Musings on the Auction House

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Postby Cristiona » Sat Nov 17, 2007 9:17 pm

I rather like the silent auction idea.
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Postby Cristiona » Sat Nov 17, 2007 10:04 pm

In theory, people are more likely to bid what they think it's worth, thus stabalizing the market.
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Postby Cristiona » Sun Nov 18, 2007 2:40 am

SkinnyDipper wrote:The auctioneer can bid for his own stuff freely
Actually, that should be prevented regardless of any other changes.
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Postby Ryme » Sun Nov 18, 2007 9:38 am

There's a lot to think about here, and I agree that it's not perfect and improvements are in order. It's a really delicate system, though, so I want to be cautious about the changes.

However, I think speeding up the auctions is pretty likely to happen. I set them at 1, 2, and 3 days back when I had maybe 20 people playing, because we needed time to actually see and bid on the stuff. Shortening that up to 3, 6, 12, and 24 hours would probably be fairly reasonable. I'm not opposed to giving slightly more useful gradations in terminology about how close they are to ending. Precise end times aren't given in order to discourage sniping, which, even if it's not actually harmful, seems to piss a lot of people off.

I asked the early testers about canceling auctions, and it was an almost unanimous no--they feared it would lead to people putting stuff in and pulling it out repeatedly, or waiting until the last minute and then pulling the auction if they didn't like the price they were getting. I think that's why I left in the ability to bid on your own stuff: if you're really desperate you can buy yourself out, but it's going to cost you a little for the mistake. Also note, if you buy yourself out it costs 5% of the final price. Canceling would cost 5% of the listing price. So the current system is much more expensive for the seller than if we killed the bidding on your own auction and added a cancel button--if things were reversed, I think we'd see even more manipulation by the sellers.

Somewhere in the auction form--or in the manual, I forget--it says exactly what the auction house costs. I really do expect people to read the manual. I can't make them, but if they don't know what's in there, it's not my fault.

While I can see the appeal of a silent auction, there is no way in hell I'm going to track dozens or possibly hundreds or thousands of silent bids (half of them almost guaranteed to be for the minimum price) on an auction, just to redistribute the losing bids at the end. It's an administrative nightmare, and would probably lead to a ridiculous level of overhead. And if the silent auction gave your money back immediately, players would just start at the minimum and keep escalating over and over to get in, again causing unreasonable traffic.

As a direct result, people will either not trade the low end items in AH, or more likely just set up Buy-it-now prices in bulk until they slowly gravitate towards autosell prices and make the entire auction concept redundant - if Buy-It-Now is the foundation of low item trading, why not just have a regular mall for them and get done with it?


The main answer to this is if the auction house is essentially reduced to the mall for low-end items, then "getting it over with" by having a mall is *also* redundant. However, it's a redundancy that would eat up weeks of my time which could be spend doing other, better things. At this stage, I'd rather work on new stuff than duplicate old stuff. For instance, would you rather get a couple of new quests and an improved chat, or a duplicate way of buying cheap items that's essentially identical to the existing one?

I think improved reporting on the timing of the AH would address' skinny's second concern some. I don't know about the "my only choice is to reload the page repeatedly for 24 hours straight" ... sounds like a bit of exaggeration to me. Besides, once prices have a chance to settle down a little, I've got to think more people will use the buy-it-now option for the quick sale (they want their money quickly, too).

As for scrapping it all in favor of a KoL-style mall, I dunno. It's funny, but I've heard the KoL folks on the radio multiple times saying if they were given a choice to do it all over again, one of the first things they'd do is scrap the mall in favor of the auction house, because they think that system works better (referencing World of Warcraft ).

Also just want to note, at this stage of the game I do NOT approve of mallbots.

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Postby Lxndr » Sun Nov 18, 2007 11:13 am

Ryme wrote:...there is no way in hell I'm going to track dozens or possibly hundreds or thousands of silent bids (half of them almost guaranteed to be for the minimum price) on an auction, just to redistribute the losing bids at the end...


Why do you think you'd need to take all bids at the time of the bidding, and disburse all losing chips back at the end? Just set it up thusly:

"Each bidder puts in a bid. All bids/items are sealed until the auction is over. At the end of the auction, the highest bidder is charged what he/she bid. If said bidder does not have the chips, it defaults to the next highest bidder, etc. If no bid exceeds the 'reserve' price, the item is returned to the seller."

