Tag Archives: gold farmers

Remember the Great Ore Crash of ’11?

Now this is interesting.

I was catching up on WoW Insider posts and read this article in the weekly column, Gold Capped.  It describes a glut of obsidium and elementium ores that is halving auction house prices.  But, more intriguing is that this is a cross-realm event affecting at least dozens of WoW servers.

I did some research on the now-repaired Undermine Journal and confirmed much of what Basil Bernsten wrote in the article.  For example, here is what I found for the changing volume of Obsidium Ore in the Horde AH on Zul’jin, my Horde-side server.

obsidium ore on Zul'jin-h

You can see the typical pattern of ups and down for a week gets shattered beginning late on the night of Thursday, February 24.  Since then, the market has ridden a rollercoaster of insanity that crosses midnight every second night.  Prices of obsidium on Zul’jin-horde have indeed halved, as seems to have happened elsewhere.

The original article took this in and turned it into recommendations on how crafters can make money.  The author even stated part-way down, “I don’t want to speculate about the reason for this recent surge in supply, and focus instead on its effects.”

Yeah well, let me help you with that, then.  There is evidence of this glut, to a greater and lesser extent, on every realm that I looked at.  It was coordinated, although the selling did not start at precisely the same time on all servers.

So, who has control of large volumes of high-end, farmed goods across large numbers of servers and can coordinate a move like a mass sell-off?  OK, everyone say it with me … gold farmers.

Now, Basil knew this, of course.  He even referred to the sellers as “level one mules”.

But, my next question is, why?  Why did this occur?  For that large a volume on so many servers, it must have been one of the major gold selling sites.  Why would they flood the market with high-value merchandise in an uncontrolled manner and drive their own prices and profits down?  Classic micro-economics says you do that when you want to drive out competitors and establish a monopoly.  But, that won’t work for farmed goods in WoW.

I’ve toyed with various ideas.  Is the corporate strategy changing, and bulk ore is not the core business any longer?  I don’t see why it would change.  Was it a programmatic mistake that triggered automated liquidation of inventory?  Oops.  But, if it were, it would have started at nearly the same hour on all servers (correcting for the local time zone of each server, of course).  It didn’t.

Much clearer in my mind is how the ‘white hats’ can use this to their advantage.  What has happened here is that, for reasons I cannot explain, multiple gold farming toons on many, many servers have just lit a bright beacon at their doorstep and proclaimed, HERE I AM.  There’s no hiding it now.  You couldn’t ignore it if you wanted to.

What Blizzard needs to do is pull this data across all servers and identify the sellers.  There will be no mistaking these guys with an innocent player leveling mining.  The difference in scale is too great.  Then, ban the toon, ban the account, hold any new account that tries to start from the same IP address, and monitor accounts that use neighboring IP addresses.  This would be the equivalent of a nation-wide roundup of organized criminals.  Maybe they’ll catch up with my old nemesis, ‘lilmouse’, the Mad Miner of Sholazar Basin.

Go ahead, Blizz.  Take a bite out of crime.


When It’s Just the Gold Farmers and You

As mentioned in my “About” page, I live in Hong Kong and play on US servers.  That puts me in the game at some unusual hours … to the extent where I don’t know what some zones look like in daylight at all.  (Zul’Drak, I’m looking at you.)  I also don’t see the typical player population of the server, as most normal people would not still be awake.

In this past autumn, I pushed my first toon all the way to level 80.  It was 3 or 4 weeks before Cataclysm went live.  That opened up whole new vistas for me but also dropped me in the middle of many of the frustrations that I had heretofore only read of on other blogs.

One of the most curious issues I encountered was several rounds of competitive gathering with ‘lilmouse’ (now deleted or renamed), a gnome Death Knight, if I recall correctly.  This gnome was flying circles around Sholazar picking up mining nodes ad nauseum.  By itself, that isn’t odd.  I was doing the same thing, trying to level blacksmithing, and for that matter so where a handful of other players.

What initially caught my attention was his low-level griefing.  I think he would /follow me until I found a node and then try to race me to it.  Whoever landed the pick first, won.  Since he had an epic flying mount and I did not, he had a good chance of beating me to the first node.  But, while he was at the first, I would zoom in on a second and sometimes a third while he was still occupied.  Also, he appeared to avoid taking damage at all costs, so just 1 mob near a deposit would scare him away.  Anyway, overall, I didn’t do too poorly at all, but the little twerp made his presence felt.

No, what was odd was that at whatever hour I logged in, he was there … in Sholazar Basin.  I took to /who’ing him every time I entered or exited the Game just to confirm.  Without fail, there he was.

It got me thinking about what Blizzard could do to combat gold farmers.  Surely there are some tell-tale behaviors that indicate a toon is being used for illicit purposes … such as being logged on 24 hours a day, remaining in one of the high-level gathering zones (like Sholazar for sauronite) at all times, and, presumably, mailing huge volumes of trade goods back to an AH stooge.  Surely it is not difficult to screen for odd patterns like these and ask for a friendly chat with the suspicious character.

And, maybe Blizzard did eventually catch up with him, since the search for ‘lilmouse’ on the new battle.net armory came up empty.

So, what do you do,
when it’s just the gold farmers and you?