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A Comprehensive Guide To The Elder Scrolls Online Economy – Part IV

Amassing Your In-Game Fortune And Wealth

Editor’s Note: This guide was written, in its entirety, by Ixtyr, a long-time trader who has served as a Guild Master or Senior Officer in three high-end trade guilds on the PC North American megaserver since the game’s launch in April 2014. He currently actively manages two major trade guilds, The Ska’vyn Exchange (Rawl’kha) and The Ska’vyn Bazaar (Belkarth), and holds an honorary Senior Officer position (retired) in Sabre Trading Company (Belkarth).¬†If you would like to learn more about his guilds (and possibly join), you can visit their website here.

Foreword

Over the course of the past several years, I’ve been approached by an overwhelming number of players, both new and old, who ask me a wide variety of questions regarding the Trading System in ESO, how to make more gold, and different tips and tricks to make the entire process easier. Many of these are questions I’ve answered multiple times over the years, as a Guild Master and Officer in multiple high-end Trade Guilds on the North American PC megaserver – but as time passes, I’ve found that I’ve had fewer opportunities on a day-to-day basis to proactively help everyone with tailored advice or one-on-one trade lessons.

Because of this, I’ve decided to sit down and write this “ESO¬†Gold Guide” to help everyone grow their wealth, improve their trading tactics and strategy, and find greater success in the ESO economy. If you have any questions, or would like to voice your opinion regarding anything in this guide, please feel free to leave a comment below!

I’ll be splitting this guide into a few parts, each linked below:

  1. Overview Of The Elder Scrolls Online Economy
  2. Useful Addons For Trade & The ESO Economy
  3. Earning Your First Five Million Gold
  4. Amassing Your Fortune And Wealth

Amassing Your Fortune And Wealth

If you’re reading this after the last part of my guide, then congratulations, you’ve hit that elusive 5,000,000g mark. That’s liquid, actual gold in your bank. This is when things become interesting…

At this point, really, you have a choice. If you enjoy farming (as some people do) – then keep doing that! There’s no reason to stop. It works, it’s pure profit, and you’ll continue to build your wealth. But even if you continue farming, it’s about time we start looking into ways to supplement your income with an easier, lower-effort (but higher-risk) money-making tactic: flipping.

Conceptually, flipping items in ESO is fairly simple. You find an item that’s underpriced, you buy it, then resell it for profit. Unfortunately, though, it’s not necessarily that simple in practice – there’s a lot of things to consider:

Market Volatility

Any time you’re buying something to flip, you’re banking on your market data being an accurate predictor of future sales, and that’s just not always going to be reliable. There’s no real way to know whether an item’s value will stay the same, soar, or tank at any given moment. You might buy that Necropotence Ring for 50K today, assuming it’ll be worth the 120K the current average market price says it’s worth – but what if you have dozens of other players selling that same ring for cheaper, undercutting you? That’s going to cut into your margins. Or what if ZOS releases a new patch nerfing the set? The demand may completely evaporate out of the blue – and then you can’t sell your ring, and you’re out 50K.

That’s the nature of the flip game – you’ll win some, but you also will lose some. This is part of the reason why we had you earn your 5,000,000g first – you’ve got enough money to go gamble now, make some mistakes, and lose big without crippling yourself.

High Volume Plays

Sometimes, the best way to get a good deal is to buy in bulk. This is how I personally made the vast majority of my millions back in the day – I found sellers in Zone chat who were looking to sell Nirncrux, and I’d buy out every single one they had, whenever they had them. After doing this long enough, I was able to find repeat sellers – and I added them as friends, negotiated a rate that we were both comfortable with, and had them sell exclusively to me. That meant I was able to pay 18,000g per unit on Potent Nirncrux, which was selling for ~22-23K at the time. I could then take those Nirn, craft them into research weapons, and sell them for 30,000g – for a quick and dirty 75% profit margin. When players would enter my market, I could drop my prices down to 25,000g – limiting the profit margin for most players to 2-3K per unit, whereas I could still pull 7-8K profit per unit – forcing them out of the market.

But that was also insanely expensive – I needed to buy entire stacks of Nirncrux up front, and then sit on it for days, sometimes weeks, trying to sell it as fast as I could. When you’re buying in bulk, you’re assuming all of the risk – if that market tanks, or some new competitor who’s bigger than you enters your market and undercuts you, not only does that cost you gold – it costs you time, because you need to relist your items cheaper, and wait and hope someone buys them from you before the price drops yet again. Your sources are also always looking to sell more to you too – and you don’t want to stop buying from them, or they’ll start selling to someone else, and suddenly you’ve just let another competitor break into your market, which could cost you even further.

This stuff can get pretty nasty, particularly when you’re fighting against other big whales in the market. But when you find a market you’re succeeding in, it can be incredibly lucrative – for instance, we have some the sellers in The Ska’vyn Exchange and The Ska’vyn Bazaar who pull in 2, 3, 5, or even 10+ million gold per week. These are usually your power-flippers, players who buy out massive portions of individual markets and then, by controlling the enough of the supply, flip those items for a margin that is more profitable for them than it would be for the average player. They’re able to do what they do by operating in large volumes – but just as they can bring in huge profits, they can also suffer massive losses if not careful (trust me on this – I have a few friends who have quite literally lost tens of millions in a few short weeks due to high-volume pricing wars with competing players).

