Tag Archives: MMO Economy

Delve – We Mine Things and We Rat a Little Less

The monthly economic report for June 2017 is out already and the first thing I went to see was whether or not the reduced carrier nerfs that came in with the June update had any effect on bounty payouts.

There is, as they say, a chart for that…. specifically the chart showing the top eight ISK sinks and faucets.

June 2017 – Top 8 ISK Sinks and Faucets over time

It looks like the nerf was a palpable hit, dropping bounties back to January levels as well as proving again how much carrier and super carrier ratting was contributing to the number.  Even in Fortress Delve the number was down.

June 2017 – Bounties per Region

CCP Quant did not include the bounties per region chart previously, but Delve’s bounties were part of the region summary chart for May where they were listed at 8.8 trillion ISK.  The June chart above shows just over 8 trillion ISK in bounties for June, so about a 10% hit to the bounty ISK faucet in Delve.  That is actually a marginally bigger hit than in the game overall, where bounties fell from 69 trillion ISK to 63 trillion ISK total, about a 9% reduction.

Of course, that likely isn’t enough and even CCP has said they are not done yet, as I noted in my post about the June update, another blow against carrier and super carrier ratting is planned:

We are working on changes to Anomalies that will reduce the effectiveness of Carriers and Supercarriers. These changes will be announced at a later date.

At least one chronic complainer will cry about CCP never fulfilling their promises… and the company have an admittedly shaky reputation on that front, at least if you take every visionary statement as a promise… but they have been serious about the economy before, and I expect them to continue to be serious.  We shall see.

Meanwhile, there was yet another nerf to Rorqual mining as part of the June patch as well.  Using Delve as the benchmark again, back in May there was almost 9 trillion ISK worth or ore extracted in the region.

June 2017 – Mining Value by Region

In June, with half the month after the latest nerf, the number shy of 8.5 trillion ISK worth of mining done, making for a hit of just over 5%.  Not as big of an impact as bounties.

But then, mining is not like bounties.  Mining does not generate ISK out of thin air, so while it might impact the velocity of ISK, it does not change the money supply.  It is also measures via the market price, so a shift in price can shift that number.

And what is mined is used to produce ships and modules in New Eden, something especially so in Delve.  Aryth, CSM member and economic director in GSF, said on Talking in Stations The Meta Show [edit: was thinking of the wrong Aryth interview] that Delve doesn’t export minerals or ore but actually has to import them in order to feed the engines of production in the region.  I can speak from personal observation that buy orders in the region would keep you from ever bothering to export to Jita, while the production of the region is visible on another chart.

June 2017 – Production Values by Region

Production was actually down most places for June, including Delve, where it was off about 10% from May.  I wonder if that is the Rorqual nerf throttling production or something else.

Mining is, after all, a double balance.  The price of minerals has to be high enough to make mining a worthwhile venture.  However, when the price of minerals goes up, so does the price of everything else.  I’ll let economists argue over which side of that equation is more important.

Overall, the money supply in New Eden went down.

June 2017 – ISK Sinks and Faucets and Total Money Supply

One hundred trillion ISK came into the economy via faucets in June, most of it via NPC bounties.

sixty trillion ISK came out of New Eden via a variety of sinks, mostly NPC transaction taxes, while another 57 trillion ISK came out through player account activity (not sure how that works with Alpha clones now) and GM activity (we all know how that one works, the GM takes your stuff because you got caught breaking the terms of service), for a net reduction of about 17 trillion ISK.

At least the upward trend of the money supply was throttled a bit.  I would like to know how much of that 57 trillion ISK was from GMs taking money from those who exploited the ghost training bug.

Anyway, so it goes.  I still remain slightly amazed that CCP shares so many numbers with us, but EVE Online remains a very different game from its competitors.

Delve – We Build and We Sell a Few Things

We are a week into June, so the time was right for the May 2017 economic report for EVE Online to show up.

As expected, dipping into the data shows Delve still at the top when it comes to ratting and mining.  The Imperium still care bears the hell out of its systems. It is a selling point for the coalition.

May 2017 – Stats for Top 20 Regions

We shall if the Rorqual and anomaly changes coming on Tuesday will put a dent in the mining side of that.

