This thread contains all of the Manipulation Monday articles. Discuss the ideas here!
Manipulation Monday #1: http://diablo3markets.incgamers.com/...-madoff-monday
Manipulation Monday #2. Thanks to SlabshaftI call it the “Training Thief”. From what we’ve seen in beta, pages of training are the bottleneck in training your artisans. So manipulating their flow may be profitable! Only works in the first few days of the game. You convert some real life money into gold, and go buy up all the Pages of Training in the Gold AH. Eventually, as many new gold-rich players come into the game looking to spend on training their artisans, you sell the BOOKS of training (by combining the pages) in the RMAH for real money, or in the gold AH for gold at a 20% profit margin. Remember, no one will be listing any pages of training on the RMAH because there not worth enough. Books however, may cost a tiny bit of Real money. By limiting the progression of players, you hold a lot of power.
Manipulation Monday #3: Thanks to Kyla!The simplest manipulation, and very first one that comes to my mind is to simply monopolize control of of certain items. This may have already been discussed and many people know of the basic ‘buy low and sell high’ approach, but what I propose is the very far extreme of that. This method puts people with a good amount of real money at a huge advantage.
Example using everyone’s favorite D2X item (and now apparently a D3 item):
Say I take, $800 (or whatever it requires) and completely buy out every Windforce in the RMAH. I then, re-post one or two at a massively elevated price (double or triple what I bought them for). People likely will not buy them up (great if they did), but anyone holding that item will probably try to sell theirs at a slightly cheaper price, thinking they are undercutting me. I hold on to the remainder of the Windforces I bought and closely monitor the AH over the next few days to see if new ones pop up and at what prices. If they are posting high, I leave them. If they are low, I buy them immediately (this prevents others from seeing the low priced ones, and gives me more stock). Meanwhile, the perceived market price of the Windforce elevates. If the over-priced Windforces ARE selling, then the actual market price elevates instantly (unless it’s a whim-buyer). If not, I keep buying them if they are cheap enough and I do it quickly. While my hugely expensive Windforces are not selling, the demand for them will eventually swell. It could take an hour, a day or a week, nobody knows yet.
Once the perceived market price of the Windforce is high enough, I burst the bubble and slightly undercut the artificially inflated market with my Windforces. It’s critical that I sell these at just the right rate. This would require some trial in order to get it right. If I flood the market all at once, I may destroy any chances of making a profit as the supply is higher than the demand. I would need to post the Windforces one or a few at a time. As the price begins to fall, I would need to chase the market downward, hopefully extinguishing my supply before the price gets too low. I would need to choose my target bottom line, but it would likely be around the original price of the first Windforces I bought, since that would be the ‘natural’ market price.
Now, one could probably re-post the the items all at the same price, say double the original. The issue with this, is that someone will likely undercut you. You can play many price games to find some that work. For a special item, it may be better to have a couple up at a time and always have one cheaper than the other to make it look like a good deal. For items with a large need, like crafting items, you can likely just repost them all at double the cost and people will buy them anyway. It’s up to you do find how best to re-post the items.
There are a number of ‘variables’ at work against this though.
We don’t fully know how the AH will work and what the rules/limitations will be at game release.
The auction house may be HUGE, so it may be infeasible to actually buy-out items. If there are millions of people in the AH, it could easily price out everyone but a few people with a LOT of cash to blow. Donald Trump could get in and ruin everyone’s day and just have a laugh.
You are probably limited by your stash size at any given time. You won’t be able to buy 150 Windforces since you couldn’t put them anywhere.
The auction fee prevents smaller transactions. You need to go high price or high volume to counteract the AH fee. This sets a minimum profit margin quite high for reselling.
Blizzard may have the whole system tuned for balance. If it sees that these items are pulled from the market, it may generate more of them. If so, timing is crucial.
Patches, expansions and discovery. New patches, expansions and item/build discoveries may cause a lot of volatility in prices (at least at first). That 5% MF glove may seem crappy until someone discovers that it’s the highest MF glove in the game (or visa-verse). Expansions and patches are a wildcard.
Time. It takes dilligence and a lot of monitoring of the AH to make this work.
Things working in favor of this:
The AH is anonymous. This keeps people from know what you’re up to.
Laziness and whim-buyers. Some people just want something now and don’t care what it costs. This will work in your favor in the RMAH since $20 may be easier and worth it for someone if it’s the only way for them to get it over waiting for a better deal. If you keep the supply down enough and are patient, you can take advantage of whim-buyers very easily.
Evaluate the risks and the cost/benefits.
Know when to bail and when to see if someone is gaming YOU instead.
Keep the AH fees in mind, or you will lose. Also take advantage of the weekly free trades to help your margin.
Manipulation Monday #4: Thanks to Frostlion!My idea is a very basic one that I expect many people are probably going to attempt to do. The idea centers around buying and selling gold, and reselling it at higher rates to make a profit.
At the beginning, gold is going to be very expensive (in my opinion). I plan to sell every ounce of gold I make for real money in the first few weeks of the game. After a few weeks/months, on every price-dip I plan to use that money to repurchase the gold at a discount. I will then use this gold to purchase high-end salvaging materials just before the majority of players hit level 60, when I expect the demand for materials to surge due to people using it extensively at level 60. I will then resell these goods afterwards, when Salvaging materials are in huge demand.
So my idea is a bit of a “train-effect”, where you buy what you think is going to surge in advance, and then change your strategy to the next item in line. You can do this by predicting how you think people will spend their money. In my example above, I predict people will want gold to begin with, and then when they hit level 60 they will want salvaging materials.
