This would make a nice companion article to "Planning
Ahead" by epk. I swear I wrote this article almost a month ago,
I was just too lazy to type it. Oh well, here goes nothing.
Do you remember when Faeries used to cost about 200 NP?
When Codestones were 50 NP? When Easter Neggs were 600 NP? "Ah, if only
I could go back and get them for those prices today..." you say to yourself.
Well, price appreciation CAN be predicted (most of the time), you just
have to see the clues.
NeoPets almost always drops hints, however discreet,
that certain items will be important, and therefore, valuable. They may
be on the front page of the Web site, in the New Features page, or on
the front page of the Neopian Times. Or it may be less obvious: in the
description of an item, something an important character says, or, like
epk said, "something to draw your attention." But, sometimes
price-pumpers just fall from the programmer's brain and onto the page.
I'm going to share my experiences with you, in hopes that you may learn
Magic Items were once just for looking pretty (with the
exception of Faeries, who's ability-granting powers were useless at the
time), but now they are vitally important (and obscenely expensive) due
to the opening of the Battledome. This was almost obvious. The
Battledome was impatiently waited for since May of last year, and an announcement
was made that you would be able to use magic items in the Battledome to
help your pets. Those of us who looked at the New Features page knew that,
and the smart ones started hoarding Magic Items.
NeoPets almost always finds a way to balance a problem,
right? So, they will always balance the problem of useless items, no?
Of course they would. Battle and Defence Items were once useless (and
worthless). But of course, the Battledome fixed that, right? Along with
the announcement of the Battledome, NeoPets introduce the VirtuPets Space
Station, with its own kind of Battle and Defence Equipment. Our attention
was drawn to Battle Items in two movements, and people like me stocked
them up before their prices soared.
There is also the often-missed "mouse-over" description.
A Magic Vial has the description: "The potion in this vial will restore
your pet's health." It was useless: Pets didn't lose health (and if they
somehow did, you couldn't use the potion anyway). So...where could a pet
get hurt? In the Battledome Where you can use Magic Items to help your
pet as they fight. Ooh! I get it!
Other subtle clues are things that prominent characters
do or say. A few months ago, the Island Mystic was an often-visited guy
because he could figure out Cooking-Pot recipes by interpreting Codestones
(MUCH more interesting that giving outright strange bits
of fortune-cookie wisdom like he does now). So, I decided to buy a set
of Codestones to take to him so he could tell me more recipes. I got a
full set of ten Codestones and went off to his hut. When I got there,
he simply told me the same recipes as before, not even noticing the Codestones
I had collected for him. Severely disappointed, I went back to Neopia
Central and put them in my Safety Deposit Box. While putting them in one-at-a-time,
I noticed their description: "...very useful in the Ancient Training School..."
so I decided to buy four more sets of ten, so I could have one set for
each of my pets, and one to sell later (it cost 2000 NP to buy the four
sets, less than the cost of one today). Several days later, I noticed
the Referral Program offering Codestones as prizes. NeoPets wouldn't reward
you with something pretty much worthless, right? I noticed the caption
there: "...rarer than diamonds..." and that enticed me to go out and buy
five more sets of ten. Guess what? Upon the opening of the Ancient Training
School, the value of Codestones flew from 50 NP to 1000 NP (during which
time I was hacked and robbed of my hundred Codestones. I nearly burst
into tears). And naturally, it went even higher, to 4000 NP, upon the
opening of the Battledome. Not a bad investment, 50 NP into 1000 NP, and
later into 4000 NP. That's an 8000% increase!
There is also the discreet imbalance of value. Knowledge
is power, and the only way (so far) for a pet to get smarter is by reading
books. So, why were books just being discarded or being left unclaimed
at the Money Tree? Because they could be reused by many accounts, and
read infinite times. To levy this problem, NeoPets made books go *poof*
after being read. This stabilized their value. I didn't smell this coming,
but I had bought every book I could get and read them to all of my pets.
