Category Archives: CCP

The Rising Price of PLEX

I do not follow PLEX too closely in game.  I neither buy it with ISK to keep my account subscribed nor sell it to raise ISK.  Generally I buy some when I want a SKIN from the in-game store and leave it at that.

But PLEX has been around for most of the life of the game at this point and is very much ingrained in New Eden.

Old PLEX before the 1 to 500 split, which would make it 600K

And because it has become such a part of the game, even I end up hearing about the price of it when it starts to rise.  And rise it has, with running around 4.5 million ISK, putting the in-game ISK price of 30 days of game time at around 2.2 billion ISK.

That is a fairly steep jump from the 2.7 million ISK that PLEX was selling for earlier this year.  So what happened?

The surface level explanation you will often hear is that this is a reflection of the price increase for subscriptions and PLEX that CCP announced back in April and put in place in May.

And, on its surface, that sounds reasonable.  If people are going to pay more for PLEX then maybe they want more ISK for their real world cash?  I would, wouldn’t you?

The problem with this is that there is no direct linkage between the real world price of PLEX and the in-game price.  Just because you want more ISK for your PLEX doesn’t mean you can get it.  You can see from that historic image that old PLEX, which is 500 of the current PLEX, used to sell for ~300 million ISK, equal to about 600K per current PLEX.  So the market has some say in the price.

Yes, you can list your PLEX for however much you want on the market, but buyers in New Eden won’t pay more than they have to.  You have to compete with other people selling PLEX, all of whom want to cash out into ISK, and PLEX makes up a significant portion of the New Eden economy, as the velocity of ISK chart from the MER shows us ever month.

August 2022 – Velocity of ISK

That chart says, to me at least, that 20-25% of ISK transactions involve PLEX or PLEX related items, all of which influence the price of PLEX.  That is enough movement in the market, and mostly in and around Jita, to keep the price of PLEX steady.  The market can find an agreed upon value of PLEX.

PLEX Prices in Jita for the last 12 months

You don’t see a lot of volatility in the market for a lot of that chart.  The price hung on between 2.5 million and 3 million per PLEX for quite a stretch there.  The market had found its equilibrium.

Then, of course, there is that spike and then the ongoing rise to the current price range.  What happened there?

PLEX Price and the price increase announcement

The bare graph that makes up the bottom of that image is the daily trading volume for PLEX and, as you can see, the day that CCP announced the price increase volume spiked.  People clearly expected the in-game price of PLEX to go up, so speculators and those wishing to lock in their price bought up a lot of PLEX.

As demand rose, so did the price, just like my economics professors back in college said they should.  There was an initial rush, then the price peaked and dropped back down a bit, likely due to a few early birds taking their profits and the market hitting a point where people were taking a breather to see where this was going to go.

Up is where it went.  After the post-frenzy pause the price continued its upward climb.  The actual price increase date, May 17th, is in the middle of a very consistent upward slope, indicating that the market was already looking for its new equilibrium.

There are is an up and down bounce in the middle of that price climb… the valley for that is on June 7th, the start of Minmatar Liberation Day, so my guess would be a corresponding end of quarter PLEX sale… which also sees a spike in transactions, which in turn pushes the price back upwards.

Then, around August 20th or so, the price hits a plateau.  There is another minor surge in volume, and then the price levels out and remains, a new equilibrium having been achieved.

Trade volume of PLEX remains down, having fallen off around June 15th to a new normal.

So the question remains, did the real world PLEX price increase, which saw the cost of 500 PLEX go from $20 to $25, cause the in-game price to go up?

Yes, but not because people buying PLEX wanted more ISK for it.  As I noted above, the market has to go along with your price plan.  That image up at the top of the post of PLEX at 300 million ISK, which is old PLEX so you can divide that price by 500 giving you the equivalent of today’s PLEX selling for a mere 600K ISK, shows that the real world price lacks the leverage on its own to set the in-game price.

Instead, what I think we are seeing is the result of people simply buying less PLEX for real world money.  With fewer units of PLEX being listed on the market, the ISK competition to obtain them is more intense, raising the price on the market.

This is also interesting because we’re still in a period where ISK faucets into the game remain tight so, in theory, with less ISK coming into the game the price should be seeing some downward pressure from that in addition to the pressure the current market price is exerting.

The volume going down suggests that part of the reaction to the price increase is that some people are simply not PLEX-ing as many accounts.  But, as we saw in the August MER, there are still a group of players with plenty of ISK to spend on PLEX.

August 2022 – Wealth Distribution

As I noted when that came out, 67.7% of the active ISK held in New Eden is in the hands of 5% of the players. That means they have 1,003 trillion, while the other 95% of the game shares only 494 trillion.

Some people can afford to PLEX their alts… though those people are probably also making ISK on market speculation, including on PLEX.  The lesson of the free market is almost always that the rich somehow managed to get richer no matter what is going on.

Anyway, that is my speculation, that the price increase back in May has reduced the amount of fresh PLEX coming into the game, raising its price on the market.  And I know that is basically saying “the price increase caused it,” which it the one line explanation, but I don’t think simply saying that goes far enough, so you have this post.

I obviously have no direct knowledge of the actual volume of PLEX sales, but it would be interesting to know if CCP’s 25% price increase back in May ended up netting them more or less revenue.  Or, to put it another way, are high in-game PLEX prices a bad sign for CCP?

Addendum:

Skill Extractor Prices in Jita for the last 12 months

I am throwing the Skill Extractor price chart in here due to a comment about how all PLEX related items have gone up, but especially because of all of those items, the slope for Skill Extractors most closely mirrors the PLEX chart.

Addendum 2:

On Friday Sept. 23, CCP announced a special deal, 1 month of Omega for 300 PLEX.

The New Eden Store Only

As usual, CCP is bad at communication, so people were looking in the web store for the cash price to be reduced.  This is an in-game deal only.

But this deal has pushed the price of PLEX way up from what I mentioned in this post.  Sell orders are closing in on 6 million ISK per and buy orders are above 5.5 million.

Now, technically, at 300 PLEX per 30 days, the price of PLEX would have to go up to about 7.5 million ISK per in order to cancel out any ISK savings, so there should be a ceiling on the PLEX price due to this sale.

On the other hand, if you were buying PLEX with ISK to do something else, you’re screwed.

We’ll have to see where the price lands after this deal runs out.  It could depress the price a bit, having sated some demand, or it might stay higher.  I’d add the price history graph to show the spike, but it is broken in-game at the moment.

Addendum 3:  As the day has gone on, the price of PLEX has settled down.  The allure of another million ISK per PLEX looks like it got some of the speculators to liquidate some of their PLEX, so the price is resolving itself to around 5 million ISK per now.

CCP Announces the Uprising Expansion for EVE Online

Back at Fanfest in May CCP talked about… a lot of things really.  But one of them was the return to expansions, that being seen as a way to drum up excitement and anticipation in the community in a way that quadrants and other smaller content delivery methods were failing to achieve.

And yesterday CCP made good and announced the first new expansion for the game.

Uprising – is this CCP making a joke about r/eve?

Named Uprising, it will be arriving at some point in November.  Between now and then there is the promise of a narrative arc where players can help shape New Eden, new ships to be “discovered,” and the introduction of the heraldry system that CCP spoke about at Fanfest.

