Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Flipping 101

Ok.. so people have been asking (actualy more than 1, fer realz) about Flipping Accounts; why you do it, how you do it, and exactly how much money is in it. 

First...What is Flipping Accounts exactly?

Flipping accounts in respect to World of Warcraft is the same principal as flipping real estate, but on a much smaller scale. You take a under-developed 'piece of property' and develop it... you invest time and money in order to scale your return when the inventory is sold. People will pay good money to keep from having to invest the time to get a new character to 80; people pay for convenience. 

Despite that it may seem dumb; there's the potential for good profit in flipping accounts... it all depends on the type of flip you do.. there are a couple different types: 

  • Full Flip - A full flip entails leveling a character from 1 to 80, gearing them as much as possible(quickly) and then selling them. 
  • Quick Flip - A quick flip is leveling a character from 1 to 80 as fast a possible and selling as soon as you reach 80, regardless of gear. 
  • Dedicated Flip - Dedicated Flips are the most lengthy, but have the greatest Profit potential. Level a Character from 1 to 80 (or 70 to 80). Once at 80, take the time to 25 man and PvP for Arena and Epic gear; once you've accumulated several desirable end-game items, sell the account.
  • Pickup Flip - This is the quickest, but lowest margin. Pick up a semi-leveled character for a low price, then level to 80 and Gear as quickly as possible, then sell for more than you have invested. 

Obviously, you’re going to invest the most time in a Dedicated Flip and the least time in a Pickup Flip; but a dedicated, typically, is going to yield a higher return. You have to keep in mind, while flipping and setting prices that you have to cover your costs invested:  Expansion Packs and Monthly Subscriptions.

2) How do you flip an account?

This is a really big question… You level a character to 80 and you sell it; but there’s a lot more to it than that…

… Lets play Hot-or-Not, WoW Style!

                What I mean is, you’ve gotta do some research! To make the most money, you’ve gotta have a product that the market desires. So… go to WoW-Insider, poke around on the WoW Official boards and look around at thottbot’s banter, see what class is OP’d at the moment; it changes with each patch. Example:   When I was flipping, Balance druids were some hot stuff, and Beast Master spec’d hunters were *epic* in PvP…. Now, a BM spec’d hunter isn’t going to get that much, because they’ve been nerfed, and with WotLK everyone wants Resto or Feral druid, not balance. FotM’s change with the winds; so you’ve gotta be good at theorycrafting and mining the forums to see… what’s OP’d now, and what is going to stay OP’d in the future.  Do some other poking around and see what characters are moving? Five threads with  80 Warriors for sale that’s been bumped for the past 2 weeks? Then you probably don’t wanna roll a warrior…

… To grind, or not to Grind? That…is the quest(!)ion…

Ok, so now you’ve got your class (omg FotM bandwagoner) and you wanna level now, what’s the best way to do it? Well, up until about 40… you’d better like questing, cause you’re gonna be doing a lot of it. Without PvPing, equipment is essentially worthless… because you outlevel it so quickly, so don’t spend time running instances unless you’ve got a slick, quick group who knows what they’re doing and can maximize the Xp/Hr from the instance. ALWAYS LOGOUT IN A CAPITAL CITY; rested XP makes a world of difference. Once you hit 40, if you can AoE pull; do so… 2 accounts helps with this, but isn’t necessary. AoE and Quest when applicable till you hit 58, then run to outland… quest like a motha’ in outland till you hit 70 and can go to Northrend.  Flipping accounts is all about efficiency.. the faster you level, the more profit you make; so maximize your time online. Don’t spend countless hours at the Auction house, buy the best bags you can buy over buying new equipment (more bagslots = less travel time to go sell) and ADDONS, ADDONS, ADDONS. QuestHelper is your very best, ultimate friend…. In fact, its mandatory; go download it now. Also, download Cartographer.. QH mixed with Cart will plot ever quest objective and even tell you the order to do them in to maximize Xp / Hr. TitanBar will let you track your XP/Hr gained… keep maximizing it! If you’re lost for where to quest next, or where to quest in general: and use the Leveling guides there;  both Horde and Alliance are listed.

WoW Combat Style and Playstyles – Live them , love them, learn them.

Coming from DAoC, this was the hardest, longest thing it took me to learn… WoW is ALL ABOUT DPS in leveling… survivability is negligible until you hit 80, or are running instances.  So maximize DPS for leveling; only cast spells that let you kill someone quicker, burn trinkets/timers/CD abilities everytime they’re up.. if you *can* take 8 mobs at a time and kill them as quick as 1, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO IT! Ending at 10% health in WoW isn’t a bad thing… eat & Drink (at the same time!) and do it again; you’re still getting more xp/hr doing that than single pulling. DON’T WORRY ABOUT EATING AFTER FIGHTING. This is the hardest thing to get use to; it’s NOT about how much health you ended the fight with; it’s how fast the XP rolled in / mob(s) died.