And since I'm such a packrat, I kept them and sold them later!
Another balancing act involved the Secret Laboratory.
Naturally, when the map pieces first came out, they were pretty expensive.
But after people realized that the Lab Ray could seriously mess up their
pet - permanently - they came down to considerably low prices (1000-1500
NP). To counteract the effects of the ray, Kauvara mixed up a wide variety
of morphing potions. In addition, to raise interest in the Secret Lab
once again, NeoPets allowed a lucky zap from the Lab Ray to change pets
to a lovely Golden color. So, now the Secret Lab Ray produces good effects,
and its bad effects can be fixed without too much trouble. I completed
the Secret Lab Map during the "down time" and have enjoyed the zaps from
the Ray, with only one negative effect (it's okay Vivienne_, we all know
you're a girl). Hmm...I should have bought more of those Map Pieces.
And of course, there is the almost undetectable: increased
exposure. In December, NeoPets opened the Advent Calendar, where you could
go to get a free gift every day in December. I got quite a few Neggs.
I didn't smell it coming, but thankfully, someone encouraged me to buy
more... I fed the Neggs to my pets, and my Uni, Deleila_ said: "Wow! That
is my favourite!" Always a spoiling mommy, I went out and bought every
kind of Negg for her. Over the next several days, I made Deleila_ share
the Neggs with her sisters, and they all said they loved the Easter Neggs.
So I went out and bought them each a set of seven Easter Neggs (about
5000 NP per set), which they weren't allowed to eat until Christmas. Just
before Christmas, the Neggery opened. "Sorry girls, these Neggs are too
valuable for you to just eat!" So I sold the Neggs and bought Deleila_
a Model Uni (she did tip me off, after all), Juniper_ a Blue Flotsam Toy,
Lena_ a Rainbow Aisha Doll, and Vivienne_ a Rainbow Cybunny Plushie.
There is also what I call "revealed use." When Garden
Items were first introduced, they were expensive (like all new things).
But, then everyone realised that they were useless, the prices dropped
dramatically. I personally enjoy gardening, so I bought them during this
time. When the idea of NeoHomes was announced, the prices went up a little
bit because of Stock Marketers like me. During this time, I bought doubles
and triples of items before it was too late. Now that NeoHomes are available,
the prices have gone up again. NeoPets announced that you would soon be
able to have gardens for your NeoHome, and the price went up, again. But
they haven't reached their peak yet. When you will actually be able to
implement gardens, that's when I'll be selling them.
Lastly, there is the absolutely random idea that tips
off a craze. I don't quite remember when, but NeoPets came out with many
of the new paintbrushes within a very short time. Their prices were, as
usual, ridiculously high during the first few weeks of their release.
However, very unexpectedly, they brought the more unusual of the
old ones with them. The prices have lowered a bit due to the release of
colored morphing potions, but I doubt they'll ever be like old times again
(Striped Paint Brush for 500 NP if you weren't around. Boggles the mind,
huh? I should have bought it).
Of course, when you don't smell these things coming,
don't despair. The value of Plums and Green Apples took me by complete
surprise. Luckily, accelerated prices take a few hours or even days to
sink in, so if it hits you too late, hurry off to the friendly Shop
Wizard and scrounge out the best prices you can, before
they all drown in the sea of accelerated prices.
So what's in store for the future? NeoPets has been hinting
at the completion of the Trading Card Game. Gift Items and Island Merchandise
seem absurdly useless. Your pet's happiness is important, and the only
means of pleasing them are very cheap. PetPets seem to have lost their
edge and are turning up in the Igloo
Garage Sale. Well, I can't predict the future, but I can sure
guess. I'll just lock up my newly bought Trading Cards, Gift Items, Island
Souvenirs, Grooming Items, and Toys in the Safety Deposit Box while I
try to guess how loud of a cha-CHING they will make when the price bomb