Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Day the Glyph Market Died

The Day the Glyph Market Died

How Blizzard is killing the Inscription profession

There are several professions in the World of Warcraft. Some are more popular than others. Blizzard seems to have thrown in the towel on some of them. We all know how profitable some of these professions are. Jewelcrafting, Enchanting, Blacksmithing, Tailoring, and Leatherworking are top tier professions. Alchemy and Inscription are on the decline. Engineering died long ago.

Blizzard kills off profession through neglect. No new recipes, decreased usefulness of existing abilities, and phasing out of current items.

What great new abilities can we Inscriptionists expect in patch 4.3? Frankly, not much. We get one new glyph, Glyph of Shadow, which isn’t even a useful glyph. Just used for cosmetic effect for shadow priests. What else? Nothing!

Lets not forget the most recent slap in the face to our profession presented to us by Blizzard at Blizzcon. Rumors that Blizz “might do away” with prime glyphs. Also their intention to do away with relics in the next major expansion.

Lets be honest, the profitability of inscription has been on the decline. Ever since Blizzard allowed glyphs to be permanently learned. Every market has a “saturation point” where people no longer require the product. The glyph market has reached this point. By now most, if not all, players have permanently learned their class glyphs. Glyph sellers are left selling to new players and alts. Not a large market by any means.

We are victims of our own success. In the past year many of us have made thousands, if not tens of thousands, of gold from glyphs. This has caused the market to become flooded with new players joining the inscription field. Just as the market share has begun to decline. What we are left with is many players fighting over the scraps of a dying market. The numbers of our competitors continues to rise while the numbers of our buyers continue to decline.

Now enter the disappointment which is patch 4.3. One new glyph will not rescue this market. What is truly disappointing is how Blizzard has totally disregarded this profession in the new patch. Jewelcrafters get updated ilvl 377 PvP rings and necklaces. Blacksmiths, Leatherworkers and Tailors get upgraded ilvl 377 PvP gear. Why did inscriptionists not get updated trinkets? Updated off-hands? Updated relics?

The glyph market is not dead. Not yet. But unless the current trend is changed it will die out. Blizzard will need to drastically change how this market operates. They will need to implement new lines of profitability. And they will need to do it soon. The current market will not be able to support an increasing number of sellers from a decreasing pool of buyers.

The inscription profession is indeed dying out. Slowly, but steadily dying. The glyph market is circling the wagons. Trying to squeeze the last profits before the final farewell. The Trinkets, Off-Hands, and Relics are so old and outdated that they are almost completely useless. Even niche markets such as Mysterious Fortune Cards are becoming flooded and showing very low profits.

The purpose of this post is not to rage or QQ. It is to start a discussion. One which, hopefully, Blizzard will hear and pay attention to. Blizzard does a good job at creating a balance to their game. However, they must realize that the professions are also an important part of the game as well. New patches and expansions cannot simply focus on new content and new raids but also new growth to all aspects of the economy. The key to the economy is, and always has been, the professions. They cannot continue to treat the professions as an afterthought. Supporting some while letting others suffer. Its not too late to save Inscription, its not too late to save Alchemy, and maby, someday, they will find a way to resurrect engineering.


  1. The Auction House is not the game, nor is the economy therein. You claim to not be QQing, but that's what you're doing: Blizzard has decided that the AHers aren't a factor in their decisions, and that is hurting you.

  2. I disagree, newbs and alts are still a constant and large market and after three years, I still make a lot of gold with glyphs. The key is consistency: you have to stick it out through all the patch changes and never stop producing and listing.

  3. Quoting the above... There is a reason why glyphs, heirloom enchants, and Netherweave bags sell like hotcakes.. people rolling new toons!

    In Wrath, the majority of glyph sales weren't to people who would buy a stack of 20 to swap for minmaxing every raid boss/encounter, it was to people making new alts.

    There is a reason I've sold over 100k worth of glyphs in cata alone, and over 2000 Netherweave bags...

    I honestly love when people are spreading news of how unprofitable it is... makes less competition!

    What HAS mad inscription terrible is for people who are trying to learn every glyph in cata. With keeping a large amount of the glyphs only attainable though Book of Glyph Mastery, which only drops in wrath content, it lets the people who've learned every glyph in wrath have a stranglehold on the market, while killing off most new competition.

  4. how do you feel about enchanting? i havent seen any new recipes, but, demand is always high. have they just gotten it "right?" or, (as i think) is it just mandatory to have everything enchanted, so there's always a market...
    the only reason i have an alt with iscription is for darkmoon cards for insanity, and those don't sell well at all. It would be nice if we could get a new deck, too.

