Greedy Goblin

Monday, September 17, 2012

PLEX guide

If you like to do any form of PvE, industry or trading, you play EVE for free. EVE is different from other "play for free" MMOs as you can fully play it for free. You simply pay your subscription with the in-game item PLEX. You buy PLEX from other players for in-game currency ISK. PLEX is created into the game by other players buying it from the developer for about 17 euros (I don't know current $ price). There are sometimes sales and discounts for bigger packages.

You can use the PLEX by right-clicking it and choosing "Add game time to account". There can be 3 characters on an account and if either one uses the PLEX, the account will live for 30 more days. This allows you to use PLEX without leaving your current position. You just need an alt in trade hub who buys the PLEX.

The first lesson about PLEX is inflation. As CCP does bad job balancing the economy, players are printing ISK. If you have lot of ISK now that you don't plan to use, you can't be really wrong to buy a year worth of PLEX-es for your characters and add them to the account now as the price always rises on the long run.
On the bottom of the market window there is a "show data" button that changes the graph into a table that you can copy to EXCEL to create such charts. This one shows the daily average price in Jita. The lines are the weekly and monthly moving centered averages. Normal moving average places data to the end of the period (the January average to Jan 31), centered to the middle (the January average to Jan 16). Centered average follows the data better but missing points at the most recent end of the chart.

The second lesson is volatility. PLEX prices jump up and down pretty fast. They rise slowly when CCP does some change in the game that makes one form of PVE better/easier/more fun. For example the current mining barge changes and the AFK-farming FW zones (which won't be fixed until the end of the year) let industrious players get lot of ISK that they use to support their accounts by buying PLEX-es. The more buyers, the higher the price. Expecting steady rise, speculators can arrive, creating fast jumps, like the one we could see just this week. PLEX prices drop if there is a PLEX sale on the account management or if there is a larger war with large losses is going on. The chart shows the difference of the actual day from the monthly centered average:
So if you don't buy the PLEX on the last day before your account expire, you can catch a day when the price is 10-15M below the monthly average. If you literally buy on the last day, you can be unlucky and buy 10-15M higher. Don't buy on the last day, buy when it's cheap.

The third and probably most important lesson about PLEX is that - as usually - the majority is dumb. "Everyone" buys his PLEX in Jita. The chart below shows the relative prices of other hubs vs Jita, the lines are linear fits:
Every single hub is below Jita. Even Amarr that is traditionally considered expensive is 1% below, the others are closer to 2%. That's 5-10M to save if you relocate your buying alt.

The last lesson is the most obvious: don't buy any sell orders, set up your own buy order. The chart shows the difference of the daily low sales (luckiest buy order) vs the daily average in the various hubs. You can see that 5-10M can be saved by setting your own buy order.
If you set up buy order, don't forget that you have to pay broker fee. That's 1% for a clean char. If you learn broker relations to 3 and do just the faction newbie missions, you can cut the fee to half.

Saturday morning report: 148.7B (5.5 spent on main accounts, 3.6 spent on Logi/Carrier, 3.2 on Ragnarok, 2.6 on Rorqual, 2.4 on Nyx, 2.8 on Avatar, 17.4 sent as gift)
Sunday morning report: 150.1B (5.5 spent on main accounts, 3.6 spent on Logi/Carrier, 3.2 on Ragnarok, 2.6 on Rorqual, 2.4 on Nyx, 2.8 on Avatar, 17.4 sent as gift)
Monday morning report: 152.1B (5.5 spent on main accounts, 3.6 spent on Logi/Carrier, 3.2 on Ragnarok, 2.6 on Rorqual, 2.4 on Nyx, 2.8 on Avatar, 17.4 sent as gift)


Hivemind said...

You might want to mention Sugar Kyle's interesting insight that CCP seem to want to keep PLEX prices at around 500mil or less each (

Obviously second-guessing the devs is a great way to lose lots of ISK, but it does make sense for CCP to keep the PLEX prices low and/or prevent massive inflation/manipulations; it tempts more players to make a second account (which increases subscriber numbers which looks good for CCP) and it means players selling PLEX have to pay more for their desired ISK value, which is good for CCP's bottom line.

Gevlon said...

@Hivemind: I'm not sure. 0.5B is a pretty trivial sum (1 strat cruiser), so I don't think it really serves the interest of CCP. Higher price would mean people would be more motivated to buy PLEX instead of grind.

Anonymous said...

Higher prices would mean people wil go play a cheaper game that doesn't demand as much of their time/money just to stay subscribed. 0.5B is a relatively trivial sum for some station traders, but compared to the ISK/hr of mining and missioning (what lots of people are doing, rather than what they should be doing to earn income) it's not an insignificant sum.

Eaten by a Grue said...

CCP's number one concern when selling PLEX has to be the real money aspect of it. So their goal is to find the sweet spot of the maximum a player is willing to pay for a month of game time. ISK price is secondary.

With regard to higher ISK trading price motivating people to buy PLEX to sell, that is only one half of the equation. On the demand side, lower ISK price will induce people to buy a PLEX. And every PLEX cashed in for game time at one point was bought for real money, and in the end, that is what is important to CCP.

Sugar Kyle said...

500mil is not a trivial sum to many people. It is a lot of effort and grinding that they have to repeat every month.

Add that into their normal game expenses and a lot of people play to plex or grind to plex. As the price of plex shoots up it begins to leave the grasp of many.

The 'pay for your game time with in game money' is a big lure for people. If that becomes to hard to obtain people will stop. There is a lot of unrest with the latest plex manipulation efforts that caused prices to soar to almost 600mil overnight.

This Thread about Playing if there is was more plex got very heated very quickly.

Anonymous said...

PLEX mostly is a system to keep around the bittervets (which create a sense of history & continuity in EVE and provide much of the content) by having newbies pay their subscription.

Make PLEX too expensive (in ISK) and the bittervets leave - taking away the "soul" of EVE in the process of doing so.

Make ISK too expensive (in terms of dollars) and newbies quit or turn towards unsanctioned RMT.

Judging by his statements during the past 1.5 years EyjoG mostly seems to be concerned with smoothing out short-term fluctuations in PLEX prices - and as EVE players are pretty fast to jump on good deals (when somebody has depressed prices by dumping large quantities of PLEX on the market) this mostly translates into preventing the infamous irrational exuberance from taking hold of the PLEX market.

He could not keep prices below equilibrium forever without costing CCP a lot of money - but he can credibly threaten that if you start messing with plex prices in some sort of pump & dump scheme he is going to ruin your day.
Him starting to play central bank is probably a reaction to the ever increasing net worth (compared to the size of the total PLEX market) of some players.

At the end of the day both buyers and sellers value predictable prices - neither do I want to find out that I have to grind another 100m when I thought I am done for this month, nor do I want to be surprised by getting only 800m rather than 1b for my $35.
Over the long-term players can adjust their expectations but rapid changes of PLEX prices are bound to result in discontent.