If there’s one question I get a lot, and see alot around the gold making community it is this. “Which realm should I choose to make the most gold?” While there are differences between realms the basic market forces are pretty much the same. So the question is mostly a distraction for anyone looking to get into gold making.
Obviously there are differences between realms in terms of their economy. No one is debating that. Prices and sale rates rely on population as well as what gameplay activities the majority of players on the realm focus on.
Low pop versus high pop
This is by far the most important way realms can differ. The player population will have a large impact on a ton of markets. Generally speaking prices will be lower on high population realms, but items will sell significantly faster. There is also generally much more competition on a high pop realm. Low population realms generally feature higher prices, and higher profit margins, at the cost of slower sales.
Depending on your market the differences can shake out in a lot of different ways. If you are crafting Vial of the Sands you might need to farm your materials on a low pop realm, whereas you can likely buy them off the AH on a high pop realm.
If you are just going to be on one realm I would prefer a higher pop one, as even with the increased competition the higher sale rate will work wonders to increase your bankroll quickly. Long term I believe in diversifying across realms as well.
RP versus PvP versus PvE
WoW has three distinct realm types that appeal differently to slightly different players. This matters less than the realm population, but there are some differences. Generally speaking we would expect cosmetic items to do better on RP realms on average. This is because players here are more likely to care about looking the part. They want to increase the immersion and nothing screams that this is a game like a mismatched transmog set.
The differences between PvP and PvE realms are not really significant on average. There might be a case for a higher proportion of “hardcore” players on a PvP realms. This might lead to slightly higher demand for high end performance boosting items, but I’m not going to claim expertise here.
The uniqueness factor
Obviously there are large variations between high pop realms and between RP realms. Most of these differences can only really be learned by playing on the realm in question. There might be some top goblins dominating the markets, there might be low profit margins across the boards. My experience is that most of the major markets generally are profitable regardless of realm. The basic logistics and psychology of why gold making works holds true regardless of realm type or population.
Players are always willing to pay to avoid hassle or avoid spending time on stuff they do not enjoy.
Don’t overthink it
With all that being said this is not something that should be overthought. My suggestion is to start out on whatever realm you have 110s on. Try out a bunch of the markets from my total legion gold guide. Then take stock of your results similar to how I have done it in my 30 day sales analysis posts. This should give you a great basis to figure out which markets do well on your realm. Keep in mind that things like posting patterns and material purchases will impact your sales. Especially on a small realm where you can literally buy up the entire market for some old world materials.
Experience is king
At the end of the day the only way to know a realm is to work it. Analyzing it on The Undermine Journal can be useful to get an idea of if the market is above or below average, but outside of that you are much better served by going to work.