In FFXIV, Undercutting the Market Board by More Than a Gil Hurts Everyone

As a seller, keeping the FFXIV economy healthy when undercutting is your goal.

Massively undercutting the market board in Final Fantasy XIV is a lot the “Decisions Decisions” game in Jackbox Games’ Trivia Murder Party. In it, a pot of cash is placed in the center of the table and everyone has a choice to either take the money or leave it. If nobody takes the money, everyone wins and nobody is killed. If everyone takes the money, everyone loses and is killed. If there’s any combination of players that do and don’t take the money, the people who don’t are killed and the people who do survive.

Okay, maybe the stakes aren’t that high or as binary, but the principle holds true when it comes to the FFXIV economy. If the entire group follows the proper etiquette, by not taking the money, everyone gets the largest piece of the pie as possible and lives. If everyone is selfish, the market board prices plummet and everyone loses. If there’s a combination of the two, those who are selfish are usually rewarded but at the expense of the group as a whole.

The difference here being the selfishness, of massively undercutting the market price with drastically reduced profits just to sell faster, also hurts yourself in the long run if you have any plans of continuing to sell that product. But the core fact is true, if everyone chooses not to be selfish, the group as a whole does the best.

A FFXIV screenshot, showing the price of Classical Earrings of Healing slowly dropping from 19,000 Gil to the current 17,700 Gil listing.
Even with small undercuts, popular items tend to decrease in price slowly.

FFXIV Economy Etiquette

If you consider yourself an active trader on the FFXIV market board, you’re probably well aware of the unwritten rules of undercutting. Common courtesy is to never undercut by more than a single Gil. There will always be casual players who hop on and list their items for a fraction of the cost, just wanting it gone from their inventory, but the ideal is to hold at the higher price point.

It’s a rough game, especially for the more saturated markets like Classical gear where players will frequently relist their inventory at a lower price than yours within minutes. For new players this can be particularly frustrating. No one wants to spend hours sitting in front of the bell summoning their retainer, checking to see if they’re still the cheapest listing. It makes sense then, that people will frequently undercut by massive amounts, listing the item for tens of thousands of Gil less. And there are those, of course, who prefer to undercut by a few thousand each time.

FFXIV Server Expansion Delay

Why Major Undercutting is Bad in FFXIV

A lot of people ask why it’s supposedly a bad thing to undercut like this. Ultimately it comes down to being a capitalist. If you’re a seller on the market board, you want prices to be as a high as possible while still meeting demand. When prices go down, profits go down.

Traders will always undercut each other to be the first name on the seller’s list. It’s a lot like Google search results. Most people check the price and quantity of the first few items listed; and fewer players are wanting to scroll through that list at all.

Let’s look a theoretical scenario. Say an item is incredibly competitive with people undercutting each other every ten minutes. That’s 144 undercuts per day. If everyone undercuts by a single Gil (and the whole mess of variables remain equal), the price of that item has only decreased by 144 Gil. Sales will have been made and everyone would be effectively earning the same amount of money while still fighting for the top listing.

If we take the same example and say players undercut each other by 100 Gil each time, that’s a value loss of 14,400 Gil over 24 hours. For an expensive item, not a huge deal, but it will result in the item having a lower price point until demand goes up or supply goes down.

Then there’s the seemingly harmless undercut of 1,000 Gil. I’ve been this person before. A single Gil feels too easy to overcome. Surely 1,000 Gil will dissuade some folks from lowering their prices? It won’t. I everyone does the same thing, it results in an item selling for 144,000 Gil less in just a day. There goes the entire market for that item.

As sellers, the point is to minimize the devaluation of the items you’re trying to sell. If etiquette isn’t an attractive enough reason, at least know that abiding by this is to your Gil-making benefit, too.

Blue Cloud Coral listing showing one person price fixing the item at 1/3 of the previous cost.
In this situation, Blue Cloud Coral was selling for 4,000 Gil each. One person came in to undercut everyone and now the market as a whole suffers because prices can never go higher. Sales have slowed down and go exclusively to one person now.

What To Do When This Happens

If you’ve signed on to be better about this for the sake of your own profits, you’ll quickly end up frustrated by the folks who don’t care about the longevity of a market. There have been plenty of times where I had an item selling for 3,000 Gil each consistently, only to have someone come in and flood the market with bundles available for a third of the price.

My recommendation? Don’t give in. Play the long game. Don’t lower your prices. Either leave your listings at their current prices and hope the market will eventually correct itself or delist the materials and simply hold onto them for later. The good thing about FFXIV is the economy is limited by the number of retainers available. Players only have so many sale slots to go around. And there’s always a chance someone takes time off from playing, letting their sales finish without replacing the stock.

That’s not to say it’s bad to price match people that massively undercut you. Unless it’s just an item or two and no one is following suit, if you don’t undercut them by one Gil, someone else likely will.

Keeping your retainers full of competitively priced items is a burden on your time and effort. Sometimes I go days without adjusting prices. You’d be surprised at the number of times the market adjusts itself and my items end up selling despite being massively “overpriced” just days beforehand.

Just do us a favor and keep those undercuts to one Gil.