Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Kickstarter War: Tinnimerci Cleared

Due to intervening events, I wasn't able to post until mid-day today, so the events basically cover days 5 and half of day 6 of the war. Also, I learned from Xander Phoena of Crossing Zebras that the name of the Pandemic Horde, WAFFLES., and Pandemic Legion is the PanFam. He's in the news for telling people a lot more than that right now, though.

The news out of Cloud Ring is that the Imperium is about to clear the Tinnimerci constellation of all PanFam sovereignty structures. Goonswarm Federation captured the station in W-4NUU yesterday and as I type this has the Pandemic Horde [REKTD] Territorial Claim Unit down to 45% from its initial starting point of 60%. With Imperium forces actively attacking the structure, the only question remaining is if the Goons will place their own TCU and Infrastructure Hub in the system.

In other news, the Pride of Palestine's TCU was destroyed in OU-X3P at 0413 today, leaving Brave Collective with the only other alliance with control of any sovereignty in Tinnimerci. Will the Imperium allow Brave to maintain control of what apparently is Brave's capital system? With an Activity Defense Modifier of 6.0, we probably won't know until tomorrow at the earliest.

In the constellation of Balenne, the map is a bit deceiving. While showing the destruction of the WAFFLES. [NOMAD] TCU in the system of FD53-H, the map hides the progess Imperium forces made attacking NOMAD outposts over the past 30 hours. SpaceMonkey's Alliance [SMA]seized control of the outpost in O-ZXUV while the WAFFLES. TCU, which determines what shows up on the map, is still reinforced. And in O-IVNH, the system is currently Freeported and the attack window opened at 1257 EVE time.

Pandemic Horde still maintains control of the station system of TN-T7T in Balenne, but perhaps not for long. All three REKTD-owned sovereignty structures (TCU, iHUB, and outpost) were reinforced yesterday and the attack window opens tomorrow. Depending on progress against WAFFLES. infrastructure today, the Imperium could concentrate eliminating the existential threat of Pandemic Horde in Cloud Ring tomorrow.

One amusing side note before leaving the Balenne constellation. The name of the SMA outpost in O-ZXUV is "BUY MY BOOK". Take that for what you will.

In Querious, the only real action that occurred yesterday was fighing in L-6BE1 as the Pandemic Horde station in the system flipped to Freeport status. If the killboard is any indication, The Methodical Alliance [TMA] did not do the flipping. Defending Pandemic Horde and Northern Army forces were defeated by DARKNESS.. With the next event window for capture of the station opening up tomorrow, the question of who comes out on top is up in the air.

In the constellation of H-6HGD, the hotspot is the station system of A2-V27. While no timers expired yesterday, Dotlan shows that over the past 24 hours over 150 ships and 75 pods died in the system. In action today, the Pandemic Horde and friends managed to save PH's Infrastructure Hub. The timers for the TCU and outpost in A2-V27 as well as for the TMA iHub in 0-WT2D will end later today.

That's the wrap up for the news over the past 30 hours or so. While the fighting in Querius will probably continue for some time, the Imperium should wrap up, or nearly wrap up, the fighting in Cloud Ring in time for The Mittani to declare victory on The Meta Show on Saturday. After that, New Eden will need to wait and see what the Imperium brain trust has in store next.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Kickstarter War: Day 4

I begin to wonder if war weariness has struck the Imperium already. Or perhaps boredom. On Sunday Imperium forces decided to travel to the Geminate region to battle NCdot. A quick look at the map of New Eden may explain my statement.

Geminate is 4 regions away from Cloud Ring, the Imperium's main theatre of operations. But even if the Imperium line grunts continue to chase after squirrels, victory in Cloud Ring seems almost certain. Let's look at the happenings from yesterday and the early morning hours of today.

In Cloud Ring, the Imperium is coming closer to purging the constellation of Tinnimerci of all Pandemic Horde and WAFFLES. forces. WAFFLES. lost sovereignty over the system of O-0HW8 while in W-4NUU, Imperium forces reinforced Pandemic Horde's Territorial Claim Unit and placed the station into Freeport mode. Brave Collective, on the other hand, has no sovereignty structures reinforced as of 0400 this morning. The question now is whether the Imperium will allow Brave to keep the system. Since the system apparently is Brave's capital system, the Imperium may want to bypass the system.

One interesting tidbit is that The-Culture [-T C-] appears to have reinforced the I Whip My Slaves Back and Forth [J4LP] station in MJYW-3. Since the existential threat of the Pandemic Horde, Northern Army, and friends torwards not only the Imperium but J4LP was one of the casus belli listed in The Mittani's State of the Goonion on 19 November, I wonder if the Imperium will extend its actions toward purging The-Culture from the region as well.

