Greedy Goblin

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Follow the PLEX-money!

Whenever I wrote that PLEX is practically pay-to-cheat that bad players pay for remaining in ships, I got insane amount of disagreement. PLEX is an accepted form of playing and the common belief is that converting PLEX has zero effect on ones success rate.

Let's accept this view and see where it takes us. If not "losers" convert PLEX and not "winners" finance their account(s) from PLEX, who the hell does it? According to the canon "those who have more money than time". If I'd be naive I'd say if you hate the game so much that you'd rather pay than playing, just uninstall it. However I am neither, nor I'm trolling by pretending it. Those who pay consider PvE a "grind" and PvP "fun". We can agree that PvE is an ISK generator either directly as bounties and mission rewards or by creating ore and loot that others buy for ISK. PvP is an ISK sink as the total loot of the winner is about 20-50% of the loss of the loser, so the average PvP-er loses value.

I sometimes watch my girlfriend play. Her only ship is a terribly fit Rokh battleship. 3 rails, 3 blasters (I hear your cries), 1 salvager, 1 tractor beam. Luckily her tank is OK, 180K overheated EHP. She is doing L2 and L3 securities, mostly with drone DPS on the frig/destroyer rats (as drones are cute pets), L1, L2 mining missions and distribution missions, all with the Rokh. The point is that despite the obviously bad play and her extremely casual play-schedule (about 2-3 hours/week), she makes 2-300M/month. Her wealth just grows. If she'd play a bit more (but not any better), she could play for free. Now, even I don't assume that majority of the EVE players are worse than that. Anecdotic evidence aside, 30M/hour income is generally accepted for a "highsec bear". Assuming he does no PvP and PvE activity is "playing" for him, he generates wealth on the side of playing, so we can accept that the average "highsec bear" plays for free (at least partially), funding his activity from PLEX.

If we assume that there are no black holes (like CCP secretly destroying PLEX or selling ISK via bots), every PLEX someone sells is one that someone buys. So if we accepted that the average "highsec bear" is buying PLEX on the marketplace to play for free, we must also accept that someone, who is not a "highsec bear" must sell this PLEX on the marketplace.

Who is he? We don't know but there isn't much people left who are not "highsec bears". Namely: lowsec pirates, FW people, null and WH people. Currently FW sees little-to-none PvP and they spend their time orbiting buttons and converting LP. Living in WH is also generally accepted to be printing ISK (it doesn't make it true, but now we go with the crowd and see where we end up). This leaves nobody else but the remaining PvP people of low and null, proving my earlier point of low/null being an ISK-sink.

Of course I'm not saying that every single low/null players are poor. Not even that every single alliance is. Also not claiming that every single highsec player is swimming in ISK. But the average low/null player is keeping over the water by PLEX-to-ISK, while the average highsec player is constantly giving away ISK by playing for free.

Let me go further. PLEX is a reality and always will be, there is no MMO without RMT (legal or illegal) and botting. So if you want to somehow make nullsec life profitable, you must point to another group as PLEX producers. I mean someone must be poor and convert PLEX in order to let others (who do it better or differently) play for free. Imagine that nullsec people as a group are self-sufficient and profitable, importing PLEX-es to play for free. Who will produce the 100K PLEX/month (50T ISK/month)?

We can return to my original idea: PLEX is paid by idiot losers scattered in every aspect of the game equally, but according to the old comments, you don't want that! We must find an in-game demographics like "highsec bears" then. Do your really think that many people would pay significant amount of real money for the "privilege" to be a "highsec bear"?! I don't doubt that there are dumb ones who replace their 10th Hulk this month but are they a majority?

Low/NPC-null people maybe? If highsec PvE is profitable, lowsec PvE must be more profitable, as there are better rocks, rats, planets and missions. While lowsec costs are higher than highsec (mostly PvP losses) but they can just PvP less and PvE more.

