Easter, Economics and Final Fantasy XI

If you don’t care about video game economics, you can skip this one.

For those of you who don’t know, Final Fantasy XI has a very cool, self sustaining economy. There are thousands and thousands of different items, from weapons and armor to crafting ingredients. The neat part is that few of these items are purchasable, the rest are either obtained from monsters, or crafted with a craft skill. This makes the economy very player driven, as the value of those items isn’t hardcoded by the game, but instead determined by the cost of the ingredients + player markup, or the mostly arbitrary value from the difficulty of the monster/rarity of the drop. This economy stays fairly stable, but trends up or down as supply and demand fluctuate. Usually, it’s hard to make a quick buck, because soon everyone else figures out what you just did, cuts the margin, and it’s no longer as profitable.

Starting yesterday, Square-Enix introduced an Easter themed event, where every game day (about one hour), you can get an egg with a letter on it. This all of a sudden created a huge commotion of players trying to collect the eggs they needed for a prize. (First, you have to collect the first three letters of your character name, then 8 letters in a row starting with the first letter of your character, then 7 of the any one letter.) I spent a decent chunk of money to buy my letters, because trading because overly complicated with over a hundred people crowding around the event moogle. Then I realized, you can get extra letter eggs by trading other types of existing eggs (Bird Eggs, Lizard Eggs, pre-existing cooking ingredients) to get an extra egg, and people would pay money for these.

You can only buy Bird Eggs easily if you’re Rank 5 (which takes a significant amount of effort and time), and only in the town that’s currently in first place in conquest. So, right before I logged out last night, I flew in the Airship to Windhurst, bought as many eggs as I could carry, went back to San d’Oria and sold the eggs at a 100%+ markup, then went to bed.

I finished reading a book, and when I was done, I figured I’d check on my sales. All the eggs had sold. So, even though I should have gone to sleep, I emptied out my inventory completely, then went back to Windhurst, bought 34 stacks of 12 bird eggs at 54 gil each, then went back to San d’Oria and set them to sell at varying price levels, from 120 gil each to 180 gil each. (mostly 120 gil) This morning when I woke up, all the 120 gil stacks had sold, very little of the others, so I marked those down, made the trip back to Windy to restock, then set all 34 stacks to 120 and went to work.

I’ve spent the last two weeks in the game trying to get up to 70,000 gil to buy this one spell, which I just got. Assuming that all of the eggs have sold when I get back home tonight, I will have almost doubled that in 24 hours. I’m just hoping that too many people don’t try this same thing and undercut me. Fortunately, the fact that you have to be Rank 5 to do this might just keep me as the only person in the market, or at least keep the market small enough that I can still sell out every evening or day at work.

At the current price, I can make almost 27k profit each full load. Not bad for very little work and not having to actually be at the computer. This isn’t even counting the “free” money I get from selling the lettered eggs that I pick up and don’t need. And a good thing about this is, if I get stuck with a huge amount of Bird Eggs at the end, they can still be sold at profit (just not as much), as they are used in cooking anyway.

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