For other economic indicators however, The Forge region, with Jita in the role of central trade hub of New Eden, still ranks supreme.

All Road lead to Jita

For the market size The Forge has no competition, ringing it at 600 trillion ISK for May.

May 2017 – Total Market Trade Value by Region

Domain, the region with the next highest numbers, hosting the trade hub of Amarr, only showed 75 trillion ISK for May.  Surprisingly though, third place doesn’t fall to the regions that are home to the tertiary trade hubs of Hek or Dodixie.  Instead, Delve is in third place with 24 trillion ISK for May.  Not bad for a region held by a single coalition.  We sell a lot of stuff to ourselves.  Certainly the market in the Keepstar in 1DQ1-A seems to have most things I need.

A lot of what appears on our market is shipped in from Jita.  The groups running the shipping services run the Jita to Delve route frequently.  But we do build some of our own stuff as well.

May 2017 – Total Production Value by Region

The Forge is out in front again with 26 trillion ISK in value manufactured.  With Jita being what it is, people want to produce close to market, so The Forge at the top of the list, with adjacent regions of Lonetrek and The Citadel putting up solid numbers as well due to proximity.

But second place goes to Delve which manufactured 20 trillion ISK in goods.  I am sure capital and supercaps figure heavily in the mix.  But there are engineering complexes all over key systems in Delve building things.  You could see a couple in my post about the TNT Keepstar, and when you go into KarmaFleet’s home system your overview is pretty much overwhelmed by citadels and engineering complexes.

So I guess if ratting and mining numbers are seen as selling points for the Imperium, then we might also have a line there for manufacturers as well.

Delve – We Rat and We Mine Things

Just about two weeks ago we got the somewhat delayed March economic report for EVE Online where it was pointed out in a chart just how much of the biggest ISK faucet in the game, NPC bounties, flows into null sec space.  That number was 92.2%.

Bounty Payments – March 2017

Now we have the April economic report and the charts have changed up again.  This time we can narrow it down to where a lot of that ratting and mining is happening.  Delve is the place.

Here are the NPC bounties claimed by region:

April 2017 – Bounties by Region

Delve is solidly out in front when it comes to ratting, coming in with almost double the amount of the next region in contention, our old home in Deklein.

As before, NPC bounties remain far and away the biggest generator of ISK in the game.

April 2017 – Top ISK Sinks and Faucets over time

Bounty payments are still down from their peak, no doubt to the small nerf to carrier ratting introduced back in March, but remain wholly the dominate ISK faucet.

The mining chart is back again as well, and Delve stands in first place there as well.

April 2017 – Mining Value by Region

Now you know why the Imperium keeps getting their Rorquals dropped on… Delve is the place where Rorquals are likely to be found.

This month included a bonus chart that compares mining ship activity in April 2016 and April 2017.

Top Mining Ships April 2016 vs. April 2017

A year ago the Rorqual simply wasn’t used to mine at all.  Now it is the preeminent mining ship in the game.  The durable Skiff and Procurer, along with the commodious Mackinaw, look to be considerably less popular than a year ago.  The Hulk, once the only ship to mine in if you were serious, seems to have held on to its percentage of yield fairly well.

Anyway, now you know what we really do down in Delve; we rat and mine like a ravenous horde of care bears.

The full April 2017 economic report can be found here.

Null Sec – We Rat and We Mine Things

Null bears are everywhere!

CCP released their monthly economic report for March 2017 on Friday with some new charts added and at least one old standard omitted.  There had been some discussion in the CSM as to what data might compromise op sec or otherwise signal other parties what was going on, which led to the mining output chart going missing.  But even with the last round of Rorqual nerfs, mining with them seems to still be running apace judging by the Rorqual kill mails alone.

But by far the most outrageous chart in the report has to be the one for bounty payments, the largest ISK faucet in New Eden.  Guess who rats a lot?

Bounty Payments – March 2017

Of the 66.65 trillion ISK in bounty payments paid out for killing hostile NPCs over the course of the month, the largest ISK input into the game representing nearly half of all of the total faucets, 92.2% of them were collected in null sec.