No one else left. Someone must convert PLEX to ISK en masse and no other group has reason to do so. The average sov-null person (and WH person to a lesser extent) spends more money than he earns and fills it with PLEX. Of course I'm not saying that each of them, and tomorrow identify exactly who, along the theoretical idea why they must spend.

This result is extremely interesting and - yet again - turns upside down my plans. I mean I know that you are probably fed up with my crazy ideas, but this is how I learn: put in something "optimal" from the limited knowledge I have, make people argue (is it trolling?) and feed me with the information I need to see it's stupid. Then with the new information I can figure out something less stupid and it goes on until the point when the idea actually works. Come back and prove me wrong once again and you'll be richly rewarded by the result when everything is cleared up.

PS: K162space found some public TEST and Goon documents which shows that the "huge" income these alliances make are merely 5x and 15x bigger than my individual income. We are talking about 10K member alliances here.

Thursday morning report: 117.3B (2.5B spent on main accounts, 1.8 spent on Logi/Carrier, 1.5 on Ragnarok, 1.0 on Rorqual, 1.4 on Nyx, 1.3 on Avatar, 2.6B received as gift).


Kass Boor said...

[quote]so we can accept that the average "highsec bear" plays for free[/quote] The highsec bear has this income "potential". But yet a lot of the high-sec bears don't use this potential and buy plex.

Anonymous said...

Aren't PLEX sellers simply people who PvP more than their PvE activity can support?

They may do lots of PvP, or do a little bit, but very badly.

They may do little or no PvE, or may be very bad at it.

Isn't it that simple?

Gevlon said...

@Kass Boor: mostly because they play too casually, like my girlfriend

@Anonymous: true, but not at all simple, see it tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Easy thing .. if you work real life for an job that pays you lets say 20€ an hour ... this is 1 PLEX/hour = ca 400-500m/isk per hour ..

So if you want to do ONLY PvP (wich is ok .. because trading sucks often because of trade bots etc) why should you do some PvE for 30m/h ??

It is sometimes logically to work an hour extra in real life (because your boss likes it) then to spend a hole day grinding PvE .. and the higher your salery gets (since many EVE players are high payed it experts ) the more logical will be an PLEX buy

Anonymous said...

The average sov-null person does NOT spend more money than he earns. Most (if not all) sov alliances have ship replacement programs to cover for the losses of their members. Those programs are financed via different means, moon goo, loot, taxes, etc.
Additionally, you can run plexes in null in a Drake or Tengu and make up to 80-100mil/hr if you want.
So as long as you don't go full retard and start ratting in officer fitted Machariels/Carriers/Supers plus HG T2 implant sets, you earn enough money to be stable.
Additionally, most nullsec residents usually have high-sec alts who are providing some additional isk by running incursions, missions or market-pvp.
That, btw, is why many people criticized you in the way of "This guy really has no perspective on how much isk he has in comparison to sov holding entities.".

So I think there is no specific group who converts PLEX to ISK en masse. I think it is done by people who just can't be arsed having to "work" for their ISK and have enough RL budget to support that play-style. And I don't think those people are "idiot losers", but people who strongly support this game. I think (and I'm not alone with this), that without PLEXes many people wouldn't play this game. PLEXes are a strong incentive to people to keep their account running in hope to be able to play for free some day. Some people (not me) even go that far and say without PLEX Eve would've died already.

Gevlon said...

@Anonymous: "This guy really has no perspective on how much isk he has in comparison to sov holding entities."

I'm answering this once again, last time, next idiot telling this is deleted. READ THE LINK IN THE POST IDIOT! Goons make 750B/month, TEST 250. So 5 guys like me make more than whole TEST.

The rest of your statement is just ignorant and see tomorrows post.

Dangphat said...

Gevlon you are correct, I am one of those pvpers who sells plexes. Curently my average play is 5-10 minutes a week setting up skills etc. Once or twice a week I join a fleet often direct from receiving a broadcast so no waiting time.
I have not time or interest in either trading/grinding/scammingm currently there is no incentive for me to do so, PLEX is cheap (in terms of GBP) and it is encourraged by the game designer. I am not saying its good for the game, but its good for me.

