Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Taxman Cometh

I know that CCP would like everyone to use the phrase "Chaos Era", but I don't see the chaos yet. Plus, if the development of EVE goes sideways over the next few months, players may begin using the term to describe the developers and not the game. In order to avoid the low-hanging fruit, I'll practice using more descriptive, but wordier, terminology.

One change that is long overdue is an increase in taxes in New Eden. Before getting into some history, first let's look at the lore. Leading up to the announced change, Triglavian invasions of high sec had led to a shortage of Quantum-Entangled 4-Helium to run the FTL communications network and talk of InnerBus ceasing operations into null sec. CONCORD held an emergency summit over the weekend and decided it needed more money.
Yulai, Genesis – Substantially increased tax and broker fees are to be levied on interstellar market transactions by the Secure Commerce Commission, following today's passage in the CONCORD Assembly of the "New Eden Defense Fund Act YC121" (NEDFA). SCC markets will see base transaction tax increase from 2.00% to 5.00%, while the base brokerage fee will rise from 3.00% to 5.00%.

While the core empires supported the New Eden Defense Fund Act's goals, they were keen to arrive at a means of raising the funds that would spread the load across the New Eden economy and focused on interstellar trade taxes as a means to achieve this. Welcoming the passage of the NEDFA legislation, the DED's Star Marshal Kjersidur Elladall was again keen to emphasize that funding for capsuleer loyalty programs and improved training will be maintained due to the contributions to New Eden's defense of capsuleer fighters.

Capsuleer efforts in the struggle against the Triglavians have been acknowledged with preferential tax and brokerage levels made possible through skilled accounting and the continuing benefit of collecting broker fees when operating Upwell structures. Improvements to the SCC tax code will allow efficient accounting and brokerage negotiations to gain improved savings relative to the increased base tax and fess. However, minimum tax and brokerage fees will still be above levels currently achievable through skilled accountancy and good relations with market operators.
I have to admit getting a chuckle out of the last sentence of the main article.
The Scope understands that the SCC will run market stability simulations imminently and plans to implement the new tax and brokerage fee regime within days.
That's lore-speak for, "We've put the changes on the test server and plan to roll them out with the next content release," which I believe is 13 August.

While CCP hit us with the stick of tax increases, the lore team earlier had teased players with the prospect of receiving goodies as well.
AEGIS Provost Marshal Kasiha Valkanir reiterated in her statements to the Assembly the importance of survival technology for military personnel, advocating augmentation and personality backup wherever feasible. The DED's Star Marshal Kjersidur Elladall emphasized the importance of continuing to support capsuleer efforts through loyalty programs and support for accelerated training for those combating threats such as the Triglavians and Drifters.
I'm not really sure that the implementation of tax increases, combined with a new loyalty point store that may include cerebral accelerators, constitutes chaos. CCP Ytterbium floated the idea of higher taxes in NPC stations back in 2016.
Market: markets currently have two taxes, transaction's tax, applied for sold items, and broker's fee for non immediate orders, which are set at 1.5% and 1% respectively. To create an environment more competitive for Citadels, we plan on increasing the transaction tax to 2.5% and the broker's fee to 5-6%. Players trading in citadels will still receive the transaction tax, but the broker's fee will be at the complete discretion of the owner. To avoid confusion for the owner, the broker relations skill will not affect player set broker's fee in Citadels.
Those changes never took place, thus resulting in a decrease in EVE's ISK sinks as trade moved from NPC stations to the new player-owned citadels. CCP didn't go as far as the original trial balloon, but they came close.
Changes to sales taxes and broker fees:
  • Maximum Sales Tax increase from 2% to 5%.
  • Minimum Sales Tax increase from 1% to 2.25%.
  • Maximum Brokers Fee increase for NPC stations from 3% to 5%.
  • Double the total maximum taxation from 5% to 10%.
  • Increased total minimum taxation on NPC structures from 3% to 5.25%.
  • Increase the minimum taxation on player owned structures by 125% from 1% to 2.25%.
At the same time, the tax associated skills Accounting and Broker Relations are receiving buffs.
Changes to tax associated skills:
  • Accounting – Increase in reduction of sales tax from 10% per level to 11% per level.
  • Brokers Relations – Increase in reduction of costs associated with setting up a market order from 0.1% per level to 0.3% per level.
The total benefit from skills will increase from 2% (current benefit) to 4.75%, which translates to a total tax reduction (including standings benefits) of 47.5% instead of the current 40%.
While many on the forums are decrying the fact the changes will shift trade to player-run stations, those using masses of Alpha accounts to conduct trading may see the biggest hits. Alpha characters can only train Broker Relations to level 2. Accounting? Training the Accounting skill requires Trade IV, and Alpha characters can only train the skill to 3.

I have the feeling that CCP has had a change of heart concerning Alpha accounts in general, and the expansion of Alpha clone skills back in November 2017 in particular. In addition to moves like limiting Alpha accounts to level 3 and under missions, CCP nerfed the Alpha drone skill set while rebalancing the Vexor Navy Issue to discourage the cruiser's use as an AFK ratting platform.
We are also planning a set of targeted changes to somewhat reduce the levels of drone skills available to alpha clones. These changes are focused on our ongoing anti-botting efforts, since large scale parallelized farming of nullsec anomalies with alpha clones is a popular tactic among botters. Our planned changes to the alpha clone skill caps are:
  • Reducing Heavy Drone Operation from level IV to level III
  • Reducing Medium Drone Operation from level V to level IV
  • Reducing Drone Interfacing from level IV to level III
After these changes alpha clone characters will still be able to use drones quite effectively, but their total damage per second will be reduced compared to its current levels. Alpha clones will also no longer have access to Tech Two and 'Augmented' medium drones, although they will still be able to use Navy Faction and 'Integrated' medium drones.
Just as changes like blackout and the VNI rebalance affected botters in null sec, I can't help but think the tax changes will affect market bots in Jita, especially those utilizing throw-a-way Alpha accounts.

I'm still not convinced that a "Chaos Age" has come to EVE Online. When we are talking about long-discussed issues like taxes and fees in the Citadel era, I don't see anything radical happening in New Eden. All I see is the developers attempting to correct problems in the economy, just like they've talked about for awhile now. We are just seeing the results of those efforts.

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