Greedy Goblin

Thursday, January 2, 2014

There is no need for ZCC

If you didn't read blogs during the holidays, check out the last piece here about killers vs achievers, the secret of EVE.


Contrary to popular belief, I don't ignore the arguments of commenters. What I ignore is the opinion of people, if 10000 guys say that "X is true because I believe so", that's just noise to me and usually ends up moderated along with the "Buy Viagra online!" comments. However people commented on my plan about the lowbie-wormhole renter group: "ZCC would only protect from itself, as lowbie wormhole space is very rarely evicted". So I did two things to confirm or disprove.

One was to defy threats of the evicted zombie who wanted 5B to avoid his scanning frigates and various other parties leaving scouts in the wormhole I live in. Instead of staying logged out, I used the space extensively during the holidays. I did not only do PI runs, but also completed all combat, hacking (my girlfriend actually likes the minigame) and gas sites. I also mined for endless hours, collecting 3 freighter load of ore. Not because it's good money (mining is literally the worst way of getting money unless you 10+ multibox), but to use the space. I indeed had some gankers, but no one touched my structures.

The other thing was examining the killboard for WH evictions. Below you can see all large tower kills in C1 space (wormhole regions 1, 2 and 3) in the Sept 23. - Dec 23 period (3 months): High, Low, High, High, High, High, High, Low, High, High, High, High, High, High. 14 evictions. Some of them had surprisingly few people on it, so I assume offline tower bash, but I included them still. There are 348 C1 systems. With the current rate, evicting them all takes 6 years and 2 months. As the ZCC plan was to collect rent in turn of protecting the renters, you'd pay 75 months rent to be saved from one eviction, which is a very bad deal. So ZCC is dead before even starting, as the service it offers is not needed. It would only operate as a protection racket and I'm not interested in those, because they are rarely ever profitable. Too bad.

Too bad, because the original problem of the wormhole zombies stays. I went to wormholesales.com and checked the already sold C1 wormholes in the same timeframe, found 40, 20 of them having highsec exit. Since there are 215 highsec static wormholes, selling all will take 32 months. Lowsec wormholes spin faster, probably because the owners quickly get enough of lowsec hauling. Currently 2 HS-C1 wormholes are offered for sale and they are selling the same wormhole so I assume number of the above sales are scams too.

Out of the 14 evictions, 12 took place in highsec-exit systems. So - despite the huge hassle - about third of the highsec-static C1 systems change hands on a military way. On the other hand, the WH sale prices are pretty low. Why would anyone go with the huge effort to evict someone when he can buy a system for pocket change? Probably because the buyer is often scammed or buys nothing but an entry bookmark, which is useful, but doesn't grant ownership, the task of actually taking the wormhole is still ahead of him.

I'm not sure what kind of business could be built to help its customers to get to wormhole space. I mean if you can't collect rent, you need to ask for an upfront cost. If you do so, you need to compete with the ones who "sell" wormholes for 100-300M. You obviously cannot do that if you are selling a real service and not just a bookmark.

So we are back where we started: someone who wants to try out wormhole space must plan and finance everything. While he can buy bookmarks to speed up finding a system and hire mercenaries to evict the zombie, he is alone in risking his multiple billions.

I'm sad that I couldn't create an organization that can take away the punitive upfront cost from moving to wormhole space. I try to explore further options, but it seems the fundamental law of capitalism is upheld: unless you want to be an hourly paid employee, you must risk your own capital, no one can do it for you. To make it worse, if you have several billions that you are fine to risk, you can start trading, which pays better. Currently I'd be better off ISK-wise in the trade hubs than in a wormhole.

The reason why I stopped trading is that it clearly did not fit to most people. Despite I've shown how can one get a supercarrier a month, people didn't flock to Jita to start earning. It seems, trading needs some special predisposition or attitude that most doesn't have or want to get. So I came to WH space to find a more traditional income source which is still not mindless and horribly paid missioning or anom-ratting.

My short term plans are figuring out why the wormhole sale prices are so low when people spend billions (at least in opportunity costs) evicting others and how to make enough ISK in a lowbie WH to make evicting zombies profitable.

25 comments:

Provi Miner said...

perhaps npc null is an option? find a pocket help defend it and charge a small fee. IDK what to tell you outside of that. of course npc null is so similar to low sec. Or create your three division corp (mil/indy/pve) join some alliance and see what you can do.

