Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Four types of bot

There are hundreds of bots on MTGO, and they aren't all the same. I am of the opinion that there's no single ''correct'' choice, that it's just a matter of having different goals and different strategies to achieve them. I employ several different strategies on several different bots, and I see great benefits from each and every one.

Deciding which one works best for you can be one of the most important decisions you make as a bot operator. Most people go into it without ever considering doing anything besides the basic ''stock up to 4 of all the cards in xyz sets.'' The following are examples of bots with different strategies and target customers, which anyone can copy, extend upon, improve or top.

First Impression Bot - It's all about the first impression. The strategy here is to set incredibly good prices on ONLY the cards you have specifically advertised, with normal rates on any other cards. The idea behind this is that many players who are looking to buy and sell do not look for the absolute best offer on every single card they sell or buy. Often a seller simply looks for the best offer on the most expensive card they are looking to sell, and sells that bot anything else it wants unless some poor offer stands out to ruin the deal. Many buyers will even fall into this same practice, assuming one or two good prices mean anything about the prices for other cards on the bot. This isn't to say you should be ripping people off on non-advertised cards, in fact that's likely to ruin the illusion. You simply want to generate tons of traffic with your advertised prices, netting you plenty of business on your fairly priced non-advertised cards.

Pros: You will certainly have no trouble buying or selling the cards you advertise at these amazing rates, and of course additionally you'll buy and sell more of whatever else you have than you would without the extra shoppers.
If your bots pace of selling or buying falls behind the other, the bot will either never have or never need the advertised cards. The simplest solution is to have unbeatable prices for both buying and selling of those cards, which means very little profit on them. 
Cons: You can gather a large backstock of the cards, but this makes you vulnerable to losing money if a card goes down. Rotating the advertised cards works very well

Buy ANYTHING Bot - Some people just want to get rid of everything. When it comes to older sets and stuff like promos, it can be hard for some people to find buyers. A bot set to buy anything in mtgo to huge quantities, even at absurdly low prices, ends up on a lot of buddylists. 

Pros: It's not that complicated, you're getting cards cheaper than you should be able to, simply by being willing to take anything. Some people don't know obscure valuable commons, or possibly forget about having them, so you can actually get some nice stuff at prices too low for junk. If the bot is also selling, you can charge an insanely low rate and still be making good profit. The biggest plus is that this type of bot requires almost no maintenance.
Cons: Even at incredibly low prices, with success, the investment might outpace the profit for quite awhile. Most of the stuff it's buying isn't going to sell very quickly, and there are a lot of cards on MTGO for it to aquire.

Has EVERYTHING Bot - Many players don't want to go to buy a card only to find the seller is out of it... and so is the next one. The biggest bot chains in MTGO all do great amounts of business, and they all charge the highest price you'll generally see on MTGO. Their angle is almost exclusively that they have ''pretty much'' everything all the times. It's not ALL about having the lowest prices. Some bots charge so little that they are constantly bought out of anything in any sort of demand, resulting in not even being considered as an option by many potential customers. By ensuring a bot chain is almost never out of any of the cards it deals in, you can get more business selling the same cards without as much of a markdown. You can dedicate other bots to purchasing cards for the main bot, or manually buy cards in the auction room or classifieds to keep your bot constantly stocked. Buying collections has lots of synergy with this strategy.

Pros: It's easy to get a solid customer base when you have everything they need, even if the prices are merely par. Charging more allows you more breathing room for giving good offers and still making profit.
Cons: For the best results you'll have to invest lots of tickets... and either spare time or bot-space. You can setup extra bots to buy for that bot which could otherwise be doing something else, or you can spend some free time buying cards directly from players. On top of that, price changes are of the greatest concern, so updating frequently is essential.

Foil Bot - There is a proportionally large gap between the going buy and sell prices for foils, due to the lack of competition compared with the non-foil market. Dedicating a bot to foils is unquestionably the most obvious niche, yet there is still tons of room for tons of people to walk on in and take a piece of the foil pie.

Pros: Having sketchy inventory isn't as much of an issue, for some reason people don't hold it against foil bots. If anything it makes it seem like the bot must be selling plenty of foils, indicating good pricing. The going rate on buying foils is way below what they can be sold for, so the profit you make on your investment is unrivaled.
Cons: Depending on what you decide to stock up to, the investment can be much larger than that of a non-foil bot. Sales can be slow at times. That's all. If you can afford to tie up tickets in foils, it can be a great investment.

There are plenty of routes to take with your bots on MTGO, these are only a few examples. Be creative, figure out what might be ideal for some potential customer-base, and provide the service.

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