Avensys said...



Avensys said...

... should maybe add that Goonswarm's "Money in" which is now at ~530b was ~900b before Fozzie decided to destroy tech prices.

Anonymous said...

"The average sov-null person (and WH person to a lesser extent) spends more money than he earns and fills it with PLEX. "

incorrect. without exception, all the people I personally know either have high sec trading alts or they actually do plexes and make enough money to fund their habit. our corporation allows limited leave from the front line for pvp pilots to rat for a week or so every major campaign. personally I trade to get wealth rather than rat, but that's me.

actually: technically you are correct. I trade intensely until my wallet is full, then there is a period (length varies depending on how many ships I lose) where I am earning nothing as I just concentrate on non-trade activities for the entirety of my gaming time. you will find that most null players are like this.

Gevlon said...

@evemonkey: then correction, the average null PILOT earns less than he spends. You altruistically finance null life from highsec life.

I am sure that it's true for all people you know. Don't miss tomorrows post.

Anonymous said...

what you don't see: not all people spend so much time in the game that they make that much isk to play free.

When your GF with l2 and l3 is "almost" getting enough to pay for the Account, then she must spend horrible amounts of time Missioning. (or i missed a boost to l2/l3)

Even if someone can support his account by running PvE content alone, that doesn't mean that he doesn't have costs like pimping out the ship, new ships, ships in several locations, skills etc.

Some people are very specific in what they like about the game. Some (including me) find Mining, Production, Couriers, PvE Content and Trading pretty boring.

Now i have the choice to spend my RL money, or spend time with doing something i don't want to do. Personally i took the grind and did it, to a level where i ended up in a situation where i can pay almost everything from mostly passive income.
However this could have easy gone the other direction.

Also there are quite a few highsec pvp folks, for example the rvb guys, or privateers (which had your latest idea of wardecs years ago and did it to an extend that
got the wardec system nerfed).

Those guys don't spend their time running Missions. Most of them that i know login after a hard day of work, to spend 30 minutes shooting some idiots who are stupid enough to undock with a wardec and logoff.

Then there are people who spend enough time in the game to make a good isk, they start the money without much isk, farm till they have their plex together maybe raise their own wallet by 150m a month. Now at some point they want a new toy, for example a carrier... guess what they do? they sell a plex.

How does that make them idiots?

mxat1 said...

Interesting post. What is your opinion on CCP responsibility over that?

Eve is the only game where PvP as such large dependency over other activities. I agree that people don't have to follow the flow and "grind" their PvP activities but it seems to me that the game was designed this way. In this case, your approach on getting large income is a hole in CCP design. If they could figure out it, they might just make it harder for you (and others) making it more likely that you will buy PLEXs ... After all they want the money.

You said it yourself, the reason why you have such large amount money is that you almost don't spend it.


Unknown said...

@Gevlon: U ignored 2 demographic's and a general "spending" concept.

1) Industrialist and Station/Market traders. Both demographics understand the concept of investment and returns, so they understand to make big money u need big money. So they simply may choose to "skip" the starting part handling a few 100m/week and directly buy Plex as a "investment". The idea is simple , if i buy Plex now i don't have to pay for my account in the future, expecting more profit.
The interesting point is that those "serious" indy/traders may not last long enough to see there invest fully returned, therefor may spend more ISK than they expected to earn. Also the indy demographic also spend excessive amounts for toons, since u can scale your profit by investing in additional toons.

2) One type of person buy's Plex for all kinds of reasons, but ultimately to "easy" or "fasten" whatever he is doing at the moment, while a other type rigorous despise spending any extra money on a "video game". Its like the first groups compares there extra Plex/ISK to a cinema ticked + expansive food, while the second group wont buy any food or drinks. Those two groups can be found in any demographic and they have fundamental different spending behaviors or even game goals.

bye Andy

Sugar Kyle said...

I know way more high sec people that buy plex then I do PvP people. Many people who buy plex just don't have time or sometimes skill to earn isk.