The plan for the coming months

What we don’t have is much in the way of details so far.  We haven’t heard much beyond what was talked about at Fanfest, and that was four months ago with a pretty long interval of not much at all going on.  I know, CCP goes on vacation during the summer.  But you would think they might want to sow the seeds of excitement… even the trailer is a whole lot of style and very little substance.

Fine, they want to play coy, that is their business.  Though the guy at the camp fire in the wizard hat at the 37 second mark (image here) has caused speculation about a Tolkien cross-over event or the return of The Mittani.

The problem is we’re still in that year of disappointment, of missed expectations and undelivered upon promises.  I mean, the last big promise they tried to deliver on was the New Dawn quadrant, and that was, to put it bluntly, a big fat lie.

Prosperity promised, then denied

So we know so little about what is coming that I can find leverage for neither excitement nor disappointment.  The Uprising announcement itself refers back to the State of the Union announcement last month, which itself was little more than a rehash of what we heard at Fanfest.

Things are still focused on Faction Warfare, which is good.  Low sec and FW deserve the attention.  But my second account lapsed last night, having just flown my last stray ship home from the war in the east, and I can see no reason to subscribe it until we know more about what is coming.

Related:

Postcards from the Yulai Bot Bash 2022

As I posted on Sunday, CCP’s GM week is now in progress and opened with a bang… the bang being the Yulai Bot Bash on Monday.

The in game notification

Monday was also a holiday in the US, so I managed to find the time to get logged in and setup for the festivities.  I sent one of my high sec alts out in a Kestrel with sensor boost and a range script thinking that I would just have to orbit around the Yulai graveyard (some info about that landmark here and here) in order to snipe at the capitals as they were hauled into the system.

The biosecurity responders SKIN works on every hull

That gave me a lock range out to 74km.  I figured that should be enough.  So I logged in early and got myself setup, watching as more and more people piled into the area waiting for things to kick off.  CCP Swift showed up in a Polaris Enigma frigate.  Many tried to lock him up, but those frigates invulnerable to even being locked.

CCP Swift flying around the graveyard

I had learned my lesson from last year’s fiasco and put together a quick “suspects only” overview to show only targets that I could fire on safely.

Suspects in yellow

I took that screen shot as the GMs dragged in the first target, a Nidhoggur that landed 123km away from me.  123km is more than 74km, so I had to light my MWD and head over towards it to get in a couple of shots before it blew up.

The Nidhoggur beginning to explode

Capsuleers who showed up in long range marauders and such were not bothered by the first few targets being dropped way off the graveyard where everybody was clustered.  And I was able to move fast enough to get on a couple of those early targets, but a lot of people show up in smaller ships, even corvettes, so they were unable to get in any shots.

Even moving at 2,600 m/s my Kestrel wasn’t able to catch the Rorqual that got dropped on grid not the Moros that showed up.

Moros being chased

After some complaining in local about how a lot of people were missing out on the targets… some of these capital ships were melting fast under the sustained fire of those in range… that the GMs started dropping the targets closed to the beacon.

The GMs went through the usual progression, bringing on carriers, then dreadnoughts, then a Rorqual, then some force auxiliaries.

Minokawa ready to explode

This were better once we got to super carriers, which take longer to burn down.  The GMs also seemed to be on a kick to show us one of each of the standard, non-faction capitals and supers.  So we got a Nyx, a Hel, an Aeon, and a Wyvern.

A Nyx up as a target

A Wyvern set for destruction

And then it was time for the big hulls as the GMs dropped an Erebus titan on grid for the crowd.

The Erebus under siege

The Erebus was both closed to hand and took long enough for everybody to get into range before it finally started to blow.

The Erebus explosion is coming…

Before the Erebus was done, the GMs had pulled a Ragnarok in for us to shoot, the second titan of the day.

Erebus explosion behind the Ragnarok

I thought for a moment the doomsday of the Erebus was going to fire as is started to explode, but the explosions of titans appear to have been updated to match their faction/doomsday color.  So the Erebus explosion was green, while the Ragnarok was red.

After the Ragnarok the GMs gave us an Avatar and a Leviathan, letting us shoot one each of the empire titans.  Past events have generally just had two titans as the grand finale, but this time around we got four.  And they even had the Avatar doomsday the Leviathan as part of the final act… and to speed things up.  The titans were going down kind of slowly.

Reaching out with the big gun

After being hit, the Leviathan’s shields flared and stayed visible for a stretch.

The Leviathan recovering from the doomsday hit… the Erebus wreck in the middle there

Of course, part of the reason it was taking a while to kill the titans wasn’t just a firepower issue.  Enough people had joined in on the event that time dilation had kicked in and everything was moving at 10% speed.

Quick stats from Yulai

With the help of the Avatar doomsday, the Leviathan blew up next.

Leviathan’s blue explosion

Then, finally, it was the turn of the Avatar, which had a bright yellow explosion.

The explosion and wreck

There were some oddities with the wrecks loading as ships exploded.  This is not uncommon with time dilation in effect.  In big fights I have seen my own wreck and my capsule floating in space even as my ship carried on down its path until it finally go the notification to explode.

There was a lot going on during the event.  I went and made a battle report to cover the time frame, just to see how much stuff got blown up.  It isn’t divided into sides, there being no real sides, but it does show all the capitals that were destroyed, plus all the other ships that managed to get destroyed along the way.

The battle report header

There were 387 killmails that showed up during the event, but only 15  or so were capitals dragged into the system by GMs.  A lot of other shenanigans and mistakes were going on during the show.  My Kestrel got hit by smart bombs and ECM bursts a few time, something that will turn you into a suspect and allow everybody else to shoot you.

I managed to get a missile off at a Brave Punisher that popped up as a suspect nearby where I was, for an extra kill mail.

The Punisher about to die

And so it goes.  I know there is more to GM Week than just the bot bash, but that is always my favorite bit.  It combines capital ships, explosions, and the unpredictable chaos that is EVE Online into a convenient high sec location.

GM Week Offers You a Chance to Shoot a Capital Ship in Yulai Once More

GM Week is returning to EVE Online, with the usual round of activities.  But my favorite one shows up tomorrow, the Yulai whack-a-bot event.

A sky full of beams at the 2020 Yulai bot bash

For this event the GMs pull some known botters into the system, flag them as suspects, and let everybody have at them.  From the announcement:

The always-popular Whack-a-Bot event, taking place in Yulai, lines up an array of ships and pilots identified as using CONCORD-prohibited automatic piloting technology in progressing size – teleporting them to a battlefield of hungry Capsuleers, rearing and ready to tear them apart! This event will also be streamed on the official CCP Twitch, so even if you can’t make it to Yulai, you’ll be free to sit back and enjoy the carnage!

So you want to be in Yulai tomorrow, September 5th, by 16:30 EVE Online time (16:30 UTC, which is 9:30am Pacific time for those of us on the left coast) with a ship mounting a weapon so you can get in a shot.  Just warp at range to the Yulai Graveyards beacon.

It is an excellent opportunity for people to see some of the capital ships that roam New Eden… there is usually a range of them brought in, from Rorquals to carriers to titans… and to get on a particularly spicy kill mail.

I have enjoyed the spectacle in past years.  I have a post with lots of screen shots from the 2020 event.

However, you need to take care.  Null sec pilot that I am, last year I opened fire too soon… there is none of that suspect flagging out where I live, everything is fair game if you can lock it up… and got zapped by CONCORD for my trouble.

So watch out and wait for the ships to be flagged as suspects in your overview.  Or just wait until you see everybody else shooting if you can’t figure that out… the overview can be quite crowded with hundreds of pilots on the field eager to get their shots in.