The basic concept of almost all trading is so simple that it’s almost silly to repeat it: “buy low, sell high.” The trick in trading though, is knowing beforehand when prices will go up and when they will go down. If you don’t know that, you won’t know what ‘low’ or ‘high’ means.
In most online games, some of these patterns are surprisingly easy to find. Below, I will briefly go into selling strategies for big sellers, and buying strategies for various buyers. Finally, we will look at play times for these groups and see a pattern emerge.
We will focus on items that are wanted and semi-rare, but common enough that there is a constant supply. Think of gems, books of training, crafting materials, skill runes etc. There will always be a demand for at least some of these items, so big sellers will be sure to put them up. More importantly, the price will be set by the big sellers. A random person may find one of these items and decide to put it up on the AH, but if they put it up below the normal prices, it will either sell quickly to a lucky player or one of the big sellers will scoop it up. After all, with constant demand, there’s little risk in buying such an item.
With big sellers setting the price, that means they have to decide how high to set it. Now it’s important to know many big sellers are not interested in getting the most out of any one item, but they want to sell as many items as possible. Simply put, it’s better to sell 20 items with a $2,- profit, than to sell 10 with a $3,- profit. The first nets you $40,- while the second gives you just $30,-. Sure, you will still have 10 items left in the second case, but the limiting factor in high volume trading is often not how many items you can get, but how much time you need to spend getting them and then getting rid of them. On top of that, even an item that doesn’t sell will cost you the nominal fee to put up.
Now buyers come in roughly two different categories – although there is of course a gray area. Firstly, we have the serious buyers. They want to get an item, but only at the best possible price. They will take their time looking at price fluctuations and keep their eye out for a cheap item that they can grab. These people don’t mind waiting a while to get a good deal. Usually, they are serious players, who want to get the most out of every aspect of the game.
Secondly, we have the casual buyers. They see the AH as a quick and nice way to get stuff. Maybe they’re not too interested in getting into the details or they wouldn’t know how. Maybe they don’t realize how much money they could save, or maybe they just don’t care. They will see if an item that they want is up and if the price doesn’t seem outrageous to them, they will just buy it. These people are not necessarily casual players. They may be pretty fanatical about other parts of the game, but simply not care about the AH. On the whole though, they’ll be more casual than the serious buyers.
Now you might think big sellers would just be interested in the casual buyers since they pay most, but that’s not the case. After all, as I mentioned, they’re looking to sell in high volume, even if the margins per item are a bit lower. That means they’ll target both serious and casual buyers if they can. And that brings us to play time.
The traditional play times for computer games are in the evenings and on the weekends. For the more casual players, it’s often just the weekends for substantial play. Looking at server load throughout the week for online games, you can see there will easily be three times as many people on during prime time than – say – a Thursday afternoon. The number of people on is a pretty decent indicator for how much stuff is bought. After all, each character has the same number of gear slots, so there’s only so much most people will buy. Sure, you might have three or four gear sets, but nobody will have a thousand. On top of that, there will be many more casual buyers on during prime time as well.
In short, demand for items goes up during peak times, and people are willing to pay more to get them.
How about supply? With three times as many people on, wouldn’t you also expect three times as many sellers?
Sure. However, unlike for buyers, the number of sellers tells you hardly anything about the supply for semi-rare items. After all, the bulk of the supply is created by the small group of big sellers. People don’t have a thousand sets of gear, but some people do stack up a thousand gems to sell. The people who have gold farmers working with them, the people who use exploits to create items (hopefully there won’t be too many of those) and the people using tips from other Madoff Monday articles to stock up and resell. And the thing about these sellers is: most of them are serious enough that they’re on all through the week. These are the people who will log in on Thursday afternoons to check their stock. In other words, supply will hardly go up during the weekend at all.
Unfortunately, that’s not quite true. After all, the sellers do know when the peak hours are, so they increase the amount of items they put up during those times. But even so, the disparity in supply and demand can still be quite large. Big sellers will tend to put their items up for higher prices, since there are more casual buyers on and there is a lot less risk of items not selling at all. On top of that, because it’s harder to keep up with demand, there’ll be a lot less undercutting of prices going on. Even if you don’t undercut as a big seller, buyers will ‘get to your items’ soon enough. In fact, there is often an unspoken rule that sellers only undercut when sales are slow.
So if sellers know this, why don’t they just stop selling items during the week and only put them up during peak times? that would decrease supply a lot during the week and flatten out the price differences. Well, that goes back to their wish to sell as many items as possible. Sure, they’ll make a little less profit per item during the week, but that’s still a lot better than selling nothing at all during that time. Even with less sales at lower prices, it’s still worth it for many of them.
And that’s where you come in. You grab the items at reduced prices during the off hours – maybe checking in quickly during your weekday lunch breaks? And then you sell them again when the frenzy starts during the weekend.
Now as with any such system, this only works if you don’t buy too many. After all, if you drive demand up during the week by buying up all the items, the prices will rise. And when you increase supply by putting up your stuff on the weekends, it will sell for less. So that’s a tricky balance to find.
It looks like there may be hundreds of thousands of players per AH though. If that turns out to be true, buying and selling within a reasonable budget will hardly make a dent in the overall prices. Especially if you spread your purchases between different kinds of items, the effects will be small enough that you won’t break the balance.
Best of all, this is one of the few reselling strategies where there’s no problem with the cooldown before you can put an item back up for auction. After all, you want to wait until the weekend anyway, before you put up the items you collected throughout the week.