Brinks! (If they robbed Chinese Gold Buyers instead…)

Paraphrased Quotes from a conversation with a Gold Buyer (transcript finished):

I clearly remember hitting the submit button and the wave of fear washing over me. “What if Blizzard finds out? Are they going to strip the gold? Are they going to ban my account? Do I trust these people? Are they going to manipulate PayPal? Is my credit card going to get stolen?” It’s moments of regret like these that led to an infallible story.

I had, even in my own guild, sort of shunned help from other members. I didn’t want to be that guy that sits there and constantly whines for help. I wanted to prove that Warriors were “tougher” than every other class, despite the class’ shortcomings – I could do all this on my own. I had an already built in time frame for farming. I could very easily explain that I had farmed all my mats as I leveled, and had multiple bank accounts to hold my earnings. I was covered in the eyes of my guild mates.

My alibi was in place. Before the gold came I started dropping hints that I was going to power the hell out of my professions with the wealth of materials I had gathered. I had requests from different guild mates, asking what I could make so far, what they could pay me for. They wanted to know if I could craft epics, what it would take, what mats I’d need, if I’d help them out. I was using ill-gotten gains as start up capital for a business.

I felt like a dealer waiting on a big shipment. Even my real life friends, my girlfriend, couldn’t know. It was a stain on my moral fibre. I was a gold buyer – the lowest of the MMO low.

The next day at work my cell phone rang (god forbid I let them leave a message on my home phone – what if my girlfriend found out?) It was a fourteen digit number. My work friend, the IRL people I knew who played WoW were near. I discretely answered and heard the tiniest of female voices on the other line. Struggling with the pre-written English script, a faint Chinese voice asked me if I had received the shipment. I told her I was not online, but would check when I got home. She asked again, not understanding my answer. I panicked, and blurted out “No, not yet.”

When I got home, I hopped on, my toon logged out sitting on top of the mailbox. I opened it to find that I had received not just the $5k that I had ordered, but $10k in staggered shipments. Two-thousand here, three-hundred there. I opened my windows calculator to double-check. To the copper. Ten thousand gold. In real life currency it was some $500 dollars. Not only had I bought gold, but I’d cheated the gold sellers into doubling the money.

As I really thought about all that money, all the money I now had, I knew that I was in trouble. If Blizz found out about it, I was screwed, yes. But if the gold buyers found out I had more than I had paid for – I couldn’t afford another five-hundred dollars on my credit card. So I contacted them and returned the money. I still had five thousand gold on hand.

I had become the World of Warcraft equivalent of a scam artist. I had this huge wad of cash burning a hole in my pocket – but I feared spending it in case Blizzard was watching. I was sure – they must track huge gold transfers through mail. They had to have seen all of those letters coming in, filled with stacks of cash. I had to spend it now – before they wiped it off the servers.

Spending all that time at the auction house was like crack. I had to have every mat, every purple, every recipe I could find.

So I set out to conquer the server economy. I power leveled blacksmithing, and began buying up as many mats as I could. I started farming Primal Mights in order to craft epic items to sell on the auction house. Most on my server, Gurubashi, were going for one and a half thousand per weapon. I was selling things like Dirge (an epic dagger), Fel Hardened Maul (epic hammer), Bracers of the Green Fortress (wrist guards,) and the Helm of the Stalwart Defender (helmet), for around 700 gold. I was undercutting the market by almost half. With one quick stroke, I had begun to set myself up as the Warcraft Wal-Mart.

What dawned on me was that I was in a position to correct the market that first caused me to buy gold. I could force prices down by flooding the market, leveling prices, and sinking the competition. What I did was the opposite. I held back my sales, began speculating on materials in the auction house, and set myself up as a commodities trader.

Through the use of mods like Auctioneer I was able to take an initial cash flow of five thousand gold, spend around two thousand, and eventually turn a profit – over the course of four months – of upwards of eight thousand gold. Normally this would be extremely easy by selling high end weapons regularly on the auction house. But I stayed in the background and pushed smaller items. Stacks of Khorium Ore, Stars of Elune, and Primals of any kind were moved in mass quantities. By selling 5% under market price, and bought usually at 10% under market price, I was able to turn a massive profit, while keeping the steady flow of Epic Weapons and Armor on the server steady. The others like me, who I always assumed existed, were in the same boat.

That is, there had to be others. The materials for that gear was too easy to get to charge such a high price. There was no cool down on crafting them. Yet there were the epics, popping up only once a week for huge sums. I could only assume these were people who were in the same boat as me. Either supporting by a huge guild, or through buying gold, these were the server power brokers. The same six to ten names pushing the same items all the time. Quickly consumed by the market for fear that someone else would buy the item. At first I just thought they were being reauctioned – but no – these were new items crafted every week.

So I continued trading, twinking a toon that I only pvp’d with in for sale epics. Capable of competing with most out there, only by the sheer grace of my gold buying, and the craftiness of the mods I had, and the seller’s market.

The only thing left to do was give up. I had always hated PVE, and the PVP game shrunk more and more as time went on. Classes became super specialized, and I was never good enough to overcome the weaknesses of my class on a regular basis. It became hard to tell if I was being out played, or if I was being out bought by other players. New names popped up in the Battlegroup full of their own epics. More gold buyers. I became disenfranchised by the community. The people constantly screaming about class imbalance, and how broken the game had become. So I looked towards newer games, the coming of Age of Conan, the future release of Warhammer Online, current FPS’s and future ones.

The whole while I hoped that the market in those MMO’s wouldn’t turn out like WoW did. Because I doubt I could throw away the $500 I did to buy more gold.


1 Response to “Brinks! (If they robbed Chinese Gold Buyers instead…)”

  1. Monday, April 15, 2013 at 10:46 am

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Mike Black is…

A writer, reader, commentator, music lover, art lover, futurist, tech lover, pragmatist, romantic, DepDecoist, and a bastard. Hopefully you enjoy.

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