • The guild bank gold cap is higher than the personal gold cap. We didn’t decipher the exact limit but we presume it is the unsigned integer amount listed below.
  • Should you decide to share the news of having reached the cap with your server population, friends, guildmates or on the WoW forums you will be met with varying forms of only three basic categories of comments: A) “Grats!” B) “Grats! Can you give me/buy me/loan me ____” or C) “You must have no life and play all the time.” It is unwise to respond at all to comments of types B or C.

Now, here are a few facts about the WoW gold cap that you may not have known.

It’s Not Really a ‘Gold Cap’ That We’re Talking About…

Gold, in fact, is not the unit of measurement used in the game’s programming. Rather, the currency is measured by the game in its purest form, Copper. Thus, the term “Gold Cap” is not entirely accurate as it is, technically, a “Copper Cap”.

Why Such a Strange Number?

The existence of a maximum threshold at all is because of the way this aspect of the game is programmed. The most plausible explanation for the cap is that the initial developers of WoW declared the variable (that is, assigned it as an adaptable mathematical value) of copper as ‘int32’, a signed 32-bit integer. This type of assignment allows for a maximum of 31 mathematical characters with one space reserved for positive or negative designation. The designation of a variable as a signed int32 allows for a maximum value of negative or positive 2 to the power of 31 (subtracting one on the positive side of the scale). So int32 allows for a range of –2^31 to 2^31-1. 2^31 is 2,147,483,648-1 which is 2,147,483,647. Look familiar? That’s the actual Copper Cap. Translated back to ‘gold cap’ and allowing for understanding that a player must have less than the maximum it becomes 214,748.36.46. See how that works? So in computational terms, the gold cap is a < signed int32 or < 2^31-1. Complex? Maybe. But still entirely understandable.

Can It Be Fixed?

Can it? Will it? Is it even ‘broken’? Ultimately it is up the Blizzard developers to determine if they are interested in increasing the gold cap. The most plausible, albeit short-sighted, solution would be to make the number an unsigned integer thus allowing for a maximum gold amount of less than 2^32-1 or 4,294,967,295 copper (or 429,496 Gold, 72 Silver and 95 Copper) but, of course, we have no idea what impact this might have on the game’s programming or currency model. It seems like a reasonable solution because you can’t have a negative gold balance (although we know some players who sure try hard enough) so what’s the need for the extra character pos/neg designator anyway? Of course, perhaps the only reason you can’t have a negative gold amount is because of this designation so… who knows? The other possibility is that they assign the variable a different declaration, one with a longer character allowance, but again we can only theorize as to the impact of such a seemingly simple yet potentially drastic change.

In our opinion, we’d rather they didn’t attempt to tackle this problem since the work around is simply sending gold to alts or storing in a privately owned guild bank. Ever have problems on patch day? Notice odd bugs come up after the release of major content? Ever have issues with items or mail? We have. Therefore, we’re not very excited about the prospect of messing with a system that might have far reaching and unpredictable results. Particularly when it comes to results that might adversely impact our virtual wallets.

The Auction House Has its Own Gold Cap

Yes, the AH has its own, unique, gold cap. The maximum amounts for items listed in the AH are:

200,000 Gold for bid
429,496 Gold, 72 Silver, 95 Copper for buyout

However- and this is where it really gets strange- you can’t list both maximums on the same auction. That’s right. While you can list items for 200,000 bid OR items for 429,496.72.95 G buyout, you can’t do so at the same time. You have to lower one or the other or the game does it for you automatically. Also interesting is that where the bid level appears to be a hard, or fixed cap, the buyout is a bit more elusive. So any time you try to list an item above 200,000 G bid the Auction button will simply gray out. Easy enough. But listing items above the buyout max level will do things like automatically adjust your buyout level downwards to various, and mostly unpredictable, levels.

Of course, the strangest part of this revelation is that auctions can be set at levels higher than the maximum amount of gold a player can have. Thus, you could theoretically set an auction for a price that no player could possibly pay and, even if they could, you couldn’t receive. Take a moment and just imagine the pain of selling a 400,000 gold auction and not being able to receive it. Which brings us to our next point…

…did seeing the buyout maximum set off a sense of mathematical déjà vu? It should. The limit mentioned above could also be described as less than 4,294,967,296 which is, as stated earlier, 2 to the 32nd power. 2^32-1 is an unsigned int32 declaration. So Blizzard used a signed integer declaration for the gold cap, but not so for the AH limit. Strange. Does this mean, theoretically at least, that it is possible to have a negative gold amount somehow in the game? We don’t think so but it does raise some legitimate questions.

There may also be an in-game mailbox gold cap but, to be absolutely honest, none of us had the balls to test it out.

