Category Archives: WoW Economy News

News items relating to the World of Warcraft Economy

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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AH Issues Resolved

It would appear that the ongoing AH issues we reported on yesterday have been resolved. While scattered reports of AH instability and missing items remain, our own investigations have found nothing conclusive. The items that were ‘missing’ were returned to the AH if they had time left on their auctions or to player’s mail boxes if the auctions expired during the outage. This includes items that were lost in both ‘waves’ of disappearing goods in the AH resulting in some fairly skewed market pricing data due to wide price ranges for many items.

Compensation

We do not expect to be compensated for the lost deposit fees in any form. While it would be a nice gesture, we suspect that it would be a significant drain of resources for Blizzard and therefore not worth the effort to the company.

Cause of Issues and Ongoing Concerns

We also do not have any information as to the cause of the issue or the likelihood of it happening again. This is the most concerning aspect of the ordeal to us as having a stable, functioning and, most importantly, reliable Auction House is a cornerstone to successful MMO trade. Our GM ticket was answered (after a 20 hour wait) with a form message prompting us to check our in-game mail. The in-game mail message was a generic form letter apology and statement of the issue’s successful resolution.

Further Problems

If you have further issues with the AH the people at Blizzard would like you to use this forum post to make them aware. Please note, that this thread is not the forum to vent your frustration or ask questions but rather the best place to make the developers aware of ongoing issues. There are plenty of other places to rant over on the official forums.

Further Reading

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Breaking News- Some Servers Experiencing Missing AH Items

Ongoing updates are listed at the bottom of this post.

Every realm we surveyed this morning reported experiencing rolling restarts. Most reported this happening more than once. Several, however, also reported experiencing ‘missing AH items’ after the latest restart.

It appears that, for a few select realms, the AH was cleared of ALL items. New auctions can be listed, but the old goods were not returned to players, nor are they relisted in the AH- They’ve simply gone… missing. We’ve logged into one of these realms and have put in a ticket to speak with a GM about the issue. WoWenomics would like to know where the items went, if they will be relisted or simply returned to the user and if the deposits on these items will be refunded. Naturally, the GM’s are experiencing ‘high ticket volume’ on these servers so responses are delayed. Stay tuned for an update on this issue, hopefully some insight into the cause and how the ‘missing items’ issue has been resolved.

UPDATE #1: The issue remains unsolved. Auction Houses were back up for a few hours on most realms but missing items were not returned or relisted in the AH. New items could be listed, but old ones are still in WoW limbo. A forum thread was started and a blue left a few comments concerning the issue but gave up somewhere around post #190 (it was over 300 last we checked). The TL;DR version of Blizzard’s stance is the predictable “we are aware of the issue and working…” Of note, the blue poster responds that all items will show up again in the AH or mailbox but, so far, this has not been the case. Further, many of the AH’s that were back up are now, again, unavailable. This time no items can be seen or posted and the message returned is the ambiguous, “Internal auction error” we’ve become so familiar with. For what it is worth, we’ve had a toon on one of these servers with a GM ticket open for over 8 hours. No response yet. We will continue to investigate.

UPDATE #2: 12 hours since our ticket was opened, still no response from Blizzard GMs concerning the issue. Also no more blue posts in the forums. There was, however, the following message was recently posted on the Status Alert page:

“SERVERALERT:
October 24, 2009 8:50 PM PDT

We are aware that players across several realms are having trouble accessing the Auction House or viewing their characters’ posted auctions. These items have not gone missing, however we are actively working to restore the Auction House to its intended functionality. In the mean time we do appreciate your patience and will keep you apprised of any updates we are able to provide.”

Some players are reporting there auctions have been successfully reposted in the AH and those that expired returned via in-game mail. Others are reporting that they’ve now lost items two or more times since the AH was wiped clear at least as many times on there servers. We still have no direct word from Blizzard concerning the issue or when all players will have their items returned. We continue to monitor.

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Synthetic Fur Coming into Fashion

As widely reported and recently confirmed on the PTRs, Arctic Fur will be tradable for 10 Heavy Borean Leather from a vendor in the professions region of Dalaran. This change will have several economic effects, the most significant of which will be the normalization in price of Arctic Fur with 10 Borean Leather.

Farming Arctic Fur, as most skinners know, can be a frustrating experience for the profit-minded WoW trader. A quick search of the item on the WoW official forums shows that the vast majority of posts related to Arctic Fur are complaints on abysmal drop rates. Blizzard has responded to the wall of skinning QQ by implementing a change that will allow a conversion of other, lower level, leatherworking profession items into the harder to attain Fur. This type of change is not entirely unprecedented in the game, the most recent example of which would be the implementation of the Abyssal Shatter ability for Enchanters. Unlike that ability however, the Arctic Fur conversion process will be useable by anyone, not just players that require the item for his or her professional crafting uses. This means that any enterprising and astute trader will be able to profit from any amount of price disparity by simply keeping a close watch on when the price of Arctic Fur rises significantly above that of 10 Borean Leather. Assuming there is no limited restock or cooldown of some sort (which, at present on the PTRs, there isn’t) it will be easy to rig the market to produce this profitable result. The vendor trade profit potential will be short lived, however, as eventually even casual traders will catch on to the change and the markets will stabilize.