  5. Some of you seem to have missed the point I was trying to make. With each new patch and expansion Blizzard has the opportunity to revive each profession. However Blizzard seems to be picking and choosing which professions they want to succeed. Others are ignored and left to slowly die out. When is the last time we received an upgrade for engineering? What about Alchemy? Alchemy is relegated to transmutation spec because flasks, potions, and elixirs are no longer profitable on most servers. Inscription is now starting to suffer from this neglect as well. Inscription is still only profitable through glyphs. Other inscription abilities are no longer profitable. Due to us being in pre-patch phase people are leveling alts. This provides a temporary life to the glyph market. After the patch hits I expect the glyph market to tank. My point is that Blizzard had the opportunity to improve this profession but they missed the boat. Whether this is through intent or lack of creativity on their part I do not know. I only ask that Blizzard provide more attention towards balancing the professions and keeping each as relevant as possible.

  6. I was making decent gold even recently on my inscriptionist. I've currently got a competitor that's trying to discourage competition (walling every glyph at 21G).

    As for enchanting, right now, it's my biggest market. Then again, I'm active in glyphs, gems, and enchanting scrolls, and at one time or another this expansion, they've all been my biggest market. Yes, even glyphs, and I'm not talking about glyphmass.

  7. Your essay is good if a bit overly negative, but your main point that inscription has been semi-abandoned is fair. It's also fair to point out that at various points in time every profession except for jewelcrafting has been left in the dirt. It's inscriptions turn, but that doesn't mean it things are completely bleak.

    1 - Mists of Pandaria will introduce a new profession -- monks. Half the players in the game will be rolling them either as mains or alts. This is going to be a massive opportunity for sales.

    (Food for thought: Will Books of Glyph Mastery teach glyphs for monks? If so, it might be a good money-making opportunity to have 20 or so Books on hand when Mists is released.)

    2 - While Blizzard did say the were thinking of doing away with primal glyphs, you seem to have misunderstood their point. They weren't doing removing Prime Glyphs so much as they were going to combine the categories of Prime and Major glyphs. At present a three-tier glyph system (Prime, Major, Minor) means that there is relatively little choice in either tier depending on your spec. By combining two categories players will have a lot more flexibilty in what they choose. The relative power of the current Majors and Primes will presumably be tweaked to balance them.

    3 - The new talent system means there will be a host of new spells being added, removed, modified, etc. This means that players who have ignored certain spec-specific glyphs before will suddenly become interested in them.

    Example: Living Bomb, currently a Fire mage 31-point talent, will become a spell castable by all mages. Those Arcane and Frost mages who did not previous buy the glyph may now do so.

    4 - In Wrath, newly-added spells/abilities had glyphs added for them in 3.1 or 3.2. The reason for the delay was to give Blizzard time to balance the base abilities before they allowed glyphs to modify those effects.

    Blizzard surprised scribes by not adding new glyphs that would modify the level 81, 83, and 85 spells for each class. These abilities will likely receive glyphs in Mists of Pandaria.

    5 - In Cataclysm Blizzard lessened Inscription's reliance on glyphs in favor of relics and mostly-useless odd items like Adventurer's Journals and origami. The fortune cards were good money for a while, but the complete crappy reward rate for using them made them almost worthless. (I made a few thousand gold selling them, but felt so guilty in the process that I was feeding people's gambling addiction that I quit the market.)

    Relics won't exist in Mists of Pandaria. Meaning new items will need to be added to Inscription to fuel scribe's climb from 450 to 525. Not to mention Inscription will require a new focus in Mists of Pandaria.

    I am betting the focus will return to glyphs again. Perhaps not as wildly as it once was, but there will likely be another glory period when Mists of Pandaria is released.

  8. Just for the record, I have made over a million gold in about 8 months off of inscription, predominantly glyphs (on an added note I was not serious about making gold until after Glyphmas), and still can bring in a steady 15-20k weekly on it. So it is by no means dead at the moment, nor will it be if they do away with certain things like relics. I would say it cant get much worse for the glyph market in its current state as the main buyers (new players and alts) aren't going to be going anywhere any time soon.

    Another point I would like to throw out is Blizzard has already expressed their dislike of players having such large variances in personal wealth, so with Inscription being one of the forerunners (whether its successful on your server or not) I doubt they care to implement new abusive techniques for this profession. Instead, they will probably nerf the ridiculous professions (looking specifically at Jewelcrafting with highest profit margins and best bonuses), and, with our fingers crossed, hopefully bring back the awesomeness to others (aka Engineering, which desperately needs fixed).

  9. I've made over a million gold profit from inscription this xpac alone and I do not have a server monopoly. It is very healthy, and in the long run easily the most profitable profession. It is nowhere near dying.

    The tail end of an xpac is never going to be super profitable for inscription. Early in an xpac is, there will either be a new class or race or both, and Darkmoon Cards are generally bis in first tier of content (Volcano still is for some specs). Inscription is very healthy and will remain so if we get nothing more than a new class and a new set of Darkmoon cards in MoP. You need to take a longer view of it.