In Balenne, the Imperium managed to place the WAFFLES. controlled stations in O-IVNH and O-ZXUV into freeport mode. The WAFFLES. TCUs in 1-NW2G, FD53-H, and F7C-H0 are also reinforced and vulnerable for destruction today. Interestingly enough, the pressure was eased on Pandemic Horde's sovereignty structures in TN-T7T and none are in a reinforced state.

The fighting in the north of Querious is particularly interesting. Pandemic Horde and friends, knowing about the upcoming Imperium punitive raid in Cloud Ring, moved to the space of The Methodical Alliance to take up residence. PH somehow managed to aquire possession of the Gallente outpost in the otherwise TMA-owned system of L-6BE1. Whether they can keep the station is another story, as the station is reinforced and fighting can commence a few hours after this post is published.

The fighting in the north-eastern constellation of H-6HGD, while perhaps not involving large numbers of ships, appears more interesting than that going on in Cloud Ring. Pandemic Horde and friends are attempting to destroy the TMA Infrastructure Hubs in the constellation. Yesterday, TMA saved their iHub in A3-LOG but lost the one in T8H-66. The iHub in 0-WT2D was put into reinforced mode yesterday and will become vulnerable to attack on Wednesday at 23:48 EVE time.

The entryway into low sec, A2-V27, continues to see action, although should enjoy a period of calm today. In action yesterday, Pandemic Horde and friends managed to put the system's outpost into Freeport mode, but also saw its own TCU and iHub reinforced by TMA and their friends. Those timers all allow for fighting on Wednesday.

The Methodical Alliance may have picked up two allies. Pilots for both DARKNESS. [DARK.] and Short Bus Syndicate [TARD] are listed on kill reports fighting the PH coalition in H-6HGD. DARK. is a 2280 member alliance led by Sort Dragon, who has an interesting resume. He led the Honey Badger Coalition before the Fountain War which is the subject of the book a Kickstarter effort is trying to fund for best-selling author Jeff Edwards to write. Also, in the battle of B-R5RB, the ability of his Titan to tank the incoming fire of the PL/N3 forces was the turning point in that battle, as the CFC/RUS fleet managed to destroy 5 PL/N3 titans during that time. I am under the impression that Pandemic Legion does not like Sort Dragon. possibly due to his behavior at Fanfest in 2013.

As we go into day 5 of the war, we can see how the conflict has spread. The Imperium pushed into Cloud Ring, causing Pandemic Horde to seek a new home in Querious. The conflict could erupt from the northern section of Querious as Pandemic Legion once again faces the prospect (perhaps eagerly) of locking horns with Sort Dragon and DARKNESS.. At the same time, war could come to the Yrton constellation of Cloud Ring as The-Culture pokes at Imperium ally J4LP.

I honestly don't see the war continuing over a month, but I don't live in null sec so the possibility exists I'm completely wrong. But the war is interesting enough I actually abandoned my recent pattern of only posting three days a week. Hopefully people will enjoy reading about a small conflict in EVE.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Kickstarter War: Day 3

After three days of "war", some might say the Imperium is not winning fast enough in Cloud Ring. But enough of old, historical propaganda. I'm not sure to put down the current results to overconfidence or the traditional "Goons are bad at the beginning of wars" theme that applies so often. So let's look at what happened yesterday.

In the constellation of Tinnimerci, Pandemic Horde lost control of four systems: 6-4V20, 8R-RTB, Q-UA3C, and OU-X3P. Perhaps somewhat comically, the 10-man alliance The Pride of Palestine [1488] put up a Territorial Claim Unit in OU-X3P and controls the system until one of the warring parties decides to take it back.

In another surprise, not everything is going the Imperium's way in W-4NUU. The station was placed in Freeport mode and the Infrastructure Hub destroyed, but the TCU is back in the invulnerable state. We'll have to wait until the major news sites post stories about the fighting, but Dotlan indicates over 100 ships on both sides were destroyed in the fighting.

To round out the situation in Tinnimerci, the WAFFLES. TCU in O-0HW8 is currently in reinforced and faces destruction early in the morning.

The action in Balenne constellation, located in the south-east portion of Cloud Ring, appears to have taken a back seat to that in neighboring Tinnimerci. Only one system, 77-KDQ, changed hands, with The Pride of Palestine planting another TCU on the map. WAFFLES. TCUs in the systems of F7C-H0 and FD53-H both returned to the invulnerable state, although Imperium forces did destroy at least 2 WAFFLES. POS towers and associated modules before departing. In addition, Imperium forces put the station in O-ZXUV into Freeport mode. In the other two station systems in the constellation, the WAFFLES.-owned station and TCU in O-IVNH and the Pandemic Horde station, TCU, and iHUB all come out of reinforcement and are vulnerable to attack on Monday.