I think that you are missing how many people just spend all of their isk and come up dry endlessly.

Also, many new players are lured to buy isk early and move into better ships.

Your girlfriend isn't losing stuff. Her income would just replace her ship loss. She is not taking a lot (if any) risk. Eve very quickly penny pinches the average player.

Some people play the game for fun, remember. They make choices based off of wants and fun.

Not everything is quantified with maximum focus towards goal.

Gevlon said...

@Sugar: in highsec you can practically only PvE. Whatever you PvE generates money. Even if one spends PLEX to speed up the start, he will generate enough ISK soon to sell PLEX-es. Simply PvE is destined to create wealth.

@Anonymous: So you suggest there is a significant group that want to do hardcore PvE, invest significant amount of money and changes his mind afterwards? I doubt it. 1-2 fools can happen, typically the one who wants to mission in a battleship on day 10 but they can't be a significant amount. And those who stay in the game will surely repay their "debt".

Sugar Kyle said...


You vastly under estimate the speed in which people burn through their isk and how bad people are at making it. There is a tweet somewhere about wallet averages. The vast majority of players are not in game PvE rich.

Gevlon said...

@Sugar: it can be true for PvP. But how do you have spendings in PvE? Buying another ship? Losing a ship to rats (now that need some world class fail). Also, if you PLAY PvE, you just get money. If you suck, you get little, but still you get money.

Anonymous said...

Oh there are many people killing PvE player .. Ninja salvager etc

Unknown said...


Let me provide a quick example, why people may "suck" at PvE (even if it is only temporarily). This happened to me, when I started doing ratting a bit more to gain standings.

I was doing my first lvl2 security missions in a PvE fitted Caracal. The whole fit cost me around 60m during that time.

I was unexperienced and due to the way I was doing lvl1 missions, I just rushed into the fire and started shooting stuff. I underestimated the combined firepower of the rats, and when I decided to warp out, it was too late and I lost that ship. All in about two minutes. In the same time, I just engaged in station trading and was doing a stupid mistake, that also cost me about 80m. So about 140m loss in a short amount of time.

As you will surely point out, both were stupid mistakes, and after I made them, I learned from them and they have never happened to me again. But still, for a beginning player, this was a big amount of ISK, and although I was lucky to have big enough funds to cover that loss, I am sure that not every pilot is in the same position, at least not in the beginning.

EVE is full of opportunities to fail, and each failure cost you ISK. This is also more true for players who are new, or are engaged in a lot of parallel activities (mining, ratting, PI, trading, refining, production, ... just to name the high-sec ISK money making stuff, since you referred to them). Each of this disciplines are able to provide you with income, given that you know how to use them correctly. Or are able to create loss, due to various reasons.

Being a M&S is certainly a reason, to fail to produce good amounts of ISK in these areas. But playing casually, just experimenting, underestimating risks, "bad luck" (placing a buy order, that ended having one zero too much without you noticing due to sleepiness or impatience), just to name a few, are also reasons that create failures. Yes, you can learn from mistakes and not make them again helps. But I repeat myself here, as a new player there are a lot of opportunities for failure and they can end up in you being broke.

I just wanted to point these things out, because I get the impression, that you tar other people over one brush too quickly.

Gevlon said...

@landrus: no doubt. However such newbie mistakes happen only a few times at start, so warrant 1-2 extra PLEX to cover the losses and no way would mean constant PLEX injection.

Do you think there are 100K newbies every month who buy an extra PLEX and then disappear.

Frostys said...

Gevlon, I think you underestimate the number of ship lost even during PvE activity. My account is only about 14 days old and yet, I've seen people explode to belt rats. Cuz mining in 0.7 is dangerous right? I nearly lost a poorly fitted osprey there too because my target lock was getting reseted all the time by jammers.

I am pretty sure many people run bad fits on thier ship all the time which can cause a hell of a lot of ship going boom. Losing a frig is not gonna hurt but lose a cruiser and it start to sting already.

Unknown said...