Looking back six months for a comparison (I was going to look back a year, but there was a war going on which was likely depressing bounty payments) that represents about a 50% boost in bounty payments.  (Though six months back bounty payments represented an even larger part of the ISK faucet pie.)

Looking at that chart, you are likely reacting in one of two ways:

  • That’s not fair!  Null sec shouldn’t get all the ISK.  CCP should make ISK available to me where I play!
  • If I want ISK I had better move to null sec!

Which one do you think is more likely to improve your bottom line?

This is all a result of how things have been evolving in null sec over time.  Five years ago, when I was finally settling into the null sec routine, ratting wasn’t what it is today.  Yes, it was still popular, but anomalies were sparse, a lot of null sec systems weren’t even worth ratting in, and shooting NPCs didn’t do much for your corp or alliance aside from provide a little tax income.  It was viewed as a bit selfish, an act of fattening your own wallet.  My old corp used to set the tax rate to 100% during operations or deployments to punish those who wanted to rat when they were needed elsewhere.

And then things changed.

There was Fozzie Sov, which introduce the activity defense multiplier.  That index was influenced, in part, by how many NPCs were destroyed in a given system.  Ratting suddenly became a patriotic way to support your corp/alliance/coalition.  This was accompanied by a boost in anomaly frequency to help make previously worthless systems worth ratting in.

Then there was the expansion of forces in null sec.  Brave Newbies started the trend, but now if you want to get into null sec there are multiple opportunities.  Once it was a wry comment that it was easier to get a home loan than to get into a null sec corporation.  Now just about anybody who wants to can find a slot in one of the newbie friendly corps in null sec.  The various coalitions need players both to form up to defend their space (or attack others) and to rat and mine and do the things that keeps the home front more defensible.  And so the doors opened.  If you’re not in null sec, it is because you do not wish to be, not because anybody is keeping you out.

However, given the trend in the top faucets/sinks chart, I wonder if CCP is going to let this continue on as is.

March 2017 – Top sinks and faucets over time

While most of those lines are fairly stable, the bounty payout line has been going up for a while.  If that trend continues unabated, they might have to change something.

Looking at the rest of the report though, it appears that while null sec is making the ISK, much of it ends up in high sec in general, and in Jita in particular.

Of Sinks and Faucets and What People Do in New Eden

One of the sessions I attended at EVE Vegas was presented by CCP Quant and reported on the economics of New Eden and announced the return of regular economic reports.  It was a very interesting session for me, tainted somewhat by the fact that I couldn’t read what was on a lot of the charts being displayed.

Well, that has been remedied.  CCP Quant has turned his presentation into a dev blog, so we can all pour over the data he presented… and I can actually read all of the charts.

I want to post two of the charts here because I really like them and because I want to be able to find them at need.  The first is the list of what people do when logged into EVE Online.

Incursions, run by 1.5% of those who log in...

Incursions, run by 1.5% of those who log in…

And the second is where the money comes from and where it goes.

More faucets than sinks...

More faucets than sinks…

I find it telling that insurance puts more than twice as much ISK into the game than agent mission rewards and bonuses combined.  And incusions, which were run by 1.5% of the players logging on in September, paid in nearly double the insurance number.

Anyway, if you are interested in following the money, where things are built, and what we’re all up to in space, you should take a look at that dev blog.

I look forward to the monthly economic reports… and the conclusions people will draw from them.

Charting the Relative Natures of MMO Economies

I think that by this point in time, some fifteen years down the road from the launch of Ultima Online, having a player economy is one of the hallmarks of games I consider to be MMOs, at least when I use the term.

If there is no player to player economy, then the game is something else to my mind.  World of Tanks, not an MMO in my book.  EverQuest certainly is.

And desire for a player driven economy stems from the deep in the roots of the genre.

In 1993 I was playing TorilMUD, arguably the precursor of EverQuest, which was very much a gear driven game.  Despite there being no mechanism at all to handle or encourage a player economy, one spontaneously appeared.  The desire to exchange gear for trade or coin, the need to create an economy, was so strong that an unofficial one was started and developed its own rules and customs.  And it became popular enough that there were standard prices for certain items.  We would sit around in Waterdeep and people would do shout auctions for items, which you would bid on with a direct tell to the seller.  And it you were looking for something, you would shout out a “want to buy” or WTB.