In other news, Pandemic Horde, backed up by Pandemic Legion and Northern Army [NARM], NCDot's new player alliance, continue to advance in Querious against The Methodical Alliance [TMA]. Pandemic Horde placed both a TCU and iHub in A2-V27 as well as reinforced the TMA iHubs in A3-LOG and T8H-66. In addition, the TMA station in A2-V27 was put into reinforce mode.

A second front in the TMA/PH war opened as somehow Pandemic Horde acquired control of the Gallente Outpost in L-6BE1 on the western edge of TMA's space. The station is reinforced and vulnerable to attack on Tuesday at 16:11 EVE time.

I don't think what effectively is a punitive raid will really evolve into a full-fledged war, no matter what I title my blog posts. But I am interested in what effects the ripples will produce as displaced groups start moving around New Eden.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Kickstarter War - Day 2

Today is day 2 of the Imperium's war to crush out the existential threat represented by Pandemic Horde, WAFFLES., and a whole host of other smaller alliances. I'm looking at the balance of forces and then remember The Mittani's history as a third party broker for titan sales.

Anyway, as of 1400 today, all sovereignty structures owned by Pandemic Horde, WAFFLES., and Brave Collective in Cloud Ring are in reinforcement. That means that once the reinforcement period is over, the Imperium can commence its attack to destroy them in the case of Territorial Control Units and Infrastructure Hubs, or force the stations into Freeport mode. Stations first go through a period in which they are open to everyone before an alliance can capture the station. The Freeport mode is an indicator that perhaps defending players should get their assets out of the station.

The fight over the systems is not very fierce. Brave has offered opposition in the form of Cormorant fleets in their station system of YI-8ZM as well as the Pandemic Horde controlled system of 6-4V20.

Pandemic Horde apparently is not allowing the Imperium to distract it from conducting offensive operations in Querious. In the system of A2-V27, owned by The Methodical Alliance [TMA], kill reports indicate a large amount of Pandemic Horde activity. While the Gallente Outpost in the system is still firmly in TMA control, both the TCU and iHub were placed into the reinforced state. The iHub will come out of reinforcement at 20:38 today, while the TCU comes out at 21:10.

One last thought. I thought Pandemic Horde was fighting SMA, not TMA. D'oh!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Angry Imperium Guy Is Angry

So now the Imperium plans on acting like the Roman Empire of old and conduct punitive raids against the barbarians on its borders. At least, that's the feeling I got from listening to The Mittani's latest State of the Goonion address last night.

The goals, at a strategic level, are simple. Chase all potential threats out of Cloud Ring and then pursue them into low sec. Let's look at the situation in Cloud Ring as of 0600 on 20 November.

The main players in the region who will become embroiled in the conflict are:

I Whip My Slaves Back and Forth [J4LP] - A former member of the Imperium and still friendly to the coalition. The name of the 530 member alliance comes from its roots in the Amarr militia. J4LP currently controls the north and north-west of the region.

Space Monkey's Alliance [SMA] - The second largest alliance in the Imperium with 5456 members, SMA controls the Assilot constellation in the north-east portion of the region.

WAFFLES. [N0MAD] - The 235 member alliance is the feeder alliance for Pandemic Legion. The 7 systems and 2 stations WAFFLES. owns in Cloud Ring is the totality of its holdings in sovereign null sec.

Pandemic Horde [REKTD] - A new player alliance founded by Pandemic Legion. The 6 systems and 2 stations Pandemic Horde own in Cloud Ring is the totality of its holdings in sovereign null sec. With 2219 members, Pandemic Horde makes up for the lack of skills of its members with raw numbers.

Brave Collective [BRAVE] - At one time Brave Collective was famous as the largest new player organization in New Eden. But after its eviction from Catch and a change in leadership that kicked all of the inactive players, the alliance is down to 2 systems, 1 station, and 732 members.

In the south-west constellation of Yrton is a collection of small alliances undoubtedly hoping that the Imperium will ignore them.

Image from Dotlan maps

In the constellation of Tinnimerci, Imperium forces were thwarted in their plans to immediately attack the system of W-4NUU as Pandemic Horde changed the vulnerability timer in the system to the Australian time zone. While probably only delaying the inevitable, the change does delay the Imperium unexpectedly. The Imperium did manage to reinforce the Territorial Claim Units (TCU) in 8R-RTB, Q-UA3C, and OU-X3P, as well as both the TCU and Infrastructure Hub (iHub) in 6-4V20. While TCUs are little more than flags to let others know who owns a system, an iHub allows an alliance to install upgrades that improve the value of a system. The system of W-4 contains a station as well as an iHub and TCU, making the system a very valuable prize as the Imperium begins its efforts to purge the region of any threats.

