Monday, November 7, 2016

Comparing The Value Of EVE Gambling Site Shutdowns: I WANT ISK vs SOMERBlink

On Thursday, CCP Quant published the monthly economic report for October. Naturally, many people looked at the report trying to divine the amount of ISK lost by the shutdown of the gambling site I WANT ISK for real money trading activity.

October ISK faucets and sinks
When I first saw the chart, I started playing around with the active ISK delta. The statistic measures the amount of ISK that is added or subtracted from the New Eden money supply due to accounts leaving or returning to the game, plus any GM actions. The removal of ISK from banker and their customers' wallets falls into the GM action category.

A little digging around in the files led to a file named MoneySupply.csv. The file breaks down the changes in the money supply on a daily level. Looking at the top 5 days that saw the biggest drops in the money supply, I saw something interesting:

  1. 20 Aug 2014 - 32.7 trillion ISK
  2. 12 Oct 2016 - 24.8 trillion ISK
  3. 27 Apr 2016 - 11.6 trillion ISK
  4. 13 May 2016 - 10.6 trillion ISK
  5. 24 May 2016 - 6.6 trillion ISK

The last three entries are associated with Citadel, including the launch date of 27 April. The second entry on the list is the date the dev blog announcing the EULA changes was published.

April ISK faucets and sinks
The decline in the ISK supply is probably a result of the seizing of the ISK from those involved with the operation of I WANT ISK plus the ISK sold for cash to other players. To put the amount into perspective, the amount removed from the game on 12 October exceeded the amount of ISK spent on blueprints in April.

So what happened on 20 August 2014? CCP banned Somerset Mahm, the owner of SOMERBlink, for numerous EULA violations.

From Team Security Dev Blog, December 2014
Back in 2014, observers relied on figures released by Team Security to determine actions taken against botters and black marketeers. The above graph published in the dev blog includes assets seized and not just ISK. Back in 2014, I estimated that the Somerset Mahm ban resulted in between 33-41 trillion ISK in currency and assets seized. With the availability of ISK supply data, I now know the ISK portion of the seizure was probably around 32.7 trillion.

When discussing the large numbers involved in the SOMERBlink and I WANT ISK bans, everyone usually wants to discuss real world value. I have enough data available to give both a primary market (PLEX) and a secondary (aka black) market value. Assuming the amounts found in the money supply file is close within plus or minus 500 billion ISK, the number of PLEX, or months of game time, comes out to the following:

  • SOMERBlink - 40,977 PLEX (3415 years of game time)
  • I WANT ISK - 21,528 PLEX (1794 years of game time)

When performing PLEX to USD conversions, I usually use the $34.99/2 PLEX rate. That results in an official real-world price of:

  • SOMERBlink - $716,893 USD
  • I WANT ISK - $376,632 USD

Of course, those are primary market prices, which are unobtainable in the real world. People probably want to know the value on the black market. Assuming that no ISK seller would purchase those huge amounts of ISK, they would need to sell the ISK themselves. Using the monthly rates for the sale of ISK I recorded on Player Auctions ($13/billion in August 2014, $6.75/billion in October 2016), the figures break out as:

  • SOMERBlink - $425,100 USD
  • I WANT ISK - $167,400 USD

I can't go farther with the comparisons unless Team Security releases a chart showing the amount of assets seized for 2016. I can estimate that Somerset Mahm lost 4-5 trillion ISK in assets, including unique ships, but I have no idea the assets seized in the IWI operation.

I should also add one other distinction between the SOMERBlink and I WANT ISK bans. Because Somerset Mahm was banned for non-RMT EULA/ToS violations, the totals only included the ISK and assets on his personal accounts. The ISK in the gambling sites corporate wallets remained in the game and members of SOMERBlink distributed the ISK back to players as part of the shutdown process. The IWI shutdown included removing ISK from a reported 100 players, including bankers and those who purchased dirty ISK. Presumably, all the ISK was removed from the corporate wallet.

No matter how one looks at the situation, the amount of ISK involved is enormous. So too is the temptation to turn all of that ISK into real life cash. Hopefully by doing some conversions to game time, one can see just how big gambling organizations could get before CCP changes the rules next week.

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