Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Mogfather Interview

   I have said it before and i will say it again, WoW has multiple ways to make gold, and lately after the 4.2 patch and the release of the transmogrification a new and profitable market has emerged, the market of the item flipping. This market has been quite profitable for some while others haven't had much luck, yet. I am happy to tell you that i managed to score an interview with the one and only Mogfather, and managed to pick his brain about some of the things he is doing and intends to do in the future, so in continuation read all about the Mogfather.

Who is the Mogfather? 

   IRL I'm the head of a design research agency consulting behind the scenes of a few different industries. This is sorta the driver behind why my view on transmogrification is so informed. It was also the fuel behind the blog I started back in August, Disenchanting Azeroth, where I broke down a variety of weapons and gear by their aesthetic makeup and provided readers with various tools to help them decide which items would be the most relevant to wear with the release of transmogrification. 
   When my son was born in September, though, I had to put the blog on hold and have since been living out my WoW experience via iPhone RAH, Twitter and occasional guest posts over at
   I've been trying to put together a new article on the DA blog, but it's been a struggle with my schedule. That's where this little mini game of gold-making has been quite easy and it only takes a few minutes each day.
   In-game, I've been around since the late stages of Vanilla but I didn't really get into the challenges of gold-making until about a year ago when I had to seek out a different way to play WoW. My life/work schedule got pretty slammed and I just couldn't raid and do all the little things anymore. As it has been for so many others, making gold just became sort-of a mini game within WoW that I could do at my own pace.

Why did you decide to get into the 'mogging market ?

   That's an interesting question if you think about it. I'd actually argue the 'mogging market' didn't exist on my realms. I had to create it and structure it in such a way that it was logical and could sustain growth. In terms of why did I decide to go this route, it really came down to a realization that I, myself, was the target customer. I had certain looks I wanted to acquire for my characters (my Priest, Warrior, Paladin, Mage and Druid are all transmogged), and I found myself searching the auction house for those items. The more I looked, the more I found myself snatching a pair of gloves or a belt for 5g with my heart pounding. I was so psyched that I could get the items I wanted so cheaply without having to pay an arm and a leg like you typically do for anything of value on the AH. That's when it hit me, that I was actually WILLING to pay much more than I had. Take the Hyperion chest piece, for example. That was one of the first pieces that really eluded me. I literally had to transfer a toon to the Moon Guard realm in order to pick one up. And once I got there, I would have forked over 5,000g if I had to in order to get it. As a consultant, I know the biggest advantage anyone in sales or services can have is knowing their customer. Well I knew my customer, because I was one of them. I knew players would pay upwards of 5,000g, 10,000g for a green because I was willing to do so, myself. 

   When that realization hit me, I began buying everything I could find from a list I had in my head that gold-makers now refer to as my "top tiers". So Hyperion plate as well as Glorious, Lofty, Vanguard, Exalted, Overlord and Alabaster. And I moved to Mail and Cloth as well with the same model. I didn't sink into Leather because I personally had no interest in decking out my Druid since he was Feral, and in realizing that my hunch was that left only Rogues for my future customer base in Leather. Did I think no Druids would transmog their gear? No, of course some would. But my hunch was compared with Plate, Mail and Cloth, Leather simply wouldn't generate as much revenue. So I pretty much avoided it, and looking back now I think it was the right decision. I still refuse to put a list together now because I don't think it would be very genuine of me to do so. I built my strategy and made 1 million gold without Leather, so why start talking Leather now? It would be out of character.

   One key point to make, too, is that on the surface it looks like the items I value the most are done so primarily because they look "skimpy" on female models. People have commented on this, and while I'll never be able to convince everyone, that was not the reason I placed such high values on them. Readers that followed my work on Disenchanting Azeroth know I'm breaking down visual elements very carefully and there is a methodology for determining visual uniqueness. I haven't produced a visualization analysis of armor, but if I did you'd see the sets I place such high value on rise way out of the crowd of sameness that we currently see in-game. They are so different, that I've argued you could screenshot some of them in front of an ambiguous background and confuse readers into thinking they were looking at armor from a different game, entirely. 
   So some will continue to say "meh, they're skimpy outfits", and I don't doubt that some players are purchasing them for that reason. But I remain convinced that the majority of the intrigue behind these items is they are just so incredibly different from the norm that players have been forced to choose from within WoW over the last few years. Look to the tools on my blog, get into my head a bit, follow me down the rabbit hole and you'll see where I'm coming from. This is where I believe I've earned the trust of a lot of gold-makers over the last month. For many, valuing items for transmogrification is a qualitative, intangible exercise. With my expertise, though, I can make it very tangible and the proof is in the 1 million I made in less than 45 days.

Which were the first items you ever sold that got you hooked?

