Battle.net Balance: $281.77

LeoFinance
12 days ago
18 Min Read
3632 Words

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This is how much money I have left in my Blizzard account after reupping my World of Warcraft account back in 2016 for the Legion expansion. I was quite the gold bug in WOW, and I took it to an entirely new level in 2016/2017 before I finally quit that ultimate timesuck.

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For the first time ever in WOW I downloaded mods to help me rock the auction house. The most popular one was...

TSM: Tradeskill Master

The amount of work that must of gone into making this free mod was pretty legendary. It's honestly hard to believe that someone (or even a group of people) would make such a niche product to make it easier to farm gold playing World of Warcraft. Imagine how much work people would do on a crypto RPG if they were actually getting paid for it... I can't even imagine. Oh wait, yes I can. The games of the future will develop themselves; mark my words.

There were so many custom features I probably only used 10% of what was available. I learned the ins and outs of the features I needed most and called it a day.

Tradeskills

My Undead Mage was a tailor and enchanter. I leveled these skills up to the max and farmed them out quite a bit. Enchanting was very very expensive (especially to level up) but it was a service that every character needed to have max stats.

By the time the Legion expansion rolled around, you could enchant a piece of parchment that could be sold on the auction house. That was pretty useful, as before you had to do enchantments in person and people would spam chatrooms looking for tips for their services. Being able to dump enchantments on the Auction House for 2 days at a time was a pretty useful addition.

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Tailoring was very hit and miss over the years in World of Warcraft. Sometimes it seemed like a skill that was totally useless, because if you wanted good gear you were never going to craft it yourself anyway and had to grind out raids with your guild on a week to week basis. The best gear was never crafted, so that was kind of annoying as far as the value of tradeskills are concerned and how long it takes to level them up only to not use them.

However, in the legion expansion I made A TON of gold on the AH with my tailoring skills. I figured out that there were a constant stream of new players and characters running around at lower levels, and some of the tailored items I could make for them could be sold at quite the premium on the AH, because nobody else was doing it.

It was common for me to farm materials to make these items (various cloth), but even more common to simply buy the raw materials off the auction house when they were cheap. When were they cheap? As I have described in detail on some of my economic cycles posts: resources are cheapest when the supply is high and/or the demand is low.

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In the context of World of Warcraft this was weekdays. Weekdays in the middle of the day was full of jobless hardcore gamers like myself all competitively scraping by and never willing to pay gold (or god forbid actual money) that they didn't have to.

Cost of elemental fire too high? Fuckit! I'll go kill fire elementals and farm them myself, maybe I'll even farm extra and sell them because they are so expensive on the AH right now. That's the mentality of a hardcore gamer. The softcore gamers were more likely to pop in on the weekends and much more likely to pay real money for gold and use that gold to buy things at the jacked up weekend prices.

Instant gratification supreme!

Out of the five weekdays, which was was best? Probably Monday. The day after the weekend is over. Everyone is grumpy and/or burnt out. No one is buying, especially if you are up at 3 AM (technically now Tuesday) and there are Chinese gold farmers (definite racist undertones) on the other side of the world dumping their wares mindlessly on the AH undercutting everything.

I used to think it was super annoying... people in developing nations and whatnot hopping on to a server located on the West Coast (30 ping baby) to farm gold and devalue my hard work. Then I eventually came to realize that it was very easy to profit off these cycles... stop farming materials myself and simply buy the discounted goods when the getting is good. Being a middle man is way less work for a better wage.

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So that's what I started doing. When cloth was a good price, I would spend so so so so much gold on buying it all out at the good price. Not only could I resell the cloth later on the weekends at a higher price (I rarely ever did this) but I could use these cheap raw materials and process them into an end product that was actually useful, with my tailoring skillz. That's where all the real money was.

In fact, I think I actually got burned a few times reselling raw materials back at a higher price, because if I ran out of raw materials during the weekends or when they were otherwise expensive, the game was over and I had to either go manually farm cloth or buy it at the expensive price (not gonna happen).

