Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Tribute to Streaming

Ah yes, podcasting, posting on Youtube, and streaming, three great passtimes in WoW.  Or are they?  Today I'm going to be doing more of an opinion piece about the latter.

Doing research about what others are doing out there to learn how to make the coin is in a word:  Disturbing.  Right now probably the saddest example from the depths of Hades that people are plunging to is to watch streaming content of live gold making.  This is going to be a very serious post here today so I'm going to dispense with the humor, it's a serious fault with the state of things today. 

I'm not picking on any one particular site here, I'm lumping you guys all into the same bad basket.  I'm not going to bother listing them either, if you believe it doesn't apply to you, then so be it, you know who you are.  I'm positive this will result in some hate mail.

How this works:

  • Make an account on a streaming site, is the most popular it would seem
  • Sit for an hour or two and ask questions or just watch
  • Click ads/watch ads/make donations

It doesn't matter which one you pick, they're going to all follow the same format:

  • A host will generally have a camera shot embedded in the game screen
  • People ask questions about what the guy's doing
  • People show up to troll or ask bad questions
  • The host explains what they're posting
  • Generally the chat is more interesting than the topics discussed
  • A brief explanation of how to set up addons again ensues
  • The same tactics explained by virtually every gold blogger and website are rehashed for those that can't read

So why is this so bad?  Well, if you have thousands of people all doing the same exact thing, and you're teaching new people those exact same things, doesn't that mean eventually nobody wins?  It does, and here's why.

The most commonly explained techniques are:
  • Transmog flipping
  • Shuffling gems
  • Posting glyphs 
  • Posting enchanting materials
  • Severe undercutting tactics - setting too large/too small an amount, adding people to friends lists so you can repost when they log, wall posting

Save for transmog, these are the most common markets that everyone is playing in, and it is usually always passed off as one size fits all.  This means people are being instructed to work the most competitive markets.  In order to be successful with these markets it requires mind numbingly boring camping practices, constant undercutting, and essentially you urge people to engage in a practice because you make 1k per hour, or 50-100k per week doing it.  You encourage the worst possible auctioneering habits known in the game besides not posting anything.

For me, this whole practice sounds insane and it's part of the reason I took to writing my blog, I'm trying to put the brains back into the business side of the game because somewhere along the way they were ripped out by the community.  It's become almost entirely talking monkey says, talking monkey sees, talking monkey does, talking monkey makes no gold.

I commonly pull mid six figures per week, and I sell gems on reset days by posting/restocking maybe 2-3 times during the evening over a 4 hour period spending about 5-10 minutes in front of the AH total excluding recutting.  I post glyphs once per day at the most.  I use the MoP/Cata/Wrath enchanting dusts I create because they are worth more in another form than they are by themselves.  My undercuts in these markets are an annoying 1 copper.  I hardly touch these markets because they account for maybe 2-5% of my weekly revenues and they are incredibly boring, and we're talking 300-500,000g per week in sales on my server.  While researching these streams, I was busy knocking out dungeons, in queue for LFRs, and doing a few dailies in between.  In between these things I check my banks to see how business is going, then get back to the game.  I'm in management, but you're being advised to be in labor.

People are looking to make tens of thousands per day, even get to a million inside of a week.  What are people going to gain by sitting there listening to these?  None of these guys are going to be able to tell you how to get to several hundred thousand a week in sales in a 30-60 minute stream, most have lots of gold but aren't volume sellers.  They normally won't answer the tougher questions because there is no quick buck answer.  And it's been my experience watching them that they cannot explain the rationale behind why they do what they do, or why they think what they think.  I've witnessed advice and claims being made that frankly have no basis in reality.  Just "do this because" but no "this is coming and it will change the way things work for the short/long term"

It's like watching a news commentary where it's mostly unsubstantiated and biased opinion and the host hasn't got a clue what they're talking about, and this is exactly the same case.  Do you hate Rush Limbaugh or Ed Schultz?  Same difference, they have something to peddle and it's to get as many viewers as possible that will subscribe to their basic interpretation of an issue, because it's good for ad revenue. These people read something somewhere and it's all they know.  They never were taught how to think, just how to do it.  They didn't develop anything, but they market it.  I'd look at them with the same authority as I would any actor on television or in the movies.

One of our friends put it eloquently, "I think the main problem is that if you tell someone something that MIGHT work, and it then fails, you've lost a viewer/reader/whatever.  So then the best thing to do if you're trying to up your audience is offer foolproof gold making, which is fairly bland and while it is profitable it won't be as profitable as someone who takes risks or thinks outside the box."*
*Faid - Clockwork Riot

I half expect these guys/gals to bust out in real estate flipping techniques one day.  True story, I have an in-law that decided they wanted to be a real estate investment promoter.  He wrote a guide, made some videos, and began speaking at hotels all over the place.  I asked the $1m question - How did he learn how to do all of this?  It turns out he bought someone else's guide from an infomercial on late night TV.  After being so successful and getting himself incredibly upside down in debt and cash flow, he found the real money was in selling this information to other people.  The results were pretty mediocre, he eventually declared bankruptcy, the wife left him, and today he's looking for his next big score.  The problem was he never developed the system to begin with, he took what he learned from someone else, but had never gone through years of the experiences, trials, and tribulations one gets from failing and finding little successes to refine their system.  He was more interested in scoring off the aspirations of others than anything.

