Monday, March 20, 2017

Sunsetting Aurum And Questions About PLEX

On Thursday, CCP announced changes to the 30 Day Pilot's License Extension (PLEX), EVE Online's signature item for converting real world currency into Interstellar Kredits (ISK), the in-game currency.

The main points of the current proposal are:

  • PLEX will convert 1 PLEX into 500 PLEX.
  • A new account-wide storage container, the PLEX Vault, will hold PLEX.
  • The New Eden Store will use PLEX for transactions instead of Aurum.
  • Aurum will no longer exist.
  • The conversion rate for Aurum to the new PLEX is 7 AUR to 1 PLEX.
  • CCP will not convert amounts of Aurum 1000 and under into PLEX.

Following the announcement, a lot of misinformation and conspiracy theories started flooding the usual places like Reddit and various fansites. Since I have a little knowledge about the subject, I thought I would address some of the issues and questions emerging from the EVE community.

What is the real world value of 1 Aurum? $0.005 USD, or one-half of one U.S. cent.

One of the problems that I see with the valuation of Aurum against a real world currency like the U.S. dollar is that people take the most expensive cost to purchase an item like PLEX or Aurum and use that as the conversion rate. In the case of PLEX, people will use the $19.99 price for a single PLEX instead of using the price CCP charges for purchasing 2 or more PLEX, which is $17.495 per PLEX. The $19.99 price is a premium price for purchasing an odd amount, not the regular price. When using the regular price, the USD to Aurum conversion rate is $0.004998 per Aurum, ($17.495 / 3500 AUR) which rounds up to $0.005/AUR, or one-half of one U.S. cent.

The same figure is obtained when using the prices listed when purchasing Aurum with U.S. dollars directly. Using the $9.99 for 2000 Aurum option, the USD to Aurum conversion rate is $0.004995 per Aurum, which rounds up to $0.005/AUR. When performing the same calculation using the $24.99 and $49.99 packages, the conversion still rounds up to $0.005/AUR.

How much ISK is 1 Aurum worth? 288,444.44 ISK, based on Jita market prices on 18 March 2017.

One major logical problem I see is that people attempt to convert Aurum into ISK using PLEX. The problem is that while players can convert PLEX into 3500 Aurum, the reverse is not true. The New Eden Store contains 3 items one can describe as RMT tokens: skill extractors, Multiple Pilot Training Certificates, and Pilot's Body Resculpt Certificates. While skill extractors are the least costly item of the three on the market, the fact that skill extractors trade in the thousands each day while the others trade from 20-40 per day make the skill extractor the item I would use to perform the calculation.

Skill extractors come in three packages: 1 for 1000 AUR, 5 for 4500 AUR, and 10 for 8000 AUR. I used the 5 for 4500 package when making the conversion.

For those interested in the Aurum to ISK conversions using the other tokens, they are:

Multiple Pilot Training Certificate - 321,312.66 ISK/AUR
Pilot's Body Resculpt Certificate - 348,251.00 ISK/AUR

Why split PLEX into 500? Why value 1 PLEX = 7 Aurum? A lot of people consider 500 and 7 very odd numbers that don't make sense. But if one takes into account CCP's historical preference to buy game time in blocks of 60 days, the numbers make more sense.

Players can currently convert 2 PLEX into 7000 Aurum. What's a nice round number? 1000. To get to the round number of 1000, CCP has to make each new-style PLEX worth 7 Aurum. After that, each old-style PLEX converts into 500 new-style PLEX.

Why won't players with Aurum balances of 1000 or less have their Aurum converted into the new-style PLEX? The official answer given on the dev blog is:
"A large portion of the total Aurum stockpile is in small balances left over from past giveaways and by not converting those small balances we mitigate risk of oversupply in the PLEX market."
But why only convert Aurum balances of 1001 and up? Why not convert balances of 1000? The answer apparently is that 1001 is divisible by 7 (143.0) while 1000 is not (142.857).

The figure 1001 appears strange for two reasons. First, one can purchase RMT tokens such as skill extractors and Pilot's Body Resculpt Certificates using 1000 AUR. If a player had the ability to purchase RMT tokens before the changes, one would think the player should receive RMT tokens (PLEX) after the change. The other reason is that CCP offers a package of 900 AUR for $4.99. If the concern is unused Aurum from previous givaways, what about untouched Aurum from a purchase from the Aurum store?

If CCP asked me for advice, I would recommend a cutoff of 700 AUR to reimburse. A figure of 700 addresses the previous promotional givaway concerns, especially with the recent givaway of 300 AUR in December. In addition, 700 AUR would convert to 100 new-style PLEX, which is a nice round number. If 700 AUR is too low, then a cut-off of 900 AUR is more reasonable than 1001.

Will we see prices go up? Yes, but not across the board.

CCP has stated that anything that costs 1 PLEX now will still cost 1 PLEX after the conversion. So that means no price increase for things like the Multi-Pilot Training Certificate and 30 days of game time. A question exists about character transfers, as CCP offers the service for $20 or 2 PLEX. Hopefully the charge will remain at $20 or 1000 PLEX.

Some items will undoubtedly increase in price. Good candidates include skill extractors and Pilot's Body Resculpt Certificates increasing from $5.00 (1000 AUR) to $5.25 (150 PLEX) in price. Also, the prices of some SKINs in the cash shop may slightly increase in price. On the other hand, some of the older SKINs may decrease in price. Many of those SKINs currently list for 250 AUR. Listing those SKINs at 35 PLEX after the change would represent a small decrease.

Why did CCP create the PLEX Vault? On Saturday, CCP Rise appeared on Talking in Stations to discuss the upcoming changes in PLEX and Aurum. While safe movement of PLEX will occur, the major reason appears technical in nature. CCP needs to convert an object in the game client into a currency in the New Eden Store. The item changes state in the PLEX Vault. The Aurum listed in the New Eden Store is account wide, so the PLEX Vault is account wide.

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