And if the event is especially popular you will get to experience something else… time dilation.

That is also a staple of null sec.

So get yourself to Yulai.

Oh, and there is a bunch of other stuff going on for GM week.  Go read the post.  Maybe you can find the magic school bus.  But don’t miss the bot bash.

CCP’s New Eden First Person Shooter is Looking for DUST 514 Vets

Every once in a while we’re reminded that CCP is still hot to trot with the idea of making an EVE Online themed first person shooter.  I know, it is right there on the CCP Games web site under products, but CCP has said they are not going to talk about it until it is ready, so I supposed I might be excused for forgetting the whole idea is a thing after a stretch.  The thing is, CCP can’t seem to help talking about it now and then, and I am suddenly jerked awake to the realization that they’re funding a development team in London with the expressed intent of building a first person shooter.

The FPS future that CCP wants

The current text for the game on the CCP site reads:

CCP Games’ London studio is focused on developing an upcoming tactical FPS game in the epic sci-fi setting of New Eden.

We recognize that an online FPS game set in the EVE Universe is a popular concept among our community and CCP is committed to offering an innovative multiplayer shooter with atmospheric visuals.

The game is in active development and does not yet have a release date.

So they are still making something.  And I would feel a lot more confident in their plan if I believed either of the following:

  • CCP had some unique insight into the FPS market
  • The EVE community represented a large enough audience to sustain such a venture

You don’t have to take my word for it that there is perhaps some legitimate doubt on that front.  If you just Google the phrase “CCP EVE FPS” you will come across some rather underwhelming headlines from the gaming press:

Not exactly a series of affirmations in that lot.

Anyway, I mentioned a reminder… as it turns out CCP is out looking for people to participate in closed play testing.  A post appeared over on Reddit with the link to sign up for the play test and CCP Convict showed up in the thread to clarify what the company is currently looking for:

Hey folks,

There are indeed a series of external playtests taking place for our London studio-based FPS project over the next several months. Each playtest will invite applications from different cohorts of players. eg. non-EVE playing FPS fans, non FPS-playing EVE fans, or in the case of this particular playtest: Dust veterans.

The purpose of breaking up the groups of playtesters this way is so we can compare apples to apples when it comes to evaluating the feedback from each test.

If you’re a Dust veteran then by all means put in an application, please just be aware that it doesn’t guarantee automatic acceptance into the test especially since the response to this has far exceeded our expectations.

For those of you who aren’t Dust vets but would still like to participate in a playtest there will be one specifically for FPS-curious EVE players sometime in the future and we’ll let you know when that happens!

So there it is, if you’re looking to get in on CCP’s FPS for some testing.

I know there is a cohort of Dust 514 players out there with fond memories, and the excuse has always been that putting that game on the PS3 at the end of its life cycle was the biggest problem.

I remain skeptical.  Putting the game on console at all was a mistake when EVE Online‘s audience was all on the PC certainly.  But I also know that successful games on the PS3 managed to get ported to the PS4 before too long.

Maybe the window for Dust 514 wasn’t big enough for that… or maybe it was a niche title that was never going to attract a mass following.  Which ever it was, CCP continues to carry the torch for a FPS.

Why Is There Not Another MMO Like EVE Online?

Last week I wrote a couple of post about EVE Online, one about the cycle of the last year with CCP and the game and another about why players stick with the game even when CCP is doing things we don’t like.

In that latter post, one of my points was that there really is not a title out that that delivers the same, or even vaguely similar, experiences as EVE Online.  I ran through some examples of things that you can only find in New Eden in order to support my case.

A good day to see doomsday weapons firing

And then Bhagpuss showed up in the comments to ask why nobody had made something like EVE Online once the title had shown it was a success.  He made the parallel between EverQuest, which achieved what seemed like huge success back in the day, surpassing 550K subscribers, only to be eclipsed by World of Warcraft, which took the EverQuest idea and enhanced it such that it hit 12 million subscribers at its peak.

My response to his comment, to sum it up, was that the business plan for EVE Online was pants on head level crazy, even back in the day.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t completely crazy back in the day, because when it was conceived the genre was still young and people were not sure what would work.  But still, by the time it had become a success… which took a few years, 2006 being something of the breakthrough year… the industry had decided that some things were just not as popular as they thought.  Also, World of Warcraft.

For example, PvP.  I think that here, in 2022, we can all pretty much agree that an open world ‘PvP everywhere’ title, and EVE Online is very much that, has a limited potential audience.  That was the lesson of Ultima Online nearly 25 years back.  There is always somebody declaring it a must-have feature, but PvP is not good for long term player retention in a persistent world MMO.  EVE Online is surprising in its longevity given that alone.  How many attempts to go there have flamed out and died in the last 20 years… or, like UO, made a hard turn into PvE focus?

As with PvP, being a skill based game is one of those things a vocal minority of players is always asking for, but which has its problems.  You end up with the fighter/wizard min/max issue.  I will admit that CCP went its own way on this by making skill training completely time based rather than use based.  And EVE Online doesn’t have the same sort of skill min/max issues that fantasy titles end up with, the time base training can be a mixed bag, both a hook to get people to stay around and a frustration a you wait for skills to train to do what you want.

Then there are attributes which, unlike any other title you’ve probably experienced, have zero impact on the actual performance of your character in the game.  Maxing out charisma doesn’t make anything even 1 ISK cheaper nor does maxing out perception make my probes scan even 1 second faster.

Bizarre, right?

Attributes only impact the speed at which you train those time gated skills I mentioned, which means what you pick had better line up with your training plan because you can only reset your attributes on a one year cycle.  Why CCP doesn’t see an attribute reset token for PLEX in the game remains a mystery. (Except they keep saying maybe they’ll do something with them, but then they never do.)

Oh, and then there is gear.  I always let out a little sigh when somebody says they won’t play EVE Online because it is “full loot” PvP and they don’t want to lose their epic gear.  Gear, which is ships and modules and consumables and implants and whatever, is all completely replaceable in-game with ISK.  Nobody is going to take the raid gear you spent months farming for because there is almost no such gear.  If you lose your ship, and if you never lost your ship then you’ve never really experienced the game, you get your insurance payout and you go back to Jita or another trade hub and you buy a new ship and modules that will be exactly the same setup as you had before.

Pretty much everything you need is a commodity you can buy in bulk on the market.  All you need is ISK, which is why ISK faucets are so important to many players.  ISK enables you to do what you want in the game.  And even the rare exceptions, like Alliance Tournament ships, can be had if you have enough ISK.  But if you undock and lose one, there will be no replacing it. (But nobody will loot it, because the hull is always destroyed.)

That is all great and makes EVE Online what it is today, but how do you sell a game where gear is generic and replaceable?  How can you tell who is ‘leet if there are no rare drop world unique raid rewards that the creme de la creme can lord over the peons by standing around in the public square.  Even if the game had something like that, if you sat on the undock in Jita with it somebody would gank you just to have the shiny kill mail.

This talk of gear brings me around to the economy, which is both the most important aspect of the game in my opinion… I don’t write about the MER and complain about CCP messing with the economy because I feel it is trivia… and the one that CCP should thank players and whatever favorable omens they were born under in that it actually worked out, because that wasn’t a given.

It is easy to talk about wanting a player run economy, but how do you create one?  How do you make that happen without creating a bunch of false incentives and crutches and NPC work-arounds to ensure that there is an economy without making the economy dependent on them?