So I would take my thousands upon thousands of cheap cloth I had bought and process them into hundreds of pieces of gear to be sold to lower level newbies. I was literally the only person on my server who was serious about this endeavor, and if any other tailor tried to compete it was worth it for me to price them out of the market and undercut them into the ground so they would get demoralized and give up.

Sometimes if I was being undercut too badly, I would simply buy out the competition and jack up all the prices after I was once again the only one in control of these items. Devious, I know.

Eventually my wares flooded the market and I began to realize that some of the gear I was creating wasn't that good and it was hard to sell items that had randomly rolled inferior stat points. The Wow AH has a listing fee so every time something doesn't sell you lose a little gold, so it's not ideal to spam it with anything and everything. Plus all the spam takes a lot of time to deal with. As WOW Goblin NPCs always say:

Time is money, friend!

So I began to destroy more than half of the items I was crafting. This is a big reason why tailors often pick enchanting as their second tradeskill, because you can disenchant gear and destroy it for magic dust/essence used for enchantments. This allowed me to recycle the crap gear I was making into my enchanting endeavors, making this whole mass production assembly line much more efficient and profitable. I would only keep the best gear to be sold at a premium. This saved me listing fees and time when trying to price items due to the lower volume.

Best gear

Example random stats gear might inherit are mastery, haste, critical strike, and versatility. As far as the cloth gear I was making is concerned (only for mages, priests, and warlocks) versatility was absolutely worthless. This was a defensive stat that no one should ever use unless they were doing PvP (player vs player) combat, because it would reduce the chance of someone critical striking you (x2 damage). And if you were trying to pvp with the crap gear I was making, you were gonna get wrecked anyway, so no point in really trying to sell worthless gear with low demand.

DISENCHANTED!

Therefore, tailored items that I crafted that rolled versatility were automatically destroyed (after I finally realized that selling them was a pain in the ass). If we do the math and assume I had a 1/4th chance of rolling versatility on the first stat and a 1/3rd chance on the second, that means that I destroyed half of my gear on average, as 3/4 * 2/3 = 1/2

That left a spread of items with either mastery, haste, or crit. The items that I was crafting would randomly roll 2 of these 4 options, so I made sure to organize my gear accordingly.

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Mastery

Mastery was a pretty new stat point that they had just implemented. It did something different, not only for every class, but for every specialization as well. This made things a bit more interesting and complex than before because a character with high mastery might play the game in a completely different way then if they didn't.

Critical strike

Arguably the best stat point for me to roll. Critical strike increases your chance to do double damage on an attack, and certain classes/specializations would greatly synergize if they were able to stack a ton of crit and boost there chance as high as possible.

For example, my favorite class was the mage and I often picked fire spec. As fire spec, crit was a must have stat and it was often worth sacrificing a lot just to get more, as doing so would increase your total damage (DPS) by a ton.

Certain specs like shadow priest would gain zero benefit from crit because damage over time (DOTs) spells didn't crit. But for the most part crit was a coveted stat on average. It was very rare, but sometimes one of my crafts would stack the same stat twice. If that stat happened to be crit that craft ended up being worth ten times more than the other items I was making.

Sometimes I would even check the auction house and snipe the competition's crafts if they had gotten lucky like this and didn't know it. They would roll a double crit item and put it up for the same price as everything else, not realizing the rarity of what they had just randomed. Yoink! That's mine!

To give you an idea of the rarity, it might take 100 crafts to get a single double crit craft. It wasn't like a 1/4th chance on top of another 1/4th chance (1/16). It was much much lower than that. Rolling the same stat twice in a row was rare.

Haste

This stat would make you cast your spells slightly faster. If you stacked a lot you could cast spells quite a bit faster. Haste is an interesting stat because it's usually pretty good but it can have diminishing returns if your character runs out of mana. Casting spells faster uses more mana, and if you run out you're pretty hosed. Again, certain specs coveted haste while others did not, so it was worth having some gear on hand in case someone was specifically looking for it... although crit was much more popular.

