Lessons About Money from the World of Warcraft

During late autumn and most of the winter, I live in another world. I join millions of others lost in Azeroth, the fictional universe for the computer game World of Warcraft. Believe it or not, one of the best lessons I’ve ever learned about money came from playing the game.

I was frustrated at never having enough gold to purchase the equipment I wanted, so on a whim I began to buy and sell goods at the in-game auction house. I was shocked at how much money I made. Normal gameplay might yield a few gold pieces per week, but I was able to make twenty or forty a week through arbitrage. And my character was fairly young! Over the course of a couple months, I was able to earn about 350 gold pieces, which is an amazing amount for a mid-level character.

And then I learned another lesson about researching investments when I spend all that money on a weapon of little value and a mad race to max out my Enchanting skills.

Anyhow, here’s a piece I wrote in the middle of December, after I’d been practicing this technique for six weeks. (This is written as a letter because I play on a role-playing server.)

Dear Father,

How are you? How is mother? I am fine. It is difficult for me to hold this pen in my cloven hoof, so I will be brief. Ungulates will never be scribes, I fear.

It has been many moons since I’ve returned home to Bloodhoof Village. I miss the grassy plains of Mulgore, but I feel I am doing right. The humans and the elves and the gnomes press in from every side, threatening to take our land from us. The dwarves (dwarfs?), especially, are very upsetting. They dig deep mines in the Earth, carve great gashes into the mountains, all in the quest for shining metal. They scar the world, and the world cries out. I hear the cries. Though it never pleases me to kill, kill I must. I admit to some satisfaction when I pierce a dwarven heart with my arrows. Dwarves are foul, nasty, smelly creatures.

Since I left the herd, I have learned the ways of the hunter. It is difficult for me to hold the bow, ’tis true, but I do my best. My training as a hunter complements the teachings of the Earth Mother, fits well with the way of the tauren. I grow more in tune with nature every day. I have learned to speak to the animals. I tame wild beasts, and together we seek to cleanse this land of evil. Presently my companion is a bear from Ashenvale Forest. He is a good sort of bear, friendly, and quick with a joke (though bear jokes tend to be esoteric). His bear name is unpronounceable, so I just call him Jolly. He eats too much, and is often sorely wounded, but I like his company. I’ve also acquired a pet bunny that I call Snowball. Snowball doesn’t talk much, but he’s a cute little thing, and Jolly hasn’t eaten him yet, so that’s good.

You remember, of course, that I found my way to Orgrimmar in the orcish land called Durotar. The city is huge, as big as our Thunder Bluffs, if not bigger. There are all manner of friendly people there: orcs, trolls, and tauren from other herds. (There are also a few undead about. I know Thrall has allied himself with the zombie lord, but I cannot abide his minions. They are grotesque mockeries of nature, these living dead. I will never work alongside one.) From Orgrimmar, and from encampments in the Barrens, and in Thousand Needles, and in the Stonetalon Mountains, I am given tasks by wise and powerful men. “Rid our land of the greedy goblins who deforest our hills,” they tell me. “Discover the source of the polluted waters. Kill the giant sea monster that has been terrorizing the coast.” I do as they bid and they pay me well.

You would not believe the places I have seen. I have flown through the sky, father, on the back of a giant bat! I have swum in the ocean! (Not an easy task with hooves.) I have ventured deep into the heart of a mountain, fighting terrible lizards and cursed elven druids! I have traversed salty deserts, and cut my way through thick tangles of jungle. This world of ours is vast and beautiful. Just today, I raced through Feralas, a wooded land that lies south over the mountains from Bloodhoof Village. Danger swarmed all around: the wolves and bears would kill me if they could, but I made my way to Camp Mojache, a tauren outpost. It pleased me to think that we were only a few miles apart, even if we were separated by an impassable wall of rock.

I have made some friends. Zephyrus is a member of another herd; I believe he is from Northern Mulgore, near the Red Rocks region. He is a shaman of uncommon insight, wise even in the ways of the hunter. His advice is invaluable. Bulla is a fierce trollish warrior, and perhaps my closest friend in all of Azeroth. I do not see him often, but when I do, we cut a swath of righteousness through the world. Together, we recently purged a dwarven infestation from the Barrens: we destroyed dwarves, mining equipment, and even flying machines. I’ve also recently met Cotys, a young orcish shaman who is kind and quiet, but sure to be a friend in the future.

In addition to my talents as a hunter, I’ve developed an affinity for botany. You remember how as a calf I was fascinated with all the various flowers and herbs to be found in the hills? I’m afraid I’ve carried this obsession further now that I am nearly a bull. As I wander from place-to-place, I keep my eye out for fascinating plant life. I harvest every new flower and herb and vegetable, and I place seeds and cuttings in a special bag. I have quite a collection now, more than I can possibly use myself.