Image from Dotlan maps
In Balenne, Imperium forces ignored the Pandemic Horde-controlled station system of TN-T7T and reinforced the TCUs of three WAFFLES. systems, 1-NW2G, F7C-H0, and 77-KDQ.

According to a post on Reddit, Pandemic Horde successfully evacuated all its assets from Cloud Ring, with the fleet that began the night in W-4 taking a wormhole route to Delve. But the post does not address what WAFFLES. plans to do. I also do not know what the Imperium intends for Brave's holdings in YI-8ZM. My guess, though, is that the Imperium will clear out both Balenne and Tinnimerci before diving into the low sec areas of Black Rise and Placid.

Oh, and one other note of interest, if true. Apparently one of Goonswarm's top fleet commanders, Vily, has quit the GSF and joined TEST Alliance Please Ignore.

The Mittani seems to have his heart set on wading into the Caldari-Gallente factional warfare war zone. He also appears to throw a significant portion of the Imperium's war chest into a low sec campaign. Perhaps he needs a war in order to keep the line grunts happy.

That's the update for now. Depending on how the fighting goes, I may try to keep up with short posts every day. The Mittani is promising his people a long hard fight, but I'm not really sure how long the average line member will keep derping around in low sec. Also, with that much of the Imperium's power deployed away from the homeland, will other groups start testing the home defense fleets? Something tells me that the renters in Pure Blind will start screaming for help within a month. But that's why we watch the fights and don't just determine the outcome in a blog post.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

CCP's War On Illicit RMT: Buyer Behavior In September

With six weeks to go until the end of the year, I think I finally have the timing for these posts straightened out. For those new to the blog, my current research project into real money trading in MMORPGs takes a look at the behavior of the buyers of illicit ISK using data collected from Player Auctions, a large and popular site for purchasing virtual currency for many online games. Due to EVE Online's one shard design, keeping track of sales is much easier than for games like World of Warcraft. With data collection for the third quarter of 2015 finished, let's look at some of the results. Today's post will focus on September.

A big price drop in September
September really saw a big drop in the price of ISK on both the Jita and black markets. While the price on the black market no longer drops at a 1 for 1 rate, the 11.6% drop in the price of 1 billion ISK sold on Player Auctions was not far under the 13.4% price drop recorded in The Forge. But the amount of ISK actually sold showed how players felt in September. While the amount of ISK sold by the stores on PA increased a modest 5.6%, the amount of ISK traded for game time in Jita soared by 16.3%. Overall, the real world value of ISK sold on PA dropped by 8.9% in September compared to August.

Sellers in flux
The top stores selling ISK on Player Auctions started to turn over in September, with two of the three top stores falling into the "All Other" category. The one remaining seller, Store B, saw its market share drop from 28% in August down to 12% in September. Even though Store A only had $100 USD in sales in September, that store led all sellers on Player Auctions in Q3 with 977 billion ISK sold in confirmed sales totalling over $8,100 USD.

The top seller, Store E, had buyer-reviewed sales of 385 billion ISK, and then disappeared. I don't know if CCP banned the seller or if the seller was cashing out and his subscription ran out. Store F is a mid-tier seller who almost quadrupled his sales from August to September.

The little fish are beginning to stay away
One statistic I am keeping a close eye on is the percentage of buyers who only purchase 1 or 2 billion ISK in a sale. Those sales directly compete with CCP's two PLEX packages and I wonder if buyers will turn toward buying PLEX instead of black market ISK as the hazard discount narrows. September was perhaps a tipping point, as only 22.4% of sales were for 2 billion ISK or less, down from August's 29.7%. Overall, the median amount purchased in a transaction on PA rose from 5 billion ISK up to 6 billion ISK.

The whales dominate
While I look at the guppies, the whales continue to dominate the market. The increase in the amount of ISK sold to those buying more than 25 billion ISK in a single purchase is the reason for the growth in the market. One question I have is will a single supplier establish himself as a wholesaler? Wholesalers dominated the market during the third quarter, with Stores A and E selling a combined 1.4 trillion in ISK for $10,600 USD over the three months. But with both shops out of business, someone is bound to pick up the slack.

