I can’t believe Blizzard still runs the ice cold milk “scam”

Azuriel wrote about the latest installment of the ice cold milk scam in WoW. The original of the “scam” came from the Winter Weil event back a decade ago. You needed to create cookies that needed ice cold milk, creating extreme demand for that item. Needless to say, the item was trivial to get, every single innkeeper sold them. So all you had to do is going to the innkeeper, buy stacks, list them on the AH for 1000x price and make bank.

Later you had crystallized fire that combined into eternal fire and back, while their prices never aligned and you could make bank on one of them by buying the other and combining.

My final memory of this nonsense was from before I stopped playing: in Draenor, you had a daily quests where you had to deliver 10 baubles that you got from filleting raw fish. All you had to do is buy lots of fish, fillet them until you got your 10 baubles, list them on the AH instead of delivering to the quest NPC and fillet again. Since filleting fish was slightly profitable on its own, everything the baubles sold for was pure profit and they sold for bizarre prices. Well, until Blizzard closed this by making the baubles soulbound.

I assumed they finally learned their lesson that morons and slackers are unable to plan or research and run to the AH where goblinish individuals make stupid amount of profit at their expense. While being that individual was fun, it’s clear that people making extreme profit at the expense of other players in a game that isn’t marketed as ruthless PvP is bad. Add that WoW tokens are now a thing, market isn’t a for-itself minigame, but something that affects real money.

My assumption was that they won’t do ice cold milk again, but seems I was wrong. The turn-in quests demand one specific item, without even chance to prepare in advance. So the only way to prepare is what Azuriel does: prepare for everything by having a huge stockpile of materials. That’s great for those who love market PvP, but everyone else is left behind, even if he is not a moron or slacker. When the quest appears out of the blue, you can’t do anything but pay whatever price the AH has (if you farm the item, it still costs the same, in opportunity cost).

The solution would be obviously to offer several options for turn-in. They should accept several kinds of items, so players can always donate what they can easily obtain. Or to announce what will be needed later. Or most simply: ask for a little bit of everything from the raw materials.

Let’s add this to the long list of “Blizzard didn’t really think this trough”.

Author: Gevlon

My blog: https://greedygoblinblog.wordpress.com/

10 thoughts on “I can’t believe Blizzard still runs the ice cold milk “scam””

  1. When the quest appears out of the blue, you can’t do anything but pay whatever price the AH has (if you farm the item, it still costs the same, in opportunity cost).

    This is where I would disagree. If a non-goblin farms the items themselves, they also have the opportunity to cash in on the pricing mark-up too. Or they can pretend the AH doesn’t exist, like normal, and complete the turn-in by themselves. Additionally, while there are 8+ turn-ins available, two of them are something anyone can do: 100g for one, and 100 “war resources” (received from dailies) for the other. The other turn-ins are bonuses, above and beyond what is necessary. The non-goblin is unlikely to have need of the extra Azerite Power, as they likely won’t have the gear to make it necessary. The ones really impacted are raiders and slacker raiders looking to be carried.

    Regardless, this isn’t “just” Ice Cold Milk, as the turn-in provide a useful function: removing items from the economy. Sometimes they might target actually useful crafting materials, but other times it will be some junk fish that was going for pennies on the AH. Between this system and the Scrapper, it at least appears as though Blizzard is trying to both turn down the faucets and turn up the sinks at the same time.

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  2. This post reminds me of Albion Online, which I played for a couple of months. Shortly after release, the devs introduced the “black market”, an NPC auction that bought various items from players for gold. The bids started low and rose in price within a reasonable amount of time until being fulfilled. The items were then seeded to mobs in the open world to become loot for farmers.

    The spicy thing here is that the black market was located 15 seconds of walking and a loading screen away from the local (and also the largest) AH, the very same one that most farmers came to to sell the loot from the mobs they had killed, which had come to the mobs through the black market. In addition, low-tier items were generously supplied by players levelling their crafting skills.

    A montly sub or two’s worth of gold made from thin air withing a couple of hours of simple legwork in off-peak time wasn’t something out of the ordinary.

    No wonder the game never really took off.

