Monday, September 8, 2014

EVE Is Dying? Tell That To The ISK Sellers

Now that summer is almost over, I thought I'd take another look at the secondary RMT market1 for EVE Online ISK.  My last review occurred three months ago when prices crashed.  Now that CCP has published the Kronos, Crius, and Hyperion updates, I wondered what changes had occurred.2

First, I compiled all of the data I've gathered and produced the following graph.

The PLEX Ceiling
The data comes from an index of twelve ISK sellers that operate gold-selling websites that sell EVE Online ISK that I have followed since the end of July 2013.  The prices are recorded every Sunday, although that was a bit difficult when I attended Fanfest this year.  Some ISK selling sites block visitors from Iceland.  They are not the same ISK sellers, as some found the effort of operating in New Eden too much work for too little profit.  Another site that specialized in selling ships, modules, and implants may have exited the business this week, which necessitated finding another site to monitor.  But that did not impact this graph.

I track three pieces of data: the price of 1 billion ISK obtained through the sale of PLEX in EVE's main trade hub of Jita, the lowest price of 1 billion ISK offered by any of the ISK sellers, and the median price offered by the ISK sellers.  From 1 June to 31 August, the Jita price fell 4.2% while the lowest offered price by an ISK seller 25.7% and the median price rose 3.1%.  If the price of ISK is supposed to put a ceiling on the secondary market, what happened?

I do know from monitoring from the user feedback on Player Auctions, a website that hosts numerous gold/plat/gil/ISK sellers for many online games, that CCP was having some success tracking down buyers of purchased ISK.  July, in particular, saw Team Security produce a lot of RMT tears.

A few tears collected from Player Auctions
In August, I didn't see the same level of tears, but I did notice that between 17 August and 24 August that the ISK seller with the lowest price raised the price of ISK from $13.30 to $18.30.  Another low priced seller from Germany raised the price of ISK 10.5% on both of his websites, helping to raise the median price.  Price increases like these usually indicate an interruption in supply.  At this point, a cynical observer might note that SOMERblink shut down operations during this week, with CCP raising the issue of RMT when announcing the ban of Somerset Mahm on 20 August.  But I have no evidence that such a link existed.  CCP hit the Germans pretty hard in July and Team Security could have also hit the lowest cost seller.  Targeting that seller for a sting would have put less of a dent in the budget.

But not all ISK flows through the RMT sites.  A lot flows through forums and individual sellers who don't have to pay the upkeep of a website.  That's why I follow the activity at Player Auctions as best I can.

Covering the releases of Kronos, Crius, and Hyperion

One of the amusing trends I saw this summer is a steady increase in the amount of ISK sold.  Below is the chart I published back in April covering the activity on Player Auctions for the first quarter of 2014.

Q1 2014 data from Player Auctions
I kept the scales the same to show the lower prices and increased amount of ISK sold.  But the surprising thing is that the real life money that ISK buyers are spending is actually increasing.  I don't have data for April or May, but here is a chart showing the sales I was able to track from January to March and then from June through August.

Real World Value
I won't pretend that I captured all the transactions.  Also, the value of the PLEX sold is not included.  But after a decline in the first six months, the total value of the ISK sold on Player Auctions is increasing.  Does that indicate a growth in the player base?  Or is the growth during a traditionally slow season the result of the introduction of the new Mordus ships plus some other items?  Whatever the answer, the ISK sellers are working harder for their money than ever before.

Comparing activity by daily average
Now, the increased activity on Player Auctions could indicate that buyers are not happy with the prices the websites are charging.  I also have seen an increase in the amount of small sellers, which could indicate that a lot of players are attempting to cash out.  So either the trend indicates that the price of PLEX is altering buyer behavior or perhaps EVE is slowly experiencing some growth during a time of the year that usually experiences falling participation.  If that is the case, then perhaps the new release cadence is working and CCP has stemmed the decline of players.


1.  The secondary RMT (real money trading) market consists of those people who buy and sell ISK, PLEX, and items outside of CCP-approved sites and procedures. In the case of EVE Online, activity in the secondary RMT market violates the game's EULA and Terms of Service.

2.  All prices in this post are given in U.S. dollars.

1 comment:

  1. I did see a few noobs on reddit asking about negative isk. Not sure if there are enough to replace the people leaving or if they will stay, im willing to bet a good number of the wh people quitting might try to cash out. What else do u do with a few 100bil isk.