Category Archives: WoW Market Commentary

Commentary, sometimes intelligent, sometimes unintelligible, on the WoW market and market data

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

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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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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Filed under WoW Economy News, WoW Gold Making Tips, WoW Market Commentary

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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How Much Should You Tip Other Players?

Okay, this one comes by way of our team’s mage. It would seem that I’ve offended him to a certain degree with my repeated references to his beloved class as vending machines and QQ dispensers. While I stand by my comments on the least threatening/most squishy of all DPS classes (but hey, they do portals right?), I will appease him with the post he has been bitching about humbly requesting that we post for so very long. So, this one’s for our resident jewelcrafter and favorite mage. We now proudly give you a guide to proper tipping in WoW.

First, a small disclaimer: This was hardly scientific. What we did to determine each tip level was to first take a poll amongst the WoWenomics team members, and then subsequently asked each member to take an informal poll amongst the population of their trade channels. Members were asked to continue polling the population, ideally at different times of day, until they reached fifty responses each. We dared not stay for much more than fifty as it is our understanding that too much WoW trade chat can make your brain fall out of your ear and your eyes bleed. We asked only four questions, and provide both the team’s opinions and the thoughts (if they can be called ‘thoughts’) of trade chat responders.

Without further ado, our recommended tipping levels for popular WoW services:

Mage Portals

WoWenomics Team Average: 8 gold
Trade Channel Average: 6 gold
Highest Amount Suggested: 20 gold
Craziest Response Received: “The amount of their reagent cost. Why should it cost more?”

Lock Boxes Opened

WoWenomics Team Average: 5 gold
Trade Channel Average: 2 gold
Highest Amount Suggested: 20 gold
Craziest Response Received: “Free.”

Epic Gem Cuts (petitioner’s materials)

WoWenomics Team Average: 25 gold
Trade Channel Average: 19 gold
Highest Amount Suggested: 60 gold
Craziest Response Received: “My balls. That’s how much.”

High End Enchantments/Crafting (petitioner’s materials)

WoWenomics Team Average: 90 gold
Trade Channel Average: 60 gold
Highest Amount Suggested: 500 gold
Craziest Response Received: “Can you please shut up with your stupid survey?”

So there you have it. Hardly scientific but we do hope it gives you some idea as to how you might want to tip. We also hope that it helps our mage get better tips (he apparently spends a lot of time ‘explaining’ how much his customers ‘should’ tip him). Now go make me some biscuits water boy!

What do you think? What are the fair amounts to tip for these (and other) services?

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Filed under WoW Community News, WoW Economy News, WoW Market Commentary

Abyssal Shatter

The Enchanting ability, Abyssal Shatter, was hotfixed onto EU servers this morning.  This ability allows for conversion of Abyss Crystals into either Infinite Dust or Greater Cosmic Essence.  If the spell results are left unchanged, there will be significant economic impact.

Shattering crystals requires an enchanting skill of 445 and can reportedly yield as many as 18 dusts or 4 essences.

Prices are already starting to move on EU servers to reflect the above stated changes.  Players on US servers have somewhat of an advantage here in that, since they did not yet receive the hotfix, they have an early warning of the impending change.  US early adapters will be able to play a bit of insider trading and move the markets before they move themselves.

It is worth noting that there will also be some trickle down consequences on related enchantment materials markets such as enchanted vellums and other items that require these materials but this change may require more time to take effect. 

Over the long haul, it would be our expectation that the prices of Infinite Dust, Greater Cosmic Essence and Abyss Crystals will all normalize such that the price of 1 Abyss Crystal, 15-18 Infinite Dust, and 2-3 Greater Cosmic Essence all equal about the same amount.  Until this happens, however, there will be ample opportunity to take advantage of price disparity.

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Filed under High Profit Items, WoW Community News, WoW Economy News, WoW Gold Making Tips, WoW Market Commentary