Greedy Goblin

Monday, October 1, 2012

The (total lack of) balance of trade of highsec

The fact that you can be much more rich in highsec than in the competitive areas of EVE (low, null, WH) is one of my main messages. It can be proved by the fact that low/null people has highsec alts for ISK making while there isn't a single one who calls himself highsec player yet earns money in competitive areas. My main addition was the magnitude: a single highsec player can literally make 6% of the income of a 10K member nullsec alliance (average guy earns 100%/10K = 0.01%).

I wrote several suggestions how to "fix it", how to decrease highsec income and increase the income in competitive areas and so did others. Some of them were implemented in the past years of EVE development, none of them worked. The reason is that none of them addressed the fundamental economic problem of EVE.

To understand the fundamental economic problem, let's see how much a Raven Navy Issue, a popular highsec ship costs. No, I didn't mean 350M, as you can't create a Raven Navy for 350M, you can buy it from someone who did. Someone must create it to be sold. To create it, you first need a normal Raven battleship, 600K LP and a nexus chip that you can get for 8K LP. All the mentioned LP can be farmed in highsec doing missions. Ravens can be manufactured by players from the following materials (I don't have perfect skills, don't bother, the ratios matter):
- Isogen 130K 16.2M ISK
- Megacyte 2.5K 4.8M ISK
- Mexallon 522K 31.8M ISK
- Nocxium 32.5K 20.1M ISK
- Pyerite 2084K 26.3M ISK
- Tritanium: 8335K 50.0M ISK
- Zydrine: 7.8K 5.1M ISK
Megacyte and Zydrine are mined in competitive zones. You have to pay 9.9M for these. You have to pay 146.4M for the other materials that can be mined in highsec. Only this 10M worth of materials need to come from competitive areas. The rest of the 340M (97%) can be farmed in the safety of highsec. To make it worse, the highsec people don't lose their Raven Navies (unless idiots), so they pay 10M in their whole life to the nullsec people. After they paid this, they will never-ever need them. Ships need fittings, but the entry level fittings and the top-level faction fittings are all farmable in highsec (only an idiot fits deadspace/officer on a subcap), only the (not too expensive) T2 fitting needs nullsec people to farm.

On the other hand the nullsec people often lose ships. They often use Drakes, let's use it for example:
- Isogen 19.2K 2.4M ISK
- Megacyte 0.9K 1.7M ISK
- Mexallon 185.5K 11.2M ISK
- Nocxium 13.6K 8.8M ISK
- Pyerite 673.3K 8.5M ISK
- Tritanium: 2689K 16.2M ISK
- Zydrine: 4.0K 2.6M
4.3M nullsec materials and 47.1M highsec materials. 92% of the Drake comes from highsec!

T1 and faction ammunition comes from highsec too, only T2 ammo is from nullsec. So people living in competitive areas are needing lot of highsec materials and they need it constantly as they lose ships, while highsec people need very little amount of nullsec materials and they need it once in their life. At this point the earning power (ISK/hour) of nullsec vs highsec becomes totally irrelevant. The people living in competitive areas has nothing to offer to the highsec residents. It doesn't matter how much Arkonor you mine or how much Tc your moons yield, you can only sell it to your fellow nullsec residents, the highsec people don't need your stuff. On the other hand you need lot of stuff from highsec and you need it again and again. So the balance of trade between the "country of highsec" and the "country of low-null-wh" is totally off, corrected by gifts given from highsec to the competitive areas. These gifts are either between alts of the same player, or between a buyer and a seller of a PLEX.

Jester just found that mining the various minerals give the same ISK/m3 that generates 19-26M/hour income. Yes, AFK mining veldspar in a 1.0 system gives almost as much as mining arkonor in the worst pirate and ganker-ridden systems. Why? Because highsec people don't need your arkonor and for fellow null people mining arkonor has the same difficulty as mining veldspar so they have no reason paying more for arkonor.