   You know, the scary thing is I was hooked before anything sold. I was actually willing to just horde everything and use all of the gear on my characters if things didn't sell on the AH. I just thought they were that cool. I've always been a bit of a collector in the game. Not of like, "every mount in-game", but more of an antiquities person that values very niche things. I guess though, if I had to pick something that sold that really sent the message home that my theories were right it would be a pair of Singing Crystal Axes for 10,000g a piece. I had put them up on the AH on Earthen Ring prior to the announcement that you only needed one weapon to transmogrify the items you were dual wielding. So at the time, my theory was put weapons up in pairs so you had a better chance of selling to Fury warriors and Rogues that would buy your items in two's. And the theory clicked because they were only up for about 12 hours and the pair of axes sold to one player. So that was the first sign and was enough momentum to keep me convinced to buy up everything I could at a cheap price right up until patch day.

Do you have a snatch list of items, or how do you go about your business?

   Up until a few weeks ago it was a mental list I had in my head. But I was having such great success that others following me on Twitter really wanted what was in my head down on a list that they could import into mods. So currently my lists live over at The Hatchery on Power Word: Gold. I never wanted my own blog to be about gold-making because it's just not who I am. I've always been in it more for the challenge and I have a deeper appreciation for the heart of the matter with transmogrification, so I've been working with Jim Younkin over at Power Word: Gold to get my content up on a site that makes sense for gold-makers. That way I can keep my gold-making conversations separate from my design-related conversations, and Jim's been fantastic in that regard. But yeah, check out the lists over there because not only do I list the items I look for, you also get a sense of the hierarchy among them and what I typically move them for. And two questions I get a lot are:

   1) Can they sell for more? Yes. But I've been selling these items on more than a dozen servers since patch 4.3, as I've relocated a number of times to help out others create their transmog market on their realm. So I have a lot of experience on what's too expensive versus what's too cheap. So while someone might get 5,000g for a pair of Glimmering Mail gloves, I've found that's not a sustainable price range. I'd rather move 10 pairs of gloves at 1,000g than one pair at 5,000g. The return is still exponential.

   2) Can other items sell as well as what's in my lists: Yes. But again, I do feel the items in my list are going to be the more sustainable items that will appeal to a broader audience due to their unique visual appeal. And I don't flip anything over level 70. This probably isn't mentioned enough. I don't chase anything over level 70 because visually everything looks too close to current content. This is where my theory on the Banner Slicer (polearm) that just came up on Twitter a few days ago will probably be the first thing that bites me in the ass. Gimp over at Gimp's Gold asked me what I thought of it, and the pic I saw was on my iPhone while I was at a stop light (no, I don't surf while driving, haha). So the pic wasn't great, but I saw a unique form, the fact it was one-of-a-kind in terms of its model, it was an extremely low drop rate and it had a banner wrapped around it. For me, it was a no brainer that it could pull 5-10k because I would be willing to fork over that much for it. Polearms are a pain in the ass, if you've ever tried to transmogrify yours. There is nothing unique on the auction house, and there aren't very many models in-game that you could leverage to truly stand out. So it's a weak category in terms of options. So when I saw this blurry pic while in the car, I was convinced it would go big. I later got home and felt my stomach groan because the more I look at it in high resolution, the more I see it looks so much like every other weapon from Wrath of the Lich King. Ugh. So bad call on my part, and I'm now reducing all of the banners I picked up while at that stop light to about 1-2k and I'm crossing my fingers that players who are frustrated with the polearm options decide to go for it anyway for the reasons I mentioned.
We have heard that you gave away 1 million gold away, is that true ?

   Yes sir, in fact WoWInsider just released an article on it which really got the word out that I had pulled it off. Again, it's never been about the gold-making. So when I saw the opportunity to flip the equation and give away 1,000,000 gold instead of making it and hording it, the idea felt more relevant to who I was in the gold-making arena. 

Well why did you decide to give it away?

   Well, partially to see if I could do it. It wasn't that easy, I mean I got banned four times. There was one point where I was almost willing to just leave my account banned and not return, it was really frustrating. I think the other reason to do it was to further differentiate myself from the average gold-maker. It's been a fun ride because I've developed this persona of the Mogfather in the process, and with the transmogrification events I've been holding on various servers and the attention from WoWInsider and even Blizzard customer service, it's gotten bigger than I'd even expected. I think I've even got some fans in customer service because the message I've been getting from them lately has been "we really love what you're doing, keep doing it".

What are your plans for the future, and how do you see the 'mogging market unraveling?

   So I've heard a bit of talk about the mogging market unraveling, I've seen it from more than a few people in various places and you're always going to hear me argue against this in force because I really don't hear anyone else taking the PRO side of the argument.

Will the markets we see currently persist over time, where we're able to pull in 10,000g a day? To be honest, I'd answer it depends on what's in your intentory, what your realm size is and your faction. Some of these items are so rare that their value should persist over time because they're that desirable and that difficult to find. I would never want to be on the side of an argument saying that Teebu's Blazing Longsword, the Glorious plate set or the Zulian Ceremonial Staff isn't going to be valuable in a few months. It’s a losing argument. So there are absolutely marquee pieces that will sustain their value.

