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Archive for June, 2009

WoW: Reloaded!

When Blizzard decides to do a gear reset, they don’t hold back.  As I noted before, they’re flattening the gear ladder by dropping higher tier emblems across the board and making the newest and highest level emblem obtainable via daily dungeon quests.  However, I also noted that this still maintained at least a three tier ladder of coliseum level gear, not to mention that any new epics would push one to ulduar at best.  The result is that the curve remains essentially the same size it is currently.  The new patch doesn’t compress the distance between top-level raid gear and bottom level from where it is now, but it doesn’t expand the range either.  I felt this left a difficult gear hurdle for new players and new guild alts between 3.2 and Icecrown.

Blizzard decided to irritate people who hate welfare epics even more, though: if MMO-Champion is right, all 5 tier 9 set pieces from 10 and 25-man normal mode raids will be purchasable with the highest level emblems.  Additionally, to the vast relief of raids tired of having to burn those unused set piece tokens, it appears that there will be one common token grouping of classes.

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Blizzard realized that money really does trump lore.

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A note on statistics

Gevlon, in a recent post which is entirely not about statistics, says:

Remember the wowprogress data on Ulduar raiding? It said, 32% did Siege of Ulduar. 32% of the playerbase did Siege of Ulduar? No, 17150 guilds, approximately 680K people did Siege of Ulduar in the US and EU. That’s less than 10% of the playerbase. 32% of those guilds who ever bothered raiding did that. OK, it’s a game, let’s say that everyone else are PvP-ers and RP-ers, and 6 hours/week casuals. Let’s believe it and stick to 32%.

68% of the people who wanted to raid failed to clear the first 4 bosses of Ulduar in the easiest modes.

Taking a gander at wowprogress, we see that it tracks US and EU guilds.  We note that it has ranked 53,250 guilds which account for nearly 3 million characters.  Well…we ought to be reasonably well assured that there exist more than 3 million characters on US and EU realms, as every player has at least 1 character (likely more) and there are more than 3 million players in the US and EU.  Since wowprogress rates guilds, and not character, there’s a reasonable chance that fewer than 32% of all characters in ranked guilds actually took part in Siege of Ulduar (H).  The point here is to note that wowprogress tells us little about the player base as a whole, or their activities.  It tells us about a specific subset of groups of players.  So it may be the case that fewer than 680K people have completed Siege of Ulduar (H).

However, he asserts that 68% of the people “who wanted failed to clear the first 4 bosses of Ulduar”.  This is simply not backed up by the stats.  The first thing to note is that WoWProgress does not only rank guilds which have attempted Ulduar.  It simply can’t know that.  It just ranks guilds.  Any guild it can find through datamining, it ranks.  All the achievement indicates is that 32% of the guilds wowprogress has datamined have beaten the first four bosses of Ulduar in heroic mode.  It does not say that the remainder have attempted it and failed, or that those guilds are even active guilds, raiding or otherwise.  It seems to include guilds which have simply ceased to exist.  As long as defunct characters are still on wowarmory, those guilds will stay around.  Heck, it’s unlikely wowprogress will be aggressive in weeding out defunct guilds: they’ll sift to the bottom anyway, and who cares?  That impacts the numbers, though.

Further, Gevlon does not note that wowprogress refers specifically to HEROIC Siege of Ulduar and makes no mention of normal Siege of Ulduar.  We therefore have little insight into the population of guilds fielding 10-mans which have beaten the first four bosses of Ulduar.

A different reading of the same data would be: nearly one third of all the wowprogress ranked guilds in the world are able to field 25-man groups capable of defeating the first 4 bosses of Ulduar.  That is the lowest possible estimate, because this list includes defunct guilds.  Further, wowprogress simply does not rank 10-man raiding guilds, but includes them in the list.  That would suggest that a very high proportion of the guilds able to run 25-man ulduar are able to defeat the first four bosses of Ulduar.

Interestingly, 23% of all ranked guilds have beaten flame leviathan with at least one turret, and 40% have beaten Deconstructor.

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HA HA HA HA HA (teehee)

Without (further) comment: Elitist Jerks get their VERY OWN BROWSER (theme).

Hat tip: Scott Jennings who has also decided to make up for a few days of quiescence with multiple posts!  And a video!

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This probably will include a more general notion on markets that recently occurred to me, but I’d first like to note something about ETFs.  An exchange traded fund “holds assets such as stocks or bonds and trades at approximately the same price as the net asset value of its underlying assets over the course of the trading day.”

What’s interesting about ETFs to me is that they increase the availability to speculate on asset prices without having to directly own the asset.  Because it reduces the opportunity cost of speculation, this should indirectly increase demand for the underlying asset.  Now, despite the statement that ETFs maintain a basket of the underlying asset to match share price to asset price, which has the implication that it passively tracks the asset, it must in fact influence thae asset price.  Obviously, if ETF shares gain without an underlying asset price gain (through purchases of shares by competing buyers of the SHARES and not the asset), then the fund manager must re-balance the basket to insure it matches the share price.  This in turn influences the price of the underlying asset.  Obviously by the same token, changes to the underlying asset exchange value necessitate alterations to the basket composition.

This produces a somewhat convoluted set of inter-dependencies of price between ETF share price and underlying asset price.  First, the existence of the ETFs lower cost inducing speculative demand implies that the development of ETFs ought to have produced upward pressure on underlying asset prices.  Second, ETFs produce a volatile price on a limited subset of the underlying asset but necessitate that the underlying asset price fluctuate to match.  Because the purchase of ETF shares is faster and easier than the purchase of the underlying asset (particularly in the case of commodity ETFs), then the price volatility of an ETF will be generally larger and the price will be simpler to impact.  In turn, because the ETF price has an impact on the price of the underlying asset, this would imply that ETF basket purchasers become the marginal buyer, and exert price-setting power on the asset.

