Monday 7 May 2012

Learning to think like an Auctioneer in Diablo 3

To make gold or money in Diablo 3 then you need to sell something.
To sell something, you need to understand what people want to buy.
Once you know what they want, you need to learn when they want it.

If you understand what people want to buy and when they want to buy, then you can decide how best to stock your store shelves with the item(s) in question.

These statements are filled with pointed questions that must be answered in order to succeed. Let’s take a look at how I answered these simple questions in order to come up with two examples from the early strategy guide for the first week of play.

Sell Vendor Rings

Players want rings when they are first leveling. Why? Because for at least the first 6-8 levels (up to and including skeleton king’s minions), they aren’t going to find these wild. That’s the what, now how about the when. Players will want to buy this probably when they are at level 3 or higher, as that’s when they will have access to the ring vendor. If they’re smart and they see that their ring is not present, then they might go on the auction house and buy two rings. So I’ll want to supply rings as soon as humanly possible. In order to obtain though, I need to log in and out of the game repeatedly from the same waypoint until I see the stats that players want. That reminds me, I need to address what kinds of rings these players want. Mostly, they want damage and the best vendor rings are 2-4 damage. So that’s a must besides the secondary stat that they can possess. Attack speed, magic find, and gold find are all excellent supporting stats. Since finding these rings is just a matter of logging in and out until the right combination appears, I should only look for the absolute best versions before attempting to flip them.

Crafting Movement Speed Boots

Vendor rings are pretty easy when it comes to thinking about what players want, when they want it, and how I can supply them. However, crafting gear and weapons is a little more of a challenge due to the supply factors. Instead of just running to the vendor until I see what I want, I have to instead buy cheap materials and craft until I see the stats that I want. This is an expensive venture, and it’s one that you don’t want to try half assed. Either you’re working super hard to get crafting materials cheaply, or you really shouldn’t be trying at all. To get them cheaply, I need to look at the cycles of these materials over the course of each week. If I can identify times when they drop significantly in value, then I have a shot at picking them up cheaply on a consistent basis. Trying to buy them any time I want to craft is a really foolish decision that leaves me open to taking losses should the crafting go sour. Now, once I have my crafting materials, I then have to decide what I want to make with them. Boots are going to be extremely valuable items in this game, only because they have a stat that no other piece of gear can grant: movement speed. Crafting boots that have max movement speed for their level is guaranteed money, and having great supporting stats just increases the profit. When will I sell to players? Since auctions have a 48 hour window, you can pretty much list any day of the week and have a nice range of players see your auction. However, I would probably post my boots during prime server time. In the Americas, that would most likely be 3:00 PM to 3:00 AM Pacific Time.

Once you learn how to take these questions and answer them thoroughly, you can start crafting your own strategies for this game. I’m not some genius who always sees the answers that no one else can see. Quite the opposite, as what I’m trying to do here is show you how to analyze the game the same way that I do. If I can show you how to do this, then you’ll be able to take the strategies I show you and expand upon them in order to adapt to your own situation and play style. For this reason, I will try to always explain the WHY behind everything I do.

80/20 Rule
80% of your success will come from 20% of your efforts. Especially with the limitation that the RMAH poses on you having just 10 auctions, this statement is incredibly true. How can you learn and adapt based on the 80/20 rule? It’s actually pretty simple. All you have to do is look at your current strategies that you’re trying out and pick one to focus on. Get it to work really well, to the point where you can get the job done fast and still see a nice profit. From now on, that one strategy should take up 20% of your time. What you do next, is you spend the other 80% of your time trying to come up with a second strategy that works just as well. The key is that you focus and you don’t spread your attention so thin that you can’t succeed with anything.
This doesn’t mean that you should avoid diversity, on the contrary, it’s trying to teach you how to apply diversity the right way: one new strategy at a time, only after it’s been to proven to work with your current strategies.

Why Supply and Demand Matter
Especially if you want to play the commodity market, then you need to learn how supply and demand function.

When there is too much supply and low demand, then prices with fall. This is because there aren’t enough people to buy out the ever increasing supply of product.

When there is too little supply and high demand, then prices sky rocket. This is because there isn’t enough product to satisfy the buyers.

How can this help you? Well let’s pick a market and think about how it will change from Friday to Saturday based on supply (players posting) and demand (players buying). For the market, let’s use gold. On Friday night there will be lots of players posting and buying. So supply and demand will remain relatively even. But as the night ends, and players start logging off, they will dump gold onto the auction house hoping to wake up to sales in the morning. However, not many players will play during the morning, so all those auctions will just sit there with no buyers. While all those players are dumping gold nobody will be buying it (high supply, low demand). This will cause prices to drop. As players get back online mid-Saturday, then they will begin buying up those auctions and prices will return to normal. Where can you take advantage of the situation? How about by waking up early Saturday morning and buying all those cheap auctions? Sounds good to me!