The numbers I gather for my research into real money trading are now complete for February. Wow! In Pearl Abyss' earnings call for the fourth quarter of 2020, they explained that a large portion of their quarter-over-quarter revenue decline was due to a strengthening South Korean won versus western currencies like the U.S. dollar and euro. We are now seeing a similar trend in EVE Online.
When looking at the PLEX market in The Forge, two statistics stood out. The first was the average value of 1 billion ISK sold in The Forge. The $15.01 USD per 1 billion ISK figure is the highest since the mark of $15.75 per 1 billion ISK average sold recorded in March 2017.1 The corollary is almost the same, as the 1,210,978,743.56 ISK average price for 30 days of game time in February was the lowest amount since April 2017, when the average was 1,193,632,213.42 ISK for 1 month's game time.
One of the key points to take away is that the value of PLEX is now back to where it was before the big change in May 2017. In May 2017, one virtual EVE currency, Aurum, was removed from the game. PLEX, which up until that time was used mainly for game time, was divided 1 PLEX to 500 new PLEX, with the new currency serving more as a currency all of its own. Once PLEX became the new cash shop currency, its real world value skyrocketed. PLEX is now back to its pre-metamorphosis value.
Comparing February 2021 to February 2020 is pretty enlightening about the whole overall value of ISK. In February 2020, the average value of 1 billion ISK traded in The Forge was $11.12 per billion ISK. Last month, the average rose 35% year-over-year to the previously mentioned $15.01 per billion. As expected, the average daily volume of ISK traded for PLEX declined by 23.8%, from 4.3 trillion ISK per day down to 3.3 trillion ISK per day.
Moving from the CCP-sanctioned markets of The Forge, I then looked at the numbers at a prominent black market site, Player Auctions. The long-time real money trading site publishes reviews for the sellers, allowing me to compile a database of reviews dating back to the beginning of 2017.2 I found four statistics of note.
1. The number of ISK sale transactions was the highest since January 2019. In Feburary, I recorded 193 ISK sales that were completed and not scams. That was the highest number since the 197 reviews recorded in January 2019.
2. The daily average number of ISK transactions was the highest since December 2018. February saw an average of 6.9 transactions per day involving the sale of ISK on PA. I had to go back to December 2018's 7.9 transactions per day to top last month's number.
3. The daily average amount of ISK sold was the highest since June 2019. That's right, the amount of ISK sold on an average day declined after the beginning of Blackout. In June 2019, ISK sellers located on PA sold 87.3 billion ISK per day, according to the reviews left on the site. Last month, sellers only sold 66.5 billion ISK per day.
4. The daily average value sold was the highest since January 2019. In February, ISK sellers on PA brought in an average of $429 per day. The last time ISK sellers scooped up so much money every day was in January 2019 when they averaged $445 per day.
Is February significant, or just an aberration? I wish I could give an informed answer. I think I can safely say that if the PLEX/ISK price in The Forge continues on its current trend that the black market will rejoice. If my theory holds, the higher real currency cost of ISK will allow ISK sellers to become more profitable. Right now, the black market can't support very many sellers. Currently, most RMTers are chasing after newer games with much larger profit margins. But if the market expands, CCP will wind up with more headaches.
1. U.S. dollar to Interstellar Kredit conversions used the 2 PLEX for $34.95 PLEX pack price before May 2017 and the 1100 PLEX for $39.99 price package after May 2017.
2. Not all ISK sales generate reviews as buyers do not have to fill out the form. Actual numbers are undoubtedly higher.