Monday, June 20, 2011

A Look At The PLEX Market Before Incarna

Tomorrow the deployment of Incarna, the latest Eve Online expansion, will bring the Noble Exchange store to pimp out your avatar's looks and a new currency, Aurum, to spend in that store.  Aurum is acquired by breaking up PLEX, which means that players will not have to purchase special clothing with real life money.  All they have to due is buy a PLEX off the market.

What will that do to the PLEX market?  CCP doesn't really know as in the dev blog CCP Zulu stated that CCP will watch the PLEX market closely.  That is the type of statement that makes a lot of players nervous.

Instead of just yelling and screaming about how CCP is ruining the game, I want to look at the PLEX market and examine exactly what the effects of the cash shop are over time.  So in this blog post I will look at the state of the PLEX market in the 4 weeks leading into Incarna.

When examining the PLEX market, I am only going to look at the four regions in Empire that host the 4 great trading hubs in New Eden, The Forge (Jita), Heimatar (Rens), Domain (Amarr) and Sinq Laison (Dodixie).  I believe that those are the regions where the vast majority of PLEX are traded on the markets.

Chart 1: Average Daily Price of PLEX (ISK)

Looked at in isolation, one might conclude that the speculation and then announcement of the cash shop and Aurum led to speculation that led the price of PLEX to rise by 15-20 million isk over a very short period of time.  But the rise and fall of the price of PLEX seemed to follow the number of users on Tranquility.

Chart 2: Rolling Average of Peak User Concurrency

While the chart above only covers the period until 5 June, I do not think it is a coincidence that both the peak price of PLEX and the highest PCU number both occurred on 30 May.  Since then the price of PLEX and the new price range looks like it is settling in between 372-382 million isk depending on region.

What about volume?  I would guess that the number of PLEX sold will increase with the new expansion.  But exactly how many PLEX are sold now?

Chart 3: Daily Volume of PLEX Sold

That is a lot of PLEX changing hands every day.  All told, during the 4 week period, 97, 939 PLEX changed hands in the 4 regions between 20 May and 18 June.  I do not know what the current subscription numbers are, but the last I had heard Eve had 360,000 accounts.  If that is still the number, then enough PLEX were bought with isk to pay for over 27% of the accounts in the 4 week period.

After looking at the numbers, I still had two questions.  The first was: how much real life money is that?  After all, one way to possibly measure the profitability of the cash shop is to see how much more PLEX is sold on the market than currently.  So I converted the number of PLEX sold to its value in U.S. dollars (using the figure of $34.99 for 2 PLEX as my guideline) and came up with this chart.

Chart 4: Daily value of PLEX Sold (US Dollars)

According to my calculations, $1.7 million worth of PLEX were traded using in-game currency in the 4 main trading regions from 20 May to 18 June.  I will be interested to see what that figure looks like one month after the launch of Incarna.

The last question I had is: how much unsold PLEX are there on the market.  I don't have a pretty graph for this, but in the snapshot I took in the four regions Sunday I counted 1360 in the four regions.  That's only $23,800 worth of PLEX which, barring days when CCP has problems with deploying patches or is suffering DDoS attacks, is less than half of the volume sold every day.

(Update: 26 June - I've been reviewing the data and the actual figures were 1186 PLEX worth $20,800.)

I really have the feeling we are about to see the price of PLEX rise even higher in the near term future.  But time will tell.  That's what makes Eve fun.  You never really know what to expect next.


  1. All very interesting and you even have graphs but the conclusion for all of this is ..... ?

  2. No conclusion. I see the introduction of micro-transactions in Eve (in addition to PLEX sales) as an interesting story to cover, much like I do botting. I might come up with some conclusions in a few weeks, but I needed a set-up piece to show where the economy started from.