Fees & Taxes

The math behind a flip isn’t always cut-and-dry. Let’s say you find a stack of Dreugh Wax being sold by someone for 4,000g/unit, when the market value is 4,400g/unit. That’s a pretty decent discount – 10% off is nothing to sneeze at – but if you try to buy that to flip, you’re probably going to end up losing gold. Why?

Well, a number of things could happen – maybe the market continues to drop closer to 4,000g/unit before you can sell them, or someone else in your guild is selling them cheaper than what you would need to list them at to make your profit margin – but more explicitly, you have to factor in the additional cost of sales taxes and listing fees. Every sale in the guild store is subject to a 7% sales tax. This is a fixed tax rate set by the game, and GMs have no control over it. Half of that tax figure (3.5%) is sent to the Guild Bank, while the other half (3.5%) is removed from the economy as a gold sink.

You need to factor this into your profit calculations – if you sell that 1 Dreugh Wax for 4,400g in the store, you’re going to immediately lose 308g (or 7%) of that in Tax – leaving your take-home profit at 4,092g. You still turned a profit, then, technically – but only barely, and you may as well have just broken-even. And that’s assuming you only had to list the item once before it sold – what if you initially listed it for 4,500g, and it didn’t move, and you had to pull it down and re-list it?

Remember, every time you list an item for sale, there’s a non-refundable 1% Listing Fee – you get this back in your mail with your listing when it sells, if it sells, but if you pull the listing down or it expires, you lose it. So in the existing example, you listed the Wax for 4,500g, netting a 45g Listing Fee, which you then lost when you had to re-list it for 4,400g. Your 4,092g “sales profit” was further compromised, then, so your actual revenue was only 4,047g – for an item you paid 4,000g for. Not really worth the effort, eh?

Fees and Taxes make it even more important that you make as sure as possible that any item you intend to flip is something you can move reliably, with reasonable speed, and at a significantly large margin that you’re comfortable with. I generally try to set a bare minimum profit margin for myself of at least 30-35% – ideally closer to 50%+. This gives me a bit more wiggle room and room for error – even if I have to drop the price fairly significantly and re-list several times, I should still be able to at least come close to breaking-even at worst.

Admittedly, this risk-aversion on my part has made it impossible to operate in some of the lower-margin markets for very long – but it has also helped me retain my gold with fewer catastrophic losses. Your strategy and choices are up to you, though – you may find that you’re able to handle the risk or perform better in a particular market than I would – so just give it a shot, take some chances, and see how it goes!

Okay – So What Do I Flip?

Great question. Admittedly, I’m not an expert on every market – so the first thing I’ll tell you to do is do your research. Look into your Master Merchant (MM) data if you play on PC, and see what others in your guilds are selling. Shop around in different towns, get a feel for how each market is operating, and then make a decision based on whatever your personal preferences or philosophies may dictate.

For example – I’ve always prioritized “quick and reliable turn-around” over “pure profit margin”, and thus I tended to avoid things like motif patterns or gear, which I’ve personally found to often take a few days or more to move. Instead, I focus more on high-volume “commodity”-type materials for flipping. But that’s purely a personal preference – I know plenty of friends, including members of my guilds, who make millions each week from flipping those same slower-to-move goods I’ve deliberately avoided. And that’s not even beginning to touch on the less mature markets, like Housing/Furniture items, Master Writ Rewards, or Jewelry Crafting.

With that said, I can offer some insights into a few of the sorts of items that I would personally consider to be “in high demand” – remember, the more demand exists for an item, the faster it will move, and the more likely someone will be willing to pay more for it.

Below I’ve listed a few of those sure-fire “high demand” items, at least for the North American PC megaserver (and don’t worry – I’ll do my best to keep this list updated):

Materials
  • Gold Tempers (Alloys, Wax, Rosin & Kutas)
  • Raw Ore (Any)
  • Raw Cloth (Any)
  • Raw Leather (Any)
  • Raw Wood (Any)
  • All Jewelry Crafting Materials
  • Hakeijo Runes
  • Most Alchemy Flowers
Gear Sets
  • Spriggan’s Thorns
  • Seventh Legion
  • Vicious Death
  • Desert Rose
  • Spinner’s Garments
  • Necropotence
Motif Patterns
  • Buoyant Arminger
  • Militant Ordinator
  • Xivkyn
  • Ebony
  • Yokudan
  • Hollowjack
  • Pyandonean
  • Minotaur
  • Dark Brotherhood
  • Thieves’ Guild
  • Assassins’ League
  • Outlaw
  • Worm Cult
Housing/Furniture-Related
  • Dark Elf Bed of Coals
  • Discontinued “Housing Vendor” Furnishings
Miscellaneous
  • Research Jewelry
  • Research Gear & Weapons (particularly “meta” traits)
  • Nirnhoned Research Gear & Weapons
  • Dubious Camoran Throne (Consumable Drink)
  • Experience Potions (Psijic, Aetherial & Mythic Ambrosias)

That concludes Part IV of this guide. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading thus far! If you found this at all helpful, please consider sharing. Otherwise, check out the links below to read more:

  1. Overview Of The Elder Scrolls Online Economy
  2. Useful Addons For Trade & The ESO Economy
  3. Earning Your First Five Million Gold
  4. Amassing Your Fortune And Wealth
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Ixtyr

Long-time gamer, podcaster, writer, and digital marketing geek. I currently focus most of my time producing content for Ixtyr.com, moderating the /r/elderscrollsonline subreddit, and playing The Elder Scrolls Online, where I run a number of different in-game guilds.

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