The economy become very popular very quickly, to the point that the people running TorilMUD were not quite sure what to do with it.  First they tried to contain the amount of spam it caused in town, putting a limit on the number of yells you could do over a given period of time and then by trying to get us to do this in a single room rather than shouting across a whole zone.  Eventually, an auction house was implemented, though the devs put the auctioneer in out of the way places, as I think they were still suspicious of the player driven economy.

This suspicion came, in part, from the fact that the player driven economy pointed out flaws in the game.  With little to spend the in-game currency on besides items from other players, some people began to amass huge quantities of cash.  This, of course, drove up the price of everything in the player economy because the long term players could afford to drop a lot of coins on things they wanted for themselves or alts.

But the whole sinks and faucets and inflation aspect of the currency is another discussion.

Likewise, when EverQuest launched, there were no tools to drive a player economy.  It formed around the Commonlands tunnel where people would go to buy and sell, very much in the model of TorilMUD.  This popped up again for a bit on the progression servers, at least until the bazaar showed up.

The Plane of Knowledge kills all this...

Nostalgia at the tunnel

I was thinking about all of this and trying to fit MMO player economies into a two dimensional system for comparison.

What I came up with was how much of a requirement the player economy was to play the game and how much friction there was to engaging in the player economy.

The first seems pretty reasonable to gauge.  Can you play the game, or can you get very far in the game, without engaging in the player economy.  For example, in EVE Online, you have to use the player economy to play the game.  You could, I suppose, try to avoid it.  In fact, it might be an interesting experiment to see what you could do without it.  But I imagine that it would be a long, slow grind to completely avoid the market and it would limit what you could accomplish.

Most other MMOs make the player economy somewhat optional, and have moved more in that direction over time.  The combination of quest rewards and game difficulty have moved in the direction of keeping players independent of the player economy.

Friction, on the other hand, encompasses a whole range of things, such as:

  • How easy is it to access the market?
  • How easy is it to buy and take delivery?
  • How good is the UI?
  • How high are the fees/taxes on transactions?
  • How stable is pricing?
  • Do enough people use the economy to make it viable?

And it is with this that you start to get all over the map.  For example, Guild Wars 2 and EVE Online are oddly similar in how easy it is to view the market.  You can bring it up in the UI wherever you are.  On the other hand, while GW2 shows you everything on the market in the game, EVE limits you to your current region.

Anyway, in order to compare these, I made a little graph and put down where I thought certain games might sit on those two continuum.  This is what I ended up with.

Click to make readable

Click to make readable

The X axis is friction, and the mixed bag of items that represents.  The Y axis is how much of a requirement it is to engage in the player driven economy.  For a few games I made entries for past states of the game and how they seem currently.

EVE Online is, of course, the game furthest down the required end of the spectrum.  I also put it midway along the high end of the friction scale.  On the one hand the market is chopped up by regions, there is no delivery so you have to go get the item from the station in which it was listed, this leads to interesting price differentials based on convenience, there is a double tax/fee system, and then there is the whole contracts economy to confuse the issue.  And pity the poor capsuleer in the middle of nowhere in need of something.

Mitigating that friction is that if you go to the right system, usually Jita, you can find what you want to buy, and there are so many buyers and sellers competing that there is price stability.

At the other end of things is Guild Wars 2, where you can list to sell anywhere and just have to find the right NPC to pick up items you have purchased and proceeds from sales.  The friction is so low that low that lots of people engage in the economy, so commodities for crafting and the like are readily available at reasonable prices.  How much a player is really required to participate is a wild guess on my part.  Gear provided by your personal quest line seemed good if you kept up, but I have no idea if that carries on through the game.

In the middle, well, a few other games.  I ranked LOTRO‘s friction higher than most because of the low participation and the annoying locations and mediocre UI of the auctioneers.  On the other hand, you don’t really need it, and doubly so since Turbine started selling very good armor in the cash shop.

EverQuest II was high friction at launch in some ways… you had to be online to sell, sales were restricted to the storage space of your home (which you had to have to sell), and fees pushed players to go visit players directly in their homes.  And, if you were crafting at the time, there was the interdependence of the crafting skills that required you to use the market or use up your four character slots to make crafting alts.  On the other hand, when you buy something on the broker in EQII, it appears right in your inventory.  A lot of that got smoothed out over time, but dependence on the broker went with a lot of that.

