Saturday, February 16, 2013

How should I price my bots? (Full guide)

How should I price my bots?
In today's MTGO competitive bot market, pricing; although not as important as stock/services when it comes to keeping customers coming back, is still a key factor to attract new customers into your bot or bot chain.

Specially to new bot users, the whole %Correction system might seem a bit confusing and before you decide to set +20% on everything and click "launch", you should understand how buying  rare foils at +20% will likely result in overpaying for some cards, yet buying regular commons at +20% will mean your bot will offer up to 4 (Four) times less than a card is worth!

 Where do I fit?
When a card is worth about 30 Event tickets and you see a bot buying for 29.75 and another selling for 30 (and in some cases some bots buying for more than others sell) you might ask yourself where is the profit to be made. Most new bots start with a rental license of at least 2.5% which means that buying for 29 to sell for 30 is not a profitable margin (1.475 fee). This does not mean that there is no market for you, just means that you have to define what is your "hot point", either buying high (and selling high) or selling cheaply (and buying low, resulting in a small collection).
If you wish to work in very small profit margins and attract both customers the only option will be to invest in a 0% license.

Examples of bots pricing
 When looking into the current Geist of Saint Traft pricing you can see these 3 types of bots. The first 3 results are bots that both buy high and sell low. The profit margins are small and any card fluctuations will likely result on your bot being taken advantage of (if a card drops value your bot will buy it first, if a card value goes up, yours will sell before you have a chance to update prices), although this is a good "overall" bot it will NOT please everyone. "Why wouldn't be a high buyer and cheap seller at the same time not please everyone?" the answer is simple, the stock on these bots will be limited, and some users don't mind paying 33-34 for a Geist of Saint Traft on their usual bot, they rather prefer the bot to have 4 of every card they need.
The fourth and fifth result is a example of a low buyer/low seller, these bots will have very limited stock but also lower risks of losing in trades, because when they buy a expensive card (which will be rare), it will result in a quick profit to be made. These bots might attract budget players that are always looking for cheap deals and I would recommend this pricing for a starting bot with a smaller collection.
At the bottom we have a bot buying for 31.500 and selling for 34.500 this is the kind of bot that wants their stock to be the main attraction to buying customers who prefer to get all in the same bot (even if costs them more), although wikiprice says this bot only owns 2 copies, the reality might be that he already owns 4, as it is(was) the highest current buyer. This bot will also be in many drafters buddy list (as its a high buyer, but this bot wont be picking many cards, as it has a big stock, when it does, the drafters know they will get a great offer).

OK but what does that have to do with corrections?
Everything! This is when you realize that you have to ask yourself: "What buying and selling prices would i want to pratice on Geist of Saint Traft?".
As an example if you look at wikiprice and decide you want to buy a card like Geist of Saint Traft for about 26 and sell for about 31.5. The next step is to open your updated CardsMTGO3.txt on your bot folder and search for this card.

Your CardsMTGO3 orders the prices as :
Sell SellFoil Buy Buyfoil.
So the regular buying price is 23.010 and regular selling 32.88.
The way you will find the right correction is by dividing the prices you think that are right with the pricelist ones.

Sell Correction: 31.5 / 32.88 = 0.958 (-4.2%)
Buy Correction 26/ 23.01=  1.129 (+12.9%)

Based on Geist of Saint Traft The ideal correction would be Buying Regular Mythic +10%(or 15%) and Selling at -5%. Make sure you test these corrections on other mythics, with different values and from different sets. Do the same with mythic foils, rares, rare foils, uncommons..etc. You will be surprised how you might end up buying commons for +70% and mythic foils at -10% as an example.

Are there ways to increase the profit margins?
There are always ways to increase profit margins. The most popular way is to set your "mainbot" to buy up to 4 or 8 of each card and having another bot that buys for less (or even a lite bot) refilling this bot up to 12 of each card everyday. This will not refill Geist of Saint Traft's but might refill a Fiend Hunter Playset your mainbot sold for 0.119 each, with 4(four) bought on a lite bot for 0.010 each.

Hope this helps new comers and feel free to leave your ideals/suggestions.


  1. I see myself in the wikiprice screenshot :P.
    Anyway, I'm a brand new 5 bot chain and learning every step by step the last few days. I've been using the Personal Prices which can take a long period of time to update. Any tips?

  2. if u have the time, updating manually the personal prices twice a day is the best option.

  3. Yeah, I've been updating prices 2-3 times a day. I manage all rares and mythics in the morning and then before I go out for the night and/or I go to bed I update the prices of mythics and high dollar rares.

  4. A tool to automatically create PersonalPrices.txt has long been discussed. Probably I will code it after the release of v4.
    Some of you may remember that, once upon a time, "David" coded a tool to address the problem (the famous "mtgoAccountant"), but now it is no more supported :(

  5. I find that the pricelist (0.20 per update) can be quite a slash to new botters.

    when buying for 9 and selling for 10 a 3.5% fee bot will have to pay 0.7 fee, add 1 pricelist update to that and you're just breaking even.

    New bots make less than 1 tix profit per day and specially when new sets come out updating 3+times a day is a must (and once a day after that).

    Are you thinking of adjusting how pricelist/fee's work ? (maybe make it 2.5-4% instead of 2.5-3.5% fee and give the pricelists for free or something)

    1. I would rather give the pricelist for free at a fixed amount per month, say 5usd/month. Still keeping the free pricelist included in all the PRO licenses. 5usd are more or less 25 downloads, less than once a day at 0.2/download.

    2. I've been running my bot for 1.5 months, I update the pricelist once a day, and before I banned them, I sold/bought many, many cards to/from pendur and tropo. I think that paying $5/month for updating the pricelist is ok.