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  3. Buying raw jewels, cutting them with a single click and relisting on AH for twice the price is no different.

    All game economies are bullshit. All produced items are identical therefore the only way to achieve profit is by driving down the material costs. Therefore the “crafting” in all games is nothing more than an exercise in buying cheap and selling expensive. Whatever few clicks come in between are meaningless, it’s all just boring and meaningless speculation and has nothing to do with crafting.

    The answer is making items unique. Each craftsman slowly increases his skills in crafting and the items come out slightly better with time (like a few more armour points or HP bonus). He can also add extra materials to increase quality. As a result some items are better than others, command higher prices and such. The difference would be small enough for beginners to simply ignore it and only matter for dedicated players.
    This has to be combined with a hard limit on crafting per person (not just per character) otherwise the best crafter will sell 100% of the demand. It would have to be some token awarded in unbottable drops, or similar. It would represent time spent manufacturing the item, in effect an award for playing the game.
    In the end we’d have our solid and good items, we’d have some best quality masters, we’d have cheap beginners, we’d have cheap mass operations (a player providing materials to others with little margins), we’d have Guccis (items otherwise normal quality but with a very fashionable aspect) and so, and so. This would be a real market.

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  4. @Stawek your suggestion is unfeasible for a number of reasons not the least of which is that you can’t really make a crafting system without a ceiling and anything with a ceiling means the best roll/quality becomes the de facto standard. Your suggestion of a hard limit of crafting per person would only serve to exacerbate this problem. To be quite frank – I find it ridiculous that someone looking for goblinish wisdom would espouse the merits of planned economy. This was already the case in WoW with CD crafts on things like mooncloth , embercloth, transmutes etc. which just put a price on that cooldown and meant you would log in your character once every 24 hours to collect your crafting welfare check, or moron guildies thinking that having the same guild tag means you could operate at a loss and not charge them for your cooldown.

    I also really don’t get why Gevlon thinks this is bad when it’s just the free market at work. Someone (Blizzard) creates a demand for something and people who put time into successful R&D are rewarded, whereas people looking for shortcuts pay out their nose. After all, a fool and his money are easily parted. What’s more, I think that Blizzard thought it through really well because as soon as the tradeable quest turn-ins become too expensive on the auction house for your average Joe to mindlessly click buyout he is forced to engage with the game by either making some more money or going out and farming those mats himself. All of this is besides the obvious benefit of taking money and resources out of the economy which Azuriel already pointed out.

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  5. @RelentLex: because Blizzard ARTIFICIALLY creates demand by NPCs demanding ice cold milk stuff. It’s like the government ordering stuff and a whole client economy of insiders is created. Think of the military-industry complex.

    I believe all items should be created and used by players.

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  6. “I believe all items should be created and used by players.”

    Although one could argue game designers/developers always create the need for an item, even if indirectly. A door that needs 10 key fragments, a boss which uses strong poison, so the players need to create more anti-poison potions… just by tweaking balance numbers they influence the economy. So maybe worth to elaborate that statement.

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  7. @Skeddar: yes, but in a way you can plan on it and more importantly, players reach it gradually. Not like everyone suddenly want to raid the boos on the same day and notice that it needs poison potions. Ice cold milk also wouldn’t be a problem if the quest would be there always. But it suddenly appear when season comes and then disappear. First day is always a market massacre.

    I reached half goldcap (in the world where 5K for a flying mount was a huge fortune), in 2 days when Lich King and the inscription came.

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  8. It’s always going to be the ‘meta’ or the developers as they determine the rules of the game or in other words – what a player needs and doesn’t need, e.g. compare resistance gear in vanilla and early TBC (100% required) to start of WOTLK, where sapphiron was a joke and 90% of guilds didn’t even bother to craft the 3 pieces that were available (compared to full sets of crafted/reputation resistance gear with greens to fill out). Another example would be health stones healing for more than a health potion and being free in raids, who do you think is going to buy a health potion ever in such circumstances?

