Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Minerals... The Perfect Storm

In the 2000 movie 'The Perfect Storm' a confluence of several large weather systems all at the same time merged to create a massive storm in the North Atlantic that claimed several lives. Since then any time an event happened where several rare events coincided to reinforce each other it has been referred to as a 'Perfect Storm'. What we are seeing today in mineral prices in EVE is an example of such an event.

Here are the following elements:
1. Large ISK faucets: With incursions introduced last year, combined with ever more productive ratting from higher skilled/equiped average players, ISK per player is on an upward trend.

2. Mass Bannings: CCP Sreggs and team have started mass bannings of bots and RMT traders who operate, among other things, huge fleets of mining ships extracting minerals. The influx of minerals into the markets from these operations is reduced.

3. Proposed Rogue Drone Changes: Rogue drones are going to be changed to have bounties instead of dropping minerals. The influx of minerals into the markets from these operations is reduced.

4. Proposed T1 Rat Drops: Wrecks from rats will no longer have the relatively mineral rich T1 meta 0 loot. The influx of minerals into the markets from these operations is reduced. Edit: Just confirmed that meta-0 items to be replaced by one unit of metal scrap. This refines to less tritanium than most modules and no other resources.

and the icing on the cake...

5. Hulkageddon: Starts later this months. With the huge backing of the angry goons this should be the biggest Hulkageddon ever! Miners beware! The influx of minerals into the markets from these operations is reduced. Lost ships (ganked and gankers) will increase the demand for minerals to facilitate replacement.

The end result is that speculators are predicting a massive drop in the supply of minerals, which coupled with a cash rich player base, will result in a massive spike in ship and other product prices. We have seen 2x increases in battlecruiser prices already. Other ship classes are also showing similar increases. Ruptures for example are now priced above 10 million ISK. Since insurance payout adjustments lag the market in increasing the cost of loosing a T1 hull has gone from very small to now as much as 50% of the purchase price.

The effect of this on the game is dramatic. Expect players to become a lot more cautious with their suddenly expensive ships. For example I recently lost a Diemos on a roam with my corp. It will cost me almost twice as much to replace it. I am considering purchasing a cheaper ship like a stabber fleet issue, that will still fit the same gang doctrine but not impact my wallet.

At the same time that time honoured and ridiculed profession, mining, has suddenly become much more lucrative. Expect a lot more mining fleets in empire and out in 0.0.

This effect will be most pronounced on new players. A 10 million isk rupture, a 70 million isk Drake will completely change the new player experience, for the worse.

Of course the CCP in-house economist must know about what is happening and could predict these changes. He has several possible tricks up his sleeve that could ruin a speculator's day. He might delay one or both changes to the loot mechanics. I don't think that will happen however. What I think we might see very soon is a change to the amount of minerals per hour mining. Either increasing the refined amount of minerals per unit of ore and/or increasing the mining yield of mining lasers both would negate some of the effect on the overall market, while still making mining as a profession viable.

This is an interesting time for the EVE economy. Personally I think these changes are long overdue. The loot mechanic of getting minerals just always felt wrong. By making mining a viable and important profession again, messing with botters, things will eventually achieve a new, better equilibrium then before. I just wish I had the forethought of stocking up first.

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