Combinations

Mastery/crit items were in high demand. For specs that didn't need crit, mastery/haste was pretty good. I can't remember how popular the crit/haste gear was, but IIRC it sold just fine. Not the most popular stats but still good enough to post the auction. Meanwhile, anything with mastery was pretty much usable by every class and spec, so those pieces had good turnover.

It's actually really surprising how much crafted gear I sold this way, but as I said before, I was the only one on the entire server doing this in a serious way with a mod specifically designed to help me. Thousands of people play on a single server, many of them with multiple characters, so I had a lot of buyers.

At one point I was crafting so much that certain combinations like crit/haste wouldn't sell as fast as the rest, so I'd have 20 almost identical pieces of gear in the bank clogging up space. It was around this time that I realized I'd have to start disenchanting more gear than just the versatility garbage. Mastery was a pretty dominating stat, and depending on spec users would want a secondary of either crit or haste, so I would end up having to DE gear that I randomly crafted too much of or just had lower volume than the other pieces.

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I wasn't the only one

I had a friend in my guild (known this guy for over a decade) who was even better at the auction house than I was. He was quite the professional, and was so in to collecting Magic Cards that he even started up his own store and was making good money. He had the brain for this kind of thing and the iron will to defy volatility. A mental-skill I definitively lacked when I was playing poker professionally.

Unlike me, this guy would take huge risks with big-ticket items that had low volume and were hard to sell, but if you did it was a huge score. He's one of the few people I know that's good with money, and I even convinced him 2 years ago to get into Ethereum and start mining operations and stuff like that. I wonder how he's doing... it's been a while and ETH is obviously going nuts. In any case, him and I were the only people in the guild that ever had Scrooge McDuck levels of gold, and everyone would always ask us for handouts... which was usually fine because it's wow gold who cares.

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In any case, Blizzard doesn't like when you sell in-game items for money. Like Nintendo, they will take legal action if you mess around and try to sell "their property". In a lot of ways this is super lame and in a lot of ways it is totally legit.

Wow gold is worth money, and the monetary value invites bots and farmers in poor countries to jump in and ruin the entire in-game economy. WOW economies (and MMORPG economies in general) operate much like other economies. The similarities are striking.

Tons of third party sites popped up all over the internet in order to sell gold for real money (much of it farmed by bots and for sale at a ridiculous discount). Also entire accounts were sold for thousands of dollars. After all, raiding 8 hours per week every week for a year is quite a lot of time, and that's often the only way to get the best gear. There are many willing to pay thousands of dollars for a character of that caliber. That the Free-Market, baby!

In an attempt to combat this (because 3rd party sites are riddled with scams and whatever else), Blizzard finally created something called a WOW token, effectively allowing players to buy and sell gold legitimately in game for "real" money. Here's how it works:

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Wow tokens:

Anyone can buy a WOW token for $20. You can then sell this token on the AH in exchange for gold at market price. Depending on what server one is on this makes a big difference. I seem to recall a WOW token costing maybe 20k-30k gold when I was playing, but there were servers in other countries where these tokens would cost much much more. For example: in Korea it might cost 100k gold for a token.

So you might be thinking: WOW, gold must be worth a lot less in those other countries, no wonder why they sneak onto American servers to farm the game at 300-500 ping (milliseconds of lag per action). But really that's only part of the story, because not only is gold worth less because there are more farmers and supply, but USD is worth more in impoverished nations. It's a double whammy.

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https://wowtokenprices.com/

So I ended up making millions and millions of gold, and that was quite a bit, and took a lot of "work". At a price of 20k, I could buy 50 of these tokens for a million gold. After all, a million gold was pretty hard to acquire.

Crunching these numbers, the cost at the time probably was only 20k at the beginning. Once inflation kicked in it looks like tokens would have cost me between 30k-40k.

