Starfield | Securing The Scientist
That scumbag just sniped an item for cheap and relisted it for ten times the amount! As I was offloading some items the other day in Path of Exile (PoE) to a reseller it made me think “do they add economic value?”
The guy in question was buying up the market for a short-term monopoly on what he preserved to be hard to get the item. He was rather easy to spot because he was already wearing that same item they are noticed as wearing. I have played many roles in video games as a farmer, reseller, crafter, and even just some guy wanting to buy an upgrade but having to pay a markup.
Below I categorize few different methods I see item resellers use in video games such as basic market speculation, monopoly, convenience fee, and upscaling. While giving mostly PoE specific examples the underlying principles can be expanded to other games and their markets.
Basic Market Speculation
The premise of an item reseller in online video games is to buy low and to sell high. There are what I would call two basic examples. Sometimes a player has an item they are unsure of the value so they just chuck market and a reseller might see it as being undervalued and buy it for resell. Other times resellers buy an item and wait months or even years for the value to skyrocket due to it being a limited edition item or other factors.
This has the downside of taking a risk and not always a very rewarding profit margin. Sure if you can buy an item that sells for ten times as much than the price you acquire it that is a much-desired find. Other times after any kind of auction house fees or other costs they sometimes are having to sell an item at a loss to just free up capital to take a risk in a different item.
How do you view market speculators in this limited fashion for a game you play? Are they just creating artificial price increase since they are buying items they have no intention to use? Are they buying something cheap and make it available at a later date ensuring if the market is willing to pay limited edition items can still be acquired years down the road instead of sitting on an account that no longer plays? Is this getting in the way of the invisible hand of the market or easing shorts in supply and demand over a prolonged period of time?
Often times you have a single player or even a group of players trying control the market on a single item or even hundreds. They make assumes about supply and their ability to have a big enough bankroll to buy and control the market(s) by inflating prices as being the only seller. If it’s obligated to have an item you will pay whatever they want or go out and get it yourself.
This Morning While Playing PoE
I ran into someone who was buying up the market at market value and trying to inflate prices by holding a monopoly on one item. While buying so many have other uses in risk-taking it was odd just seeing them being relisted for higher without attempting an item upscale as is the normal process for this item. As long as they can maintain market control they within reason can demand higher prices if the items are needed. They also did this during what I would call the “slow times” of the day. In this game, you have to be online for your items to be listed on the external market sites as you have to trade the item with the player yourself (no internal auction house in-game.) Now if that does fail which it did for this person he still is left with the option of trying corrupted the item to get a +1 to socket gems but that goes beyond this discussion.
The item itself as seen in the screenshot is called a Tabula Rasa. It is a very in-demand item for early leagues and events as it provides 6 white sockets (any color skill gem can fit, red, green, blue, and white) and they are all 6-link (connected). They also do not have a required level so anyone can wear them.
Due to this item being of no level requirements it can also drop right away if someone luck out but that is rather rare. The chances of acquiring one are often depending on what is going on in that league or event.
Currently, in the May Flashback event, you can try and force the item drop by mass farming when Exile Rouges are active from Anarchy League which is in the current Flashback event going on. Even in a low-level zone like Tidal Island. Only a limited number of unique items can drop at such a low level, it is a very small zone, and you can wear gear to increase the chances of it dropping since a higher level player can easily just target the Exile Rogues and start a new instance rather fast without amazing gear.
I also found out today because it happened to me that you have a very slim random chance of it showing up for sale from a vendor called Cadiro when Perandus League is active in that zone. Not only that but its sold for very cheap. So it’s not hard to have enough Perandus coins to buy it.
There are also several divination cards that can drop some with random chances of getting this item or one called Humility that requires 9 cards and you get the item. In fact, if you took the time you could buy all 9 and sell it for slightly higher if you found a buyer. More on this type later.
There are also methods of getting this item as well just from killing mobs. You could also have the right kind of Prophecy(of which I don’t) and who knows how many other ways. This is where having a deep understanding of how to acquire an item is important. If you do not understand that a higher drop rate than expected could make things go rather south.