The nerfs of highsec don't change this. If you'd nerf highsec income into oblivion, it would be a depopulated zone, avoided by everyone but newbies. Such gigantic nerfs would force nullsec alts out of higsec (and probably out of the game as one can rat on his main), and it would remove highsec players too as they don't want to PvP. The remaining highsec residents would still have no reason to buy nullsec wares, they would simply be poor.

The fundamental problem can only be solved if highsec people would constantly need anything that low, null and wh offers. Simply moving all minerals except veldspar to low/null wouldn't help as the highsec people would still just buy one ship and use it for the rest of their lives. To make such re-balance useful, the highsec people would need to replace ships. It doesn't necessarily mean losing them, CCP could introduce ship durability that decrease over time and need to be topped up by using maintenance blocks that costs the same kind of materials as building the ship. Same for modules.

Another "item" that could be created in null is ISK itself. The ISK bounties could be removed from mission rats, mission rewards (replaced by LP) and trivialized in highsec complexes, making sanctum ratting and sleeper NPC buy orders be the only reasonable way of creating ISK. Since players need ISK to repair ships and buy skillbooks, this would give something to the nullsec people to trade for highsec materials.

Both of the ideas (and similar ones) would be shocking nerfs to highsec, therefore probably not possible considering the amount of highsec players being pissed by them. So let me offer a non-intrusive way of fixing the export-import imbalance: creating achievements into the game. These - just like their WoW counterparts - should have no gameplay effect, but should be pure vanity. They could offer vanity rewards like minipets in the captain quarters or idiotic costumes or whatever. Completing these achievements would need the player to get things that can only be created in competitive areas. This way newbies would not be affected, while achievement hunters would buy low/null/wh items like crazy. For example consider the achievement "True Sansha" that would need to have a Nightmare battleship fitted with True Sansha large turrets, True Sansha hardeners and True Sansha heat sinks. The achievement would not need one to undock the ship, so the achievement hunters could avoid taking risks, but it would need them to hold on to the ship, losing or selling it would remove the achievement. Or think about the achievement "Sleep tight" that replaces the captain quarters bed with a Sleeper holo-projector if you have the item in your hangar. Creating it would of course need lot of wormhole stuff. And of course the masterpiece: "Full Epic": a T3 fitted with purple items.

Maybe other solutions could work too. But the point is that until highsec barely imports anything from competitive areas while exporting awful lot of stuff, the economy will remain unbalanced and the wealth will be in highsec. The balanced system would mean two economically different, but heavily trading zones: in highsec you can farm cheap items safely, in null you can farm expensive items with risks.

For EVE trade and industrial discussions join Goblinworks channel.
If you want to get into nullsec but don't know how, go to the official forum recruitment thread and type the name of the alliance you seek into the search and start reading. I'm in TEST by the way.

Saturday morning report: 162.9B (5.5 spent on main accounts, 4.8 spent on Logi/Carrier, 3.2 on Ragnarok, 2.7 on Rorqual, 2.4 on Nyx, 2.8 on Dread, 17.4 sent as gift)
Sunday morning report: 163.7B (5.5 spent on main accounts, 4.8 spent on Logi/Carrier, 3.2 on Ragnarok, 2.7 on Rorqual, 2.4 on Nyx, 2.8 on Dread, 17.4 sent as gift)
Monday morning report: 165.8B (5.5 spent on main accounts, 4.8 spent on Logi/Carrier, 3.2 on Ragnarok, 2.7 on Rorqual, 2.4 on Nyx, 2.8 on Dread, 17.4 sent as gift)


Nursultan said...

Haven't done that myself for quite a while, but doesn't reprocessing mission loot also produce high-end minerals, completely removing any need for imports from nullsec/w-space?

Dangphat said...

Your article is on the money you can tell that by the lack of comments disagreeing with you (or any at all for that matter unless you have not had time to moderate this morning)

On a different note, is it time for your next Test donation yet? Do you feel satisfied with the first donation a month on?

Have you started getting involved in group activity yet within the alliance? You must be close to being logistically skilled and you already have a covops for acting as a scout for a fleet or just general intel gathering.

Unknown said...

Could the lack of balance of trade be addressed by (vastly) increasing price of the nullsec mats?

