Thursday, January 10, 2013

Future-Proofing: Competition

"And what does that mean for us?  Much more business!"

Or much more competition as the bot/human ratio keeps growing. - Carlos Lazaro

Carlos’ comment from my last entry is a rather depressing one, and one that I’d like to dispel. 

First of all, we do not fear competition.  Competition is what makes us stronger, as a community and as business owners.  If there were only five (5) bots on MTGO, what would we see?  Outrageous prices and constantly busy servers.  If there were five thousand (5,000) bots on MTGO, what would we see?  Very realistic prices, and an easy way to trade unwanted cards for products the customer does want.

So how does that help us?  More bots means less profits for all.

Because when a player gets a good trade experience, be it from our bots or another bot, the player will keep playing Magic.  If there was a bot monopoly, there is a chance that players will leave the game, and they might not returnIt is very difficult for us to make a profit when there are no players logged into MTGO.

Let me illustrate using a recent example: Remember when Microsoft said that they were no longer going to work on Internet Explorer.  After all, why should they spend money improving a product (Explorer 6) that is given away at no charge and that browsers are done, ie completed.

This lasted awhile and then some high school student takes a chunk of code and re-works it into what we now call Firefox.  Then Google decides to jump into the browser field with Chrome.  Should I mention the plethora of browsers which now exist? 

And what has that done for us?  We have features that we couldn’t even conceive a few years ago.  We are more productive, get more enjoyment, and can be safer by using now-standard features like tabbed browsing, a slew of addons and community-based rating systems like Web of Trust.

Competition has made the browser programs better.  And in this same manner, competition makes us better botters.  Next time I will explore the competition question in more detail.


  1. My point was, there is much more business on your bot if MTGO has 1000 players and 10 bots(1 bot:100 human) rather than MTGO having 10000 players and 1000 bots (1 bot:10 human).

    More competition force us to become better, improve services, create new ways of selling/buying cards, such as buying collections or selling ready to play decks, fullsets, etc.
    That makes the term "botting" a bit unrealistic as you will then spend more time working at the PC that actually the "bot" working for you.

    I was lucky enough to get into the MTGO Botting "thing" a couple of years ago with a initial investment of 100$, thats including account creation, tix, website and so on, there was fairly less competition and I manage make fairly decent profits from about 1 year after starting, but the truth is that for a newcomer, without a HUGE investment (buying prices over most bots selling prices), your new bot wont be making much business or have any competitive stock for a while and will probably give you a maximum of 10-20tix profit a month for up to 2-3 years.

    Wikiprice force us to shrink profit margins to a point where you actually end up loosing more than winning.

    Buying for 19 and selling for 20 might sound like "profit" to most newcomers, but when you take into consideration that 3.5% of 39 is 1.365 (or 0.975 with wiki message 2%) you realize that you made no profit at all, or possibly lost. the 0% fee becomes a "must" to be competitive straight away, reinforcing the need for a big initial investment as I've said earlier.

    Then there is the issue of not being a very popular bot, which means you only sell if you're the cheapest and only buy if you're the highest buyer. When you price a card manually at buying for example at 18.5 to sell for 20.5, the reality is that you will only buy for 18.5 is the card value dropped overnight to 16 (and you didn't adjust the prices in time) and you will only sell for 20.5 if someone won a major tournament with it and the value gone up to 25tix very quickly.

    The only way of fixing the abuse of wikiprice on my bots was to remove them from WikiPrice, allowing my regular customers to get the surprise of my bot buying something for 11.6 that some bot/human is trying to sell for 11.
    That for me is a way better option than someone finding on wikiprice that there is profit to be made on my bot and pick 1 by 1 of other bots and sell to mine 1 by 1 in order to achieve 4.8tix profit, you might think "you would buy for 11.6 each anyway" which is true, but the 8 drafters I will buy from will be pleased and spread the word that my bot buys quite high and isn't on wikiprice while if I bought 4 times that card to the "cherrypicker" or wikiprice abuser he's not going to spread around anything about my bot's pricing as he wants it (the profit) all for himself and as a extra factor my usual customer (the drafter with a few mythics) will not be able to sell the card for 11.6 to my bot and will be looking for other bots.

    Often I buy many cards over most bots selling prices, this means that I will sell a card 5-10% higher than most bots, as this is the only way of having a way of pulling any profits (while having a big collection) since you're buying them "high" already.