Anonymous said...

people don't care about opportunity costs. They evict for fun (at least in higher class wormholes).

Most evictions I've been involved in have not resulted in the entity I fly with farming the target system. In a few instances we'll clear the sites while we cycle an exit but we don't generally "live" there or try and make the cost of the eviction back.

in some instances we might hold an evicted site for a few months if it is desirable..

but you really need to stop asking "why" people do things and declaring it stupid because of opportunity costs or whatever. The answer is, as always "for fun"- a totally valid, perhaps more totally valid motivation than for isk.

Anonymous said...

I've sold several c1/2/3 wormholes, all for around 400m despite the fact that (for the c3's) there were probably 300m in sites spawned. The reason I'm willing to sell the wormhole for 3-5 days of site normal site running is because of the high opportunity cost of leaving a scan alt in the wormhole.

I have 4 characters that can scan, but I use all 4 them fairly regularly. Fast turnover and getting my scanner out is better than waiting to try and sell for 30-50% higher. Especially true because I don't scan for the wormholes, whenever my home pipe contains an empty not-shit wormhole (i.e. not a blackhole or red giant) I leave a char in and try to sell it.

Gevlon said...

@Anonymous: because shooting structures is so much fun!

@Second anonymous: my question is rather why don't people pay more for the wormholes.

Anonymous said...

@Gevlon: people don't pay more for wormholes because they are objectively not worth it. The market for wormhole sales reached equilibrium. The prices you are seeing are the balance of what the market will maintain.

The facts are that:
1) wormhole space is one of the lowest population areas.
2) locating wormholes yourself is just time (you yourself did this - a bit of scanning, which is much easier in this day and age).
3) low class wormholes account for the largest number of systems, the easiest to find and the least desirable (effectively high supply, low demand).
4) there is a glut of wormhole "real estate agents" meaning competition in that market is relatively high for it's market size.
5) people see the "bookmark" as what they are buying - the isn't a feeling of intrinsic value associated with it.

Gevlon said...

@Anonymous: what I don't understand is why low class wormholes are not desired, when they are literally a money print.

I also don't understand why do people accept a bookmark as a wormhole, when the eviction is still ahead of them.

Anonymous said...

Because lower class wormholes are not as big a money print as higher class wormholes. C5s can be multiboxed (without escalations) in RR tengus.. C4s make an order of magnitude more money than C1s etc.

Seriously, it is no more effort to run a C4 than it is to run a C1..and you make more money.

Alkarasu said...

@Gevlon
"why low class wormholes are not desired, when they are literally a money print."

They are money print when you can solo 10-man it. Most people don't have many characters, so even just keeping a scanner alt in will lock a good chunk of their "manpower" from any other activity, and with multiple people it's not that much more effective, than a hisec mission running. It's fun for some time, but that's it.

"I also don't understand why do people accept a bookmark as a wormhole"

Because they don't, naturally. You don't buy a wormhole, you buy a bookmark - a thing, that saves you some time on scanning it on your own. Therefore it's so cheap - it's a price of several hours of boring, monotonous work, nothing more.

Kurt said...

"Anonymous: what I don't understand is why low class wormholes are not desired, when they are literally a money print."

Most people don't like to do PI. Of those that do, many of them can do good PI by joining a pre-existing wh or null corporation. Many of the people who do like to do PI, but don't want to join a pre-existing wh or null corporation, have plenty of money from other, superior, sources. The pool of people that are left, that desire to implement your plan, is not large. Not at all.


"I also don't understand why do people accept a bookmark as a wormhole, when the eviction is still ahead of them."

People are , generally, buying bookmarks to wormholes with no active force field up, therefore no eviction. The vast majority of these sales come either from the former occupant getting bored with wh space and packing up and selling their own wh, or from someone getting bored with EVE online, neglecting to upkeep his tower, it goes offline and someone bashes all the SMA/CHAs, someone else scans it down and sells the bookmark. yes, it's certainly possible for someone to put up a tower/reactivate an old tower in that system, making an eviction now necessary, but it's fairly trivial to put up a tower in 99% of wh systems that have been occupied for long periods of time already. Very few wh corps are active round the clock, which is necessary to make putting up a tower in your home system difficult.