Add in the fact that there is really no central story line to take you through the game… there is lore, but lore isn’t game play it is just framing… and that there is no avatar play… something people moan about incessantly but which defines EVE Online… and wrap that all up in a business plan and tell me how you think that would fare.

Seriously, even putting the modest amount of thought I have towards what CCP pulled off given their starting point… which was also a lot rougher, more obscure, and less forgiving than it is today… and pondering all the ways it could have gone wrong and you start to appreciate how unlikely a game EVE Online really is.

So you have that business plan, all those features laid out, most of which I think are likely essential to creating something that would give you the feel of EVE Online (you could change skills and attributes and work in some more story, but PvP, the economy, and the replaceability of gear are non-negotiable to my mind) and you’re looking for somebody to give you the ~$100 million it would take to turn that plan into a live game.  Who is going to invest?

Nobody.

There isn’t a serious investor today that would look at EVE Online and say, “I want to make more of that, only bigger and better.”  No gaming company with the resources to make it happen, no investment company with the capital to burn, no angel investor still taking their meds is going to put money into that.

Short of somebody with a Chris Roberts level of influence over a a dedicated audience willing to throw money at their collective screens to make another EVE Online happen… and are there any big enough names in video games that haven’t squandered whatever good will they had going down that path already… I can’t see this being a viable business proposition, unless you decide to load it up with blockchain, crypto, pay to earn nonsense, and then you know what kind of shady investor you would end up with.

TL;DR –

CCP in 2022 – Here is my business plan for an internet spaceship MMO!

Every sane investor: LOL, wut?

Why Be Mad at CCP?

A question that comes up fairly regularly in various forums and comment threads is why so many EVE Online players are mad at CCP, though when you dig into it the question often turns into… more correctly in my opinion… why players angry at CCP continue to play EVE Online.

It is difficult to understand

And it is an absolutely legitimate question.  Nothing speaks louder than taking your wallet and spending your money elsewhere.  If we’re unhappy with the state of EVE Online, if we think CCP is going down the wrong path, if they’re raising the prices, wrecking the economy, and won’t give us much beyond vague, hand-waving promises for the future, why are we still subscribed?

What keeps us going?  Sunk cost fallacy?  A victory of hope over experience?  Some form of digital masochism?

I guess we start with the fact that the player base is hardly unified on the state of the game.  The other day I saw a graph on Twitter representing the various segments of Star Citizen players, which ranged from those who fully believe everything the company announces and will fight all criticism to those who believe it is a complete scam and who will go out of their way to denounce any company statement, with several layers in between.  I wish I could find it again as it is applicable to most online titles.

It certainly applies to EVE Online though, after 20 years any accurate representation would be a multi-dimensional continuum of factions and beliefs.  You can find people willing to die on some of the most bizarrely specific hills.  But I suppose that comes with the sandbox nature of the game, which gives us some bizarrely specific play styles.

So somebody is always saying, “EVE is dying” because of this or that.

First documented occurrence of “EVE is Dying”

We know people get mad at CCP and we know some people walk away, but many longer term players stick around, paying the subscription and logging in, even as we complain over and over about the state of the game, the direction the company is taking it, and whatever they have done lately to wreck someone’s play style.  So why don’t we all just fuck off already?

I believe there are two aspects to that.

First is community.  EVE Online as a game tends to be harsh, complex, and unforgiving.  This drives a lot of people away from the game.  Those that stay tend to be people who not only find their niche in the game, but find others to share it with.  So you join that corporation or that faction or that alliance and work together and get to know each other and bonds are formed.

It isn’t for everybody, but if you’ve been to EVE Online events, you will see groups showing up and partying together, all wearing a corp or alliance shirt or hat or other item that marks them a part of a particular club within the game.

We also, in person, tend to get along with our in-game foes.  There is a natural camaraderie that comes from fighting not just each other, but the game itself as we go to war, that brings us together to tell war stories and compare notes from opposites of the battle lines.

That, I believe, is a significant element to people sticking around.  But that isn’t all of it.  You can, after all, pack up your group and take it to another game.  Over the nearly 16 years of this blog the instance group has played quite a few titles.  We started in WoW and we’re back in WoW, but we’ve been to many lands in between.

Another aspect enters into this, and that is the game itself.

The problem with leaving EVE Online is that there is no direct substitute.  There is no other game, much less internet spaceship game, that delivers a similar experience.

Seriously.  Nothing comes close.

If our group leaves WoW, there are a few dozen options that are kind of the same, fantasy themed sword and magic, online, multiplayer games.  The online gaming genre is thick with them.  And when we tire of WoW we’ll probably go find a new one to add to our list.  Maybe it will be Elder Scrolls Online next time, or maybe Project: Gorgon.  We’ll find something.

There is no such easy replacement for EVE Online.

Yes the game is harsh, complex, and unforgiving as noted above, and the UI is a mess, and CCP seems to take on various initiatives to “fix” the game like they were a bet to see how long they could fool us before we quit.  And yes, you can go on about Elite Dangerous or Star Citizen all you like, but let me ask you this…

How many thousand plus player battles have you been in?  I’ve been in quite a few in New Eden.  B-R5RB was notable enough to get its own Wikipedia articleSo was Asakai, though I didn’t get there in time for that one.

How many Guinness Book World Records have you been around to set?  I’ve been part of four records set, two at FWST-8 and two more at M2-XFE.  And it would have been more, but I arrived late for the Million Dollar Battle and couldn’t get in the system.

How many books have been written about your game?

The scope and scale of EVE Online, ranging from one on one duels to thousands of players on grid blazing away, simply isn’t a possibility anywhere else.

I marvel at Asher Elias, sky marshal of the Imperium during World War Bee, who had the arms, economy, and ISK behind him to engage in huge battles, as did Vily who led the forces who came to dislodge us from our home.

And what other game has such a massive an interconnected economy?  PAPI and the Imperium both came to Jita to buy the wares of groups large and small to feed their war machines.  Those items were mined or harvested or built by a wide range of players, and transported by even more.   They had to get past pirates and suicide gankers and those looking to scam them, deal with the UI of the game, to get their items listed on the market.  And those who purchased those items, which included everybody from null sec alliances to wormholers to the very low sec pirates and suicide gankers who harried their travels to market, end up hauling or flying those good off to locations around New Eden, where much of it gets blown up… which is what keeps the economy going.

When I get worked up about CCP messing with the New Eden economy, trying to undo mudflation or put the toothpaste of past mistakes back in the tube, it is because the economy is the one thing that ties all of the players in New Eden together and makes most of our play styles possible.

When it is working… and we’re fortunate that the player base is as resilient as it is… it is a marvel to behold.  I don’t think CCP gets, nearly 20 years down the road, what a miracle they have created.

So, for all of its flaws and bizarre UI and the inability of the company to create a useful in-game map, it is a unique experience.  I’m not saying you have to like it, but don’t tell me your multi-player space sim of choice comes anywhere close to the scope of EVE Online.

It is special, which is part of why players get worked up and part of why we don’t just walk away.  Amazing events don’t happen to you every day in New Eden.  Hell, I’m happy when something really fun happens even once a month.  But the potential for something unprecedented and crazy is always there.

I’ve thought about leaving the game any number of times over the last decade.  But every time I feel like I’m just bored with it all, something comes up and I stick around to see how it plays out… and inevitably I am sucked back in and playing as often as I can manage as we go to war or defend our space or go into wormhole space to blow up somebody’s Keepstar and haul off all the loot that drops.