If you're watching these purely for entertainment, be my guest, there's nothing exactly exciting about watching one person escalating themselves on their own pedestal.  I find them an absolute waste of time if you're serious about making gold in any game economy.  "I can watch Payton Manning on TV.  It doesn't make me a good quarterback.  To do that, I actually have to put on pads and walk out onto the field.  So if you want to learn how to think about making gold - you need to turn off the stream and start trying things out.  Streamers should know this.  They didn't learn about how to make gold from streams - they read forums, blog articles, and tried things out for themselves.  In lots of ways, they borrowed tons of ideas from the larger community to get where they are now - and now some refuse to actively participate in that larger community.  They know it, but they don't care - because the goal isn't so much to educate aspiring goblins - though it may be a very tepid, ancillary effect - as it is to be loved.  So, if you're thinking of donating to any of these guys, you'd be much more effective if you just sent them a teddy bear, instead."*

It's true.  If you're going to be serious about making gold, you don't watch it on TV.  You get in the thick of it and make your own way.  You find out what works for you, and write your own book of business.  You think for yourself, and grow richer for it.

Of course, this is just my opinion on the matter, I've got mailboxes to empty.

Tip of the week:  Teach a man to make glyphs, and he'll become a camper.  Teach a man to think, and he'll be the one supplying the campers.

Thanks for stopping in!


  1. I've watched/listened to streams as background noise and to talk to people (the streamer typically, but the chat can be fun as well).

    To be fair most of the questions they get are the "stupid questions" but you get those on any medium, these particular viewers might just learn better on the streams (though I imagine short video tutorials would be way more effective).

    Some people just like streams, like I said I've never really found the fun of them except as a chat room.

    1. I've watched a few stream before (not mentioning names to avoid drama). The problem with the chatbox was that the streamers were egocentric and triggerhappy on the banhammer when someone talked about something that was not them, our when mentioning content that they didn't post or mention. It gets even worse when you disagree with in the chatbox when the streamer gives advice to a noob.

      Regular IRC channels are way more fun when I want to chat as they are more of a community.

    2. Indeed, if you aren't in TC irc...get your ass in there!

  2. Thanks for the discourse, Xsin, but like I mentioned entertainment value is a decent reason to watch. I know I enjoy watching PvP or raid streams, but those are completely out of the scope of the article. It's a two way street, people running them are treating it as a marketing effort for their sites and to drum up money, while the audience is watching bubblegum for the eyes. This is not just a criticism of those that host, but those that watch these types of streams. One could ask both become part of the community as a whole rather than sit on the fringe where you're gaining very little.

  3. I would like to disagree with this post in its majority. First of all, I believe that being able to stream is up to the caster as to who and what he wants to stream, it's a free country after all. Second of all, I personally find it highly offensive that I'm to be considered a person with "No brains" because I have " Watched streams instead of reading." Obviously people can't do both, that's just crazy talk!
    I have been an avid streamer of Elvine's, who let's be honest, is the one of the key people this post is about. Not only has he been extremely helpful, he's also not handed me my money. He has not held my hand and spoon fed me my information. He has however directed me to articles, price-lists and shown me videos on how to setup addons. But at the end of the day, I did the reading, I put in the time to figure out and ask why he does what he does. I have spent months working for my in game money, and I don't make millions a week, I am elated if I make 10k a day. So, as far as I can tell, this post is nothing more than a chance to create drama, and an attack on people who are trying to make gold, but not in the way you see fit.

    1. Sure you can do both! I think Zerohour even watches some streams himself. There's no substitute for getting your hands dirty, though, and figuring out things for yourself.

      All of us started hand-to-mouth in goldmaking, but the goal is to learn how the sausage really gets made. Streaming hasn't been a good format for that.

      As for Elvine, he seems to be a bit isolated, and while I don't agree with all his advice, that's not surprising. I don't agree with all of Zerohour's advice, either. That's fine - ZH and I realize neither of us has all the answers - and in our discussions, we often come up with a better answer than either of us could have given on our own.

      But, that may be the advantage of being isolated - people don't have to sift through different opinions. My opinion on that, though, is to be good at this really takes being able to sort through things on your own while incorporating the ideas of others.

      The best ideas in goldmaking have been borne of critical discussion. I guess I can kind of see how that may be seen as drama, but I think you'd find that the overwhelming majority of it is helpful.

      But trust me when I tell you that Zerohour doesn't mind how other people end up making their gold. If he did, he wouldn't get along with any of the other guys at The Consortium, because we all do it differently.

    2. Thanks for your reply Jessica. I'll be honest, you shouldn't name streamers without their coming here first and defending their actions and expressly stating that this describes their streams, because you point the finger at someone who may not be necessarily the people I'm describing. That's highly unfair to Elvine, and he's been thinking I'm targeting him with this but to be fair, he hasn't read the article nor what it's about nor rebutted any part of it so how can you be sure it's entirely him? Therefore you're casting prejudgement on him. I would moderate the comment but I'll choose not to this time since I want others to understand it's not him I'm explicitly describing. Thanks however.

      I will say it describes a lot of people in their audience. I don't bother with gold streams, I watch others. Given what gold streamers normally talk about, the methods they describe are highly inefficient and beyond the scope of the gold making philosophy I personally espouse.

      I remember when I was thrilled to see 10k in a day the first time, and it took me lots of trial and error. This was before blogs, before tips were freely shared, and a long time ago. If you want to make more, however, you really should move on to more advanced techniques because you sound like you're ready. Congrats on your efforts!


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