Date: February 28, 2019
As most of y’all know, I am the original developer of ESO Price Check. And as most of y’all know ESO Price Check is now defunct (please note this blog does not pertain to ESO – The Pricechecker, which is an entirely different app). I’ve seen some question and concern on that front, so I just wanted to take a second to explain my motivation for handing ESOPC off in the first place (spoiler alert, it was not about money), why ultimately, I believe ESOPC went under, and the difference between ESOPC and Xbox Sales History.
I launched ESO Price Check in May of 2016. At first, it was purely a web-based price guide that was created to help out my guild (RIP Unrest). In November 2016 the app launched on the google store, followed by iOS in January. In February I got a wonderful but demanding job offer that cut deeply into my game time. It got to the point where all my game time had to be dedicated to tracking in order to keep up, and even still I started to fall behind and resent it. Instead of closing up shop, I found a fantastic woman to take the reins. I did not make thousands of dollars selling off ESOPC as the rumors might say. I transferred everything to Mandy, who was also a trade GM at the time that I trusted. She and I shared similar opinions on transparency, on work ethic, and on creating a tool that was for the community over being for the money. I have zero regrets in choosing her to take over.
What I do regret is the entire system of tracking and reporting that I single-handedly implemented and then passed on to the lovely ladies who kept the project alive. ESO Price Check was a disaster on the backend. It was not intuitive and required an immense amount of manual work. The only thing that was auto-populated on the sheet was averages. Everything else was user-input.
This is how each tab in the master google sheet for ESOPC looked (note this ss is from Feb 2017 when temps were a bit inflated). Column B is the only formula-generated column. There was no attached database. I will humbly admit that my knowledge of spreadsheeting was not strong enough to even know what to do with a database or how to start with integrating one. So instead, any time a sale was recorded, the recorder had to manually adjust Column D and E (total sales and total gold in sales). For example, if I wanted to record a sale of 10 grain solvents for 9k, I would have to manually change Column D to 48 and column E to 192300. You’re doing math in your head or math on a calculator, but either way tracking a single sale was incredibly time consuming. On top of that, the “estimated value” column was subjective and based on my analysis of the data I had available. It needed to be manually adjusted frequently, adding another level of work to the list.
To make matters worse, the means of disseminating the information on the master sheet to the website/app was exhausting. For the website, easily enough, you could mostly copy and paste. But again, that’s around 15+ sets of data that needed to be pasted into different pages to be updated. Now the app was a whole other process. The sheets were coded via css/html and you had to go line by line to update average and estimated range on every. Single. Item. It could take hours just to update sections of the app. And one accidental error in the coding could cause the entire app to crash catastrophically. Not to mention that the third-party developer that I chose was very difficult to work with in the event of such a crash (which happened frequently).
It was a really rough system on the back-end. But it was the system that I created and that I passed on. I created something that required an excessive amount of work to function properly, was extremely demanding of any parties involved in the tracking process, and was even more so unforgiving of any errors made along the way. I totally understand why anyone would walk away from it and maintain nothing but respect for the women who fought to keep it up as long as they did.
So how is Xbox Sales History any different?
I am currently a financial accounting student, and during my studies I discovered exactly how little I know about excel. While I still am barely skimming the surface, I am comfortable enough to be entirely embarrassed of the way I set up ESOPC. Xbox Sales History pulls all of its information from one sheet that is used as my master database:
This database automatically calculates my averages. The only things I input are name, quantity sold, and sale price. With the auto-suggest feature of excel and the fill option for identical sales, I can record 20 sales in the time it would’ve taken me to record a single sale before. I can burn through 100 pages of a guild’s sales history in about 60 minutes. That’s 700-800 datapoints an hour. While I know volume is always a concern with the list, I promise you that current volume tracked is significantly higher than it was with ESOPC as well as the diversity of information. The database is the only thing I edit unless recording a new entry that does not currently exist in the list.
Every other value in the entire sheet is formula generated. <3
Each sheet uses an array formula to pull data from the database, match it to the item defined in column A, then return the information in the rest of the columns. I use various functions attached to the array function, including min, max, median, percentile, and sumif. The beauty is that the list is no longer confined to average and that’s all. We can take a good look at a range of data and start really analyzing the information gathered.
Sharing this information to web/app is also significantly easier than it was before. The reality is that I don’t have to touch the website or the app for it to be updated. Instead the sheets are directly embedded into the website and the app was built specifically around the spreadsheet using a third-party developer called AppSheet. I do zero coding, zero copy/pasting, zero work on the back-end besides updating the database. Any changes to the spreadsheet are automatically applied to both the website and the app within 5 minutes of altering.
Essentially the amount of manual work required to keep Xbox Sales History going is a fraction of that needed for ESO Price Check. This database is not the rebirth of ESO Price Check, it’s the creation of something entirely different and much more self-sufficient and manageable. One that I hope to maintain much more long-term. 😊