Neopian Economics 101
Welcome to Neopia! Hopefully you're already enjoying yourself and learning your way around this colourful world, where people take care of pets, enter contests, chat, play games... and, of course, make Neopoints. We mustn't forget that.
If you're new to Neopia or lacking in experience for any reason, the Neopian economy - the system of buying, selling, earning and spending - can seem utterly illogical and confusing at first glance. An item could be worth 700,000 Neopoints one month and less than 50,000 the next. Or something you thought should be sold for 200 NP might turn up in someone's shop for 10,000. The good news is, it's actually not mysterious or unguessable at all. With a bit of examination, you'll see that the Neopian economy follows a few simple rules. Once you understand those rules, you'll be the one in control. So take your seats, and welcome to Neopian Economics 101!
Someone mentioned money? I'm all ears!
Let's Go Shopping
Buying items for your pets is something that almost every Neopian has experience of. Sure, you could feed all your pets at the Soup Kitchen and play with that same worn-out Blue Ixi Plushie from your newbie pack all your life, but in practice, most people choose to buy items at some point. For that, you're going to need Neopoints, the basic currency of Neopia. This guide will explain several different ways you can earn Neopoints, but for now, I'll remind you that the simplest way is by playing Flash games, which can award up to 1000 NP for each play.
Once you have your Neopoints, there are two main ways you can buy an item. The first is to buy from the main shops. These are the shops you can see in the worlds around Neopia, like the Magical Bookshop (in Neopia Central), Ye Olde Petpets (in Meridell) and Osiri's Pottery (in Sakhmet City). These shops are run automatically by special scripts, and get a new batch of items a few times an hour. To buy an item, you first have to "haggle" for it by typing in a price that will be acceptable to both you and the shopkeeper. (The shopkeeper's starting price will almost always be the same for an item from day to day and month to month.) Once you find the right price, your Neopoints disappear in a poof of pixels and the item is yours.
The second method of buying items is from user shops. These are the shops you'll find if you search with the Shop Wizard. At first glance, everything looks quite similar to the main shops: rows of items for you to choose from and a cheerful shopkeeper. You'll notice that you don't have to haggle, though-- the price you see is the price you pay.
As their name implies, user shops are run by users-- Neopet-owners like you. This means that when you buy an item, your Neopoints don't vanish into the air; they move into the pockets of the shop owner. Unlike the main shops, users are very interested in getting a good price for their items-- they are highly unlikely to sell an item for less than they paid for it, but they will price it just low enough to make sure they get the sale, rather than one of their competitors. It's a delicate balance.
How Much Is That Zomutt In The Window?
What is an item "worth"?
Many new players think the way to answer that question is to look at the Estimated Price listed in an item's interaction window. If you're trying to price an item that way, stop right there! The Estimated Price controls the way items stock in the main shops, NOT what you should consider your item to be worth. The same goes for "rarity values". These reflect how an item was introduced to the site-- again, nothing to do with its price. Nor can you look at what an item does to try and guess its worth-- a Red Yarn Ball will make your pet just as happy as a Faerie Queen Doll.
Old artwork notwithstanding.
The truth about items' value is a lot less complicated than any of that:
The "worth" of an item is, quite simply, what people like you are selling it for.
By this, of course, I mean most people. If I decide I can't stand the sight of my shop stock any longer and sell everything for 1 NP, that doesn't change how much the items are worth. The items I price at 1 NP will be scooped up by some lucky Neopian and resold at the price that most people are selling them for already. That price is the actual "worth" of the item.
How do you find out how much an item is selling for? Your first stop should be the Shop Wizard. Search for your item, refresh the page a few times (because the Shop Wizard only looks at a certain number of shops at a time) and note down the lowest few prices you can find overall. That's the approximate worth of your item.
I'm a powerful little fuzzy thing!
Some items don't appear on the Shop Wizard, however. This is mostly because they're "unbuyable" -- too expensive to be sold in shops. Anything over 99,999 NP is "unbuyable". You'll need to use the Browse link at the Trading Post to find these items. If you're lucky, the sellers will have written in their wishlists how much NP they're expecting to be offered. If not, you can try Neomailing one or two of them and politely asking them what they're asking for their item.
A handful of items are so rare, you won't be able to find them on the Trading Post at all. This tends to happen either with very old or very new items. (If the item is brand new, you might want to consider waiting a few weeks for the price to stabilise. For reasons I'll explain later, prices are often high and variable when an item has just been released.) If this happens to you, go back to the Shop Wizard and try a gallery search. If you find the item in a gallery, Neomail the owner and ask very politely how much s/he paid for it. (Do not, under any circumstances, ask for the item unless the gallery owner has clearly stated s/he is selling it! This is very bad manners.)