EverQuest started at high friction, you had to be online and see the right person on the auction channel selling something you wanted.  Later the Bazaar came and you could get a listing, but sellers had to be online, in the Bazaar, and you had to go find them.  Finally, things got to offline selling in the more recent expansions, though I think you still have to show up at the Bazaar.

I ranked TorilMUD even higher on friction, if only because the player base was so much smaller.  When your player population is a few hundred, and only 256 can be on at a time, your buying and selling options are pretty limited.

And in the middle there is World of Warcraft, which used to have a segmented market, but which has since been unified.  The UI for it has gotten better over time, and the addons for playing the auction house have grown more sophisticated, but the need for the auction house has diminished over time as quest rewards in the form of gear have become more regular and standardized through the leveling process.

So there is my chart.  It is pretty much a gut-level, unsubstantiated work at this point.  Where do you think I am right and where am I clearly wrong?  And where would other games fit on the chart?

And, of course, where do you think MMOs should sit on that chart?  What would be ideal, if anything?

The Age of the Discriminating Vendor

Another one of those posts that starts with “back in the day…” and which recounts how things used to be during the stone age of online gaming.  Writing about it is not necessarily advocating for its return, but it certainly made things different.  Anyway, on to it…

Back in the day, back in TorilMUD, there were things that were very different than we see them now in modern MMORPGs, and there were things that were very much the same.

All text, all the time

It was all text, all the time back then

One thing that was the same was money.

Everybody needed it, the economy needed it, but nobody started out with any and the only real way to get any was to kill NPCs that spawned in the world for their loot.

There were also quests.  But quests were not very common, annoying to find, and could be frustratingly difficult to complete.  I have gone into the way questing used to be back in the day.  There was nobody standing around waiting to tell you to kill ten rats.  And the end result was more often an item than any money.

So that left murdering the residents of the world and looting their still warm corpses as the only real money making enterprise.

Wholesale slaughter would get you some coins.  But for the most part that was a pretty slow way to earn money, at least at lower levels.  Later, in a leveling group in place like the pirate ship, a good group could end up with a nice pile of cash.

But you, new adventurer, won’t be doing that or zones or anything of the sort for a long while.

And that went double for elves and half elves who started on the Island of Evermeet, in the elvish city of Leuthilspar and were stuck there for the first 20 levels of their career.  I will focus on the plight of the elves, since that is what I am most familiar with.

So to supplement the tiny trickle of coins, you would have to also grab whatever else your victims were carrying.  Swords, bits and pieces or armor and clothing, random items of junk, whatever you could pry from their cold, dead fingers.  You would collect all of this to sell to one of the many vendors in Abeir-Toril.

As a young citizen of Leuthilspar, you would head out to Kobold Village or the Faerie Forest in search of adventure, experience, and loot.  At least, once you figured out how to get there.  Eventually, if you were successful… by which I generally mean that you did not die and have to go find your corpse in the dark… you would have a pile of coins and some items to vendor.

In Kobold Village there was a couple of vendors, but as your became more seasoned you began to notice that those vendors paid very little for your items.   That was the way of the world.  The buy and sell prices from vendors were influence by your race, your class, your charisma stat, and the general level of wickedness of the person who created the zone.

The young elvish adventurer could make much more money, multiples of what the stingy vendors out in the world were offering, if said adventurer just dragged all of that loot back to a vendor in Leuthilspar.

The key was, which vendor.

Leuthilspar Locations

Leuthilspar Locations (click to embiggen)

The good part was that all the vendors were pretty close to the square at city center and near to the bank.

The down side was that the vendors were all pretty picky about what they would buy.  Your options were:

1 – Talidnal’s Goods and Supply Shop – Sold random supplies like rations and small bags, would buy miscellaneous items of the same sort.  You had to sell the red feather from the traveling faerie here.

2 – The Weapon Shop of Leuthilspar – Bought and sold weapons and only weapons.  Notable for being one of the vendors with special responses.  Would point out in all caps that this was weapon shop if you tried to sell something else and would claim that they could buy items flagged “no value” because they just bought a Doombringer earlier.

