Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Final Fantasy XIV RMT Take Down Was Worth How Many PLEX?

I originally thought I was done with the anti-RMT operation Square Enix' ran over the weekend.  Then I logged in yesterday morning and Massively had published an article describing the size of the ban wave.  Following the links to the official notice led to these statistics:
Because we have confirmed the existence of players who are engaging in these illicit activities, we have taken the actions listed below.

- Date: Sep. 12 – Sep. 30, 2013
- Accounts receiving disciplinary action for RMT site advertisements: 6,154 accounts
- Accounts receiving disciplinary action for illicit activity: 156 accounts
- Action Details: Termination from FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn

- Date: Sep. 28, 2013
- Accounts receiving disciplinary action for RMT/illicit activities: 568 accounts
- Action Details: Termination/Temporary suspension from FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn

* Accounts of egregious violators will be terminated.
- Total Frozen Gil: Approximately 367,700 million Gil
* Gil of temporarily suspended accounts will be confiscated.
As someone who doesn't play Final Fantasy XIV, I don't know how much 367.7 billion gil is really worth.  That's not a problem in EVE because we can easily convert ISK into PLEX.  So why not convert gil into PLEX?

The first step is to convert gil to U.S. currency.  That requires visiting the gil selling sites, which I did when I first heard about the ban wave.  I found 14 web sites that sold gil by reading the Google Ads that appeared when I used the search term "buy FFXIV gil".  The median price on 27 September was $11.46 per million gil.  The lowest price offered was $6.77 per million gil.  So let's use those as our price points.  That means that Square Enix seized between $2.5 million to $4.2 million worth of gil at last Friday's grey market prices.

The next step is easy.  I always calculate the price of PLEX as if I were buying a 60-day GTC at full price, or 2 PLEX for $34.99.  That means the value in PLEX is somewhere between 142,800 and 240,000 PLEX.  I could stop there and tell everyone that Square Enix seized gil worth between 11,900 and 20,000 years of EVE Online playtime and call it a day.  Or I could estimate that the value of the gil Square Enix seized was worth an estimated 30-45% of CCP's monthly revenue from subscription fees and PLEX.

But that's no fun.  So as one last comparison I looked up the amount of PLEX sold in September in the four main trade hubs of EVE Online: Jita, Amarr, Dodixie, and Rens.  The total amount of PLEX sold in those regions last month was 117,338.  That means that the amount of gil seized by Square Enix is worth perhaps all of the PLEX transactions for a month at the low end, and twice the amount of PLEX transactions on the high end of my estimate.  That's a lot of RMT going on!
As I said at the beginning of the post I wasn't going to write any more about the FFXIV RMT operation over the weekend.  But looking at the numbers involved I had to try to point out just how big of a business the RMT trade really is.  And remember, the gil involved was just that seized, not the total amount in the gil sellers possession.


  1. Something looks a little odd about that number - can't be sure whether "367,700 million Gil" means three hundred sixty-seven thousand seven hundred million Gil, or three hundred sixty-seven million, seven hundred thousand Gil. It depends on whether the comma is being used as a thousands separator or a decimal marker - both uses are common, and it can make a thousand-fold difference in your numbers.

    1. It's supposed to be 367.7 billion. That could have been a translation issue from the original Japanese. AT least, that's what I heard.

  2. So based on your reply to me on your last blog, it seems that we will never know the extent of RMT within Eve, as CCP refuses to talk about how big the problem is.

    I guess the only way is to find a company that announces their work against RMT, how big the problem is in their game, and try to extrapolate that to the number of subs in Eve against the number of subs in that game. Of course, that is an awfully bad way to do it.

    1. Well, yeah, because the single biggest thing CCP does to fight RMT is PLEX, and best of luck quantifying "how many people would be buying ISK illicitly if they didn't have the option to pay for someone else's playtime in return for ISK"

    2. Like I said last time, I don't think CCP knows and doesn't want to look foolish by trying to guess. How are they supposed to factor in the power levelers? Or the money that exchanges hands as rent for systems in null sec? Or the amount that people pay for their subscriptions for EVE bots? Or account selling?

      Since the end of eBay allowing the sale of virtual goods, I don't think anyone has a good idea of the amount of RMT in any game. If you're going to use Runescape, I wouldn't. Unless you don't mind getting laughed at, that is. They are the only ones who may have given an estimate and given their track record of combating RMT, those numbers are on the low side.

      One other caution. Jagex states that 40-50% of their premium members (ones paying subs) are purchasing gold from RMT sites. And like I said, I believe that is probably on the low side. Do you really think that is happening in EVE?

      But if you really have your heart set on using the Runescape numbers to determine the demand for RMT currency, just be aware that Runescape was estimating $50-$60K worth of gold for a premium player base of approximately 150,000. Multiply that by 3 to equal the number of accounts in EVE and you still fall short of the value of the PLEX traded between players last month.

      If you really have to try to figure out the market for RMT, try this. Do the research and try to find out how much F2P games make per account or active account. I know there's research out there showing that for some games. There have also been presentations from F2P developers stating the rates for their games. If you can find that for 4-5 popular games and take an average of how much people are willing to spend on games, then maybe you have a shot at figuring out the theoretical amount of RMT. But that's a big maybe.

  3. The questing in this game is a little ridiculous...You have to go to a person, deliver some random item just to run all the way back to your original point...This comic describes my feelings perfectly:.

    Gaming Web Comic - Final Fantasy XIV