Thursday 28 August 2014

Not Impressed

I've been keeping an eye on the so called Bulk Trade mailing lists for a week now. So far I'm not impressed. Not at all!

Most of the lists seem to be dead with zero messages posted to them.

Only one list (Wholesale Trading) had much traffic. That list seems to be full of sellers spamming cheap junk and "bulk" orders priced over, at or very near normal market sell order prices. I didn't look very closely at the cheap stuff, maybe some of those offers were decent, but with one possible exception none of the more expensive sell offers was worth the time it took to read it.

Why for example would I want to buy Navy Micro Auxillary Power Cores for 4.4 mil each in min lots of 250 when I'm already buying more of them on the market for 3.5 mil and less than I can move quickly? This must be the guy who's been camping the hell out of the Jita Navy MAPC market since the minute they were introduced, frantically trying to corner the market and failing spectacularly. Maybe I should post a couple hundred on Jita for 4 mil each again to correct the price manipulation going on there.

Or then there's the guy selling single (singles on a "bulk" list, go figure!) faction ships for virtually the same price as low volume Jita buy orders and only a few percent under sell orders.

There was one sell offer for Subsystems that looked like it might be ok but I'm no expert on Subsystems prices.

The only other list with any traffic at all is the buy list for a single buyer. Nobody else can post to the list, it's read only for everyone except the lone buyer. That list had exactly 1 post to the list offering to buy a small handful of faction mods. Half his buy prices were decent (comparable to my own prices), the other half were rather low.

This reminds me of bulk buying in WoW. In WoW there's no equivalent to buy orders so your only options are to buy off the market auction, spam Trade Chat offering to buy things or watch Trade Chat for players wanting to sell things.

The big problem with purchasing under the WoW auction model is it heavily favors the no-lifers and bots who are always there. They're constantly (automatically) scanning the auction looking for just posted low priced auctions and snapping them up almost as quickly as they're posted. They're also constantly snapping up any cheap deals (often from hacked account fire sales) in Trade Chat. And they're usually spamming Trade Chat with lowball buy offers.

My server had one particularly obsessive no-lifer and bot (we called him Argabot, a play on his main character's name, replacing the last 3 letters with "bot"). This guy had at least 3 accounts and probably more with multiple max level crafters and a few "disposable" posting alts on each account.

Argabot was a real douchebag, he used multiple market bots to constantly undercut serious competitors and drive them out of business. Not only did he bot 24/7 but he sat there monitoring and watching his bots for 16+ hours a day too.

He was the absolute worst for spamming Trade with lowball buy offers too. If anyone else tried to buy something he considered "his" market he'd immediately (within a second or two) scroll your WTB offer offscreen with a 3 part WTS spam post offering overpriced crafted epic gear for sale. Then a few seconds later (with metronome like precision) he'd follow up with a WTB offer for the same item(s) you were buying at much lower prices. He'd do that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week basically forever until the competition threw in the towel and gave up.

It never failed to work for him, his army of auction bots drove many, many competitors out of business in multiple trades. Anyone who started looking like he might be serious competition was a target for his bots.

Then he targetted me...

Big mistake! I eventually figured out a way to combat his bots' buying power though it depended on having deep pockets. Very deep pockets.

I started advertising my better buy prices in Trade Chat with an offer to accept all CoDs at those prices too. CoD = Cash on Delivery, a type of mail used much like private item exchange contracts in Eve. I guaranteed I'd buy it all, I accepted all CoDs matching my prices no matter how much you were selling. I also promised most CoDs would be accepted within 24 hours and usually managed to accept within a few hours (the big exception being when a few thousand CoDs came in all at once, then it might take a day or two to accept them all).

It took a while. For a few months I wondered if I wasn't just wasting my time trying to buy in bulk through CoDs. I was getting some business but it was mostly little guys who thought 10 stacks of ore, herbs or gems was a lot and 100 stacks was huge, massive bulk. And I was looking for thousands and thousands of stacks worth millions of gold.

Then suddenly it took off. Several of the larger miners, herbalists and "elementium shuffle" jewelcrafters realized I was an honest buyer, my prices were quite a bit better than Argabot's, I really would buy it all and not only did I not rip people off but when they made a mistake and accidentally underpriced some CoDs I'd catch the error and make up the difference anyhow.

