No pun intended.*
This is nothing new. Lots of people go to the Auction House and buy things, and with 80s making gold hand over fist doing dailies and running random instances they’re willing to throw more cash at things than lower level characters would dare.
On servers with a higher percentage of endgame players this often leads to insane amounts of inflation, with wool cloth selling for 10g or more a stack because it’s cheaper than the average price by a good 5g. For players starting out on a new server, this can be very discouraging. (Or uplifting, once you get to a level where you can farm wool.)
At the same time, there are all kinds of items sold by NPCs throughout the world. The faction capitols (Stormwind, Thunder Bluff, etc.) all have noncombat pets sold in them or nearby, and thanks to the achievements that involve collecting pets they’re in high demand.
Some would argue people willing to pay 8 gold or more for something as common as an owl are either morons, slackers, or both. I won’t say that’s an incorrect assessment, though I will say there are exceptions.
Two or three years ago, I was leveling cooking on Splat. I was getting close to an impasse, where the recipes I knew were green and the ones I could find were too high a level for me. This was when I was still somewhat new to the game, before I knew about some of the resources I routinely check today, so when I saw a recipe for Juicy Bear Burgers on the AH for 10 gold I thought it was perfect.
Until I went to Felwood to farm the bear flanks I needed and ran into the vendor who sells it for only 2g. Had he never heard of advertising?
Was I a moron? Was I a slacker? While I’m prone to putting myself down on occasion I’d still like to say no on both counts.
I was ignorant.
Ignorance is a lack of knowledge, nothing more or less. It can (and often is) defeated by learning experiences. In my case, 8g (the net price I overpaid) was the cost of my education. Now I don’t buy things off the Auction House until I’ve looked them up to see if there’s a vendor that sells them for less. If there is, I go there and buy two or three (or if they’re in limited quantity, however many I can get my grubby little hands on) for the AH. With luck I’ll create someone else’s learning experience. Otherwise, they’ll be back again and I’ll still win.
In contrast, a “moron” would be faced with this information and not learn from the experience, and a “slacker” would pay the insanely high markup on the item because getting it himself would not be worth the effort. (“Insanely” is a key word there. Paying a markup on a vendor provided item in the AH because it’s faster than traveling halfway across the world for it doesn’t make you a slacker – that’s just paying a convenience fee. Paying 8g for something sold in a city that you can get a level 1 to from any Alliance starting zone is just plain lazy.)
As an added bonus, I’ve learned to always visit vendors when I’m leveling.
It’s amazing how many recipes and (un)limited supply items are all over the place, in locations that most people wouldn’t bother visiting thanks to random dungeons. They just sit there, waiting for someone like me to come and buy them for 40s then list them for 5g. If someone is selling them for less, no problem! Even at 1g I’m making a nice profit.
Should I be worried about posting this information online? Could this revelation potentially hurt my business? Somehow I doubt it. If you’re the kind of person who will pay 8g for a 50s noncombat pet or 10g for a 2g recipe (like I did, before I knew better), then chances are you’re not the kind of person who reads blog posts about making money in a virtual world.
At least not yet. But things can change, and people can learn.
*Pun was intended.