Capping the Gold Cap Discussion

So that’s the basics of the gold cap logic. Will the gold cap always remain at this level? Hard to say. It seems reasonable that if players are becoming more and more wealthy with each expansion pack, and items and gold sinks costing more, Blizzard would raise the limit if, indeed, they intend the game to go on for a long time. But seeing as how honor is still capped at 75,000 it may not be something that the development team is too worried about.

Hopefully we’ve not bored anyone to sleep just yet. But if reaching the gold cap is a goal you’re striving to meet it certainly can’t hurt to know more about it. Good luck in your own efforts of reaching it.

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Filed under WoW Economy News, WoW Market Commentary, WoWenomic Theory and Discussion

The Many Excuses of the Broke WoW Player

One of the downsides of having in-game wealth is that you frequently have to suffer the opinions of those who don’t. We put our heads together and came up with this list of some of the most common excuses we hear as to why a fellow player might be struggling with paying the repair bills.

  • “My professions are no good/Your professions are OP.”
  • “The Auction House is icky!”
  • “I’m too generous to be wealthy. I am too focused on helping my guild out to craft stuff for selling.”
  • “Stupid Blizzard, they designed this game so that only the people who can play all day can make gold.”
  • “Gold farmers keep driving prices up.
  • “Daily quests just don’t pay enough.”
  • “My [person I share account with] keeps taking all my gold.”
  • “Titanium/Arctic Fur/Frost Lotus drop rates are too low.”
  • “I read a tip on a WoW gold blog and it didn’t pan out. They were probably just trying to manipulate the market anyway!”
  • “The market for X item crashed and that was how I made my gold.”
  • “Who cares anyway? You don’t need lots of gold to play the game. Say, can I borrow 500g to buy this new piece of gear?”
  • “Raiding is too expensive. By the time I buy consumables, gems/enchants and repairs I don’t have anything left.”
  • “Damned undercutters!”
  • “Someone else took my farming route.”
  • “The economy on this server is ridiculous.” (note: works for all servers)
  • “Too much deflation, now I’m stuck with all these things I can’t sell.”
  • “I don’t want to read about making gold, that’s no fun. I want to just play.”
  • “How can I possibly make gold when I’m too busy trying to PVP, do arenas, raid, gain reputation and do the occasional dungeon?”
  • “I was hacked by this person that I gave my account information to and thought was my friend.”
  • “If it takes money to make money then where do I begin? I just need to borrow 100g to get started.”
  • “This one guy completely dominates the market and always crashes prices. He’s probably a [insert racist comment] gold farmer anyway. Someone should report him.”
  • “I am a casual player. I don’t have time to focus on making gold.”
  • “I spend all my gold helping out my friends.”

Interestingly, all of these excuses share a common trait and that is that it is not their fault. It is always the fault of someone else, something else or the market. At the end of the day, any decent WoW trader knows that there are no viable excuses. If you work at it enough, just like with other aspects of the game (and, in many cases, with real life) you can have anything you want. Stick with it, be smart and never give up.

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Filed under WoW Gold Making Tips, WoW Market Commentary

A.B.C. (Alterac Brings Capital)

A quick trip to the Alterac Mountains can often bring in a fairly hefty sum of gold if you know where to look and what to do while you’re there. Here are the sights and NPCs to visit if you want to know how to conduct a profitable trip to the mountains. We’re willing to bet that you haven’t heard of all of these…

Frost Oil

Deep in the Alterac Mountains, just beyond the Hillsbrad Foothills, high atop a wall guarded by once mighty ogres (seriously, they used to be elite) sits Bro’kin. Bro’kin, a Boooty Bay aligned goblin, is an otherwise unremarkable Alchemy vendor with the exception that he is the only NPC that sells the Frost Oil Recipe. This oil, while fairly outdated by current standards, is still highly profitable due to the fact that it is a required turn-in for an old leveling quest, Coolant Heads Prevail. This quest line is still completed by alts and veteran players alike because part of the chain awards a fairly unique trinket, the Nifty Stopwatch. This old trinket still has use for running long distances when you can’t mount. PVPers will like it for running flags; Bankers will like it for the occasional speedy mailbox/bank/AH run. The oil is also used, albeit a lot less frequently, for the old Dire Maul Tribute run.

The point is that you’ve got a fairly steady demand and a limited supply which means a good potential for profits. Pick up a few copies of this recipe from Bro’kin for less than a gold each and learn one (if you’re an alchemist) and sell the others for as much as you can in the AH. We typically wait until no one else has one posted to post ours and then we price it in the area of 30g each, one at a time.

