Open Reader Question: Does Realm Size Matter?

Today we have a question from a reader that I am going to let you answer. The question relates to realm population size and its effects on gold-making. Please help this reader by giving us your answer in the comments section below. Head past the jump for the question.

"Hi Jim,

I'm Richard from Hungary (Europe) and play WoW for 7 years on EU realm Dragonmaw. I took a break several times and just now started again because I'm interested in gold making.

Therefore I found your awesome blog, put it into my RSS reader and really enjoy your videos and your unique approach of gold making.

While trying to use your useful tips a question arose: how business goes in different population of realm? Is there any diffference of business opportunity between low and high pop? I haven't find any relevant answer when searching with google, that's why I'm asking you.

In my realm the population has fallen dramatically in the last year and my friends talking about bad economy every days.

Do you suggest to migrate my toonz to an other realm?

Would be nice to hear your thoughts about this and you may write a post on this issue if you have a spare time.

Thanks in advance

What are your thoughts on this subject? Let us know in the comments below! I know all of you are much smarter than I. Let's help Richard out!

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  1. I am controlling my small realm right now no problems, but at the same time not a lot of gold coming in quickly. I guess i would say if you are in a rush then i would look for a well populated server, other wise control certain markets in a small realm and enjoy being the boss man.

  2. I thought about this a lot I know the server population matters to a point but you have to understand more people doesn't always mean you will earn bigger profits. you have more competition and that drives down your sell price but on the other hand you may be about to get mats at a lower cost.

    I play on a very low pop server and thus it takes me a while to sell most of my inventory or glyph's, enchants, and gems but they do still sell.

    bottom line you need to like being on the server and not just be there for gold making

  3. i agree with Lugtonex. find your niche in the gameplay, such as PVP or PVE, or maybe you enjoy just RP or a mix. find that type of realm and you will then have a better knowledge of your economy based on what you enjoy. if i am making any sense to anyone that is.

  4. I think it all depends on what exactly you're doing. I mean hell, I am on a high pop realm and I have trouble selling things, then again I've been doing it all wrong. If you find something that works, you can make a living off it. You also have the upside of not as many competitors on a low pop server. There will be certain markets running free that you might be able to make a killing on.

    I think everyone before me said what I'm trying to say as well. Low pop can mean controlling markets for you and the freedom to price without much competition, but low or slow sales. While a high pop realm you can shuffle things out the door quickly, but prices in general are driven lower by high competition to sell and high quantities of items. Ah well, c'est la vie.

  5. I took my gold making strategies from a medium pop realm to a high pop one and my profits doubled.

  6. Well, as have been said earlier in the comments what type of server you want to be on depends on your personal goals and what type of work you want to put in.

    My experience comes from playing on a medium server (EU-Neptulon), however ~85% of the population is Alliance so I'd believe it could be considered high pop (correct me if I'm wrong in this assumption). The markets I've been dabbling in (tried the waters in most cookie-cutter markets) are heavily saturated and have been for a long time. To give you an example I buy elementium ore off the AH for 30-35g/stack and cut inferno rubies go for just over 110-120g and peak at 140-150g with massive competition, where I've seen servers with rubies in the 300 price range especially around 4.3 launch where Neptulon gem prices barely moved (yes a bit jealous).

    I've also recently started my business on the Horde side of the server and it is like day and night.

    On the Alliance side the cometition is fierce, you're constantly undercut and the prices drop quickly but if you stay on your toes and repost-repost-repost you can move your inventory very quickly.

    On the Horde side we're like 3-4 regular JCs in total competing for the market, I kid you not. This means that on the Horde side, the competition is not at all as fierce and you have much bigger possibilites to control the market. This means I'm selling my Inferno Rubies at 200g+ and my Ember Topazes for 50-100 (compared to 25-50).
    However as the Horde side is pretty ghost-towny the inventory doesn't move as quickly and some gems are harder to move than others. BUT when they move, I have huge profits. Solid Ocean Sapphs is another great example: 8-9g Ally/40-80g Horde but on the Ally side I can move as many as I can carry if I'm willing to repost like a madman, on the Horde side I sell a couple a day or every other day.

    I'm making a lot more on rare gems on low pop Horde than on "high" pop Alliance with less effort, but I'm making a lot more from epic cuts on Alliance. I can't for the life of me move Transmog items on low pop Horde even though I'm the only seller, but on the Alliance side items move regularly although I face competition. I'm starting to compare the enchanting markets and so far it seems Alliane wins on scrolls, Horde on mats.

    etc etc.

    So speaking from my experience, I'd say that if you want higher potential and you're ready to put a lot of work and effort in go high pop. Things will sell fast but you won't dictate for how much. There is high potential in all markets. If you want to dominate the markets and get what you want out of the items (ie. more!) but move less quantities go low pop. Not all markets have high potential and might already be controlled by someone more fierce than yoruself.

