Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Don't Fear the Reaper Bot

Via VG247, a Bulgarian entrepreneur nets himself over $100,000 in 2013 by auction house arbitrage.


Condensed version: he gets the script for a bot from a friend. He modifies that script to scour the in-game real-money auction house. The bot buys undervalued items, then re-sells them at higher prices. He pockets the difference.

Contrast Turner:
I say that I am useful to the king, and to ealdormen, and to the rich, and to all people. I ascend my ship with my merchandise, and sail over the sea-like places, and sell my things, and buy dear things which are not produced in this land, and I bring them to you here with great danger over the sea; and sometimes I suffer shipwreck, with the loss of all my things, scarcely escaping myself.
What things do you bring to us?
Skins, silks, costly gems, and gold; various garments, pigment, wine, oil, ivory, and orichalcus, copper, and tin, silver, glass, and suchlike.
Will you sell your things here as you brought them here?
I will not, because what would my labour benefit me? I will sell them dearer here than I bought them there, that I may get some profit, to feed me, my wife, and children.
"Cherokee Brook" makes no improvements to the in-game items he resells. He doesn't even take them across the wide, winedark sea. He buys low and sells high. He exploits sellers' naivete about the "correct" price.

Both of the exchanges his bots make, the buying and the selling, are consistent with the welfare theorems of economics; each party is better off for having made the trade. But C.B. has access to better information, so does this edge mean that the exchange can no longer be counted as euvoluntary?

Note that his bots' prescience didn't extend to other types of bots. Gold farming scripts caused great inflation, meaning that he was stuck trying to sell goods for which there were no buyers.

Interesting that. It's almost a metaphor for something.

Please refrain from the "too bot to fail" jokes, people.

1 comment:

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?