Lessee ... I bought a Regeneration Bracelet a few weeks ago for under 300k. I went into the GE last week and someone's saying "Buying Regen Bracelet at top price". I check and top price is 347k. I think to myself "Cool. I can sell now, making 47k, and buy again when it's around 300k again".
So, what happened? I sold, and got my 347k, and made 47k. I thought this buyer was just someone who desperately wanted a Regen Bracelet right that minute, so was willing to offer top price. Imagine my surprise when I see this same player continuing to offer top price after I'd sold my RB. And each time I went into the GE that night there they were, offering top price.
Natch, the price shot through the roof. Have a look at the Jagex chart. Within a couple of days it was up around 450k, and my guess is that the player who bought mine had bought a lot of others in that time. And of course I couldn't buy back at a cheaper price because they simply weren't available at a cheaper price. I'd made 47k but lost my RB.
And then ... the sell off. Anyone who had been eager to buy one had been competing with a bidder saying 'top price' for a week, so if they didn't match that price they'd been missing out. Eventually, the person/people who has been hoarding decides to start selling and they'll be able to sell a few at the highest price to the most desperate. For slightly less they'll sell to the slightly less desperate and so on, so they have to drop the price from that peak point in little steps. They'll still be making a packet as they go, but they'll need to sell quickly and the price will drop like a stone. Again, have a look at the chart if you want to see the effect of price manipulation. Up fast; down fast.
Do I care? Well, I kept an eye on the graphs, so I've bought myself a new RB for 255k. I'm not unhappy about that. Actually I bought a spare at that price because I'm pretty sure there'll be a bounce (have a look at the 20 day average before the [bleep]e). I'll just keep it until the price goes over 300k again, I reckon.
If this was price manipulation, did it hurt anyone? I guess it would have been financially (in Runescape gold) painful for someone who thought they just couldn't live without a Regen Bracelet, or just didn't check the GE graphs, and paid up to 450k for something which they could have got for 255k a week earlier or later. It was a little frustrating for me to see them going for 450k when 'all I got was 347k' (even though that was almost 50k profit anyway).
But it's a game. They aren't dollars, they're Runescape gold coins. We aren't trading commodities, we're trading magical fish and bracelets which accelerate your hitpoint regain. Huh? This is not reality. However annoying any of the trading practices might be, they're in a game. And we all have the option, as most of us have in real life too, of taking it slow, checking the graphs, 'caveat emptor', don't buy on impulse, don't sell in haste.
Instead of the time I spent watching the graphs and playing the market on Regen bracelets, all to make 47k and buy a cheapie, I could have killed dragons and made probably 300k, or chopped yews, or fished or whatever. The person doing the manipulation could have done the same. They must have risked many millions, and if they'd seriously misjudged they could have lost half of that. It isn't as if there's no risk for the serious price manipulator - they can end up stuck with loads of an item and no buyers.