Monday, May 14, 2012

Evaluating CCP's Anti-RMT Claims

After the first wave of action we've improved our methods a bit. Because of our focus on this subject [illicit RMT sales] we've seen some anecdotal things around the internet that aren't exactly scientific but do point somewhat towards impact.
  • We've seen the cost of illegal isk go up
  • We've seen illegal isk sellers having supply problems
I began my descent into the seedy underbelly of Eve Online's botting and illicit RMT world after listening to CCP Sreegs declare a war against botting at Fanfest in 2011.  Up until now I've mainly concentrated on the War On Bots™ as botting tears are among the best tears found in Eve. But as I find greater links between botters and illicit RMT operations and CCP's Team Security's actions against illicit RMT operations and their customers are increasingly publicized, I've become more interested in the actions of the illicit RMT companies that encourage much of the botting in New Eden.

In his dev blog on 26 April, CCP Sreegs claimed that the cost of illicit isk has increased and that illegal isk sellers are having supply problems.  About 30 minutes of research showed that prices definitely rose. MMOBUX, a website that specializes in providing reviews and pricing information for illicit RMT sellers for MMORPGs, showed an approximately 20% price spike in the median price of isk occurred from the last week in April to the first week in May.  While MMOBUX's list of 25 companies did not include companies like, it does provide the biggest single list of isk sellers I could find.

The second claim is a little iffy.  Yes, an illicit ISK seller, Gamebank, posted the following message which I received when clicking on the Eve Online link on the home page:
"In these days, ISK is in short supply, we wish your kindly understanding if you found we could not send ISK to you instantly.That is why the price of ISK also increased so much.We are always keep watching over the available ISK and preparing to send ISK to you after received your order.

"Thank you for your support all long time! -------July 16th, 2009"
So is this just a message that the company posted in the wake of Unholy Rage and just conveniently never took down to justify bad service?  Of is this a statement of the current condition and just the last line was a leftover from Unholy Rage?  Or both.  I'm not sure, but this is pretty dodgy even for an illicit ISK seller.  Also, I should add I only spent an hour or so searching the internet for this story so there may be other sites warning customers about possible delivery delays.  CCP spends a lot more time looking into these things than I do.

While I was surfing around I decided to do more than just find the nice graph posted above.  I actually looked to see for how much the illicit RMT sites were selling isk.  I figured that because of PLEX sales from CCP that there was a cap on how much the RMT sites could charge.  I was wrong. If I purchase PLEX two at a time from CCP, the cost of 1 billion isk if I sold the PLEX in Jita at Sunday's average sales price (485,998,880.84 isk) is $36.01.  I found several sites that were selling for much more.  The sites are:

Dgamesky: $37.00/billion
IGEVE: $38.50/billion
RPGUU:  $39.90/billion
Ruby Farn: $49.99/billion

MMOBUX also reported that Dgamesky was recently reported for fraud multiple times and should not be used.  So not only is CCP not the most expensive option for purchasing isk, they also have the benefit of being a source players don't have to worry about losing their money due to fraud.  They just have to worry if they carry their PLEX around in a Kestrel.

One thing I did find interesting is that IGE, long the leader in the illicit RMT trade, no longer sells isk.   In fact, IGE is down to only selling in-game currency in 7 games: World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Rift, Final Fantasy XIV, Runscape, DC Online and Tera. While games like Aion, Everquest 2, Lineage 2 and Vanguard still had links informing customers those games were no longer supported, the link for Eve Online was already gone.  A little more digging found that IGE probably removed the notice about discontinuing isk sales on 3 May.  A call out for assistance on Twitter resulted in CCP Sreegs replying that the last cached page from which IGE actually sold isk was from January 2011 although he thought they were selling fairly recently.  An ad for a site that features small time isk sellers from 9 November 2011 states that it polled IGE among other illicit RMT sites when comparing isk prices.  So apparently either at the end of 2011 or beginning of 2012, IGE made the decision that it could not make a big enough profit in Eve Online selling isk and withdrew its efforts to concentrate on more profitable games like Star Wars: The Old Republic that came out at that time.

Having waded through just a little bit of the muck of the illicit RMT business I can see why game companies would like to shut the practice down.  I personally would not trust any of those sites with my money.  CCP's Team Security is off to a fine start in the most recent anti-RMT campaign.  But it is only a start and they need to live up to the Security presentation at Fanfest and continue to put the pressure on.  Perhaps with a lot of new games coming on-line this year CCP could convince people that selling in-game currency is a lot less of a hassle and more profitable in those games than in Eve Online.


  1. Enjoyed the read, thank you for the post :)

  2. Thanks for the article, man! Interesting read.

  3. Thanks for doing the legwork! I had considered trying to find out some of this stuff on my own, but like most pet projects, it died an early birth.

    I am amused that although the price for RMT ISK is less than PLEX (in general) it is not bargain basement, nor substantially less than the ISK/PLEX equivalent of a subscription.

  4. This post to me underlines, bolds, and italizes the complete stupidity of anyone buying ISK illegally. Its like buying a stolen car stereo from a guy on a street corner for more then buying a brand new one in a Best Buy down the street would cost you.

    As for ISK in a Kestrel. Easiest way to avoid have to move them at all is to 'redeem' them after you've flow to the trade hub. Anyone losing ships full of PLEX are about as stupid as the guys buying ISK illegally.

  5. "They just have to worry if they carry their PLEX around in a Kestrel."

    *ROTFLMAO* I remember that stupi... er, incident! Thanks for the good report and the entertaining jaunt down memory lane.