For a time, I sold my extra seeds to vendors in the villages. My expenses are high, though, and I discovered that I could earn more money if I sold my plant materials at the auction house in Orgrimarr. I kill many animals on my journeys, and as you taught me, I always skin their flesh so that it does not go to waste. These leathers and hides I also sell at the auction house. And here, father, is where I make a confession. I am ashamed. I am no better than a dwarf. I, too, have become a profitmonger.

It started innocently. As I sold my flowers and leathers in the auction house, I noted that sometimes others would be selling theirs for less. In order that my goods would sell, I was forced to buy these cheaper items, and then to offer them at the same price as the goods I’d gathered. When both lots sold, I would have made a tidy profit. Then I noticed that, through chance or design, people often sold swords and bags and magical essences for less than market price. It occurred to me that I might finance the purchase of a better bow if I were to buy these cheap items and then resell them for what they were worth. And so I did, and so I profited. Copper turned to silver, silver turned to gold. I grew rich. It’s true, father: I grew rich. In only three weeks’ time, I transformed two pieces of gold into one hundred fifty! One hundred fifty gold pieces! Can you believe it? That’s enough to feed the entire herd for decades, and yet I am still not satisfied.

I have formed a partnership with a sickly trollish mage. He is too frail to adventure, so he spends his time in Orgrimmar, watching the auction house. I mail him all my goods, and he sells them at great profits. Using this capital, he snatches up whatever bargains are to be had. The more gold I acquire, the more profits are I can obtain. When I had only ten gold pieces, I could only buy inexpensive items and make small profits. Just yesterday, father, I purchased a powerful bow — one I cannot wield for months or years — I purchased it for fifty pieces of gold and in four hours I had sold it for ninety. Ninety pieces of gold! Forty gold in profit! My head swims.

This morning, as I took stock of my inventory, I counted 148 gold pieces in my purse. Secreted in a bank vault, I have ten pieces of valuable equipment, including Lord Alexander’s Battle Axe. This is a powerful weapon, father, one that I could easily sell for 80 gold pieces. My trollish partner has even more equipment such as this.

Can you believe it? I am rich! I am amassing a fortune. I can dream of a day when I will be the richest man in Azeroth. For you and mother, I will build a private range filled with the juiciest leaves and grasses. You will no longer have to work for the chief; mother will not have to carry water from the well. We shall suck on the teats of fortune and grow fat. Is this wrong of me to say? So be it. The Great Bull has blessed me.

Walk with the Earth Mother. Your son, Venatoro.

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There are 10 comments to "Lessons About Money from the World of Warcraft".

  1. brandon says 31 July 2006 at 08:14

    very cute 🙂

  2. Kyle Berg says 17 February 2008 at 16:47

    OK IF YOU HAVE 5-10 MIN. PLEASE READ THIS(ESPECIALLY OLDER PEOPLE WHO PLAY WoW!!!!!———I have heard of all of the complaints about “oh iam just waisting my money on something wortheless” well stop thinking about that because as you might of heard that you get to meet with friends and battle together and its true you get to. But heres the thing, if you dont have time in your hands and your pay check isnt as great as you would of thought of it to be, umm dont even think of getting this game because yes it does suck money out of your hands, but if you are an average joe like me and go to middle school and doesnt have alot of homework and lots of time on your hands, then its ok because your parents are still paying for everything you’ve got so far.lol. But to those freakin’ nerds who are pushing their thirty’s and have a wife and a kid, i dont mean to be rude but you might just be the laziest, stupidest, man on this earth because there is something at risk there, think about it, got it yet because if you dont then just keep playing WoW and dont read anymore, yeah its your marriage. And losing something that good for only 15$ a month isnt ok with me, i know iam just a kid but boy i atleast have a life. So Iam on both sides of playing and not playing WoW, and iam frikin’ tierd of hearing both sides of it, so i hope this will clear up most of your thoughts. I hope BLIZZARD will read this and post something like this letter on there front page and explain to everybody that it is neither good or bad. Plus it is the best game in the world, and even the people who quit knew that its just they think its a waste of money, nope its that they finally realize that their to old to be playing this stuff and i know that feeling sometimes to like going to toys ‘r’ us and seeing all of those toys and stuff. So I hope BLIZZARD reads this cause i have no idea how o reach them so if anybody does please do. Thank You

  3. An older WoW Player says 21 February 2008 at 07:21

    First off, learn to spell and take a grammar class. I will give you a few things to fill that young brain of yours, so that you may think about what you are saying.

    First, 15$ per month is a relatively minimal fee. If you work (which you should if you feel like paying for anything) then you should be able to easily allocate 15$ to play this game. I remember when everyquest was 40$ per month and people still played it. Also, there have been many games with monthly fees throughout the years, infact, I can name off 8 of them right now, and all of them charge about the same.

    Also, this game will ruin your marriage, yes, IF you devote your entire life to it and exclude everything else. This can be said of any hobby, a man who builds model trains will spend much more and can easily spend more time alone and neglecting everything else in his life.

    Blizzard has made a great game, people will play it, and all of the issues you mentioned will develop no matter what you are doing with you life if you let them. The key is moderation, and no amount of typing can convince a person to change their habits.

