Monday, February 8, 2016

Skill Point Trading: The Numbers Are In

On Friday, CCP revealed the Aurum cost of the skill extractors needed to create skill injectors. Aurum is EVE Online's cash shop currency used to buy items like clothing and ship skins. Many players screamed about the costs of the extractors. But before I go into the numbers, I want to express my displeasure about a related topic.

To my knowledge, CCP released the news via a tweet. Not a dev blog. Not as a news item. Not in the patch notes. Via a tweet. If I am wrong, someone please point me to the place on CCP's infrastructure where CCP first posted the price. I hope I am wrong, because right now I'm a bit disgusted with CCP over that tweet. If someone really did think that releasing the news via tweet was a good idea, that person should feel bad and banned from eating dessert for a month.

Now for a look at the numbers. I think sticker shock took hold when I realized that the price for a single extractor was 999 AUR. My initial conversion to U.S. dollars came up with a price of $5.55. Even looking at the purchase rate when buying a $20 packet of Aurum gave me a price of $4.95. Then the realization hit me. CCP based their pricing strategy on the price of a single PLEX. CCP sells single PLEX for $19.95 and the price of 4 extractors, which can hold 2 million skill points, is $19.80. I should point out that a character with +5 learning implants can train 2700 skill points per hour, or 1,944,000 skill points every 30 days. Since one PLEX equals 30 days of training, CCP came out fairly close to equating the price of game time to the additional immediate skill point gain.

My observation, however, was just a first impression. I then approached the issue from the perspective of a farmer. What are a farmer's requirements skill extractor requirements for a six month period? The answer I came up with is that an account can generate enough skill points to fill up 23 injectors. One could spend $95 in Aurum (1 $50 pack, 2 $20 packs, and a $5 pack) to purchase the injectors. The cost is actually $92.21 if two 10-pack extractors and three single extractors are purchased, so the farmer will have some Aurum left over.

At this point in my calculations, the numbers came up with something extraordinary. Converting 30 days of training, acquired at the maximum rate using +5 learning implants, into skill injectors, cost $14.95. By some strange coincidence, the price CCP charges for a basic one month subscription is ... $14.95. Nice going CCP.

Of course, using real money to purchase the skill extractors defeats the whole reason for the farm. The cost conscious farmer will need to farm enough ISK to purchase 6 PLEX, or already have enough ISK on hand already, to farm skill points from a clone for six months. Of course, the number of PLEX needed is actually 5.4, so the farmer will have 2005 Aurum left over after six months.

So is the cost of 30 days of training actually 0.9 PLEX? No. The farmer also has to pay another PLEX to pay for the subscription. After all, the purpose of the farm is to not pay real life money. Let someone else do that. So the cost of running the farm and creating skill injectors is 1.9 PLEX per month. Since the farmer can fill 23 skill injectors in six months, the production cost per injector is .496 PLEX per month. If the cost of PLEX is 1.2 billion ISK, that makes the production cost of each injector a little under 595 million ISK. Including taxes and fees, I would just assume the production cost is 600 million ISK per injector.

Does anyone really think EVE players will sell items at cost? Perhaps those who think mined minerals are free, but players who set up operations like the farm I envision don't think like that. I would expect a 20% to 25% mark-up, for a final price of 720-750 million ISK per skill point injector.

I do want to point out my assumption is based on a PLEX price of 1.2 billion ISK. Watching the market this weekend, I am not sure the price will stay that low. Will we see PLEX rise to 1.4 billion or perhaps 1.5 billion ISK in the near future? I'm not an expert. I'd say bug this guy instead.

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