A shift over time
The final bar chart for this month's installment of the series looks at the hazard discount paid for each of the 400 reviews of sales during the third quarter. The decline in the amount buyers saved by purchasing ISK on the black market versus buying from CCP between August and September was just short of stunning. In August, 64% of transactions resulted in buyers saving $8 USD or more. In September, that figure flipped, with 65.6% of transactions only giving the buyer a discount of $7 or less. Compared to the beginning of the quarter, that September figure is shocking, as only 8.4% of transactions in July resulted in a hazard discount of under $7.

That's all for this month. What happened in October? I already disclosed last week that CCP tracked down and disrupted a major illicit RMT operation. But how did that affect the black market? I'll write about that next month.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Even I Will Feel The Change

When I was at EVE Vegas last month, I was not that impressed with CCP Seagull's keynote address. I gave my reasons in a post from the site, but basically I didn't feel anything mentioned would really affect me. But this weekend I saw how change will creep into my game play over the next few months.

First, I started using the beta version of the new probe interface. I scanned down and recorded 10-12 exits from Thera over the weekend and the interface is now basically as easy to use as the current probing UI. The biggest change I noticed from the initial beta version was the full screen option allows windows to lay on top of the probing UI, which addressed my biggest concern. The other significant change I noticed was the ability to deselect objects that will show up on in the map. I use the mouse to reposition my probes and getting rid of certain objects really made that task easier.

I know that a lot of people are excited about binding keys to actions. CSM member Chance Ravinne even made a video lauding the key mapping. I tried using the keys, but given a choice between the mouse and the keyboard for doing a series of tasks, I usually choose the mouse. I honestly don't understand why he has so much trouble using the mouse to reposition the scan radius of his probes. I find a small mouse movement much faster than pressing so many keys. Then again, he probably thinks not using the keyboard whenever possible is insane. Different strokes for different folks.

I do have to add one comment about the d-scan cone that appears on the probing map. Yes, I wish the cone were a different color. But I use the cone for a different purpose than making directional scanning easier. When posting exits/entrances to Thera on, I have to find the incoming signature. Sometimes I can just look at the probing map and determine the signature I need. Other times, I need to launch probes and find my location. But either way, that d-scan cone nicely points at my ship, making it easier to locate. Don't laugh. I wear bifocals now, so anything that allows me not to have to wear them all the time is a positive in my book.

My time probing down exits ended Sunday when I jumped from Thera into Branch a few seconds before a Typhoon jumped into Thera and collapsed the hole behind me. No need to worry, even though I found myself deep within FCON territory. I just scanned down a couple of wormholes and 4 systems later I found myself in Aridia and only a few jumps away from my extensive network of bookmarked systems.

About those bookmarks. I learned from watching the Amarr Championships over the weekend that CCP is making grids much bigger. How much bigger? CCP Claymore stated the size currently on the Singularity test cluster increased from 250 km to 7,800 km. While making larger grids will, in my opinion, improve game play, I will no longer have any off-grid perches. While not a big deal for the cloaky ships I usually fly, moving my Procurers around will get a bit more dangerous until I make new bookmarks. Looks like the new citadels will affect me after all.

Normally when changes to the game occur, I just continue playing as normal and don't worry about the changes. With the upcoming expansion coming in a few months, however, I won't have to chase the new shinies. The new shinies will chase me.

Friday, November 13, 2015

CCP Gets A New Investor

Last night I worked pretty late and didn't feel well, but when I read the story in Variety about CCP receiving $30 million USD in funding to help develop virtual reality games, I knew I had to at least throw something together for today's post. To start with, here is CCP's press release about the story:


Funding from NEA and Novator Partners LLP Will Strengthen CCP’s Growing Slate of VR Initiatives

12 Nov 2015 – Reykjavik, Iceland – Privately held CCP Games, the leader in virtual reality immersive technology, today announced that it has raised $30 million to bolster the development of virtual reality (VR) content. New Enterprise Associates led the investment, with participation from private equity firm Novator Partners LLP.

The investment will be used to further position the company to drive innovation in VR as the technology begins to transform the entertainment industry.

Harry Weller, General Partner at NEA, has joined CCP’s Board of Directors and Andrew Schoen, also of NEA, will be joining as Deputy Director.

CCP has announced two VR games slated for release in the next eight months: EVE: Valkyrie will launch with the Oculus Rift in spring 2016 and PlayStation VR in the first half of 2016 and is being created at CCP’s Newcastle studio. Gunjack, in development at the company’s Shanghai studio, is scheduled for release on Samsung’s Gear VR platform later this month.
“We believe VR will revolutionize not just videogames, but the wider technology and media industry as a whole,” said Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO of CCP.  “We were there at the beginning, and this investment will give us strength to maintain our leading development efforts.”

“We’ve been admirers of CCP for quite some time,” said Weller. “Their legacy with EVE Online and early investments in VR have put them in a leadership position, and we want to partner with them to further build on the great platform they have already established.”