Lucas Kell said...

"what I don't understand is why low class wormholes are not desired, when they are literally a money print."
They are if you are willing to grind, and do loads of hauling to get it, alongside putting up with getting shot at completely at random.

Most high sec carebears are happier with the ability to sit in the same system as a station, mining or ratting for lower, but still good income. You can make 1b/month/char on high sec PI with relative ease. That keeps most high sec carebears happy enough to not bother with the hassle of moving into a wormhole.

Lets not also forget that it's cost you several billion to get in and set up, and you've got the ongoing cost and work of fuelling a POS. a High sec carebear need not worry about that. Their station will always be there and we never run out of fuel.

And I've done a fair bit of wormholing in my time. It's very good income, yes, but it's boring as sin, and there's no benefit to sharing it, so the aspect that makes the game an MMO, interacting with other players, is stripped. You like it because you have no interest in interacting with other players. Most of us though play an online game because it breaks the monotony of playing with NPCs in single player games.

Behnid Arcani said...

A nice idea would be to construct pre-fabricated wormholes. Spend a few weeks building the infrastructure, then sell it on to a new corp. You can exploit the space whilst constructing and during the selling process, keeping costs relatively low.

Your market would be the PLEX buying crowd who just want the experience of wormhole space, without the hassle of set-up. You could even build them a few carriers, so they could defend themselves a little more easily... for a higher price though, to account for the construction time as well as the price of the carrier. Opportunity cost can be kept low by using the carriers to run the anomalies after construction.

Not a great business for new players, and perhaps more of a labour of love then a real business venture. Still, it would be a way to vitalize the region, bringing in fresh new blood. And since you can set them up with carriers in low mass holes, they can put up a decent fight against the veteran players.

daniel said...

"I'm sad that I couldn't create an organization[...]"
while
"I'm ready to put some starting funds into the project and by no means aspire to lead it."


"I also don't understand why do people accept a bookmark as a wormhole, when the eviction is still ahead of them."

unless they understand that they are buying a bookmark, not a wormhole.
yes, the name "wormholesales" is misleading, as it should say wormholebookmarksales.com.

Oska Rus said...

You should try buying wormhole yourself. It is more service than only bookmark. Usually empty wormholes are bought so no eviction effort is needed. Occupied wormhole cannot be sold through wormholesales their rules forbid it.

When i bought wormhole it went this way:
1) i contacted seller and we waited for wormholesales proven third party
2) thirdparty took money from me.
3) seller led my scanning alt to wormhole (through 5-6 wormhole jumps i think)
4) after confirming everything is ok third party released the money to seller.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure. For me, wh seems to be a huge gametime-effort due to the need to pre-finance and upkeep a POS. This could only be alleviated by a pre-installed POS which I can use on a per-day basis. I could then try running anoms, mine, whatever, in my starting wh and look for adjacent wh systems to do the same. Since my fame time is rare, and I am sometimes in the moot to do other things, I guess I would qualify as a zombie, except for if in a swarm of similar minded single-solo-players, connected by a renting corp's POS. I briefly thought about joining Foo, but his conditions seem to be a bit too strict.

Raziel Walker said...

Low class wormholes are a money print?
Isn't sov nullsec (or renting) a better money print for most players? Unlimited sites to run, intel channels that warn of hostiles, stations instead of a POS.

And not a valid reason for you perhaps but the opportunity to be part of something bigger. Goonswarm achieved a lot and even if you are just a cog in their machine it can still be a source of pride.

E Dyn said...

Isn't the fact that people accept the bookmark as a WH, just due to people being lazy?
They want to try out W-space but don't want to scan out an entry point, thus they buy the bookmark.

Or maybe they just don't know that they are actually only buying an entry point.

As until last month, I always thought that people selling wormholes, were actually selling empty ones, instead of just the bookmark

Anonymous said...

Prices are low because supply exceeds demand (and it sounds like there's a pretty big gap). The price of a wormhole isn't an eviction, it's an hour (or however long it takes to find a wormhole) of the person's time.

Anonymous said...

"I'm sad that I couldn't create an organization that can take away the punitive upfront cost from moving to wormhole space."