This can be a really fun method if you can find a way to outsmart the market. There tend to be two processes to this: item shifting, and set collection. You are applying your own time and game knowledge and a buyer is paying a higher markup. Usually, something they could have done themselves.
When I can’t sell something in a more traditional method I’ll look for opportunity like this within the market. It sometimes comes at a low risk or can be very time consuming and high risk. Often times it requires you to move fast enough to take advantage of a short-term opportunity or already have a contract lined up that you are just fulfilling an agreed upon price.
In PoE, this is often just collecting items like cards, or exchanging currencies taking advantage of the spread and covering it back and forth. In fact, item conversion is a big money maker for many in games. The Exalted Shard alone is currently selling for around 3+ Chaos Orbs. If you get all twenty that makes 1 Exalted Orb which is currently worth 71 Chaos Orbs! Now in theory that is 11 Choas Orbs profit if you could convert it back without a price difference or perhaps you wanted that higher currency. Now the question is can you get all 20 at 3 each or will you have to pay more for some? Currently, there are many people trying to make a stack and profit from this. So completion drives up market price and maybe you lose. Better yet you are just missing one or two and buy them at a higher price.
Meanwhile, in other games, you might have the ability to break an item down and sell it for a greater sum than its components. This could often be found in a game like World of Warcraft where you take ores and process them further into gems. In a game like Eve Online perhaps an item has an expensive mineral like Morphite in it do you process the item for it.
Another way in most games is to get a complete gear set for a build and sell the whole thing as one sale. That is not very common in a game like PoE but I have in other games. The biggest issue is people tend to just want pay for hardest to get an item or they already have that and low ball you on rest of the gear. If however, I know someone was going play a certain build once their current one hits level 100 and I priced out and acquired all those items then I could sell them as a package at a higher price.
Often times people trying to control the market for a certain build will just target hardest to come by item. When you are already heavily invested in everything but one item you are more willing to overpay just to get it. Which could increase set collections if they are held even more so if the item is expected to have long-term needs or desire and is of limited quantity.
Another way reseller might approach thing is investing in an RNG system or other ways to try and upscale the item. This can be like winning the lotto or losing it all. In fact, you could become so invested in an item you could sell at a heavy loss.
What the difference between the two other than the apparent socket colors and links? The one on left someone is trying sell for 19 Chaos Orbs and the one on the right is asking 639 Chaos Orbs. Now the question comes down to can you make this a 6 link in fewer than 1230 tries with Orb of Fusing (used to make 6 sockets linked after you rolled 6 sockets on this item). Well according to something like this reddit post. If math scares you the short answer is on average, yes; but, you could have infuriated the RNG gods that day. Right now I would rather wait for Orb of Fusing to decrease in value or further market shortages increasing this item’s value.
A much safer but less profitable route could be using an in-game system like the Forsaken Masters in PoE where you can simply roll a stat if it has a slot open on the item. For when a player is searching for an item and say they really want life, resistance or even a stat like Dexterity. This could increase the value and come up in more search results. The downside of this is if someone had a higher level Forsaken Master that allowed them to add a higher stat. So it has upside of increasing visibility and price but also limiting who would be interested in this item. Someone else could buy the item and remove the stat rolled if they had high enough Forsaken Master and then rolled a better one and resold it.
In a number of games I’ve played, I have often sold to resellers because they want to play the market game. Many times they have no idea how to get the item and I enjoy finding the best method in farming things. It is also not uncommon for them to be involved in dozens or even hundreds of items. So specialized in one item can be rather rewarding. Under normal conditions, certain high valued items in games can take days to even years to find a buyer for. A reseller is there at that moment to snap that item up and take that risk for a higher profit. Many times in my past buying an item from me and then taking a loss on it after it fails to sell.
Other times they keep me from getting the items I want as they just snip the item off the markets faster. While I can get annoying If they are cheating and using software to do this they also run such risks as getting there account banned. Then no one gets the item which is a loss for anyone wanting to get it at a decent price.
Have you ever resold an item in a video game? How about upscale it to bring more value or even taken long-term risk of holding an item for a prolonged time? Are you on the other side where you see the item being listed for something you could afford. Then someone else buys it just to relist it out of your price range? Did a market shortfall prevent you from getting the desired item?
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