Note that you’ll have to wait a few minutes before purchasing the recipe again as it is a limited supply item. So what do you do while you wait? Well we’re glad you asked…

Nodes

There are various ore and herb nodes appropriate to the level of the quests and mobs in the zone but the standout winner here is a key component of Frost Oil, Wintersbite. This herb can be picked by herbalists of requisite level and is found only in the snowy mountainous areas of this zone. The nice thing about this herb is that this is the ONLY area in which it grows, so if you have extras after crafting your own Frost Oils they can be sold for pretty high prices.

If you’re an alchemist/herbalist (or are friendly with one) you are now in the business of selling the Frost Oil recipe, the oil itself and the requisite herbs for crafting of the oil. You, essentially, control this tiny market. Savvy traders will even take steps to ensure that the price of the herbs remains formidably high such that even if other players buy the recipe from you they find it unprofitable to craft a bunch of the oils to compete with you. Muhaaaahaaaahaaaaa!

A Bonus Rare Engineering Schematic

But wait, there’s more… Did you notice the little guy in the cage during your Alterac Travels? Rizz Loosebolt is another obscure Alterac vendor, this time of the engineering variety. Like Bro’kin, he is friendly to both factions and sells various trade items but has one recipe in limited supply. This time it is the Ice Deflector Schematic which is a bit of a harder sell (there’s no quest associated with the crafted item) but it does sell to completionist Engineers (many haven’t even heard of this schematic). While you’re talking to Rizz, you might also want to buy out his supply of Gyrochronatoms which usually sell at a hefty markup in the AH to lazy players that don’t bother finding them elsewhere for less.

In an interesting example of WoW synergy, it is worth noting that Frost Oil is a required crafting component of the Ice Deflector and one of the Gyrochronatoms are required for completion of the afore mentioned Nifty Stopwatch quest line.

Something Else to Think About

Did you do your Alterac Valley quests? There are a whole slew of them available in your race’s AV cavern. Quest givers are located about half way down each tunnel. Both factions’ tunnels are located symmetrically on opposite sides of a path between the mountains that make up the border of the Hillsbrad Foothills and the Alterac Mountains. An informal poll amongst friends and family showed that most players, particularly those that started playing within the last two years, have never even heard of these quests. They are easy to do and are often completed along the course of attempting to win the AV battle. In fact, the hardest thing about completing these quests is simply finding the quest givers. So what are you waiting for? That’s some easy XP/gold right there? These quests might prove particularly lucrative to those players attempting to level with PVP as it just becomes an added bonus to what they are already doing.

You’ve now got yourself a little, agreeably unusual but highly profitable, farming circuit from the old world. It may seem counterintuitive to spend time visiting these old areas but we would argue otherwise, because who knows what the availability of these items, vendors, quests and even zones will be after the Cataclysm hits? May as well head out there now while you still can.

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Filed under High Profit Items, WoW Gold Making Tips

The Loot Council- November 9, 2009

The Loot Council is regular column highlighting interesting and informative posts from around the WoW finance blogosphere.

Comings and Goings

  • We are proud to welcome back to the fold, the O.G. of the WoW gold making game, The WoW Economist. Fantastic articles, well written and (usually) concise. Good advice and in-depth examination of the market. Go give him a look. We sure hope he can also recover and post his archives.
  • The Promenade is a WoW gold blog that started out in October of this year and is already gaining ground with slick posts, good writing and fantastic screen shots. Check it out!
  • Kevmar of My AH Banker has moved over to a new site and expanded his focus. Please give him a visit and welcome him to his new home.
  • Uh, Oh… Seth of One Copper is talking burnout. Stop by and support him and tell him why he should continue.
  • The Midnight WoW Junky returned to the scene. Welcome back!

Note: Side bar links and the resources page have been updated as appropriate.

This Week’s Links

Note that the above blogs are not listed in any particular order outside of the way the team brainstormed them. Please let us know if there are any sites that you feel we should feature and we will do so in a future edition of The Loot Council.</em

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Funny Money- Print is NOT Dead!

And they said print was dead…

It is common knowledge that a WoW Magazine was recently released. Due to the widespread success of this endeavor, Blizzard has now released another WoW magazine, this one dedicated to the official forums.

Forum Commenter Issue One
Forum Commenter Issue Two

Looks like they’ve really nailed their target audience here.

But what would happen if everyone got his or her own magazine? It would probably look something like this.

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What Level is Your WoW Gold Making Skill?

There are so many skills and abilities that are easily measurable in World of Warcraft. Character, Profession, Items, Durability, Progression levels and more are all easily tracked and compared. However, the ability to generate WoW wealth remains subjective at best. A player makes a few gold and suddenly starts thinking that they’ve mastered the gold making meta-game. So how can we tell how good a player is at wealth generation? What metrics do we use to measure gold making success?