CCP Games was founded in 1997 in Reykjavik, Iceland. With the launch of EVE Online in May 2003, CCP established itself as one of the most innovative companies in interactive entertainment, winning numerous awards and receiving critical acclaim worldwide. CCP’s major shareholders include Novator, General Catalyst, and NEA. 

More information about CCP Games can be found at //

More information about CCP Games’ products (including EVE:Valkyre and Gunjack) can be found at

More information about NEA can be found at

More information about Novator can be found at

About CCP

CCP is a leading independent game developer and has been praised for its artistry, game design and unique player-driven, infinitely scalable storytelling narratives. CCP is the creator of the critically acclaimed science-fiction game EVE Online (PC/Mac), DUST 514®, a groundbreaking, free-to-play, massively multiplayer online first-person shooter for the PlayStation®3, and Gunjack™, a virtual reality action game for the Samsung Gear VR mobile platform.  The company is currently developing EVE: Valkyrie™, a multiplayer virtual reality spaceship dogfighting shooter for PCs and the PlayStation®4. Founded and headquartered in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1997, CCP is privately held, with additional offices in Atlanta, Newcastle, and Shanghai. For more information, visit

About New Enterprise Associates  
New Enterprise Associates, Inc. (NEA) is a global venture capital firm focused on helping entrepreneurs build transformational businesses across multiple stages, sectors and geographies. With nearly $17 billion in cumulative committed capital since inception, NEA invests in technology and healthcare companies at all stages in a company's lifecycle, from seed stage through IPO. The firm's long track record of successful investing includes more than 200 portfolio company IPOs and more than 320

About Novator Partners LLP

Novator Partners is a London-based investment company led by Thor Bjorgolfsson. Over the last 10 years Novator has completed a significant number of investments in sectors including telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, technology, financial services, clean energy, consumer products and real estate. The Novator team is highly experienced in a wide range of situations - from traditional private equity to special situations including transforming investments for successful exits, and in private and publicly listed companies.
I know, I know. Doing a copy/paste of an entire press release is a bad practice unless I have some additional facts that others aren't releasing. Like I mentioned at the top of the post, I don't feel too good so I'll just pull some stuff out of my notes. Hopefully some will find these items of value.

Over at MassivelyOP, Editor-In-Chief Bree Royce found the fact that two members of NEA will join the CCP Board of Directors significant, so I'll start with a quick look at the board.

To my knowledge, the last time the membership of the board of directors for CCP changed was on 11 April 2013. In response to a gender equity law passed in March 2010, CCP shuffled its board of directors. Removed were Sigurður Ólafsson and Vilhjálmur Þorsteinsson. Sigurður, CCP’s former marketing director, was made an alternate member of the board. Vilhjálmur is the Treasurer of the Social Democratic Alliance (first elected to the position in 2011). The Social Democratic Alliance lost half its seats in the 2013 parliamentary elections. Vilhjálmur was replaced as chairman of the board by Birgir Már Ragnarsson, a partner and General Counsel of Novator Partners LLP.

Added were Liv Bergþórsdóttir and Ragna Arnadottir. According to Bloomberg, Liv is Chairman of the Board of WOW Air and the CEO of the telecommunications company Nova. Nova is owned by Novator Partners LLP. Ragna Arnadottir is a former head of The Icelandic Ministry of Justice and Human Rights (2009-2010) and is currently the deputy CEO of Landsvirkjun, the national power company.

Also leaving the board was David P. Fialkow, but he was replaced by another member of General Catalyst Partners, Adam Valkin. General Catalyst Partners lists CCP as one of the investments that Valkin manages. Interestingly enough, Fialkow serves on the board of Verne Global with Birgir Már.

The last member of the board is Stephen “Steve” Wiecks, one of the founders of White Wolf Publishing. Considering the recent sale of White Wolf to Paradox as well as the gender equity law that companies with more than 50 employees have at least 40% of both genders represented on their boards, I presume that Wiecks is no longer on CCP's board of directors. Assuming that Wiecks is out, here is what I believe is the current make-up of CCP's board.

  • Birgir Már Ragnarsson (Chairman) - Partner and General Council, Novator Partners.
  • Ragna Arnadottir (Vice-Chairman) - CEO Landsvirkjun. What I call the government seat on the CCP board.
  • Adam Valkin - Managing Director, General Catalyst Partners.
  • Liv Bergþórsdóttir - CEO Nova, a Novator Partners company.
  • Harry Weller - General Partner, New Enterprise Associates.