    You can never legislate for people being lazy and blindly following the beaten path. In Path of Exile, a streamer called Mathil regularly experiments with new items that are not in the meta which subsequently drives their price tenfold or even more. In this case the developer didn’t ‘artificially’ create the demand for an item, people are just dumb enough to buy that specific item without even taking a second and asking if maybe it’s no longer worth it and could they probably find a cheaper alternative or one that will cost them the new price but give them more mileage out of their money.

    Which brings us back to the argument whether or not Blizzard are very aware of how they are driving demand and if it is indeed intentional. Smart people get richer, dumb people are forced to play the game and everyone is happy.

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  9. “unfeasible for a number of reasons”. Whatever can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
    “anything with a ceiling means the best roll/quality becomes the de facto standard”. No. Somehow Bugatti Veyron is not the de facto standard for cars, is it?

    First, there is no well defined best in complex systems. Second, the limit imposes the availability of the best items.
    There can be only so many best items when they are handcrafted. It’s only our modern economy with mass produced and digital items that allows for perfect repetition and “winner takes all” market.
    Game markets are repeats of digital goods markets. There is one “perfect” and it can be produced in infinite quantities. To break it we need to get back to manufacturing where people can’t mass produce and need to use their time.

    There is no real-time cooldown on crafts but a play-time cooldown. For example, finished heroic dungeon awards 1/5th of a production token so that 1 hour of playing (doing something else) allows manufacturing one item. This is how the real world works – you can’t just manufacture infinite items in zero time and with zero effort. We need to replicate reality to remove absurdities.

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  10. @stawek, Nice attempt but I literally didn’t end the sentence there and banged out a couple of reasons so miss me with that ‘dismissed without evidence’ shit. However I can literally dismiss without evidence you comparing games to IRL because when was the last time you killed a chicken and it dropped a suit of armor or a halberd and respawned 5 minutes later? Also your example wasn’t any good because getting a Bugatti just means you’re gonna get to the next red light 0.1 seconds faster compared to the old beaten up VW Golf and there are speed restrictions. However in anything actually competitive there is a strong 80/20 or even 90/10 distribution. I guess this is where I misinterpreted/exaggerated my argument so I stand corrected. However, those 80/90 percent of crafts are going to be so worthless you would be better off vendoring or discarding them rather than trying to sell them.

    Adding any sort of time restriction just means a dumb markup for no reason. I want a craft, not you defeating a random boss. Not to mention that your suggestion was already tried AGAIN (Primal Nether, Nether Vortex, etc) and it just ended up putting a price tag on those materials and it also meant you were boned if your profession didn’t use them but they dropped ’cause they used to be soulbound. What’s more, suggesting that ‘that’s how RL crafting works’ is laughable because no amount of accounting work or gardening or working as a lifeguard you do is going to let you craft an internal combustion engine or a rifle. That comes from crafting an internal combustion engine or a rifle. Had you suggested your character gets locked into place as an opportunity cost and you had QTEs to keep you from watching a movie I would’ve agreed, but you chose a very bad example/solution.

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but mass production has been the standard in warfare for a while now. The process you’re describing is how Kalashnikov rifles came to be – they were designed to be usable by even the low standard of troop recruitment the USSR had at that point and by usable I also mean maintained for a very long time, mass produced for the cheapest cost possible and take the least amount of time machining the grand total of 3 moving parts that rifle has. I’m willing to wager a guess banging out a piece of metal into a run-of-the-mill sword isn’t that hard a task in itself even IRL, else blacksmiths wouldn’t have tasked their 14yo apprentices with doing it.

    If you want to approximate RL crafting then my suggestion would again be to tie crafting to QTE minigames and progressing past a certain point in crafting would require you to complete increasingly more difficult QTEs, failing them may result in your item breaking, etc. The only problem with this is that we’re still talking about a game, which means the stakes are so low you’re going to have hordes of people churning out items in that apprentice-journeyman/80/90 bracket which cost next to nothing. You will never have a Faberge or Cartier of jewelcrafting because it’s a simulation with set parameters and people only value functionality and/or scarcity. You can’t break that matrix and become a maestro crafting works of art because the theme park won’t let you out of it’s bounds. There is no way to make every craft valuable beyond some tiny margin because someone prefers to buy bandages from the AH in bulk rather than to stand around crafting them.

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