Let's find out for sure:

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https://wowtokenprices.com/extended-history

Confirmed

Isn't it hilarious that this data even exists? Price of WOW tokens since 2015? LOL, wow... these nerds really take their databases seriously.

So what can you do with a WOW token?

Two things:

  1. Destroy it for 30 days gameplay in WOW.
  2. Destroy it for $15 added to Battle.net balance.

By the time inflation had ramped up from 20k gold cost tokens to 45k, I was pretty burnt out on WOW. Once this token system came into play, I had enough tokens to play the game for free and still make a lot more on top of that.

I realized that if I didn't trade in my gold for WOW tokens, they were just going to get devalued by massive inflation. If I'm being honest, I'm actually pretty surprised a token in America only costs 109k at current prices, that is legit impressive.

However, I also know the reason why the cost of them dropped is because Blizzard just released a new expansion for WOW, and my friend says it's one of the best ones. Meaning lots of renewed interest in the game means more people are willing to spend real money and less players are willing to part with their gold, so it makes sense.

How much did I make?

If I recall correctly, after I liquidated all my tokens for $15 to my Battle.net balance, I was up like $1000. Not bad for playing a video game eh? Especially when you consider that I was competing against bots and farmers from China and whatnot.

The problem with Battle.net balance?

You can't withdraw any of it. This is how they get around banking regulations and money laundering nonsense. You can only spend the money on Blizzard products like games, Hearthstone cards, WOW time, etc etc.

So I ended up spending a ton of the money on stupid shit. Buying Hearthstone cards that I normally wouldn't have with "real" money. Buying my friend Hearthstone cards so we could play more competitively. Buying random shit in Starcraft 2 etc etc. Still, after wasting all that money, I logged in the other day to find that my balance is still $281.77. Ha, it's a shame they don't have any products that I want at the moment.

Blizzard Crypto?

Can you imagine if this money was sitting on a decentralized blockchain instead of pegged to USD in a corporate account? First of all, I would have never wasted it, so the balance would have started out at like $1000. Second of all, if the crypto was doubling in value due to network effect every year like Bitcoin my stack would be worth damn near $8000 by now.

In fact, I guarantee if Blizzard came out tomorrow and said hey guess what this is crypto now... my stack would x100 overnight due to a huge wave of FOMO. Of course they won't do that because they are Blizzard and game companies are especially chumpy and stingy with their products; to the detriment of all.

Analysis

The days of centralized gaming are coming to an end. Crypto is coming to eat their lunch, and there won't even be bones left to pick at when they are done. It's going to be a bloodbath.

With NFTs and provable ownership of digital assets, not only will centralized corporations be able to compete with decentralized communities and development fueled by fanatical enthusiasts being paid for their work, they truly will not even understand what is going on. Their brains are not wired in such a way that would even allow them to give their customers an ounce of real ownership over the product.

The video games of the future are going to build themselves. Enthusiasts who would have otherwise done the work for free and for fun, on their own time, will find themselves being paid better than their full time job; which they will then quit immediately to come work for the blockchain. Because on the blockchain they aren't being exploited by time vampires.

If my World of Warcraft experience is any indication (and it is) the barrier to entry for professional gaming and development is about to drop to near zero. Today, you can only be a professional gamer if you're in the top 0.001% of your class, have a sponsor, or you have a popular Twitch channel.

Soon™ abundance will hit the gaming community like a ton of bricks, and from those bricks we will build magnificent things on flat architecture that isn't owned by anyone, least of all the corporate vipers who currently have cornered the market. We are all in for a wild ride.

Did I forget to mention that at these prices I am making more blogging rewards from LEO than I make at Amazon? Crazy stuff, that doesn't even count Hive rewards. Abundance is coming, and those who make their living based off of artificial scarcity are about to be swept away.

With my gaming experience and understanding of economies, I believe I can eventually create systems here that will blow this centralized garbage out of the water. And if I can't do it, someone else will: I guarantee it.

Posted Using LeoFinance Beta