In response to these, and other questions, we offer the following assessment chart.

The Casual

The casual trader is the player that posts the occasional item in the Auction House but for the most part finds the entire experience frustrating. When they do trade, they complain of ‘over priced’ goods (before they buy them anyway) and undercutters (and yet, they still will attempt to post). These are the players that selling items in /trade chat for half of what they go for in the AH just because they “don’t want to have to deal with the AH.”

Trading Tools Used: Begging, complaining and delinquent loans
Market Outlook: “There’s a market? Do they sell fruit and vegetables?”

The Apprentice

These are players who have developed an awareness of the gold making game but have no taste for participation themselves. They claim to make ‘enough’ gold for their needs through dailies and selling the occasional items in the AH. They lack a concept of pricing , market cycles, or marketing strategy. Often sells their profession cooldowns. More often than not, these players are also people that have been playing for a while and are accomplished at one or more aspects of the game.

Trading Tools Used: WoW.com, MMO Champion, a few generalist WoW blogs and buying gold for cash.
Market Outlook: “OMG get a life! Who needs that much gold anyway? You only need enough for your mount, riding skill and repairs. Why be greedy?”

The Understudy

Many serious gold makers start their journeys in the role of The Understudy. These are the people who farm relentlessly and supply others with their raw materials or provide dungeon run throughs or boosts. They are capable of making a few hundred gold a day and are usually happy with the results. At some point, however, The Understudy will begin to question just what all the materials are used for and will sometimes even ask around or start reading the WoW gold blogs. In fact, this awareness (that there is more to be had and a desire to get it) is the very moment at which they begin to progress to the next level of the gold making meta-game.

Trading Tools Used: Gatherer and similar farming mods, route planning and daily consolodation web sites and suggestions, upgraded fishing rods.
Market Outlook: “How does he have so much gold?”

The Artisan

This is the beginning of the journey to WoW gold master. The Artisan has a preferred method of making gold but is usually restricted to a single or very few markets. These players enjoy the gold making game and often are on the lookout for opportunities. They usually read at least one of the WoW gold blogs and stay up to date with coming changes to the economy. These players will have maxed out professions and usually a few very rare recipes. They buy and sell profitably and will often advertise their skills and goods in /trade chat.

Trading Tools Used: Auctioneer and possibly other AH tools, analysis and pursuit of the most profitable daily quests and activities.
Market Outlook: “I wonder if I can hit the gold cap? How long will it take?”

The Master of Markets

This trader is very similar to the artisan but takes their mastery of the Auction House to the extreme. These players often have multiple methods of supply for their crafting needs and strictly manage costs. They often dominate very specific markets and are always hunting for more. They understand the more complex aspects of WoWenomics and use spreadsheets, cost analysis and various crafting mods. They are restricted only by their supply and time investment limitations. They are often at least familiar with their biggest competitors.

Trading Tools Used: Auctioneer and related add-ons, QA2, Other AH mod and interface tools, the default friends list, personal banker guilds, steady supply of farmers and exploitation of trading noobs.
Market Outlook: “This current amount of daily profits is nice, but how can I make even more?”

The WoW Tycoon

The Tycoon is most easily defined by the fact that he is quite often not as aware of his competition as the competition is of him. As soon as the Tycoon logs in, his competition breaths a collective sigh and prepares for returned auctions. The Tycoon dominates market segments through a careful mix of scalable supply, demand interpretation, cost management and pricing strategy. They often have their methods of profit perfected and are impervious to all but the best competitors. At this stage of the gold making game, they also end up spending less time in the AH, since they’ve developed a pretty clear understanding of opportunity cost and will thus streamline their selling process. Generally, does not work for tips.

Trading Tools Used: Any AH interface mod (they’ve more than likely tried them all), pricing strategy and an in-depth understanding of scalability, multiple banker alts and guilds, mail, crafting and inventory management mods and tools, specific market domination.
Market Outlook: “This is too easy!”

Bear in mind that anyone can make gold in WoW. All players have a chance to eventually reach the gold cap. So this guide wasn’t created to say who is or is not capable of generating gold but rather to separate the beginners from the experts and to identify the tools, skills and mindsets of all levels of WoW traders.

It is also worth noting that all players, including those at the highest level of the gold making game, performed at the lower levels at some point during their WoW career. Anyone can progress beyond his or her current level with attentive study, practice and planning.

So… what level are you?

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The Loot Council- November 1, 2009

The Loot Council is regular column highlighting interesting and informative posts from around the WoW finance blogosphere.

This Week’s Links:

Note that the above blogs are not listed in any particular order outside of the way the team brainstormed them. Please let us know if there are any sites that you feel we should feature and we will do so in a future edition of The Loot Council.

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