The word spread fast from there. Pretty soon most big farmers were refusing to sell to Argabot at all anymore. They'd only sell to me and a couple other guys they knew weren't Argabot alts. My prices weren't just better than his, they were fair and I didn't try to grind them down even lower every time the auction price dropped another cent either.

A couple of those suppliers had to be running bot farms, they each sold me thousands of stacks of ore and herbs at least twice a week.

About 3 months later Argabot and most of his crafting alts transferred off the server. With his supply of cheap crafting materials cut off he wasn't making nearly as much from his RMT gold selling business as he used to anymore so he moved.

I won an all out trade war with the worst, most obsessive, manipulative, no-life, botting, real money trading scumbag I ever ran into playing WoW!

Anyhow the point of the WoW story is it took time (several months) to build up my CoD bulk buying business in WoW and I figure the same will be true of bulk contract buying in Eve. I'm in it for the long term and won't be giving up due to poor initial results.


  1. Are you interested in T2 modules?

    1. No, I mostly deal in Faction Mods, Implants and other things going for at least 10 mil each.

      I do occasionally buy some specific T2 mods but those are special cases (usually either for my own use, to bring prices back down to reasonable levels in certain regions, or both) not routine business.

      The same goes for rigs, subsystems and T1 ships.

    2. A big part of the problem (and I know you agree with this) is with high volume, relatively cheap and easily produced items like T2 modules manufacturers have a huge advantage over traders.

      It's just too easy for a manufacturer to dump a massive load of cheap mods on the market and dominate the market for a long time.

    3. Interesting enough... the idea is to make all items in eve manufactured. In the older days there used to be loads more items that were purchased either through NPC's or dropped. Now there is even less. If they ever get around to forcing players to build faction items from drops, what will you do at this point?

    4. Moxnix, the idea would be to price to you at set cost with a fixed percentage above manufacturing cost so that you would be price competive against all but those doing extreme dumps.

    5. @Ragelle Send an in game mail to Moxnix Induli and we can discuss it.

      It'd help if you gave me a few examples of particular items and the prices you'd want for them.

      BTW, love your blog Manfacturing Confusion. There's some good stuff there, you really should write more articles!

  2. I see no real perspective in such mailing lists. In WoW they existed due to lack of buy orders and high AH tax (5%). In EVE, with perfect skills and good standings the broker fee+tax is about 0.95% and there are customizable buy orders.

  3. What if you make your own list? Prepare a few mails, communicate it on forums/reddit/your blog, have people move on your own list and start like that.

    There are always people out there who see the use of those things.
    Looking forward to reading more about this new little project of buying in bulk.

    I think most people just don't really know the concept of 'bulk'

    1. I am thinking about starting my own list. It'd be a lot more work trying to get people to use it than using an existing list would be though.

      And like Gevlon says it probably wouldn't work as well as it did in WoW. It took time in WoW but once it started working there it worket *extremely* well. For more than a year I pretty much dominated my server's buying market for ore and raw gems and had a big chunk of the herb market too.

      Yeah most people seem to think bulk is just another way to sell a few more of something for the same prices they get camping the market and playing the 0.01 ISK game.

  4. Most of the issues on the bulk lists are with people's pricing. They want to try to get the most they can so they overprice, not realising they are pushing away sales. Some also base on Amarr prices, not realising that Jita is cheaper too. But filter through the bad deals, and there's plenty of good ones to be had.

    With the singles, these are OK as long as there multiple types being offered, though I'd revise that if more than a few a month came through. Pricing wise, remember there's no tax when considering where they stand in relation to buy orders. That's often a big point with these lists.

    1. The biggest issue for me is for the most part they aren't selling the things I'm looking to buy. About the only exceptions are some T2/T3 ship hulls and many of those are actually *higher priced than Jita *sell orders.

      Tax really isn't much of an issue and I say that as one who doesn't grind standing to lower taxes and fees at all. I pay 2.25% total combined taxes and fees. 0.75% broker fee on the buy order, 0.75% broker fee and 0.75% tax on the sell order.

  5. This is now a tangent, but when you described Argabot's bot-trading, I had one immediate association: HFT on Wall Street.

    A budding economist might be able get a thesis out of analyzing the parallels (or lack thereof) between the two.