That implies inefficiencies on what may be called the leading edge of the price of the ETF’s asset basket.

This leads me to an interesting notion.  In order to  profit on an exchange of goods, there must exist a value differential from the point of view of the profiting party.  While this need not be a zero-sum situation, it nevertheless is fundamental to the notion of profit: the value of the good given away is less than the value of that received, in the eyes of the profiting party.  That implies that markets, which are communities of economic agents making exchanges, depend upon the existence of inefficiency (which in the market case is going to be defined as a difference in the value of the two exchanged goods such that profit is possible).  If a market becomes efficient, i.e. it is impossible to profit consistently via exchanges on the market, then agents would not trade on the market.  An efficient market essentially becomes a casino with 0% average returns.

Arbitrage is supposed to push prices towards their natural equilibrium, but consider: it is costly to arbitrage.  That investment necessitates a return to justify, and a profit on top to generate interest in arbitrage at all.  That means there  exists a trading range inside which the price becomes too efficient to trade on, so arbitrators exit the market, pursuing juicier profits.  As soon as arbitrators of whatever stripe exit a market, the market price regains volatility and inefficiencies return, drawing back the traders.

The general point I’m making is that a market does not seem coherent when efficient: the participants all seek inefficiency.  It behooves all participants that the market exhibit irrationality on pricing.  Why would the participate, then, in a rational market?

The gist of the argument for even partially rational markets is that the various profit seekers nullify each other, and their competition produces greater efficiency.  This is partially true, so long as the price retains a local inefficiency on which participants can profit.  As soon as they do not, traders have no incentive to trade in the market and exit competition.  They are effectively forced out, reducing competition.  The market strives to retain the potential for trading consistent trading profit: someone always must be able to win, all the time.

I’m speaking, by the way, more to traded markets, which are essentially speculative merchant operations, rather than production->consumption lines.  Traded markets need to realize return on investment, which is denominated in prices.  A trader gains no utility in a product purchased beyond the sale price they can extract for that product in the future.  A consumer of end goods sees utility gains from the consumption, which changes their exchange behavior.

I also think it’s interesting to note, as a complete aside, that the only reason, it seems to me, equity markets can possibly gain in price in the face of increased issuance of equity is through increases in the money supply.

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GC continues to amuse me

From the DK Q&A:

Some players really enjoy the rune and runic power mechanic, and I think it’s fair to say that the class requires a good amount of skill to play really well. Between Death Runes and all the various cooldowns, there are a lot of opportunities to play less optimally and push the wrong button.

Which is almost true: they do have a complicated system that takes a bit more time to work out.  It does involve, theoretically, more button presses; then I talk to my raiding dps DK friend who just macroed that shit.  He probably could be slightly more optimal and get in a DC every once in a while that he’s missing, but seriously.

You wanna talk room to mess up and complicated DPS rotation?  Go talk to a feral dps player.

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Activision has decided to pour a little heat onto Sony and their PS3 (h/t ZoD):

“I’m getting concerned about Sony…it’s expensive to develop for the console, and the…Wii and the…Xbox are just selling better. Games generate a better return on invested capital on the Xbox than on the PlayStation…If we are being realistic, [w]e might have to stop supporting Sony.”

Let’s go ahead and take a moment to step back a generation.  The Playstation 2 launched in 2000, with the GameCube and Xbox following it a year later (I’m just going to ignore the Dreamcast, one of the most underrated systems of all time).  To date, the PS2 has shipped 136 million units worldwide.  It is still being sold, as are games for it.  The GameCube sold 22 million units and the Xbox sold 24 million.  In a total market of 182 million consoles for that generation, the Xbox commanded a mere 13% of the market and the GameCube 12%.

Yet Activision continued to support both consoles.

Now, that number is skewed because Sony made such a great, well received platform that it is STILL SOLD.  I included those numbers mostly because I am lazy.

But let’s go ahead and take a moment to look at the current generation of consoles, the Wii, the PS3, and the Xbox 360.  The undisputed king of the market is the Wii, with an installed base of 50 million.  The Xbox 360 follows it up at 30 million, and the PS3 trails.  Now, it must trail absurdly to make Kotick say Activision won’t support the PS3, right?

23 million PS3s have been sold worldwide.  That doesn’t strike me as a terrible number.  Of the 103 million consoles out there, 1 in every 5 is a PS3.  If you remove the Wii from the number, it accounts for 45% of the market.  The Wii is not a direct competitor with the PS3 or the Xbox3 360.  Assuming a game is developed for the 360, porting it to the PS3 involves tweaking the game engine.  It is a technical bottleneck; the PS3 is more than capable of matching the power of the 360.  Any developer making a game for the 360 merely needs to make the extra technical investment to isnure it can port the game, and all the content and design comes free.  By contrast, the Wii requires an entirely new set of content, dramatically different engine, and the interaction method needs to be taken into account.  That’s why Wii ports are often made by entirely different companies from the ones making a 360 version.

Kotick is effectively attempting some strong-arming on Sony here.  Likely he is unwilling to reduce the existing and continuing investment in support for the PS3, but would like to see it pay off more.  He is bluffing in an attempt to scare Sony.  I suspect Sony has their own plans for a price cut, but they have nothing to do with Activision’s noise.

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