… Wait, wait, wait.. what about Servers?!

Typically, someone will pay more for a PvP server, because they’re generally more fun.. but a pain in the butt to level on. Now, if you factor a character transfer INTO your selling price.. you can level on a PvE server, pay the $25 and transfer to a PvP server (it’s free if you go from a High Pop to low pop.. but that’s bad for business). While this will help market you to a person desiring a PvP Character; your transferring ability will be down for 90 days; which is a selling point. Transferring is your choice.

… Ok, so I’m leveled.. but what about getting these purples I see everyone running around in?

THE big issue… gear. People have paid two times the price of another 80 because of the gear available; so it’s a very tangible benefit to have epics; but epics take time AND effort… or a complete lack of morals.  There’s two ways to tackle the epics issue… you can read Ready-Check on WoWinsider, learn about 10 and 25 man raids, dungeon tactics and boss tactics; then get in a general/open raid guild and start running 25 man Naxx runs every night and progressing that way. This helps you learn the game for future flips, and it actually is semi-enjoyable the first 10 times or so. The other option, is loot ninjaing… but you have to essentially use your character transfer before selling; because you WILL be blacklisted among the general population. Ninjaing entails need rolling on every piece of gear you can use in an instance, or running a group and setting yourself as the master looter; then before  rolls are done… you log out of the instance, thus stealing all of the loot for yourself.  Both of these are very unethical; but they CAN save you time… you have to decide if the trade off is worth it however.

Ok… so now you’ve got your 80 Fury warrior with two purple 1-handers and epic-lewt-of-God Shoulders; how much is this badboy worth!?

Pricing really depends on the market; but generally a single level 80 with moderate gear will go from 300 to 450… anywhere in that range, with a few exceptions. If you’re an 80 in blues, fresh out of the Questing-oven… you can offload the account quick for 250-400, depending on the class demand. Taken your time, ran that resto druid thru Naxx 30 times and got epic’d out? Well then, you just made yourself a cool $500+… got that Prot pally in epics and even got him the Season-4 Arena weapon? $500+.

But do your homework when pricing!DONT underprice yourself.

If you’ve already got WoW installed:

WoW classic – Free

Burning Crusade – 14.99

Wrath of the Litch King – 39.99

Subscription fee – 14.99 / month.

If it’s taken you two months to level that noob to 80… you’re breakeven is going to be roughly $85. That epic druid that took you’ve got, and it took you 5 months to finish… break even on her is gonna be about $140.

What If I got two level 80’s on an account?!

Two isn’t always better than one, always. Another 80, depending on the class will raise your price somewhat.. but typically people are willing to only pay X amount for 1 character; a second character is a bonus, so the profit decreases dramatically for the second. The nice thing with Wrath of the Litch king is the addition of the Death Knight. Death Knights take leveling to the Nth degree; completing 4 and 5 man group quest by themselves, and very capable of AE pulling 5 to 10 mobs at a time without the need to eat between pulls; and added benefit is that they start at level 55; thus decreasing the amount of time needed to invest in leveling and gearing; which raises the ROI.

That’s the basics of flipping… it’s not an all inclusive “Click here to make TONS of money in WoW!” guide, but it’s the basics to get you off the ground or to get you asking questions… there’s a lot more thought and effort put into WoW than you can imagine, so you can get as detailed with this as you’d like… I’ve crunched a lot of numbers on this, and have played WoW a fair amount, so please ask whatever questions you’d like.




Katie Jones said...

Good grief- give me some of that time you've got on your hands! Haha, just kidding.

I found this very interesting... would've been good a few months ago when I was trying to explain to another teacher what in the heck their teenage kid was doing "leveling" and selling accounts on Ebay. She thought it might have something to do with drugs.

GTG said...

Actually the times I quoted are kind of slow =( Farmers...or companies / corps that do this for their primary income do it much quicker; paying Chinese workers $1/hr to play for 16-17hrs solid with a 24hr rotation.. they can typically churn out 80's in 3 or 4 days. They aren't in the business of Flipping accounts tho.. they usually just power-level others and sell gold. Flipping accounts, to them, is too risky.

2months to hit 80.. is starting from 0.. about 6-8hrs a week; which isn't too shabby.