    Or go for a medium and experience both :P

  7. Server size does in fact matter. I am on a small/med pop server and it really decreases the amount of sales as opposed to my character on Lightbringer. The one thing that you can benefit from on smaller realms is higher prices.

    That being said, there is a lot of talk in my servers trade chat about how the server's economy is "messed up". While that's fine and dandy to say, that's not necessarily 1) True or 2) A bad thing.

    People's perception of a "bad" economy in WoW is based on their opinion. A lot of people on my server think the economy is "bad" because there are low level greens on the AH for astronomical prices (all my transmog stuff). This isn't really bad for me, maybe "bad" for them. They also may think it's "bad" because enchant scrolls or gems are too high priced. But this can be GOOD for you. Less sales to make x gold, but also making less sales. Being on a low pop server also means your goods will be on the AH for a longer period of time before being undercut. This is also good thing for you.

    Gold making is what you put into it. I'd be hard pressed in a single day to hit all my markets and have them full with every possible profitable item. If you feel like you're doing that, and have idle time, then maybe switch. I personally don't think it's worth it, especially if you have some friends on the realm. Have a good time, make some gold, and hit up a diverse amount of markets.

    TL;DR: You should be fine. Go for it!


    Phat Lewts

  8. I personally prefer low pop, but my mains have always been on a low pop server. I have only been on medium and high pop servers for the purpose of testing out if I could still make gold in a different environment.

    Low pop you have to be careful in what you invest in. Some of the big ticket items and strats that work on higher pop servers don't always work the same on low pop. However, the advantages of low pop are, prices are often high, which if you are the one profiting is always good, plus you can control and manipulate a lot of markets and their component niches. Also, I find on a low pop server I have gotten to know a lot of my customers, their alts, as well as my competitors fairly well. It's a very small towny feel, which has it's pros and cons, but as someone who doesn't raid or any of that other stuff I prefer low pop. It fits well with my style.

    On higher pop servers I can make and spend in an hr what I would normally do in a week on my low pop server, but I've never once had a conversation with any of my buyers or my competitors for me that is boring and does not hold my attention long.

  9. OK, I'm going to totally bullshit. I'm not an economist, and I'm using large amount of educated guess here. I am essentially making a shit up. But this *sounds* good to me.

    First, postulate. The wealth destribution of a WoW server population is Lognormal. The Income model of U.S. population *largely* follows lognormal distribution (, so I'm guessing this is pretty accurate. Now, the shape of Lognormal distribution function is largely determined by the value σ. Smaller the σ, more bell-curved/clustered the curve.

    I'm taking a guess here that value of σ depends on the *server population*. Larger the server population, more interaction you will have in the market place. 100-person server, you puts an item in an auction house. Up to 99 people will view the item. 1000 person server, up to 999 views. I think this increase in interaction to the single player increases the value of σ.

    So for the smaller population server will have small σ, and larger population server will have larger σ. Now, this result in larger population sever having lognormal distribution that's much flatter than smaller population server. Clustered distribution when you get small σ, means that most people has comparably speaking same amount of money, and there won't be much accumulation of wealth into smaller individual. Meaning, it's harder to get "richer than the norm", while larger σ value means flatter lognormal distribution, meaning it easier to go up in the upper group of wealth accumulation.

    So, in my quick and dirty bull-shit statistical analysis, which I performed in 30 minutes browsing through google and wikipedia, larger population server *will* be easier to accumulate wealth.


  10. I don't have any proof on my end, just anecdote, but I feel like selling on my very, very low pop server is still easier than trying to sell on a busier server (wrt the big sellers like JC and enchanting). I know who my competition is, and the mat prices are much lower and profit margins higher since there are so few still active in the market. I may not bring in as much as I used to, but I'm not constantly being undercut like I am on higher pop servers.

    The downside to this is that there's less to invest in, less to splurge on, and, frankly, is just less fun. Having a lot of gold means little when there's nothing to do with it.

  11. Its the motion of the maelstrom that matters most.

    In seriousness though it comes down to the people on the server as to what startegies work and how much money can come in on each idea. That's for big ones small ones anything.

  12. I am on a low-medium(uses that medium term very loosely) pop alliance server (stormscale).

    First ill go over the cons i have come across. First off, there about about 2 direct competitors for me, only 2(I have gotten some friend to try and corner other parts, but we are working together so its not really compitions), but those are always ontop of it. almost 24/7, its near inhuman, but i can tell they realize thats its so low pop that they are really the only ones controlling the AH. So thats a hump to get over. Other con would be, lower pop means less people to sell too, and that just means slower business. Your stuff will still sell, just a lot slower.

    On the flip side, the pros. This is somewhat contradictory to my first point, yet it kind of outweighs the con. It's that there are only a few competitors. Not much competition, and still make decent money without a lot of effort and constant undercutting. With lower pops and less competition means you can set a lot of prices to your own taste, and in a lot of cases just way over price things, yet people will buy them since it's such a low pop, and there really is no where else to go.

    1. oh yeah
      TLDR; I think its better in the long run, just takes a slower pace.