On the larger scale, we wonder if this profession item trading ability is a sign of things to come in WoW. Blizzard mentioned at Blizzcon this year that they were going to make rare reagents available through guild membership so, it would appear anyway, that they are moving away from players struggling with attaining these types of items for crafting purposes. This will ultimately completely redefine these key trading markets and we can’t help but wonder what the long term economic effects will be. If the intent was to make the more rare crafting items easier to attain, why not simply increase the drop rate? The purpose of changes similar to this one must be that Blizzard is trying to redefine these markets.

When it is all said and done, it would be reasonable to expect that the longer term results of this change are going to be a constant equalization between the prices is of equivalent amounts of Borean Leather (in all of its forms) and Arctic Fur. If this should prove to be the case, expect to see a sharp rise in the price of Borean Leather and a modest decrease in the going rate of Arctic Fur in the wake of patch 3.3. There may be some opportunity for procuring inexpensive Borean Leather now, before this change is widely known, for either reposting when the price spikes or conversion to Arctic Fur when the change first hits and the prices are still high.

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Titanium Dropping in Price

The WoWenomics team was discussing Titanium Ore recently and all team members agreed that the prices are down from their peak just a few weeks ago. Whereas typical prices for a stack of ore were reported as being in the area of 350 gold or more, we searched ten auction houses across five servers last night and found stacks available for buyouts at sub-300 levels on seven of the ten auction houses. We cannot say definitively how much prices are dropping since we have not been statistically recording the prices across servers but, anecdotally at least, it would appear that the ore, and goods and services related to the ore, are currently on the decline.

The reasons for the drop in price of Titanium are probably a combination of:

  • Increased supply– Titanium Ore has been so profitable for so many weeks that many more players are jumping into the farming for resale market, causing a certain amount of over-supply.
  • Decreased demand– As epic gem prices drop and stabilize perhaps Jewelcrafters are finding high ore prices intolerable.

In fact, one interesting correlation that we noted in our research was that of the seven servers that showed lower ore prices, every single one showed decreased epic gem prices. Prices for uncut gems on these servers were typically within the area of 140-150 gold. It may be that epic gem prices can be used as an early indicator of the direction of Titanium Ore. If you are in the ore market, either buying or selling, you might want to also look into the prices of epic gems to determine your optimal pricing and/or farming strategy before you set out on your daily quest for profits.

It is impossible to say if the observed decline in Titanium prices is here to stay of if this is just part of the cyclic nature of the WoW economy but, for the time being at least, we are rating Titanium Ore as a sell.

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Abyssal Shatter Test Results

When we first received word that the Abyssal Shatter enchanting spell would be coming to the game we asked our resident enchanting expert if she would be interested in conducting some testing on the ability. She was keen on the idea so we sent a whole bunch of gold over and told her to get busy. A week later, when we hadn’t heard from her, we realized she took this to mean ‘free shopping spree’ and not ‘collect Abyss Crystals’ so we gave her more specific instructions and yet more gold with which to buy up inexpensive Crystals. Shortly after the Abyssal Shatter ability went live we had our results (and she still had her motorcycle). At any rate, the following are the results of our tests.

This chart shows the results of each shatter (click it for larger image)

Abyssal Shatter Test Results

Detailed Results

Number of Crystals Shattered: 128
Cosmic Essence Returned: 89
Infinite Dust Returned: 39
Percent Chance to Receive Essence: 69.53%
Percent Chance to Receive Dust: 30.47%

Cosmic Essence Results

Lowest Amount Received: 1
Highest Amount Received: 6
Average Amount Received: 2.99
Total Amount Collected: 266

Infinite Dust Results

Lowest Amount Received: 7
Highest Amount Received: 19
Average Amount Received: 9.79
Total Amount Collected: 382

We hope you find this information useful for your own enchanting purposes. Please note that all published results are from live servers and not test realms.

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Undocumented Fix to AH Interface

A small fix was applied to the AH interface sometime during the past two weeks. The fix addresses the interface issue we described in a previous post, wherein new searches of the AH would retain the page index of previous searches thereby rendering occasionally inaccurate search results. This was only prevalent in the unmodified auction house and has since been fixed. New searches now revert to the first indexed page of AH searches.

You can, however, still dance your way to free honor at the blacksmith in Arathi Basin.

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