That uniqueness is a bit of a double edged sword though.

While I sometimes wonder if CCP knows how lucky they have been to end up with a mix of features that somehow jelled into a self-sustaining success, I do get the strong impression that they feel they don’t have to worry about player reactions to their changes, that they’re sure we have no other options so we’ll stick around no matter what they do.  I’ve heard CSM members back from summits report as much.  What are we going to do, learn how to dock ships in Elite Dangerous or spend hundreds of dollars on fully replacement insured ships in Star Citizen?

And if the old hands are taken for granted… well, the company can push that too far.  They haven’t yet, but the outlook isn’t good.  As I went on at the start of the week, it has been a year of disappointment, and that was preceded by no small amount of trouble and the number of players logged in has reflected that.

I hope CCP comes back from their summer vacations with some good ideas, because I don’t want to be mad at CCP… and I have now accumulated a substantial body of work here, posts annoyed or exasperated at the actions of the company… I just want to play a game that is unlike any other.

New Eden and the Year of Disappointment

whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap

-Galatians 6:7, King James Edition Bible

It is summer and the PCU is down in EVE Online.  It happens.  The jury is still out on the summer slump being a regular thing.  Past slumps seem to coincide more with specific situations in my view when looking at a chart from Jester’s collection.

Average players online May through September

2019 slumps hard due to the blackout that came at the far end of summer, though there was a visible slump before that.  2020 is the COVID boom tapering off after peaking in April.  2021 is largely people getting to leave the house and go places finally (so an actual summer slump). And 2022 is…  something else?

The last two years have not seen a positive trend, even outside of the summer, be there a slump or not. (Chart from EVE Offline)

EVE Offline chart two year chart

And 2022 feels different all the more so.  To start with, the game was in a slump before summer it seems.  Those are some 2005 level PCU numbers.

EVE Online feels like it is going through a trial now, greater than any it has faced.  Players have been angry at the company before.  We have had summers of rage, player protests, and varying degrees of players being mad at the company for something they have done.

Occasionally CCP listens.  They did seem to get the idea that putting blockchain into New Eden wasn’t going to be popular.  More often they dissemble or ignore the players.  They look the other way or metaphorically pat us on the head and tell us that they know best, that they have all the data, and we shouldn’t get so worked up because they know what they’re doing.

But the relationship has always been one of passion.  Players are angry because they feel that CCP isn’t handling the game correctly, that they’re going in the wrong direction, ignoring real problems, going back on promises, or diminishing the game in some way.

That isn’t always happy or fun for CCP, but it comes from a position of player engagement.  We the players are invested in this game.  We want it to get better.  We have had so many memorable moments, made so many friends, and done so many things in this game that you simply cannot do in any other video game anywhere that we don’t want it to stop.

This summer, however, has been fairly grim.  As noted above, the PCU is down more than ever.  The Pearl Abyss financials show the EVE IP shrinking again in Q2 2022, and I fully expect the Q3 numbers will be even worse.  Attempts to get wars rolling in New Eden have been met by indifference as fewer players see the point.

And I think this is in large part due to the last twelve months having been a year of almost constant disappointment, and it is starting to show results at the bottom line.

I am going to peg the start of this cycle as July 23, 2021, the day when CCP announced that scarcity would be ending in Q4.

Scarcity has been a hugely controversial topic. It was based on some barely freshman level economic philosophy and a huge helping of wishful thinking.  CCP said it was necessary to secure the game for future generations, but it struck many as an attempt to put the toothpaste back in the tube, to undo past mistakes by making players work much harder for things.

CCP said scarcity wouldn’t last forever, and we were give hope with that July announcement that the end was coming.  We had to deal with NFTs being part of the Alliance Tournament, but at least there was hope.

We had to wait until November before we got information on the New Dawn update, which had the tagline “The Age of Prosperity.”  However, it was clear from the moment CCP started to reveal its changes that we were not getting prosperity, but permanent scarcityThere were protests, which CCP dismissed, going to their usual “just Goons” response.  If Goons don’t like it, it must be good, right?

The mining changes brought some good with them, like compression… once they could get it to work right… and some simplification of mining crystals.  But overall every benefit came with strings attached with things like mining waste undoing any improvement.  CCP proudly declared that they had doubled the amount of harvestables, but had reduced them by 90% previously, and removed asteroids completely from null sec, so it was the sort of empty boast that looks like a lie, the sort of thing that just makes people angry and distrustful.

I was very sour about the state of New Eden at the end of 2021.  It felt like CCP had purposely deceived us, then scolded us for stupidly believing they really meant to end scarcity.

In the middle of this there was the Doctor Who event, which made some even angrier, as it looked like an attempt to distract from the problems of the game.  Ironically, that event ended up being pretty popular and would see the peak of user logins for 2022 so far.  But it was going to be down hill from there.

The “Age of Prosperity” was a bust.  Resources were barely increased.  Capital ships were still too expensive to build.  Battleships were priced out of the reach of new players.  And CCP was still holding onto the absurd notion that null sec players were going to go offensively mine enemy space, creating a set of high waste mining crystals for that purpose.

And while we were still angry about the economy CCP got people even more upset by selling the Prospector Pack, which featured a fully fit mining barge for cash in the web shop.

Not player produced

There were many reasons to be angry about that, not the least of which was the ship was poorly fit.  But it was CCP making ships out of thin air for cash in competition with the player economy that really pissed people off.  It seemed like such a dumb idea, so likely to inflame the player base, that I wondered if they were deliberately trying to wreck the economy in order to boost the cash shop.

That got some EVE streamers to declare a blackout of the game.

CCP eventually said they would remove the Prospector Pack from the web store, but they only did so after the mining event was over.  And the Prospector Pack remains in game to this day, being an in-game pop-up offer for those who ran the mining career agent missions.  Once again, CCP earned our distrust.

They did promise to figure out how to use player provided materials for future packs of that type, indicating that they were going to sell more fitted ships and getting people wondering if this was going to end up being a play to earn scheme.  After all, the EVE Online official Twitter account was retweeting things about Hilmar meeting with cryto companies at GDC.

Yes, they backed down on that, as I linked above, but it looked like it was really in the works.

And then there was the price increase.  CCP said it had to raise the monthly subscription price to $20 a month.  They had reasons… Russians not playing due to the war in Ukraine mostly… but players were unimpressed.  After the last couple years of in-game economic fuckery, raising the price was a bridge too far for many.  Players wanted something if they were going to pay more money.

So CCP made promises.  Fanfest would have all the answers.  They put CCP Paragon out in front of an angry mob (I feel for him too, as it should have been Hilmar or Rattati if they had any balls, but they sacrificed an underling instead) where he said:

We are announcing big content updates for fanfest. it’s the largest one we’ve ever done probably.

-CCP Paragon, Discord Q&A about the announced subscription price increase

Talk about setting the bar high.  Talk about raising expectations.

Speculation ran wild.

What we got was a bunch of promises for the future.

CCP squandered the keynote by focusing primarily on patting themselves on the back for things players were complaining about.  There were some interesting things brought up at panels during Fanfest, including ideas for Faction Warfare, something strange about alliance logos on ships, and a promise of a discount for players who subscribe multiple accounts.

But they had absolutely NOTHING ready to launch.  Even the multi-account price break took a month to show up.