   But even the marquee items aside, if anyone out there thinks that the transmogrification market is going to disappear entirely and that this is a fluke I believe they'd be wrong. For some players, transmogrification transcends the need for ore, enchanting materials and herbs and you can start that theory with two thumbs pointing right back at this guy, in me personally. For those of us who are passionate about personalization, we will always be in the market for transmogrification items from the auction house. When we find what we want, using external resources and websites, we'll not want to wait - we'll want it NOW. And if we have a disposable income, we'll pay for it. And I now know I'm not the only one who feels this way. Look at the followers that flocked to my blog, which hit over 100,000 page views in its first six weeks. Look at the fresh content being generated on other websites, blogs, on Twitter, in conversation and in-game. It's all about personalization and with transmogrification Blizzard has unlocked a key component to the sustainability of their in-game experience. It's here to stay, and to assume the buyers are going to walk away after this wave is rushing to judgement too quickly.

And for those that would argue that once an item is purchased it never needs to be purchased again - and therefore the buyer population is limited, I would say look to the glyph market. Players only need a glyph once and they will never need it again, yet glyph markets have sustained their value since Cataclysm changed the model. I'm not saying the glyph buyer population is the same size as the transmogrification buyer population. I'm saying it leaves the door open to possibility. Let's take me, for example. I've got about 9 characters I could transmogrify. I've done so with 5 of them, but am I done? Far from it. I mean FAR from it. Really only my Warrior is decked out in his bank and Void Storage to the point where clothing options are starting to overflow. But I would LOVE to build the same wardrobe for the rest of my characters. I just don't have the time right now. And with transmogrification, the fantastic thing is if I want to change my look, I can. If I look to my wardrobe and I don't like what I see, I can go to the store and buy something new. The model of buyer interest is no different than you or I going shopping to get some new clothes for Fall, or something new simply because we've been wearing the same thing for the last two months. This has been a constraint with WoW for years, that your look has always been bound by what the current tier gear is. Not anymore. The door has been unlocked and the versatility of this market is probably yet to be truly tapped. So is this market done? No. Far from it.

   Now, devil's advocate. Will we pull 10,000g a day the way some of us are doing now? It's going to get harder and harder, that's for sure. My main realm on Proudmoore is a great example of this, because I believe we're ahead of the curve on where transmogrification is going to go. I spear-headed it so early by releasing an entire inventory of relevant and highly desirable pieces on patch day, that I believe we're ahead of the average progression towards more of a mainstream market. We've got more sellers of transmog items on Proudmoore now than I even thought would be possible. Everyone's getting in on it. So have I noticed a decline in my numbers? Yes, I have. But here's the catch: that decline hasn't been a slippery slope, it's just dropped to a lower frequency of items sold and it has leveled out. So instead of bringing in 15,000g a day, I'm bringing in about 5,000g a day and about 10,000g every 3 days. Prices haven't gone down! If anything, they've gone up.

Here's the second catch: This is not a traditional market. It's not crafted items. It's not herbs or ore that you have guaranteed nodes you can track. These are not things you can simply "go out and get" and put up on the auction house. These are world drops, and there's just no guarantee of what you're going to get or what's going to pop up on the auction house that you can flip. So this market is going to be extremely unique going forward in that its resources will be limited and unpredictable. And players are still buying, even on Proudmoore. So will I make 10,000g a day? Probably not. But will I make a few thousand a day and have a big day at least once a week? So far that's exactly what I'm seeing. And these items in my top tiers, they're so rare and hard to find that they should maintain their value going forward.   

   So the market will be there, I just suspect it won't be quite as glorified and easy as it is right now. But no, transmogrification as a market is not going away. Will there be commodity items? I think so, especially if you look at sets that either have a higher drop rate or they're from content that is being run again and again by levelers which deluges the auction house with fresh meat. A great example here that I see on multiple realms is the Bloodfist plate set. It's a fabulous set, but it's becoming increasingly common. Well where does it drop? Outlands leveling content. Death Knights. Burning Crusade transmog runs. It adds up. So whereas now you can squeeze in a Bloodfist item for a couple thousand gold, I suspect in a few months the Bloodfist set will be a prime example of something that has had its value decline simply because the rate at which world drops can occur will be higher since Outlands is just a popular place again given the rise of transmogrification. But again, this market isn't going to disappear. It's far too important to those that value it.

Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

No sir. Thanks for the opportunity!

   So if you are still reading that means you had a chance to see how the mind of the Mogfather works, and how he came to be what he is now. I really did enjoy writing this article because there are many gold makers out there, but only a handful that are original and unique, and this guy is one of those guys. So my thanks goes to the Mogfather which you can find on Twitter @DEazeroth.


  1. Do we really need another interview with this guy?

  2. Well i booked the interview like a week or so ago, but had a hickups and by the time it was done i saw there were 2 other interviews up on the net. But non the less it was a good one, and quite informative.