Thursday, February 18, 2016

Skill Point Trading: The New King Of The Economy

"It is the biggest traded item in EVE, and as such, is starting to worry me."
-- Dr. Eyjo Gudmundsson, Fanfest 2012

I will admit I did not foresee the tremendous demand to buy skill points in EVE Online that the patch last Tuesday unleashed. A couple days ago I posted a comparison of the amount of PLEX purchased in the first two weeks of February this year compared to the same time period in the years 2013-2015. But I think the graph below may surprise a lot of people.

A surprising development

Over the first eight days of skill point trading, players spent more ISK purchasing skill injectors in EVE's main market hub of Jita in The Forge than PLEX. How much more? The astounding 90.35 trillion ISK spent on PLEX fell 36 trillion ISK short of the 126.35 trillion ISK spent on skill injectors. Add in the additional 55.33 trillion ISK players spent on purchasing skill extractors on the market and the amount of ISK spent on skill point trading doubled that spent purchasing game time.

Great news for CCP, right? A fresh money stream that may bring twice as much cash into CCP's corporate coffers than PLEX, while at the same time possibly increasing the amount of PLEX players purchase as well. So why am I worried? I attended the economics presentation in which Dr. Eyjo spoke the words at the beginning of this post. At the time, EVE's economist worried about the effect of PLEX on the New Eden economy. In the fourth quarter of 2011, PLEX made up approximately 25% of the total trade value in EVE.

I divide the EVE economy into two parts. The first is the spaceship economy. The spaceship economy represents all of the items that players buy and sell to actually play the game. The items include items like ships, ammunition, drones, modules, skill books, and minerals. In short, everything that requires ISK to purchase. The second part is the real money trading economy sanctioned by CCP that allows people to trade objects purchased with real life cash (or aurum) for ISK. The RMT economy consists of PLEX, Multiple Pilot Training Certificates, clothing, ship SKINs, and now, skill extractors and injectors.

Dr. Eyjo worried about the overall EVE economy when the RMT economy edged towards becoming 25% of the total traded value. With the introduction of skill point trading, I assume that the RMT economy now exceeds the trade value of the spaceship economy on the market. Is such a situation good for the New Eden economy? Since the player-run economy is one of the major features that makes EVE unique, I worry about possible long-term damage to the game in exchange for a short-term financial gain.

Of course, the feature is less than two weeks old, so perhaps any worries at this point are premature. But I am interested in seeing how the feature does in six months, so I will keep monitoring the situation. Who knows, perhaps CCP Quant will address the point at Fanfest. Looks like I will need to attend the economy presentation again this year.

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