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"It is not for its own sake that men desire money, but for the sake of what they can purchase with it."
Adam Smith - The Wealth of Nations (Published in 1776)
This authour suspects not even the great Adam Smith, lauded near and far as the father of economics, could foresee the rise of virtual economies in the early 21st century, nor could he have even guessed at the depths and complexities said economies could even reach. All the things that sprang from Smith's pioneering work, like the division of labour, The Gold Standard and gross domestic product, simply do not apply in MMO games like World of Warcraft. The means of production is not in the hands of some invisible proletariat, there is no layers of society like the ruling class or a first estate. In most games, you simply log in, find something, mix something or make something, then you sell it on.
You can play the market.
There are some players out there that are very good at this, and I mean, really good, they know their markets well and and they can sense a profitable opportunity like a shark can sense blood in the water. And for some other players, it is simply another aspect of the game, when they are done caving in the heads of enemy mobs or players of the opposite faction, they like nothing better at the end of a hard days killing on the battlefield, than to turn their attentions to the Auction House, to make a killing of a different kind.
And to other players, this is almost ALL they do, preferring the vicious cut and thrust of the marketplace to the hack and slash of the wider gaming world. Recent innovations by Blizzard, such as pet battles and transmogrification, have opened new doors to people playing the markets, and has created more wealth than ever before, prompting the company to bring in bigger "gold sinks", like the Black Market and the very expensive Expedition Yak mount. With more innovations taking place, and planned world events coming up, these traders are stepping out from the shadows, and are no longer seen as gamebreakers or shady dealers, trading in crooked or stolen merchandise.
With the rise of these traders, comes the cartel mentality, where a small group of the wealthiest players conspire to control the price of a particular product and keep the price artificially high. Given the abundance of goods in the game, and the fact that you cannot watch all the auction house 24 hours a day, would make life difficult for a cartel, not to mention constantly being flanked by eager sellers keen to undercut -sometimes quite steeply- the monopolies in order to gain a quick profit. The temptation is always there, but the savvy trader can always profit from any situation.
So do you play the markets? Do you spend a lot of time just looking for bargains on the Auction House? Have you ever had a lucky break and made a fortune?
Tell us your story.
Edited by Torchsong on 5/7/2013 12:52 AM PDT
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