As you’re likely aware, I kinda have a thing for economies in games. WoW was a decent example of how an economy worked due to sheer volume. That’s about the only thing it ever had going for it. The UI is atrocious and a disaster to read through. It’s mandatory to have a mod to want to make a buck. The market mechanics themselves are broken. Crafting is useless except for max level gear and then only until patch X.1 (with the exception of Alchemy and flasks, which is a market with no bottom). That glyphmas even occurred is proof enough for me that Blizzard just wings it.
Until WoD, every item had some nominal value even though it might take a while to sell. Due to sheer volume, there was always a chance someone needed that ore from the level 10 zone, or that green item to level up with.
WoD took cooking’s and the gathering skill’s catch-up mechanic and well full blown stupid. There’s zero need for any material outside of the WoD container. People are limited in crafting items based on a daily cooldown, not on actual materials at hand. Garrisons provide herbs and ore out the wazoo, saturating the market. Ore in particular is an offender where a level 3 mine can give out ~150 ore and no one can use it. Jewelcrafters used to be a prime market for ore, but that’s gone. Today’s AH had 28(!) pages of one type of ore on sale. 20 pages of Frostweed too.
Market’s are simple beasts, it’s a supply and demand thing. When the supply is 2-3x more than the actual demand, your market is more or less junk. WoD hands out gear like candy. A previous post mentioned that my monk is in near raid level gear without having even stepped into a dungeon (his healing gear is better than DPS). There’s near zero need to actually craft or buy anything, especially with so many daily cooldowns prohibiting crafting.
Alchemy and cooking are always the outsiders here as they always have use to some people – and I think these two skills in particular speak volumes about how a market works. Alchemy is a zero effort game. You can collect more than enough herbs in your garrison to make flasks limited by your daily cooldown. The market is, and has always been, run by idiots who continually undercut without understanding the value of what they are selling. So it’s always a better sum to just sell the materials instead of actually crafting something.
Cooking is different. You need meat and you need fish. Both require effort as you need to leave the garrison to get it. Sure, you can trap for the best feast but that still requires effort. There’s also no daily cooldown on the skill, just craft away. Combined, this means the skill has value, as it takes time to do it and you’re always short on materials. You can make a decent profit since people don’t want to make their own food.
Themepark markets are notoriously poor examples as there’s no sink to the economy. If you don’t lose items, then you reach a point where there’s just nothing to buy. You hoard your money and maybe get a rare item at some point. Which will get replaced with the next patch. For a themepark economy to make sense, things have to be consumed. It doesn’t have to be gear, it could be an oil you put on gear that reduces damage by half (I mean delays future repairs). Have every tradeskill have the ability to make one of those items and you just created a super sink. Mats are used. There’s no cooldown. The market will settle close to the actual repair costs.
The way WoW’s market is running now, it’s just a competition to the floor with a massive saturation of material.