It was all a huge “Trust us!” moment.  Give us more money today and we’ll make things better at some unspecified future date.

And so the PCU really began to fall off.

Some declared that it was just the summer downswing, nothing to worry about, everybody would be back come the fall.

But it feels different to me.

The EVE Online news ecosystem has shriveled up.  Imperium News barely posts anything these days.  New Eden Post declared they were not going to bother anymore.  Over at EVE News 24 even SevenUp XX Barbershop has given up on his 97 part series about why Circle-of-Two was the real victim in whatever Casino War fantasy he is still holding onto.

There are, in theory, two wars going on in null sec, but Reddit is barely buzzing at all about either.

Asher Elias, on taking the reigns of the Imperium, put out a call for people to resubscribe their capital alts, that we were going to take our big toys out and use them in the field.  But if that is going to be anything more than titans shooting structures, the enemy has to show up as well.

CSM17 member Kazanir spoke to the Imperium about what was wrong with the game and former CSM member at Brave leader Dunk Dinkle had his own post about the state of the game.  Both agreed that progression for new players has been broken, that CCP’s scarcity plan has locked in an economic order where old vets stay rich and new players stay poor.

So here we sit, more than a year after CCP announced that the end of scarcity was coming and things are palpably worse.

I have repeatedly pointed out on this blog that video game companies are not our friends.  Their statements and promises should not be trusted.  They act, as all companies should, in their own best interest.

And yet, even with that in mind, I feel like CCP has betrayed the trust of its player base, has abused our desire to continue playing and enjoying our time together in New Eden by holding out hope before us, then coming up empty when it is time to deliver.

The other day somebody showed up in the comments here and said that new players should not invest their time in EVE Online, that the deck is stacked against them, that CCP has shown its colors, that the game is dead.

I have heard that many times.  Due to the way progression works there has always been somebody fretting that if they start today that they will never be able to “catch up” to somebody who started five or ten or fifteen years ago.

I have always argued against that point of view.  It is the wrong way to look at a sandbox game.  There are so many different paths to take, so many different roles to fill, that even on day one there is something you can do.

But I feel less confident in that argument today.  I still believe it, but CCP’s actions give me pause.  Or maybe it is their inaction that really gives me pause.

The problem is that EVE Online can take a lot of investment to find a sustainable role that delivers fun.  If you’ve done the work and found your niche in New Eden, formed up with some people you enjoy playing with doing things you find fun and CCP steps in and wrecks that… well, you know what is easier than finding a new niche?  Finding another game where the company doesn’t seem bent on disruption and chaos.

Meanwhile, CCP is in a corner.  EVE Online is all they have, and all they have ever had really.

They can fantasize about how their next try at an FPS will change that, but EVE Online is the only reason they are still around.  And so they’re trying to preserve it by attempting to roll back the economy to its glory days while they nibble around the edges of issues, fixing this and adjusting that, hoping to find a balance that will keep the whole enterprise moving forward.

Those who hope for a radical change… a server wipe or a second server or a reduction of the size of New Eden as is planned on the server in China run by NetEase… will be disappointed.  Things will have to be a lot more desperate before CCP is willing to take any real risk… and they might not even then.  If they get in a real bind we will be reminded that they are owned by Pearl Abyss, and their radical solution might be cash shop, cash shop, cash shop, the way it works with Black Desert Online.

So where does this end up?  How does this get better?

I don’t know.

The loud voices in the player base have all fallen into their predictable default positions.  There is no problem.  The players are the problem.  Null sec is the problem.  Blue loot is the problem.  Abyssals are the problem.  Bitter vets are the problem.  You name it, somebody is blaming it.  And if they’re not blaming something their pushing some superficial mechanic change that will likely just make things worse.

But I think a key in fixing anything has to be CCP.  CCP is not blameless.  If your view is that the players just need to step up then you haven’t been paying attention.

I feel strongly that the last year has undermined their position with some of the core player base.  If CCP cannot demonstrate that the players should trust them, that they’re not going to remain keen to sacrifice the current player base in the name of some unknowable future, then things will not get better.

CCP makes the rules. CCP sets the tone.  CCP has things they need to make right.

And they have done this before.  After the disaster that was Incarna, they realized they needed to prove themselves to the players and actually spent time working on things that improved the game.  They have proven in the past that they can make things better.

What should they focus on?  I think the in-game economy is key, but I could see arguments for other things.

The question is whether they will do anything that addresses the state of things in New Eden or if they will continue to insist everything is great and ignore voices that say otherwise.

The EVE Online July Monthly Economic Report Reads About the Same as June

The July Monthly Economic Report for EVE Online has arrived, so it is time to dive into that.

EVE Online nerds harder

Production

July 2022 – Production vs Destruction vs Mined

  1. The Forge – 16.31 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  2. Delve – 13.89 trillion (Imperium)
  3. Vale of the Silent – 11.85 trillion (Fraternity)
  4. Lonetrek – 6.99 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  5. The Citadel – 5.79 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  6. Tribute – 5.09 trillion (Fraternity)
  7. Fade – 3.56 trillion (WE FORM BL0B)
  8. Heimatar – 3.39 trillion (Minmatar High Sec)
  9. Sinq Laison – 2.91 trillion (Gallente High Sec)
  10. Malpais – 2.91 trillion (PanFam)

Total production according to the regional stats added up to 109.7 trillion ISK in value, about the same as June’s 110.59 trillion ISK production.

The data for the production chart above shows a total of 79.75 trillion ISK produced, which is also very close, if down slightly, from June’s 81.28 trillion ISK reported.

So production looked to be flat over the last two months, though the chart itself, which is a trend line based on daily production data, does seem to be trending downward all the same.  I suppose August will tell us whether that line is really headed downward again or not.

As for where production was happening, you see a mix of high and null sec regions in the top ten regional data above, while the sub-chart for production shows:

July 2022 – Production by Security Band

Low sec has an increasing share of late, but high and null sec are where production happens in New Eden.

Destruction

There are a couple of small wars going on in null sec, with Fraternity attacking Brave and Volta in Pure Blind while the Imperium has been winding itself back up again and attacking FI.RE in the southeast.  Overall though destruction remained flat, with the regional data reporting a  total of 27.48 trillion ISK, on par with the 27.08 trillion that was recorded in June.

The top regions for destruction were:

  1. The Forge – 1.62 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  2. Pochven – 1.55 trillion (Triglavian)
  3. Pure Blind – 1.42 trillion (Brave/V0LTA)
  4. Lonetrek – 1.31 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  5. Delve – 1.22 trillion (Imperium)
  6. Vale of the Silent – 1.08 trillion (Fraternity)
  7. The Citadel – 1.08 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  8. Metropolis – 1.04 trillion (Gallente High Sec)
  9. Sinq Laison – 913 billion
  10. Perrigen Falls – 710 billion (PanFam)

Pure Blind at least made the cut in the top ten.  The Imperium’s area of operation down south is way down the list, but we were distracted by a leadership upheaval in July.

The total from the Produced/Destroyed/Mined chart data was 28.74 trillion ISK destroyed, again lined up with June’s 27.59 trillion number.  So things remained about the same.

As for the destruction by security band sub-chart from above, it remained about the same as well.

July 2022 – Destruction by Security Band

So it goes.  At least the numbers did not go down.

