Man alive, the World of Warcraft economy is quite elastic!

There are people out there who take to World of Warcraft‘s Auction House like NYU Stern graduates take to Wall Street. The Auction House, for those unawares, is a place where WoW gamers can buy and sell in-game items using in-game currency. It can be incredibly complicated, and there are entire guides dedicated to “playing” the Auction House in order to make money. I’ve made a fair bit of coin by merely buying items at one, low price, then re-listing them on the Auction House for a new, higher price.

The speed at which “the market” reacts was on full display this weekend. On Friday, Blizzard announced a number of changes to the game that directly affect the game’s economy. One that affects me directly: the removal of cooldowns on a few pieces of cloth that I create for money. Under the old system, with the cooldownsfully intact, people were only able to create Spellweave(and others) once every four days. It made the cloth scare, thus driving up its price. I could command something like 150 gold for a piece of Spellweave in the past. This past weekend? Prices had already begun to plummet, and I was lucky to make 100 gold per Spellweave.

It’s sorta like when OPEC decides to open the floodgates, producing a whole hell of a lot of oil—the price at the pump collapses pretty much over night.

The same thing happened with another item, called Frozen Orb. Before the changes were announced, Frozen Orbs were rare but sorta useless—low demand meant that the price was low, too, at around 5-10 gold. Rather than get into the details, let’s just say that the changes Blizzard is making will increase the demand of Frozen Orb like nobody’s business. The price of Frozen Orb on my server jumped a stupid amount, to like 50 gold a pop. That’s a five-fold increase, merely on the off chance that the item will be in demand in just a few weeks.

There really wasn’t a point to this, mainly just to show how quickly “fake” economies react to news. Granted, this is more or less a command economy we’re dealing with, since Blizzard could, at the drop of a hat, delete all the gold from the game world, or make the most basic potion worth 1,000 gold.