3 – The Scribe Shop of Leuthilspar – Sold scroll, including the scroll of identify.  These cost 2 platinum coins, which was more than any new player could afford, but which was the only way to see the full stats and information on any given item.  Except, of course, if the item was flagged as “no identify,” in which case you just wasted 2 plat.

4 – Silyonlanster’s Fine Gems and Jewels – Sold some gems that had no purpose I ever found, and would buy any gems you happened to have.

5 – Norlan’s Pet Shop – Bought nothing as far as I could tell, but would sell you a very expensive pet that would fight for you and which would be gone forever if it died… or if you logged off.  A lot of us bought one of these exactly once.

6 – The Armorer of Leuthilspar – Sold some very heavy bronze armor and would buy anything flagged as armor, which did not include leather armor from Kobold Village or the Cloak of Forest Shadows.

7 – The Leviathan Shipwright – Sold rafts and canoes for crossing water.  You just had to have one in your inventory (but not in a container) for them to work.  Would buy them back at a deep discount.

8 – The Green Griffon Pub – Sold alcoholic beverages.  Never bought anything I had to sell.

9 – Tilanthra’s Shop of Alchemy – Bought and sold potions.

10 – The Magic Shop of Leuthilspar – Sold a number of scrolls and wands, despite there already being a scroll shop.  Would only buy wands and the like.  This is where you would sell that Wand of Thunderous Rage that was in the garbage heap and which never worked for me over the last 15 years.

11 – Morlanthrtilan’s Fine Clothier – Had nothing for sale as I recall, but would buy that leather armor from Kobold Village that the armor shop turned its nose up at.

12 – The Blue Dragon Inn and Restaurant – Sold oddly specific and very expensive food at various times and would buy, for reasons I could never determine, arrows and quarrels.

13 – Qulazoral’s Barrels and More – Sold you a skin or a barrel of water after your first issued water skin evaporated after you emptied it (I think they finally fixed that) but before you finally got a flagon from Bandor.  Would buy liquid containers, if you ever found one.

There were some other vendors in town.  Each guild had a vendor that might give you a few more coins for specific items.  But in general, it was vendor row on main street that handled your needs.  You just needed to run around a lot until you figured out who bought what.  It helped that what vendors purchased ended up in their inventory for sale again, a feature I miss, and which was last seen in EverQuest as I recall.

And even then you would end up with a few items that no vendor would purchase, but which were not flagged “no value.”  There were a few items I would have to travel to Mithril Hall, way up in the north beyond Neverwinter, in order to vendor.  I think the dead rat was on that list.

Still, in some ways, the elves did not have it so bad.  The vendors gave decent prices and were all centrally located.  This was not necessarily the case in Waterdeep or Baldurs gate, and good luck selling things way down in Calimport.

And vendors in Leuthilspar never closed.  Elves don’t need sleep.  In other towns vendors would often close for some or all of the night cycle of a given day.  The time translation was one real world minute for one game hour, so you might end up sitting in a shop for 6 or 8 or 12 minutes waiting for the vendor to open up again.

And with all of that, you still ran the risk of selling something of value to other players… something you could sell or trade… to a vendor without knowing.  As I mentioned above, you needed a scroll of identify to see what an item did.  There were no stats on demand and equipment was not color coded by the now standard formula (gray, white, green, blue, purple) to indicate relative worth.  Of course, once you sold the item to a vendor, it cost you a lot more to buy it back.  It seemed that vendors were in the business of making money… or at least acting like they were there to make money as opposed to just being a place to dump your crap.

Today though, we can see it all.  Stats show up when we hover the cursor over and item, and it will even show what we have equipped in the relevant slot so we can instantly compare.  Items names are color coded, as noted above.  And not only will vendors buy just about anything you have (and sell it back to you at the same price if sold something by mistake) but we are at the point in games like Rift where there is a button that will automatically sell all of your “trash” grade loot to the vendor with a single press.

As I said at the top, I am not exactly hankering to go back to the way vendors used to be.  But it is interesting to see how much has changed, and one wonders if it was all for the better.