Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My beta auction house strategy

After playing with the Auction House in the beta for a couple of weeks, I have developed somewhat of a tentative strategy for making both gold and money, or rather Beta Bucks (BB). I will admit, I'm a little bit disappointed at this stage but I realize that the full game will be much different from the beta.

For one thing, the Auction House itself (whether gold or real money) is filled with bugs and errors, not to mention the fact that the interface is a complete mess. I am confident that Blizzard will clean this up by launch. After all, the Real Money Auction House is going to be their main revenue generator. They better not mess this up.

One of the biggest problems with the beta interface is that it's very hard to find items. Other bloggers have already mentioned this but it bears repeating: you are presented with a series of dropdowns which are supposed to "assist" you in finding items appropriate for your characters but this only serves to muddle things up. The most basic of elements, the free text search box, is missing. Until they implement that I'm afraid people will have a hard time finding the stuff they need.

A free text search box is the most basic of search tools. Only after that should dropdowns, checkboxes and other filters be added. I would be very happy to have something very similar to the WoW AH, with some refinements.

Another big problem with the beta AH is that results, although sorted by DPS, are still not sorted properly. Furthermore, when sorting by one of the headers, the list of results gets messed up.

But enough about the AH issues. I'm here to tell you how I made a bunch of fake money, aka Beta Bucks, BB or Bobby Bucks. It's not a large amount and I'm sure others have made a lot more than this. In my defense, I didn't set up to make tons of money. I mostly had fun killing monsters, with a little AH experimenting in between. Here's what I discovered.

Crating is useless
I am aware that some bloggers are apparently making lots of gold by selling crafted items. I tried that and it didn't work. Most of the time the attributes on crafted items are just not good enough, so I always end up salvaging the freshly-crafted item.

My opinion is that there's no point in wasting time crafting stuff in the beta. I'm sure the situation in the full game will be completely different but right now there are easier (and less time-consuming) ways to make a little money.

The Gold AH (GAH)
I'm sorry to say this but blue items are very poor sellers. I don't understand how people manage (or do they?) to sell blues for thousands of gold. Yeah, I get that some of these items have rare combinations of attributes on them but in the beta there simply isn't enough variation for these items to prove truly valuable. And besides, even with crappy gear monsters are still very easy.

I haven't tried selling any rare items on the GAH because I couldn't spare any.

What did sell on the GAH is Subtle Essences. I sold every single Essence I had. Instead of trying (and failing) to sell blues, I simply disenchanted each and every one of them and sold the Essences for gold.

The Real Money AH (RMAH)
It seems that no one will buy blue items on the RMAH. It's understandable. I didn't try selling any rares but I've noticed that people will bid on them if the starting bid is low. I have bid on a couple of them myself.

Crafting materials, likewise, do not sell so don't bother.

What does sell, of course, is gold. If you check the price for 1000 gold and then price your own gold at or below that price (don't go down more than 1 cent), it will sell. Using this method I sold tens of thousands of gold. On a couple of occasions I couldn't post the gold fast enough, as it was snatched immediately.

One other thing that worked was that I kept an eye out for under-priced gold and bought all of it. Several times I found gold at 3BB/1000 gold and once I found several stacks of 1000 gold for only 1BB. Later on I sold that at over 6BB.

That's about it. In summary:
- farm gold while having fun killing monsters (wear +Gold gear)
- salvage all blue items

- sell Subtle Essences on the GAH
- sell rares on the RMAH but set a low starting bid
- sell gold on the RMAH
- buy under-priced gold and sell it for its normal price on the RMAH

Using this strategy I made somewhere north of 500BB, perhaps 700 or so. I could have made a lot more had I farmed more, but I didn't. I also bought a couple of rare items that were decently priced, so that ate into my balance.

In the retail game I won't bother with crafting, at least not until I reach level 60 on my main character and not until gold and mat prices stabilize.

One quirky thing that I noticed in the beta is that apparently there's a 500BB limit. I might have read something to that effect but I don't remember if, when and where. Take a look at the screenshot below.

Notice the total at the top. It says 498.64. The proceeds from the sales highlighted with red simply disappeared. They never went into my balance. I assume that's because of the 500BB limit. All those sales that I highlighted would have pushed my balance over 500. For that reason, the game simply swallowed the proceeds and I never saw them reflected in my balance.

The sale at the top, for only 4BB was intentionally under-priced, so I could test if the system was actually eating my money. The 4BB went, indeed, into my balance and that's how I ended at 498.64.

The 500BB limit is the only explanation I can find for this situation. That, or there's a serious bug in the system. Has anyone else met with the same problem? How, then, are people expecting to sell items for more than 500BB or even thousands of BB?

This has to be fixed in the retail game. I mean, seriously. Just imagine: you already have $400+ in your balance and you hit the jackpot. Some random monster drops this super-duper-uber item that you manage to sell for $1000. But the game eats the difference between the selling price and the amount required to fill the gap to $500. Ouch!

This is not, I repeat, NOT, by any means the be-all end-all of money making strategies in Diablo 3. It's just a small experiment I made, to see if I can get comfortable with a particular strategy. While it isn't very ambitions, this strategy at least allows me to spend a minimum amount of time on the AH and instead spend most of it playing, not messing around with crafting or playing the market. Anyway, thoughts and ideas are much appreciated.

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