@Gevlon, well certainly not 100k. There will be a turnover rate, but you are right. The amount of PLEX cannot be explained by inexperienced players alone.

But my previous comment was not meant to be as an explanation for the PLEX amount, but a comment to your statement:

"[...] Losing a ship to rats (now that need some world class fail). [...]"

Gevlon said...

@Landrus, Frosys: but these losses are small. How many ospreys and Caracals do you have to lose to reach the cost of a PLEX?

Ignatius Hood said...

"This result is extremely interesting and - yet again - turns upside down my plans. I mean I know that you are probably fed up with my crazy ideas, but this is how I learn: put in something "optimal" from the limited knowledge I have, make people argue (is it trolling?) and feed me with the information I need to see it's stupid. Then with the new information I can figure out something less stupid and it goes on until the point when the idea actually works. Come back and prove me wrong once again and you'll be richly rewarded by the result when everything is cleared up."

If anyone reading your blog and giving you crap about not knowing what you're talking about vis a vis a certain subject or another who has not figured out what is quoted above is missing the point I think.

Challenging conventional wisdom to find the flaws in it and then charting a new course for yourself based on those findings is one of the messiest forms of research and invarably ends up with a lot more closed doors than open ones. Conventional wisdom afterall *is* wisdom of a sort.

However sometimes you have to pan a ton of dirt to find an ounce of gold. I'll confess at times I have facepalmed after some of your posts but I admire your courage. And nobody can really argue with your results up to this point.

Anonymous said...

"Oh there are many people killing PvE player .. Ninja salvager etc"

Not so many kills compared to the number of mission bears out there, and getting a mission bear to shoot (so he goes flashy and you can kill him) is a low % opportunity.

Somebody flew a 60M isk Caracal in their FIRST L2 mission? That's crazy pimped up nonsense.

Gevlon said...

@Ignatius: "station trading is better than hauling" is common wisdom. "Hauling 2B in a frigate size thing is suicide" is another. "Market PvP is done by 0.01-ing" detto.

I made all my money defying common wisdom.

Anonymous said...

"station trading is better than hauling" is about as much common wisdom as "new players can't earn a lot of ISK" - i.e. both are statements that you made up just so you can disprove them with great fanfare (while nobody who actually plays this game had believed them to be true in the first place).

What I see on MD and in the market-related in-game channels is that "try some inter-regional trading" and "move to a 2nd/3rd tier hub" (which usually evolves into arbitrage between hubs at some point) are the standard answers to anyone who complains about having trouble earning decent money in Jita.
"Go to any mission hub, sell things mission runners need and buy things mission runners produce" is one of the most vanilla pieces of market advice that get handed out all the time.
The "common wisdom" among lazy traders is to do anything *but* playing 0.01 ISK games in Jita (why waste time with something that a bot can do better anyways?) until one has at least 20-30b and then move towards market manipulation and speculation.

Now, I might have written "trading is better than hauling" a few times myself (usually in reply to "I just spent all my ISK on a freighter, how do I earn the big money now?" posts) and you may have received similar advice at some point which lead you to your strange views about "common wisdom" - but that refers to "hauling" as doing courier contracts not as trading between hubs/regions/...

Your experiences with trading so far seem to fall entirely into the realm of common wisdom (only the effectiveness of heavy undercutting is controversial but has a lot of supporters).

Given that this trading knowledge is widely known and publicized in a myriad of trading guides and forum threads the real question is why so many people (including myself) are poor regardless.

Kristophr said...

Actually, your girlfriend's methods are close to full time missioners.

I would suggest she upgrade that Rohk to a Marauder. She will need to train BS to 5.

A Golem or a Kronos. Four high slots that do double weapon damage, and four high slots to put things like tractors or salvagers on.

And yea, you did the same sort of thing in World of Warcraft ... try all sorts of stuff out, and abandoned what didn't work. Was a lot of fun to watch.

Now that you are on one big shard and not working some Euro-only realm, I may consider playing as well.

Kristophr said...