Trade

The top ten regions for trade in July were:

  1. The Forge – 381.46 trillion (Jita)
  2. Domain – 33.21 trillion (Amarr)
  3. Lonetrek – 15.17 trillion (Caldari High Sec)
  4. Sinq Laison – 11.81 trillion (Dodixie)
  5. Delve – 11.80 trillion (Imperium)
  6. Metropolis – 10.43 trillion (Hek)
  7. Perrigen Falls – 7.54 trillion (PanFam)
  8. Heimatar – 7.25 trillion (Rens)
  9. Vale of the Silent – 5.37 trillion (Fraternity)
  10. Essence – 4.05 trillion (Gallente High Sec)

Trade in the regional stats totaled out to 521.5 trillion ISK, down from the 572 trillion ISK reported in June.  10 trillion of that drop was in Jita, while other regions showed minor adjustments in value.

ISK Faucets

Now to the money, starting off with the faucet end of the big sinks and faucets chart.

July 2022 – Faucet end of the chart big chart

If you cannot read the numbers on that chart, the top six faucets for July were:

  • Commodity – 48.1 trillion (up 3.8 trillion)
  • Bounty Prizes – 20.3 trillion (down 0.4 trillion)
  • Trig Invasion Payouts – 13.6 trillion (up 0.1 trillion)
  • Incursion Payouts – 11.7 trillion (down 0.2 trillion)
  • ESS Bounty Payouts – 8.9 trillion (down 0.1 trillion)
  • Agent Mission Rewards 3.3 trillion (even with last month)

As with much of what I have covered so far, sinks are pretty much on par with last month.

July 2022 – Top Sinks and Faucets Over Time

The one exception on that list is commodities, which saw a jump in July.  However, looking at the commodities over time break out, that looks like a spike driven by the Minmatar Liberation Day events.  Those are the green line, miscellaneous.

July 2022 – Top Commodity Items Over Time

You can also see bounty encrypted bonds are creeping up.  July saw 7.56 trillion ISK in reserve bank thefts, and those pay out in bonds, which must then be taken to a low sec NPC in order to redeem them for ISK.  That means that ESS main and reserve banks getting robbed doesn’t necessarily line up with commodities.

July 2022 – ESS Regional Stats

You can see that there are still 51 trillion ISK in bonds locked on up ESS reserve banks in New Eden.  Oh, and as expected, most reserve bank heists are the local sovereignty owners collecting ISK from their own banks.  Milking is the method.

July 2022 – Reserve Bank “Thefts”

So commodities are up, but not necessarily because wormholers are bagging more sleepers and turning their loot.

Meanwhile, in the regional stats, bounty prizes for blowing up NPCs showed the following as the top ten regions:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 2.1 trillion (Fraternity)
  2. Perrigen Falls – 1.64 trillion (PanFam)
  3. Delve – 1.44 trillion (Imperium)
  4. Fountain – 1.33 trillion (Imperium)
  5. The Kalevala Expanse – 1.21 trillion (PanFam)
  6. Querious – 1.04 trillion (Imperium)
  7. Catch – 957 billion (Imperium/Others)
  8. Malpais – 950 billion (PanFam)
  9. Insmother – 838 billion (FI.RE)
  10. Tenerifis – 764 billion (FI.RE)

No particular surprises on that list, save for the fact that FI.RE were still managing to rat in Insmother and Tenerifis.  I expect neither region to make the top ten list for August.

The total is 27.11 trillion, down a bit from June’s 27.9 trillion, keeping with the whole theme so far.

Unlike last month though, total ISK in the game went up.

July 2022 ISK balance

Again, the July theme, with faucets and sinks being very close to the June numbers.  The main difference was the active ISK delta, which is how much ISK CCP counts out of the game due to player inactivity or due to seizure by the security team.  That was 53 trillion ISK in June, but just shy of 15 trillion ISK in July.

Was security on vacation (quite possibly), or have we hit the bottom of the trough when it comes to players exiting the game?  We’ll have to keep watching to see.

July 2022 – Money Supply

Meanwhile, the velocity of ISK, which I have been thinking even more about since Kazanir’s talk on Sunday, continues to decay… though not as much as previous months I suppose.

July 2022 – Velocity of ISK

Mining

And, finally, the resource inputs into the economy, mining.

Mineral prices continued to climb up from their recent low, though they still remain at an all time high.

July 2022 – Economic Indices

Additionally, the Secondary Producer Price Index, which has been on its own trajectory for a while, started to climb with mineral prices, while the Primary Producer Price Index, which has at least maintained some marginal relationship with the mineral price line, has started to collapse.   And the Consumer Price Index remains fixed, all of which seems indicate that maybe the CPI isn’t measuring the right things… like PLEX related goods.

Overall, the regional data reported that a total of 14.5 trillion ISK value was mined in July, down from 16.46 trillion in June.  The top regions for mining were:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 626 billion (Fraternity)
  2. Delve – 560 billion (Imperium)
  3. Aridia – 559 billion (Amarr Low Sec)
  4. The Forge – 549 billion (Caldari High Sec)
  5. Metropolis – 526 billion (Minmatar High Sec)
  6. Domain – 493 billion (Amarr High Sec)
  7. Derelik – 473 billion (Amarr High Sec)
  8. Lonetrek – 467 billion (Caldari High Sec)
  9. The Kalevala Expanse – 437 billion (PanFam)
  10. Malpais – 416 billion (PanFam)

Mining remains fairly well split among the security bands relative to the populations that live there.  As noted previously, the resumption of capital production… or at least dreadnought production… has been driving gas mining as it is now required to build them, which is why you see the bump in wormhole and low sec mining since April.

July 2022 – Mining by Security Band

The data from the produced/destroyed/mined chart up at the top of the post indicates that a total of 20.7 trillion ISK in value was mined, down from the 27.69 trillion ISK the same chart reported in June.

That looks like some more serious tapering off than some of the other aspects of the economy.  Given that mineral prices are going up, which should be an incentive to mine, I wonder if that slump is an early indicator that other numbers may fall or if people are just on vacation.

We also have moon mining numbers.  I messed up on that last month, the first month they appeared, by reporting them in billion ISK units, when in fact they were only counted in the millions.  I have corrected that in the June MER post, but wanted to cop to my mistake here.  Probably a sign as to how many people read down this far that I can be off by an order of magnitude and nobody calls me out.  Anyway, the July numbers with the correct units were:

  1. Vale of the Silent – 257 million
  2. Delve – 198 million
  3. Perrigen Falls – 146 million
  4. The Kalevala Expanse – 137 million
  5. Domain – 135 million
  6. The Citadel – 131 million
  7. Malpais – 119 million
  8. Insmother – 111 million
  9. Genesis – 93 million
  10. Metropolis – 89 million

That isn’t a lot of ISK value when it comes to moon mining.  I make more from Planetary Industry than that on my main account every month.  Once again, I am brought back to Kazanir’s Sunday talk and the value of null sec space and moons.

And it isn’t even a null sec only thing.  Low sec, once a battleground for moons, doesn’t rate and high sec 0.5 systems are making the top ten.

Overall there was a total of Total 3.32 billion ISK value, down from 3.995 billion reported in July.

And that is about all I have in me for July.  The mining volume over time charts didn’t change much for July, except for ice mining, which showed an increase.  So there we go.

As tends to happen, much of what I saw this month needs next months numbers to establish a pattern or present a new hypothesis.

