Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Co-operation does work!

Lately there's been some talk around the gold blogs about co-operation. Many feel that co-operation is doomed to fail few believe it works. For the record I'd like to say it can work and very well, especially when you get enough big players involved.

On my server (Antonidas US) there's long been a couple factions that competed hard and didn't like each other very much.

The first was the "Glyph Cartel" which has been around controlling the Antonidas (US) glyph market since before my time on the server. The cartel had 16 or so members with 3 or 4 main guys. One of them was pretty much always online watching over glyphs. They pretty much ran the glyph market a couple years ago. They matched prices with whitelists and had a number of other rules regarding the undercut amount (1c), maximum number of glyphs to post at one time (3), policy and proceedure for resetting prices and so on. This worked extremely well for them until my group started competing with them.

The second was a group I put together of mostly gem sellers and a few anti-cartel scribes. We kept 2 whitelists, a general purpose one for gems, chants and just about everything else and a smaller list just for glyphs. We kept things simple with just 1 rule, whitelist the other guys and that was it. No other limits. Those of us on the glyph list thought of ourselves as the Anti-Cartel Cartel. :) This worked extremely well for us too though with 2 competing groups fighting for control of the glyph market glyphs were usually in the tank.

Since most of our guys were into other things besides just glyphs we really didn't care if glyphs weren't very profitable. As long as we weren't losing gold and the original Glyph Cartel wasn't stopping our glyph sales *and making a killing we were happy. Meanwhile the orginal Glyph Cartel slowly began moving into other markets, competing with us and driving prices down in those markets too.

We had 2 different groups cooperating within their own group and competing with each other and it worked for both sides albeit in a high volume, low margin way.

Then there was the "bot". A player who was online 24/7, had multiple accounts and was into pretty much everything *except glyphs. He sold gold, botted the auction 24/7 and used every dirty trick in the book trying to drive off the competition and especially me. After a long drawn out 2 year price war he finally transferred to another server. His constant botting had a very adverse effect on the server economy. Due to his constant never-ending manipulation of the auction and abuse of the economy prices were a crazy roller coaster of extreme highs and lows. Nearly everyone else camped too because if they didn't nobody sold much of anything except him. He's been gone since the middle of september and the economy has slowly been recovering to a more normal one. There's still very much of a camper mentality but things have been getting better.

When patch 4.3 came along sales really took off. Prices continued to rise in spite of the best efforts of both cartels to lower the other side's profits and interfere with their sales as much as possible. Both sides did realize completely stopping the other side was going to be impossible with the demand there is now. After a couple days of this a few of us started talking about all cooperating together. Several of us got on vent, came to an agreement very quickly and spent maybe half an hour setting up whitelists and such. Then we spent the rest of the night, far into the wee hours talking about all kinds of unrelated stuff. It turns out we actually have a lot in common.

We have only one hard rule. Whitelist the other guys and match their price (both bid and buyout) when their's is lowest. We encourage everyone to keep the amount of items posted at a time down to reasonable numbers in order to keep from flooding but we don't enforce any particular numbers. We also encourage letting the little guys sell some too, not using big undercuts too often and buying out the few extreme lowballers who keep trying to crash markets. We consider these to be guidelines not rules. Generally following them helps keep prices up but being guidelines rather than rules written in stone gives the agreement more flexibility and makes it easier for everyone to buy into it.

Over the next day or so we got the rest of both sides on board and now have pretty much all of the major auction players co-operating instead of fighting. After a few days prices are up and profits are much better pretty much across the board. Gross sales are up, profit margins are up and of course so are total profits. We're all spending much less time online compared to before and none of us is canceling and re-posting anywhere near as much as before either.

Everyone is enthusiastic about the new arrangements and says it's working great so far. There have been a few hiccups along the way (like someone missing a name on their whitelist) but things like that get sorted out fast and everyone's happy. When someone else turns up trying to crash prices (shadowspirit diamonds for example) he now has several big auction players buying him out almost immediately and thanking him for saving us the crafting time. Gotta love that guy who keeps trying to crash shadowspirits, I haven't had to craft any of the top 5 cuts in days now and I'm selling them for more than double what I buy them from him at.

So the conclusion is, yes co-operation does work and the more you have co-operating the better it works!


  1. "...he now has several big auction players buying him out almost immediately and thanking him for saving us the crafting time."

    Why thank him? Why not just keep quiet and hope he lists more cheap diamonds? Why risk increasing your supply cost? Anyone who's listing items cheaply (or as you call it, "crashing the market") is doing your "anti-cartel" a huge service whether they realize it or not.

    But if you clue them in to what's happening, realize first that you may be looking a gift horse in the mouth.

  2. You are correct Jon but it's just too much fun letting him know just how completely he's failing.

  3. The Alliance jewelcrafters on my server have been doing the cartel-thing for a long time now, and gem prices have stayed for the most part quite healthy, with of course an occasional battle with a newcomer or two.

    I also have a jewelcrafter Horde-side, though, and these guys just will not play nicely together. Gem prices in the Horde AH are trashed, even after the patch. All I do now is buy there, and transfer the gems Alliance-side to sell. Nice profits both ways.

  4. As one of the guys in the "Cartel" Mox is talking about, I have to say this is the best thing that's happened for being able to sell at *fair* prices on the AH - in particular for a prof like Inscription (in this case for glyphs).

    Too many DFU's were posting for less than the breakout costs for the mats (herbs); their reason: "well, I farm my own herbs so they don't cost me nuthin" (!). Any sane person would realize of course that they should then dispense with crafting glyphs and just sell the damn herbs lol.. make as much or almost without the craft-time penalty. I mean, it's not like any sane person would *like* milling and making glyphs right? So, now we all just buy low-priced glyphs - except for those in the class I call "ghetto-glyphs" which are useless to any player other than for completeness - and repost at our market price.

    Cooperation is a wonderful thing. And at the end of the day, it keeps serious people interested in professions that might otherwise be marginalized. Now if we could only do something about engineering...