I know that some people don't like the focus on the amount of "money" lost in the Battle of B-R5RB. They object because people who don't play EVE Online will think that EVE is a pay-to-play game where some are crazy enough to spend $3,500 USD on an internet spaceship. Losing the equivalent of $300,000 USD is bad enough without people outside of gaming thinking that the ships were just acquired by paying the game developer real life money. People in EVE are pretty proud that all the ships built in EVE exist due to the efforts of players. I think a lot of players do not want people to lump EVE in with other games where last year people paid $250,000 USD for 200 ships and have thriving and tolerated secondary RMT markets.
So what should we use to judge the size of loss in EVE's massive battles? How about game time? I have done that in the past, using PLEX as a way to adjust for in-game inflation. PLEX is a good way of doing the comparison since PLEX do have an in-game as well as CCP-approved real world value. Based on the going rate in Jita for PLEX, the losses were the equivalent of over 18,000 PLEX. Not only is that approximately what players made per month running incursions in the last quarter of 2011,1 but is 1,500 years of game time. I think that might impress someone who plays a subscription game like World of Warcraft.
One interesting development in the industry relevant to this discussion is the spread of the "EVE business model" throughout the MMORPG industry. The EVE business model is usually described as a subscription model that has a component that allows players to purchase ISK from each other in exchange for game time. Games like Runescape (Bonds) and EverQuest/EverQuest 2 (Kronos) have added PLEX-like options for players to pay for their premium time.2 The upcoming MMORPG, Wildstar, will launch with its version of PLEX, C.R.E.D.D, sometime this summer. When talking to players of these games, doing a conversion of PLEX to that game's chosen in-game instrument can really give a scale to the destruction done in EVE.
One idea I've thought about over the years is how can people compare the cost of items between games. Something that is expensive in Guild Wars 2 could sound cheap to someone in a nearly 10-year-old economy like World of Warcraft's. The option of comparing RMT prices is not exactly appealing. But if we have company-approved ways, such as PLEX, C.R.E.D.D., and Bonds, then sharing experiences, or at least prices, between games becomes just a bit easier.
1 - State of the Economy presentation, Fanfest 2012. (27 minute mark)
2. - While free-to-play, these games do offer subscription options.