Logical Neocash Trading
Economics of Trading
There is no denying that one of the most popular aspects of Neopets is the Neocash Mall. With hundreds of items to choose from, it is virtually impossible that you cannot create an outfit to express your pets’ personality. Even some players who aren’t into customization still make settings for their pets with backgrounds and foregrounds. With the development of wardrobe programs on fan sites like Jellyneo and Dress to Impress, designing the perfect outfits for our pets has become so expedient and fun.
In case you are new to the concept, let me explain. Neocash trading is very simple: you put an item in a gift box and send it to someone else. That person will send you an item in return. An entire economy has sprung from this process with value guides at the forefront of it all. NC items are valued in ‘caps’ or capsules, specifically gift box capsules. Currently buyable items are worth fewer GBCs and retired items are worth more. It’s a straightforward concept, no? It would be… except for the fact that value guides are mostly subjective. There is no single authority that dictates an item’s worth.
So how do you determine values? That really depends on the person you are trading with. NC trading is largely based on the economic principle of supply and demand: when there is more of something it is worth less, and when there is less of something it is worth more. But this isn’t so clear-cut with NC items. For example, when Stocking Stufftacular rolls around or the NC participation aspects of Daily Dare and the Altador Cup, the community is treated to items exclusive to these events. Once the event is over the items become retired (not as in ‘removed from the database’) and one would assume they are worth more. But if many people participated in the event, the demand is not greater than the supply and the items do not instantly have high market values.
Exclusivity can also change over time. This is mostly seen with retired mystery capsules, the NC Archives Wheel, and above all, Dyeworks. Since the advent of Dyeworks the NC market has been flooded with elusive items such as Isca’s Wig and Sparkling Faerie Wings in fun new colors. Before Dyeworks, many people had given up on obtaining that last rare item to complete their customization because they didn’t have an equally rare item to trade, but now we have options that continue to increase as seasonal items are introduced for dyeing. At this time there are over 260 dyed items floating around Neopia, so although you may not be able to afford the original Isca Wig, you will certainly be able to find multiple people with the purple version for trade. Due to the fact that it’s a permanent Dyeworks item, the supply can meet or exceed the demand. This principle does not apply to seasonal Dyeworks items due to their limited run; there is a finite number of them in the economy.
In conclusion of this segment, your likelihood of acquiring an item is mostly dependent on the number of people who have it. If you want something not many people have, accept that it may take you a while to obtain and you may have to offer a lot for it.
Etiquette of Trading
Let’s move on to the niceties of NC trading. If you’ve never done it before, it would be prudent to take these tips to heart. If you are a veteran trader, you may still find yourself in need of reforming habits.
1: Be concise and courteous.
If you do most of your trading on the NC Mall Neoboard, keep your post titles straightforward and free of clutter. I know smilies are fun, but all they do is make readers' eyes wander. In the body of your post, state the exact item name of what you are seeking. Try to avoid using too much shorthand because not everyone understands it, especially trading newbies. If someone asks you to clarify what you mean or for details of the trade, don’t tell them to get lost for not understanding. Follow up your sought-after item with what you are offering, again avoiding shorthand. Include a link to your trade list if you have one, it makes everything much more efficient. Be polite and respond to people who post on your board, don’t just sit there posting random smilies to bump it.
If you mostly trade via Neomail, either include “NC Trade” or the item you’re interested in in the title. The message format I like to use is as follows: “Hello, I’m interested in (the item) on your tradelist. I can offer (the item) from your wishlist. Would you consider this trade?” This usually earns me a response and a successful trade. If the person agrees, ask them what account to send your item to and tell them which account to send their item to; don’t just assume they want the item on the account you’re messaging, because if not they have to waste a gift box transferring it elsewhere. A lot of people also trade for items for their friends. If the person denies your offer, thank them for taking the time to respond to you.
2: Don’t harass people.
This should be obvious. If someone doesn’t immediately respond to your trade offer, don’t keep spamming it. With the site constantly undergoing maintenance, Neomail is not 100% reliable all the time. If no one responds to your Neoboard post, try again in a few hours. Everyone lives in different time zones and has different life schedules; we cannot all be online at once.
Another aspect of harassment is getting into arguments regarding an item’s worth. Remember that everything is subjective. If someone has a really rare item you want and you make what you believe is a perfectly reasonable offer which they deny, don’t tell them to look up the NC value guide du jour and say “my item is actually worth more than yours”. If they’re not interested, find someone else who is.
3: Organize your lists.
I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to make an offer on something in someone’s trade list only to have them say “oh sorry, that’s actually in my closet” or “this is very hard to part with”. Simply exclude these things from your public lists. Don’t flaunt your rare items and gifts– boasting isn’t attractive. If you use a list to keep track of your closet, make it private. If you actually are trading HTPW items, make a little statement about which items you will only accept in return. And avoid sorting your items by cap value– it will only turn away potential traders when they see how finicky you are.
Wishlists are a slightly different matter. Most people have a priority list for items they want now, and a secondary list for future-use items or gifts to give their friends. When people say “only seeking priority wishes at this time", don’t go and offer an item from their secondary list; they need their items to trade for the things they really want! If you’re not sure about the priority, just ask nicely, something along the lines of "are you still seeking this item...?" Remember that people can and will change their minds on a whim.
4: Consolidate your resources.
This is a simple suggestion I feel many people will benefit from: keep all your Neocash and gift boxes on one account. If you buy NC cards, redeem them on your main account or the account where you do most of your customizations. From this ‘hub’ you can send items to your side accounts without falling into the dreaded “this side needs boxes” predicament. Not everyone buys caps or even likes trading caps, and you should never depend on people to provide you with boxes (I find this incredibly presumptuous). If you have access to Trudy’s Surprise, there is no excuse why you shouldn’t have boxes because they are frequently awarded with your daily NP spin. Instead of engaging in frivolous trades, save up your boxes so you can swap for items you actually want.
Finally, 5: Don’t be a hoarder.
This creates monopolies and unbalances the NC market. If you have one of the permanent Dyeworks items, be a generous Neopian and lend it to people who want one of the alternate colors. Or, buy/trade for potions and dye them yourself to have more offerings in your trade list. There is no reason for you to have five Peaceful Tree Garlands when there are people out there who need one to finish their dream customization. If you are hoarding items that experience surges in popularity, such as the Galactic Traveller Wig or Blonde Fishtail Side Braid, because you know you can get people to over-offer for it, that is extremely manipulative and just plain selfish. Need over greed, all right?
In conclusion, as you embark upon your NC trading journeys, remember to be kind, clear, and charitable. You will be rewarded with praise and respect from your fellow Neopians and earn a good reputation in the trading community.