You can look, but don't touch.
Hopefully you've grasped the point that all these methods have in common: the "worth" of an item depends entirely on how much people are buying and selling it for. There's no such thing as the "real worth" of an item that contradicts the Shop Wizard, despite what many new players think.
What Makes Prices Change?
Have you ever wondered what it is that makes an item cheap or expensive? Why would people pay millions of Neopoints for a paint brush, and laugh at the idea of paying more than 5 NP for a Blandfish? After all, both are just items made out of pixels. What makes their prices different?
It isn't at all complicated, actually. Though there are a lot of different factors affecting price, this is what it comes down to:
If an item is hard to get and many people want one, the price will rise.
If an item is easy to get and not many people want one, the price will fall.
Believe it or not, this rule explains just about every price change in Neopia. If you're finding it hard to understand why, let's try a thought experiment.
The Last Rockfish
Imagine you own a Rockfish. These can't actually be used for anything, and are only worth 1 NP on the Shop Wizard. Selling your Rockfish isn't going to make you rich very fast. If you try to get people to pay more than that single Neopoint for it, at best you'll be ignored, and at worst they'll call you a scammer.
Now imagine someone's spell goes horribly wrong in the Maraquan Ruins. A terrible monster rises from the deeps and proceeds to eat ALL the Rockfish in Neopia. Every last one... except yours. (It was cunningly disguised as a novelty toothbrush holder.)
Just call me the Master of Disguise.
You now own Neopia's one and only remaining Rockfish. I'm sure you can imagine how many people want to put it in their galleries as the rarest item in Neopia. But the fact that lots of people want one doesn't change the fact that there's only one-- and they can't all own it between them. How can I make sure I'm the one who gets the fish? By offering you more money. Forget 1 NP. You might be offered thousands, even millions of Neopoints for your Rockfish now that it's the only one.
But suddenly, a brave hero emerges and kills the Rockfish-eating monster. Slowly, more Rockfish start appearing in Maraqua again. Rather than everyone competing for your fish, they now have several sellers to choose from. If I offer you a hundred thousand Neopoints and you refuse, I don't have to make a higher offer any more-- I can find someone else selling a Rockfish and ask him what he wants me to pay. The number of Neopoints that a Rockfish is "worth" will get smaller and smaller as the fish become easier to find.
And the status quo returns to normal... ish.
The scenario we've just imagined is fictional and exaggerated, of course. But the basic principles that made the price of the Last Rockfish go up and down are the same ones that govern real price changes all over Neopia. Instead of fish-eating monsters and brave warriors, there are other factors that might make an item harder or easier to get, or make a greater or lesser number of people want it.
Price Change Factors
An item's price might go up if:
- It becomes retired (no longer sold in the main shops)
- You can't get a new one any more (such as a prize from an event that has now closed)
- It suddenly gains a new purpose (like a particular food being used to get a new avatar)
- Using it means that it disappears (like food, books and paintbrushes)
- A site event makes it more useful (for instance, Battledome weapons during a war)
- A rumour starts that any of the above is going to happen
An item's price might go down if:
- It gets given out as a competition prize or part of a giveaway
- Another item appears that does the same thing for a lower price
- Using it does not make it disappear (like toys, grooming items and musical instruments)
You'll never be able to get me again! Teeheeheeheehee!
Most of these events are fairly unpredictable, so there will be times when you're left holding an item worth less than you paid for it, and times when that seemingly useless item you stashed in your deposit box turns out to be worth a million Neopoints. But it helps to pay attention to New Features and know what's going on in Neopia in general.
So to sum up everything we've learnt in this article:
- User shops are different from main shops, and will change prices more often.
- To find out the worth of an item, use the Shop Wizard and the Trading Post.
- The rarity value and "Estimated Price" of an item have nothing to do with its real price.
- If an item is harder to get and more people want it, the price will go up.
- If an item is easier to get and fewer people want it, the price will go down.
- There's a certain amount of luck involved with buying and selling, but doing your homework helps.
Hopefully you should be feeling a little more confident now, knowing that the Neopian economy isn't some kind of secret, complex mystery. Now you know a bit about what makes the market tick, you're ready to turn it to your advantage. Here are a few Jellyneo guides that might help you go further:
- Make Neopoints (you'll need them to go shopping!)
- Using the Shop Wizard
- Using the Trading Post
- Restocking (make money buying items from the main shops)
This article was written by: Dream