Well - there is a way. In the same way that people create shell companies with high standing for POS setup. You could create a corp, anchor the POS and then sell a bookmark along with the corp.

Anti said...

perhaps you could work out a fair price for an empty C1 (or C2/C3) with eviction guarantee.

if they buy from you and get evicted in the first month you replace their infrastructure.

you can calculate the price as (price of infrastructure * chance of eviction + your profit)

Gevlon said...

If you pre-fabricate wormholes, you are practically selling your own labor time as you save the buyer nothing but the onlining of the tower and defenses. Since most players consider their time free, I doubt if you'd make a killing with it.

dobablo said...

I am sure there are some corps that must offer a stepping stone into wormhole space. If I was to set one up as a business venture, I'd create a holding corp that owned the structures let someone rent that for 300k per month. That gives them an introduction to WH space and some practise without the up-front cost. Kick them out the corp after 3 months as an incentive to get their own hole.

Von Keigai said...

As others have said, you are not just buying a bookmark to a random system where you'll have to evict. You are buying a bookmark to a system where you are guaranteed there are no active towers.

Now, you might wonder why the activeness of a tower makes a difference. The proximate reason is just that "everyone knows" that an active tower is a property claim. Wormholesales, for example, requires it as a condition of sale. But why is that? Certainly "everyone knows" is suggestive of the existence of a Schelling point. But why is it here?

The reason is that an inactive tower no longer protects any of its modules. Defense modules have huge hitpoints and no loot; thus they can and do persist indefinitely. But any module that can have loot of any kind will be noticed and killed within days or even hours of the tower going offline. (My corp recently found such a tower. We scored about 2b ISK in ships and loot. However such finds are very, very rare.) Without fuel, you cannot keep any ships or goods in wspace, other than those you can fit on a single ship. And a single ship cannot do very much. Thus, you must fuel a tower to keep any significant amount of stuff safe in wspace. You must fuel a tower to claim ownership.

The need to fuel explains two addition fact that seem to puzzle you. Why are prices so low? Because demand is. But why is that? Because fuel is expensive, only players that play above a certain rate will make enough for it to be worthwhile. This depresses demand. Contrast to basing yourself in NPC null. Not only are the services better, but you pay nothing for them. If you want to take a month off, when you return, everything you had is still intact.

The need to fuel also explains why sellers are so eager to sell. Holding an asset that sells for, say, 500m is very costly when it takes 320m in fuel per month. (That's a large POS -- even a small POS is 80m.) In fact many corps just abandon a wormhole setup rather than trying to sell. I have recently placed my old system up for sale, and realized this exact problem. I am paying for a large tower just to try to extract a little extra value from my carriers. Better to just insurance-fraud the carriers, pull out everything except a small POS, and mark the price as low as possible.

GWI said...

one thing, you aren't paying for the wormhole, you're paying the explorer to find you one, with a particular criteria, thats all, regardless of the language used.

also, a lot of corps promise players kills. E.G. killers who have no idea how to ply their trade. As much as you don't understand them, they are the ones who have nothing better to do than blow each other up, and if you can't find them things, or have invasions come to you, they quickly get bored and move on, so it's a cost of doing business, to have your own personal mercs on call.

it is funny though, basically a lot of these things are kind of known already, but no one has gone to the trouble of actually examining why. WH space is dead, and empires are not made, people know that, because there aren't any, but no one really knows why, until now.

I do wish you could find some measure of success in the near future, I haven't heard of one since your donation drive, or solo gank numbers

Jack Miton said...

The reason (smart) people do not pay for WHs is because anyone can fly to Jita, buy a 10 mil scanning frigate and find a suitable WH for themselves in a weekend of looking.
It's really not as hard as people make it out to be.

People who buy WHs tend to be lazy and lazy people do not last long in WH space.

Sjonnar said...

Hang on there. Before you give up the ZCC as dead in the water, consider the example of insurance. Not EVE insurance, but real-world. Most insurance payers go for years or decades without ever making a claim. They pay because they are worried the costs of not paying might - maybe - be higher.

People who can accurately assess their chances of having a particular mishap make informed decisions - often opting not to take coverage for a low-probability mishap. The stupids who can't plan just buy it all, "because what if". Those stupids are your target market, not the ones who are smart enough to realise the chances of them being evicted are miniscule.