Jewelcrafting’s Pricing ParadigmPosted: January 15, 2011
Being a Jewelcrafter in WoW, I’ve been on a month-long quest to max out my skill since the latest expansion raised the cap 75 points. It’s a very long, trudging, expensive trudge at that. It didn’t used to include “expensive”, but Cataclysm changed that. The “why” is an interesting case study in player mentality and UI overhauls affecting economies.
In the past, leveling Jewelcrafting was pretty inexpensive. Most people leveling needed your materials, and gear from the lowest ilvls had gem slots aplenty. That means there was a massive market for gems and you could nearly recoup your skill-up costs through selling. Even with the massive competition and strong-armed market controllers camping the auction house all day, people were buying gems so fast sales were guaranteed.
Now, the paradigm has shifted. Players were trained to obtain and gem items of a certain quality. That mentality has flipped on its head.
WotLK was an expansion where gem-slotted gear of the rarest (epic) variety dropped from nearly every orifice of the game. Finish a heroic? Get an epic. Craft some cheap purple items? Epictown. Enter the first raid tier where even disabled children could work their way through at least 2 wings? YOU GET AN EPIC. YOU GET AN EPIC. EEEEVERYONE GETS A BRAND. NEW. EPIC!
Players were conditioned to think “if this thing ain’t purple it’s crap.” Well, Blizzard realized somewhere mid-expansion the loot piñata was dangling a little too low and hoisted it. A lot. All of a sudden, blues are the new epics. Purples are much more painful to obtain.
Back to gems. These blues, for one, barely have any gem slots. Players were conditioned to think of blue gear as temporal gear- AKA junk. Why would you pump 100 gold of gems into a piece you, in previous expansions, would’ve swapped out 2 days later?
Now you see the issue. The gem market is floundering, with higher-end gems actually selling for cheaper than their lower-quality GREEN counterparts because people look at their gear and go “herp, dis a blue, itz crap.” Slight problem there buddy. It’s not crap. It’s probably what you’ll be wearing for the next month until your guild can down the much-more-difficult bosses with significantly weaker gear than you’ve ever raided with before.
Add to this the advent of the overhauled guild UI that shows everyone’s skills (online and offline) and it’s a K.O. for gem prices. Instead of players futilely spamming their guild asking people who can craft their Delicate Inferno Ruby and getting no response (because people don’t care, are AFK, or aren’t online), they can pull up the pane, search the gem, and find everyone with the cut. They then buy the uncut gem at half the 50-75% the cost of a cut gem and the auction house is bypassed altogether.
So, on the now-neglected AH, gems pile up. They don’t sell. They get kicked back to their seller because the listing timed out. The seller goes back and sees prices lower than before because, apparently, demand is lower than supply and obviously the price is off-kilter. So they list it cheaper. If there’s other listings, in an attempt to have YOUR goods sell in a low-demand market, you’ll generally undercut your competition.
Well, imagine this scenario carried out across 40 people. Person 1 undercuts 5%. Person 2 undercuts another 5%. Yadda. You now have horrendously underpriced gems up for sale and, in many cases, the cut gems sell for LESS than their unprocessed originals. It says something when an end-product sells for considerably less than the components.
This profession is barely surviving in the expansion. There are very few profitable niches left. Jewelcrafting is a historically strong raiding profession and gems have been a high-profit market, but that got turned on its head.
Here’s hoping things stabilize. Players will be entering more raids. Meta gems are getting minor overhauls to increase their appeal. The concept that blue gear is a long-term investment might finally click with players in less serious guilds.
Whatever the case, I’m just hoping the changes come soon. It’d be nice to make money again.