Of course, the price cannot go that high unless nullsec sov holders are in agreement that the price ought to be that high, and they have coordination problems.

Perhaps that could be addressed by splitting nullsec mats into many differentiated products, so that anything that needs technetium or whatever now would need one of each of the new technetium precursors. That would make the coordination problem easier, because a nullsec price coalition would only have to span one of those precursors in order to extract monopoly profits.

Anonymous said...

HS (and even low) is pretty much loss free for a non-PvP player. I have lost a total of 3 ships in High/Low sec during my eve career. A 3 ship loss in 0.0 during a month would be a slow month. While the income /hour in HS versus 0.0 when farming is quite different; in HS you can farm all-the-time, while in 0.0 there are required roams, PvP invasions, timers, etc. to deal with. I’m fairly certain that my income was on the higher end of the 0.0 residents, and that’s because I made isk using my JF to transport stuff from HS. Biggest imports into HS: zydrine / megacyte / noxcium / PI materials. Imports into 0.0: compressed material for low end minerals / ammo / bpcs / POS modules / T2 & T3 components or ships. The JFs from HS were always full, the JFs to HS always had extra cargo.
Opinions to change 0.0:
=give outposts more manufacturing queues, or considerable (50%+) bonuses to time in making ammo.
==HS has manufacturing facilities aplenty, while 0.0 does not have enough manufacturing slots in outposts to build JUST THE AMMO USED in 0.0 pvp every month. (I have used POS manufacturing quite a bit for ammo.)

=allow multiple outposts per system, with an exponentially increasing anchoring cost (Having built 2 outposts already, I know how much this is…)
=have covert ops cloaks institute a slowly building capacity use, which will eventually force a de-cloak to afk-cloaky-campers
=allow T2 components to be manufactured on moons via planet gui, the HS taxes will take care of where it’s made… with only the most expensive items being ‘worth it’. This change will need DUST to kill off 0.0 planet poachers.

Anonymous said...

Another option that might help (though not solve) the problem is shifting the balance of needed materials on higher tier products. Better things requiring much more low/null materials and much less basic materials. Highsec would still not need low/null, but at least highsec could better provide for itself.

Pheredhel said...

I think the idea is valid, but the suggested implementation is not, as it really punishes people in highsec.

So here is another possibility:
Highsec works as usual with one exception: There is some form of fuel, that is not necessary. Just, without it, you only fly with say, half speed.

This fuel would have to be cheap so everyone wants it.

Then Introduce two ways to get it:
Highsec and Lowsec. Highsec it's a bit from shooting other ships, or even some missions / mining. Just enough to sustain yourself if you fly SMALL ships. Anything larger needs more of it.

To keep it cheap, it can be obtained in large quantities in Nullsec. Just like "fly to the moon / station / belt and pick it up". Not stellar profits, but enough that it is a good way to "grind your money". The profit would be low as anyone in null would do it, but enough for many highsec pilots.

Let this fuel become the major income of alliances (say raffineries are the places to buy it) and you can start economic wars... Oil anyone?

Anonymous said...

Hisec needs moon goo and other materials only found in nullsec. The problem is we have two huge blob alliances who are allies sothe valuable resources are taken off the table for fighting. The same thing would happen to anything else the game worth fighting over with the exception of items in wormholes because of mass limits and to a lesser extent losec because of gate guns.

Anything achievements put in losec would be immediately camped by the two large alliances that own almost all the space. No fun for anyone else so they would not come. Yes they could join one of th two alliances however that takes any challenge or prestige out of the achievement as then it would be rather safe.

Anonymous said...

Found a nice article about economics in games. Never played that game, but still nice reading.

Thats one of the finest market ideas in games i know. Stored labour concept makes grinding less of a problem and puts players focus more of increasing that limited resource. Whats even more important, every single player is valuable because he increases that limited pool. More players, bigger market, more valuable items on use.

On eve space, simple thing as mining should be not grinding but using that stored labour. The thing is, more dangerous places give more ore per unit then safe area ones. Because everyone got limited amount of stored labour, they will want to use it most profitable way.