Anon: if your goal is making ISK, and nothing but that, Station Trading IS the express ticket to get there.

Average_Nullsec_Pilot said...

Pretty interesting post, IMO. My main is your average pvp nullsec pilot. I buy plex because I'd rather work an hour at my job, than grind ISK for an hour. Some stats if they help:

My PVP / PVE ratio is 90/10.

I've been playing EVE actively for about 6 months and during this time I've purchased 7 PLEX's for about $17 per. That's approx 3.3B ISK at 470M ISK per PLEX. I have almost 2B ISK spread out over three characters. I have another 1.4B ISK in fitted ships, almost all on my PVP main and then another 100M in miscellaneous crap. My char is about 8M SP.

Johan March said...

I think the people who buy PLEX en masse are those that drop $250 to faction fit a carrier and then promptly lose it while ratting in Null. Rinse. Repeat.

Anonymous said...

The documents you have shown detailing the cashflow of TEST and Goons does not offer a complete picture Gevlon.

Lets assume you join my corporation. You earn 800m a day, yet you don't contribute a cent of it to the corporation (nore would I ask you to). My corporation income remains roughly the same (it may go up slightly if you participated in corp activities which attracted tax).

You say you as an individual make a fair portion of what these big alliances do but you are not taking into account what their members earn. If necessary both of these alliances could call on a mindboggling amount of isk (There are rumours of Goon market 'jews' who are individually worth trillions and trillions of isk).

Agent Black Cat said...

Someone said it earlier, but I have to second it - most PLEX come from players of any type whose real life income is worth more than their PVE hourly income. Call it part of the meta-game if you like.

My time is worth a certain amount of money, real money. PLEX are worth a certain amount of money. Those PLEX can be converted to ISK. So if I can work for an hour in RL instead of "work"ing for an hour doing plexes and make more ISK that way, then its a more reasonable investment of my time.

PVE and FW have a per hour income cap. You're eventually doing the best plexes, missions or the fastest button captures. If these activities are not challenging, then they are not enjoyable and are just an income source. At that point, if an hour of real work pays more than an hour of EVE work then it makes sense to PLEX.

That leaves my game time for other things I can't do with just ISK. The chief among these is learning how to play better. There's also things like raising standings that provide a long term benefit and can't be bought and getting my passive income (station trading, research, PI) up to a level that justifies their per hour investment and puts me in a position to buy PLEX rather than sell them.

As a side note, one alliance (I forget the name) was famous for being started by an oil magnate who immediately dumped tens of thousands of dollars in PLEX to get started and continued to fund it that way. For him that was less than a day's income, so why not?

Anonymous said...

"As a side note, one alliance (I forget the name) was famous for being started by an oil magnate who immediately dumped tens of thousands of dollars in PLEX to get started"

You are probably thinking of SirLordex who is rumored to be a/the son of a Russian aluminum tycoon:

Agent Black Cat said...

Possibly, can't find my reference now but there was Tanaka Atsuko who bought a titan with PLEX and was promptly conned out of the ISK.

Qvar said...

As a noob recruiter, I can assure you that at least half of your PLEX comes from new players who want a starting boost.

Dwayne said...

Most people do pay for EVE. Some pay with real money by purchasing PLEX, others do it by spending a significant amount of time grinding PVE for ISK.

So working a real life job, even a part-time one, may be a more efficient way of acquiring ISK than grinding PVE if you are a casual player. For example $20/hr RL work is roughly a PLEX an hour. Unless of course, you really enjoy PVE, in which case it could be more enjoyable than real life work, thus worth the time spent.

Trading however is unique in that it doesn't have the same cap on income as other ways of making ISK and it's a passive form of playing which doesn't necessarily require a lot of time spent on grinding. Which is why I want to learn how to trade successfully to fund my "wasteful" PVP adventures.

PVP is for me the most exciting part of the game, even though I am not very experienced at it yet. Other than EVE, I play mostly FPS games on consoles, and none of them have given me the adrenaline rush I sometimes get from EVE PVP. It is unique.