Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Where have all the farmers gone?

My financial situation in World of Warcraft never looked better. After doing lots of daily quests to get to revered with the Shattered Sun Offensive, which was already a good earner, I finally decided against using my badges of justice to buy the new badge loot. I only spent 25 badges on PvP bracers for my priest, replacing the last non-epic piece of gear I had. With my remaining badges I slowly bought nether vortexes and sold them for 360 gold each, thus making 24 gold per badge (minus 5% AH fees). A nice pile of money.

Using that money I leveled up tailoring with my mage to 374, planning to make the last point when tailoring the second piece of shadowcloth armor. Shadowcloth armor is great for a frost mage, epic armor with a frost spell damage bonus. To make it you need shadowcloth, 2 of which you can make every 4 days if specialized. And you need Primal Water. Lots of it. Now I spent the last couple of months making one or more Primal Water with my transmute master alchemist. I always sold them for just under 20 gold, although sometimes I needed to wait a few days when through oversupply the market value had dropped to 15 gold or below. So, getting Primal Water for shadowcloth armor? No problem! ... Man, was I wrong. When checking the AH now, for several days, there is either no Primal Water at all for sale, or they are selling for crazy amounts of money like 60 gold. My warrior alchemist is still making one Primal Water per day, unless transmute mastery procs and I get 2, but progress is slow. But as he happens to have 375 fishing as well, I hopped on my trusty flying mount, and flew to the elemental plateau in Nagrand, hoping to fish for some pure water. And there an astounding sight greeted me: there was nobody, absolutely nobody farming the elementals there, all the spawns were up. So in the end I only got one fishing pool of pure water, but made many more motes of water by killing water elementals.

I've never seen the elemental plateau unfarmed and the AH empty of primals. Where have all the farmers gone? One possibility is that Blizzard (Europe) just launched one of their periodic mega-bans, banning the accounts of all the thousands of gold farmers who have been found botting over the last months. The other possibility is that gold farmers are doing what everyone else is doing: daily quests instead of primal farming. Sure, you can only do 25 of them per day. But assuming the gold farmer has several accounts, there is no more limit. The amount of gold you can earn with dailies is higher than what you previously made with primals. And of course the activity is virtually undetectable, as presumably it doesn't involve botting, and the gold farmers just disappear in the mass of regular players doing exactly the same.

Whether they got banned or just changed what they do to farm gold, the absence of primal farmers is hurting. Fact is that the demand of primals for crafting and enchanting is as high as ever. And most people preferred to buy primals instead of farming them theirselves. So only with the 24/7 presence of professional primal farmers could the demand of the regular players be met. Contrary to a popular misconception, primal farmers had a deflationary effect on the economy, not an inflationary one. Now they are gone, my shadowcloth armor is going to be expensive.

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