    Oh btw, you’ll spend more money smoking and mroe money on gas then you ever can on this game. Chew on that for a while.

    TO J.D.:
    Loved the post, very funny stuff, I come from an RP server as well, and I must say this brings back memories. ^_^

  4. Doesnt Matter says 24 February 2008 at 10:41

    Yo this game was good and it can destroy shit if over done and it would be awesome to see maybe the same rates as xbox live with is only about $5 a month but hey if they can get away wit$15 they would be stupid to go for less. The only problem i see with the game is repition and waste of time. It seems like the game is tryin to waste your time by making u hike long distances to grab somehting then hike back. it take 10 minutes jus to fly places let alone u probably then have to grab a boat for another 5 and then go back. I loved the game but when it started to seem like the same hunt and gather quests or take down the leader quest with jus different difficulty and different names i started to get bored. that was a main problem and when i finally got to 60, expansion pack. now i got to 70 and rumors of another expansion pack… which all cost more money so it seemed like a waste of money. i say get the 2 month play the game and try it out, hell get the free 10 day trial if u want. play it but once u start gettin bored i recommend putting it down for a while and finding something new. come back to it later and reestablish interest again. Its a great game in moderation…the key is moderation

  5. Matthew-L says 23 March 2008 at 18:15

    Its not 15$ per month…. its the opportunity cost that kills you. I was addicted to Guild wars. I logged over 1000 hrs in 4 months. This is when I heard the POP!

    What is your time worth? Mine, working at the olive garden, ranges from 10-20 per hour. That’s 10,000-20,000$. Granted not all of that time could have been spent working but it puts things into perspective. Sleepless nights affect your ability to work. If we are going to be frugal and determine how much it cost per mile to drive your car. You might as well apply this concept to everything you do.

  6. Cairsten says 23 March 2008 at 19:07

    The opportunity cost only kills you if:

    A: you’re spending time playing the game that you are *supposed* to be spending on something that generates that much money. (If you’re calling out of work to play the game, you’re in need of help.)

    B: you don’t actually consider recreation a need. $15/month is a bargain if you play 15 hours a month — it’s cheaper than cable, more interactive and more social than sitting and watching a movie, and even 2 hours a night of relaxation in-game more than gets you your money’s worth. Sit on a stability ball instead of a chair and you won’t even notice you’re strengthening muscles while playing, for that matter. I don’t own a television, but I play the game.

    C: you aren’t in a situation where you can generate income while playing the game! I’m lucky enough to not have to choose between the two — I run the game on my desktop while working on my laptop, and as long as my work gets done well, no-one loses.

  7. Matthew-L says 23 March 2008 at 21:37

    Those are valid points, and if it were any other recreation I would agree with your 100% the thing with these online games are the fact that they are extremely addicting. You say it yourself you have it open at the same time you are doing your work. You structured your working around being able to play the game, along with your working out. It seems you are doing both ” around ” playing the game. If you can do it props to you. As to the “better then watching a movie or TV” statement. Their are a lot of other things that are better then those activities. It just sounds like addictive behavior.

  8. Snugglebunni of Forgotten Coast says 20 July 2008 at 17:59

    i didnt read the whole thing i read half of it and i thought it was about how to get good money in wow 😛 well i never finished but was wandering wat it was about.Please email me the subject 😛 [email protected]

    thx hunters r good for leveling, farming, and abut 2nd or third in pvp.I would reccomend u get a ravager if you like battlegrounds. i saw at the end picture u only had 1 gold….my char is lvl 35 right now and he has 54gold…. -_-

  9. Shannon says 06 March 2012 at 06:32

    A) Zombie lord = Banshee Queen. Or Zombie Queen.

    B) Sadly, I will probably never cancel my WoW account. Instead, I don’t have cable, which saves me 15 dollars a month and provides me with more entertainment than TV. But, that’s just me.

  10. Nicolas says 30 March 2014 at 13:35

    I saved a lot of money thanks to WOW. I know its surprising.

    At the time I started, I just created a free trial account and played with a friend. It was nice and i’m kind of a gamer so eventually I subscribed and paid the monthly fee. And at the time $15 a month was not something I couldn’t afford.

    After a few months I quit my job (first job out of college) and spent a few months looking for a new job. I was still playing WOW and found out that it made me do quite a lot of savings: Instead of going to bars and clubs I would just stay home and play wow. Fixed $15 per months on wow vs $100s I would generally spend in clubs for example. I still met my friends in the game and was quite happy.

    After a few months I found a new job and my bank account wasn’t much affected by my time unemployed as wow had reduced my spending to near zero.

    With the new job I quit wow as I kinda get taken up into whatever new thing I am involved at the time. It was kinda sad as I got quite a few friends online and was quite involved in the game. In just a few months I had joined a ranked guild and was raiding the top tier dungeons.

    I dont regret buying, playing and quitting the game however.
    And if you think the game is worth the price for you and that you will get your money’s worth; and if you can afford it of course, I wouldn’t discourage you to play it.

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