Related:

Kazanir and the Progression Curve in EVE Online

With The Mittani gone we have been having some different people speak at the weekly coalition fireside meetings, which take place on Sunday at the meeting point between EUTZ and USTZ peak times.  So we have had TheAdj, Asher, and this past week, Apple Pear speak to the coalition about what is going on.  It is usually war and policy updates, calls for help on specific fronts (more PI production please!), and a few questions from the audience.

This week, after Apple Pear’s terse comments… he is a man of few words and we respect that… we got a second speaker, Kazanir.

Kazanir is on the GSF finance team and also a new member of the CSM, having been at the top of the Imperium ballot in the CSM17 election.

The CSM17 Winners

Kazanir wanted to speak to us about EVE Online, its current issues, and what he thinks the problems might be.

I know, everybody has their pet theory about why “EVE is dying” this week.  I know I do.  If there isn’t a Reddit thread about it on any given day it is a minor miracle.  Most of them focus on symptoms and quick fixes or wishful thinking about turning back the clock to a more glorious era when we didn’t have… *checks notes*… warp to zero as an option.

Seriously, people are still bringing that up and that has been gone since the Revelations expansion back in 2006.

Anyway, Kazanir, who came back to EVE Online for World War Bee and got deeply involved in helping keep the coalition afloat and able to pay its bills, took his election to the CSM seriously and began to research what has happened over the years and how we got to where we are today.

His first discovery was that, so far as null sec is concerned at least, all the elements of the game have pretty much been in place since 2005’s Red Moon Rising expansion.  By that point the game had dreadnoughts, carriers, supercarriers (motherships back then), titans, tech II production, moon mining, player owned structures, null sec sovereignty, and the basics of everything that makes null sec what it is even today.

Yes, things have changed since then.  There is no AOE titan doomsdays through cynos obliterating whole subcap fleets… something else that gets asked for now and then on Reddit… and moon sovereignty is now two sov systems ago.  But the essentials were in place.

And with that things carried on and wars were fought about which books have been published.

Until they didn’t.  So the question became what changed, and Kazanir has two working theories on what is missing from the game.

  • Progression – The Curse of Cheap Capitals and Easy Skill Points

The first item Kazanir brought up was progression.  For a long time titans, while not as rare as CCP thought they would be, were still pretty special ships.  The battle at B-R5RB probably had more impact on the game than the two battles at M2-XFE because titans were just tougher to get back then.

Getting into a titan took a lot of time and planning and ISK.  Time and ISK were a barrier to capital proliferation and made titans an aspirational goal.  You had to work and wait to get one.  Even if you bought a titan pilot at the character bazaar, there was still ISK to be earned for both the pilot and the hull.

That went away for with some often discussed changes.  Rorquals, skill injectors, and the opening of the ISK faucet with super ratting all combined to make titans much more easily obtained.

If you could get into a carrier… and even I was able to get into a carrier before these changes… you could bulk up your wallet and spend the ISK on skill injectors to make a titan alt right away.  Or you could just buy PLEX and sell it on the market.  ISK was all around us.

Meanwhile, Rorqual mining… also a big ISK earner for pilots, though not an ISK faucet… made collecting all the minerals required to build capitals, all the way up to titans, but faster and cheaper.

Somewhere I have a screen shot of the price list from a capital building service in Delve back in the heyday of the titan boom and titan hulls were maybe 60 billion ISK, while supercarriers were under 20 billion.  It was a bonanza for pilots who wanted to fly big iron.

For Reavers Secret Santa a couple of years back I gave somebody a fully fit Apostle because it wasn’t even a 2 billion ISK spend.  Somebody gave me a Ninazu the next year.  No big deal.

It was clearly out of hand and CCP felt they had to do something about it.  After two years of slow nerfs to Rorquals and capital ratting, CCP decided to really bring the hammer down and we got austerity as a permanent feature of New Eden.

There is less ISK coming into the economy, everything costs more, and the resources to build things are harder to come by.  Did this solve the problem?

Kazanir says “no.”

What he sees is an end to progression.  After years of titans rolling off the assembly line like sausages, they are now very expensive to build or replace.  PLEX is more expensive.  Skill injectors are more expensive.  To get from new player to titan pilot is now a much more arduous journey… or expensive if you want to credit card your way into the big hulls.

Pilots, corps, and alliances that got in on the boom years now have a leg up.  Kazanir says that austerity helped us win World War Bee because the Imperium held enough of a capital advantage that we couldn’t be overwhelmed and the economy no longer supported the ability to catch up even though we were stuck in a single constellation in Delve.

So what should CCP do?

Kazanir’s idea is to restore progression, which means loosening up the economy and minerals at one end of things while adding more progression at the other end.  Tech II capitals, supers, and titans, more faction capitals, maybe something beyond titans… something to give people an aspiration goal, including those who already have a few titans sitting in hangars… that will also push the economy by increasing demand.  The velocity of ISK has been on a long downward trend, and now the concurrent player numbers have joined its slide.

He says that it can’t be a WoW-like progression treadmill.  But right now there is just stagnation due to CCP’s dramatic clamp down on the economy.

  • Moon Mining and the Value of Space

The other item that Kazanir brought up was that holding null sec space doesn’t have any particular value.  This was due to changes made by CCP to moon mining.

Moons used to be a big conflict driver.  We invaded Fountain and fought TEST back in 2013 ostensibly because we wanted their moons.  Treaties and unlikely alliances and wars of aggression were fought over moons.

One of the big Upwell structure changes was drilling platforms replacing the old moon mining POS arrays.  Moon mining went from a passive activity to a very active one where you needed multiple pilots to collect the yield of a frack.  As CCP Rattati told us all on Reddit, “solo moon mining isn’t a god given right.”

The problem, as Kazanir lays it out, is that there is no way to turn space profitable by taking it in any sort of reasonable time frame.  Back in the day you could bash somebody’s POS, replace it with your own, and be mining moon goo right away.  There is no conflict driver because moons take a month to get spun up, need a fleet to mine out, and the output is not all that valuable any more.

So there needs to be a new conflict driver in null sec that makes space worth holding, that makes it worth a small group grabbing some distant constellation or even a system so they can do something with it beyond planting a flag.

We’re out burning down FI.RE space right now, but we have no intention of keeping it.  It adds no value and is too far from home for us to hold and maintain and farm.

Does that mean we should go back to passive POS mining?  Probably not.  But something needs to drive conflict beyond the major powers just shooting each other in order to burn down some structures and go home.

  • Now What?

Is any of this true?  I mean, it sounds reasonable.  Certainly the traditional way for an MMO to get out of economic stagnation is to grow and inflate itself out the problem, to give players more money and expensive new toys to build or buy.  Players don’t love it when it becomes a recurring endless treadmill of progression.  But right now the veteran player base, the core of any game, has no real progression at all.

Likewise, the current structure and sovereignty system has been seen as more of an impediment that an incentive for war.  I’ve been on eight hour long sov tug of war battles where it is just a grind to see which side will get tired and go home.  That isn’t sparkling game play.

Can Kazanir do anything about this on the CSM?  Probably not.

He can bring his ideas to CCP, but they have to be receptive and, the current team running the game has been sticking to its guns that the only way to preserve the game is to keep the economy stuck in low gear lest players advance too quickly.

Anyway, it will be something to watch in the coming year.

I have tried to transmit Kazanir’s ideas to a blog post, but I fear I have not done him justice.  The fireside was recorded however, and that recording is up on a public server if you want to listen to him speak yourself.  It is about a 15 minute listen.

Kazanir starts speaking at the 5:40 mark if you wish to jump ahead and get straight to that.

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