As for Andrew Schoen of NEA becoming a deputy director, that's not really a seat on the board. In the past, I have seen those positions described as alternates and they do not appear to count as members of the board for purposes of the gender equity law. When Sigurður Ólafsson was removed from the board in 2013, he was made what was, at the time, described as an alternate director. For my list of alternate, or deputy, directors, I have:

Sorry MassivelyOP, but I think you got one of your facts wrong.

Speaking of investors, how much of a stake does up to $30 million USD get NEA in CCP? First, let's start with a look at the top 10 investors in CCP as of the end of 2013.

  1. NP ehf. - 29.8%
  2. Teno Investments S.Á.R.L. - 23.4%
  3. Sigurd Harðarson - 9.3% (founder of CCP)
  4. Hilmar Veigar Pétursson - 5.2% (CEO)
  5. Matthías Guðmundsson - 3.1%
  6. Meson Holding S.A. - 2.5%
  7. CCP Holding S.Á.R.L. - 2.2%
  8. Guðmundur Kristinsson - 2.1%
  9. Friðrik Örn Haraldsson - 2%
  10. A.C.S. safnreikningur I - 1.7%

I should note that Teno Investments S.Á.R.L. is owned by General Catalyst Partners. GCP is the company that purchased the $20 million USD in convertible bonds CCP issued in 2012. CCP withdrew the bonds from the Icelandic Nasdaq in April 2015. At the time I believed that CCP had somehow paid off the bonds two years early. Instead, did GCP remove the bonds in an effort to shop them to a big investor? Until the next financial statement comes out (and someone obtains it from the Icelandic government office), I will err on the side of caution and say no.

While we don't know the amount of shares purchased by NEA and Novator in the latest deal, we do know how many were offered in 2012. According to CCP's 2012 financial statement, the $20 million in bonds were convertible at $32/share, or for a total of 625,000 shares. As I noted back in May, 625,000 shares would place an investor behind only Novator, Teno Investments (i.e. GCP) and Sigurd Harðarson in terms of the number of shares held. Is it too much of a stretch to believe that NEA is now the third largest shareholder of CCP? Indeed, the wording in the press release seems to indicate this is true.

Like I stated above, I don't really feel that good, so I'll just throw out one last question that some financial wizard can answer. How much money will CCP's virtual reality effort require? The bond buyback and refinance effort in April presumably kicked paying back that $20 million down the road past 2017. CCP also received an undisclosed sum of money in the sale of White Wolf to Paradox. Now CCP raised another $30 million with a stock sale.

I know that CCP is doing good work in the field of virtual reality, as I've experienced almost all of CCP's work in progress at either Fanfest or EVE Vegas. I'm not saying they have impressive work in the pipeline, but the demo of EVE: Gunjack I played at Fanfest was the least impressive bit of software I saw. I really hope the effort pays off. I guess I should feel better knowing that a company like NEA feels money is about to rain down on CCP headquarters in Reykjavik.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

EVE: Gunjack To Launch On November 20th

Image you are CCP, makers of EVE Online. Having decided that virtual reality games are the future, what type of game will you launch? Well, setting the game in the New Eden universe seems natural. And what is the first thing a new player does in EVE. Mine, of course.

That is the premise of CCP's first virtual game, EVE: Gunjack. From the official Gunjack page:
"Gunjack, coming soon for the Samsung Gear VR mobile gaming system, is a first-person arcade shooter built from the ground up for virtual reality. With its intuitive controls and intense, full-immersion action, Gunjack is the ultimate pick-up-and-play virtual reality experience.

"In Gunjack, players take on the role of a gun turret operator on a mining vessel in the Outer Ring region of known space. As part of the ship’s defense team, it is up to the player to protect the rig from pirates, opportunists and anyone else looking to take what rightfully belongs to the company."

So the player, the hero in the game, is protecting a mining operation? Is this CCP's way of saying, "Fuck you CODE.?"1

Anyway, CCP managed to make the deadline as a launch day title for the Gear VR. I am really tempted to pick up a unit as I need to get a new phone anyway. My eyesight is going and I recently had to buy a pair of bifocals, so I could use a phone with a bigger screen.

I should add that the Gear VR is launching at $99.99, which makes the device fairly affordable.

How much will EVE: Gunjack sell for in The Oculus Store? That I don't know. But I didn't think CCP would have the game ready this fast. If I had known, I would have given the nearly finished product a try at EVE Vegas. But the early prototype I played at Fanfest was promising, so I may go ahead and spend some money next weekend when the Gear VR goes on sale.


1. CODE. is an alliance known for ganking mining ships in EVE Online's high security space. Of course, as the game takes place in the null security region of Outer Ring, no CODE. pilots or ships were harmed in the making of EVE: Gunjack.

