Monday, May 6, 2013

The Challenges of Mid to Low Pop servers and gold making

I have been playing on the same server since my very first day of World Of Warcraft back in 2004. I love my server. It is home to me. Back in those days we had top end raiding guilds. There were people everywhere and I would stand in Orgrimmar and look at people all decked out in blues and the occasional purple item. Towards the end of Vanilla, before BC you would even seen the occasional legendary item (including on yours truly!). Ah the good old days. Fast forward nine years and my server has changed. There are no top end raiding guilds anymore. There are a few that do heroics but nothing in the top 100. The Alliance side is twice the population of the Horde (although it has always been an Alliance heavy server) with a Horde population of only around 30k. So what has happened?

What caused this change? What happened to everyone? Where have they all gone? I think there are several factors here. First, the game is nine years old! Some people have just moved on. Some people either grew up and got jobs and wives or husbands, kids and other responsibilities that just took away the time they have to play wow. Some people just got board. Others have hopped ship to other servers. Looking through my realm's forums today I saw 2 big guilds heading for other servers.

So how does this effect gold making? The short answer is less customers means less gold. Now I do feel that I am still closer to the medium population side of things as apposed to the low population but it is kind of border line. Regardless, when you are in this position, you face certain challenges. Recently I have become a big fan of the Low Pop WoW podcast which talks about many of the challenges faced by players on low population servers. On Episode 4 they had several popular gold makers on to talk turkey (or gold). I found this episode very informative. Profitz of has even been working on a project called "Rags to Riches" which is him trying to make as much gold as he can on the second lowest population server in the US in 30 one hour episodes. He has found it much more challenging then he expected and I too was surprised at how much trouble he has had. It actually made me appreciate my server that much more. That aside, I have been facing some challenges of my own lately.

Over the past few weeks I have been tracking my sales and I have noticed a decline in my total weekly numbers each week. The thing is, I have faced less competition in the AH. I have nearly gained full control of my main market which is plate pvp and pve crafted gear. I get undercut very little and most if my items are posting at fall back. However I have not been getting sales.

I am thinking one cause may be that some people may be getting to that point of burn out with the expansion or at least with this patch. Also summer is approaching and many people may be enjoying the outdoors more. School too is coming to a close for many people so they are busy studying for and taking final exams. I could be wrong but I think historically this is just a slow time of year for wow. Many people seems to take the summer off from playing. On a lower population server this takes a larger toll on the economy.

So how to survive this wow recession. I think the best thing to do is expand. Be it the fact that people are taking time off or you are on a low population server, expanding into more markets is not a bad idea. I need to start pushing into more markets myself. If one market is doing bad perhaps another is doing well. At the very least, selling only 3 items a day in 6 markets is better then only selling 3 items a day in one market. I have said in the past that in the beginning you should focus on one or two markets and really get to know them, and if you are new to gold making this holds true. Once you feel comfortable with these markets though you can take that knowledge and move into more markets. The lessons you learned from your first markets will carry over and you should adapt more quickly to the next.

If the lack of sales are holding true for others on my server I should start to see price drops which will hopefully carry over to raw mats. If this is the case it could be a good time to stockpile these raw mats and turn them into a nice profit later on. Come fall people will come back to the game. By then we should see the final major patch which will include the raid of Orgrimmar and people will want to play again. No matter the population of your server you should see an increase in sales at that point. Also, in patch 5.3 Blizzard will introduce a reduced experience requirement for leveling through Pandaria. I will take advantage of this to level alts and professions.

So all hope in not lost during these slow times. Use the time wisely and invest and you will see returns at the right time. This is just the nature of any economy. If you are on a low population server you do have one advantage, less competition. Take advantage of that fact and force out the little guys from your market. Undercut aggressively and control your markets to maximize profits. If you can't get tons of sales, at least get the ones you can and try to get the most out of them. Don't set your prices too high but don't sell yourself short and set them too low either.

There are times when things can look bleak and you may think about transferring. But if you are like me, you love your server and don't want to leave. Also the cost of transferring 11 toons is a bit much. So hang in there, invest wisely, expand, and try to control some markets. The gold is out there, you just need to grab it.

Good luck and keep the gold flowing.


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