This seems like much less administrative overhead, yet seems to accomplish the same result. Then you can make the "time remaining" readily available, since there's no point in "sniping" on an auction where the other bids are unavailable for you to see.

All you'd need is a warning: "When this auction comes due, if you cannot afford the bid you made, you forfeit the item." Perhaps include a penalty to discourage reckless bidding.

That said, if you go to silent auctions (which I like, a lot), you'd (ideally) give new sellers and buyers some idea of what the market is already bearing, so to speak. A link of some sort to see all completed auctions in the past week, or 3 days, or whatever.
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Postby Ryme » Sun Nov 18, 2007 12:04 pm

Lxndr, keeping track of each bid without taking the money is exactly the same amount of overhead as taking the bid and then returning the money at the end. It still requires recording and sorting tens, hundreds, or perhaps thousands of individual bids for each item.

Also having to scan through all the bidders to determine if they have the money on them at the moment the auction ends is kinda awkward. Not only conceptually, but for the players who have to remember what they've bid on, when the auctions end, and make sure they keep enough in stash.

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Postby Ryme » Tue Nov 20, 2007 7:20 pm

By popular demand the Auction House now sorts items in each category alphabetically. Additionally, auction durations have been shortened to 1, 3, 12, and 24 hours, and the estimated "time left" has been fine-tuned a bit.

Also, caught a time bug which was causing evening auctions to end half a day early.

I'll probably leave it like it is for a few more days to see if this helps much, or if more adjustments are necessary. (Still weighing the merits of being able to cancel and whether or not you should be able to bid on your own items.)

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Postby Cristiona » Thu Nov 22, 2007 12:37 am

If you put a Silver Star in for 100 chips, you should be willing to accept that someone will get it for 101 chips. If you aren't willing to sell it for less than 30k, but that as the starting bid. This is also why I hate reserves.

Anyway, perhaps making people able to exercise the "Buy Now" option but not bid. That gives them the panic button, but should limit abuse.
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Postby TheK3vin » Thu Nov 22, 2007 1:12 pm

The Auction House will be better once there are more players. And once there are chat notifications of bids. But it would be nice to have a mall in addition to the AH.
Last edited by TheK3vin on Thu Nov 22, 2007 10:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Cristiona » Tue Dec 04, 2007 3:29 am

About the recent change...

Currently, under "Open Auctions", you get a handy list of everything you have going on. All your items are hotlinked, but they just lead to the "Open Auctions" screen. Which is... kinda pointless, really.

Would it be possible to have those jump to the appropriate auction? In other words, when I click on "fusion pack", it takes me to the fusion pack listing under miscellaneous items. That would let me compare my auction to the other fusion packs on auction.
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Postby Ryme » Tue Dec 04, 2007 7:23 am

Yeah, that's pretty reasonable.

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Postby Ryme » Tue Dec 04, 2007 8:10 am

Hodag wrote:The auctions aren't perfect, but the recent changes have been very helpful. I agree that it makes no sense to watch people bidding 2000 chips for an item with a "buy it" price of 1000, but stupidity is part of life.


You shouldn't be able to bid more than the buy-it-now price. Or do you mean bidding 2000 chips for an item when there are OTHER auctions for the same item that have the lower buy-it-now price?

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Postby Ryme » Tue Dec 04, 2007 9:58 am

I've been meaning to add 3 days back into the mix. I could maybe see five days or a week--though before the short term options existed almost everybody was complaining that even three days was too long and stuff just sat there because nobody wants to bid on something that they *might* get in a week. A whole month is probably pretty unrealistic--I don't see anyone having that level of patience. You're just going to get 0 bids for the first 25 days (or pathetically low ones), and then a day or two of hot bidding at the end. And in the meantime you'd just be cluttering up the auction house with something everyone's going to ignore anyway.

I've sold a bit on eBay with the traditional week-long auctions, and I never get any reasonable bids until the last 2-3 days of the auction. The winning bid almost always comes within the last few hours of the auction. I think the same is likely to hold true here, too, especially as the community grows.


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