Monday, November 9, 2015

CCP's War On Illicit ISK: Down The Hole

Sometimes watching the black market in EVE Online ISK leads to stories. For example, watching the popular RMT trading site Player Auctions, I noticed something peculiar.

Interesting price movement
The average sell price for 1 billion ISK on the RMT site rose 50 cents USD while the price players purchased ISK in The Forge, EVE Online's main trade hub, fell by 21 cents.  A rise in the black market price while the primary market price fell usually indicates a drop in supply. In other words, CCP's security team probably took action on a major supplier of illicit ISK.

The next step in the analysis involved trying to pinpoint the time the action against the illicit RMT operation took place. The following graph gave me a clue.

A narrowing of the price
I found two time periods interesting. From 11-21 October, the 7-day rolling average of the price of 1 billion ISK sold on Player Auctions rose 7%, from $8.28/billion to $8.86/billion. But at the same time, the price of ISK purchased using game time in Jita dropped 63 cents, from $14.90/billion to $14.27/billion ISK. To add more evidence that something occurred during, a long-running illicit RMT site, ISKBANK, was inaccessible. ISKBANK made headlines back in 2011 when Eve News 24 obtained a copy of the website's customer database and published the names of all the customers. At first I believed I was just witnessing a failing site not keeping up with basic maintenance, but now I wonder if the technical difficulties was an effort to hide the fact that the black marketeer just ran out of ISK due to CCP action.

The period of 21-29 October also is of interest. The price in Jita rose due to the effects of the Bloody Omar sale, but the price of ISK on Player Auctions rose even faster. The 7-day average price on PA rose from $8.86/billion to $9.83/billion, an addition increase of 10.9%.

Over the years I've noticed that any anti-RMT action by CCP takes about two weeks to really have a noticeable effect on the market. With 21 October the date with the greatest impact, I started looking for any evidence of a major illicit RMT operation shutting down, at least temporarily, on or about 7 October. Between responses from Twitter and people coming up to me at EVE Vegas, I obtained a possible answer.

On 23 October, someone posted a message from MaxDEL, the CEO of Quantum Explosion, a wormhole corporation in the business of renting space. I got a chuckle, especially the first paragraph:
"Hello, I am known by in game character MaxDEL, ceo of one of the major wormhole corporations Quantum Explosion. On October 7 2015, CCP has banned all my accounts for the vague term "ISK Selling". For this many players will rejoice, because many pilots in wormhole space hate me, but i’m not talking about it now. Throughout my life I have not sold a single isk/items for real money, and the reason for the ban is slander. I suspect that it was deliberate in order smear to my character. A few hours before the ban, I bought AT ship (Malice) for my own isk for the future planned participation in the next AT."
Did I mention he was in the business of renting space? From what I gather, he built quite a rental empire in w-space. In fact, so good that he was getting bored. A transcription of a leaked corp meeting in April indicated he thought about the possibility of RMT.
"Maybe I will do what rest of the Russian community in W-space is doing: RMT. I really don’t have the need for that. Maybe something else. But directing a corporation with a rat in it. And I totally understand that it was I who gave this rat the password, but I don’t know who was it. I'm tired of this."
I obtained copies of the correspondence between MaxDEL and CCP Peligro that MaxDEL posted on the EVE Online forums. Committing a second offense warranting a permanent ban probably won't help the case for overturning the original permanent ban. Especially since MaxDEL apparently had a previous permanent ban overturned.

I do wonder about one thing, though. MaxDEL claims to have never sold ISK or items. But did he offer to rent out a wormhole for real world cash? According to interviews Elise Randolph and Farasoloni gave to TMC in 2013, Russians who had rented space from Solar inquired about paying their rent to Pandemic Legion using Paypal. If the same occurred with MaxDEL, and he either solicited rent or accepted it using the in-game chat, then CCP has the logs of the infraction. In which case, goodbye MaxDEL.

So, I have an event that occurred when I expected one that would affect the black market. The final question is: did MaxDEL really have enough ISK to affect the market? In his Eve-O forum post from 23 October, MaxDEL states he has more than 1.5 trillion ISK in the wallets of his banned accounts. To put that amount in perspective, the average monthly amount of ISK sold in the 3rd Quarter of 2015 was ... 1.5 trillion ISK. So the answer to my question is yes, MaxDEL potentially had enough ISK to supply the black market with a not insignificant amount of ISK if he so chose. And with the market reaction, I believe CCP Peligro prevented a lot of ISK from getting to the market.

As always, a lot of the evidence I collect is circumstantial in nature. But given what I've uncovered, I wouldn't bet that CCP Peligro got this case wrong.