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Role Playing (Games) The Almighty Buck

EVE Online's First Quarterly Economics Report Published 80

The first quarterly report from EVE Online's very own economist has been released at the game's official site. has some comments from Dr. Guðmundsson on this first batch of numbers, exploring a bit of his methodology and the joys of working in EVE's closed environment: "Since life in Eve evolves at a faster pace than real life, we must use a so-called 'chained price index' rather than a representative basket. In real life, representative baskets are always used and in many cases the surveys for these baskets are done with very long time intervals. By looking at our results it is obvious how the fixed basket approach can overestimate the impact of price changes, just as predicted by theory. With consumer preferences changing faster now in real life than ever before (consumer electronics is a good example), this might be a lesson that could help us understand better changes in price levels and how we measure that outside virtual worlds."
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EVE Online's First Quarterly Economics Report Published

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  • It amazes me that nowadays quarterly figures are analyzed, you can't compare an early spring season with the christmas season, can you ?
    • Having an economist look at Eve Online is an interesting idea, but I question the practical value of studying virtual economies. I mean, does this research really tell us anything about how the prices of Tritanium, cybernetic implants, and frigate-class starships behave in the real world?
      • It does provide a bit of a controlled environment that can be used to test economic theories. Ignoring for a moment that these economies deal in imaginary goods, they still provide the human/corporate reaction to stimuli.

        You also end up with a pseudo real-life model in which factors cannot be hidden from the person conducting the study. Since all the information is stored and can't be hidden from the system you have fewer limitations.
      • Re:quarterly? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <> on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @06:15PM (#21355573) Journal
        Economics is all about models. They LOVE models, big sexy mathematical models, tying together figures on wildly different things to try to get a sense of the direction of the economy...Economists can pick some really silly stuff to plug into their models, so imaginary widgets isn't out of the realm of possibility.

        In this situation, they can actually apply their model, and watch things play out through the actions of real people, even if they're all dealing in imaginary goods. It's really exciting stuff, especially since the changes happen faster than "real world time" so you can get a since of price fluctuations much more quickly than you could out in the real world. It's also a closed system, so you have access to ALL the variables.
      • I thought it would be interesting to have an MMO where you can create a communist, socialist, capitalist, etc, etc guild and then study the results.
        • I'm not entirely sure if any studies have been done, but there are definitely communist, socialist and capitalist corporations in EVE.

          I'd say the majority of corporations are 'socialist' mission running corps. In mission running corps richer (usually older game-time) players help poorer players by giving them Isk, hard to acquire items and most importantly their time and their status with the NPCs in the game. Letting a newbie tag along on a Lvl4 mission goes a long way towards the newbie being able to do L
          • Re:quarterly? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Nazlfrag ( 1035012 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @11:08PM (#21358865) Journal
            It's a complex spectrum. There are mining guilds who are communistic, pirate guilds who are anarchistic, some who are fascist dictators of their guild, others who have highly stratified bureaucracies and still others who have little need for ranks or hierarchy. Most guilds are multicultural, yet some are nationalistic only having players of one real world country, and there are some who roleplay the ingame factions and only have players from their faction. There may be no ingame mechanic to set yourself 'socialist' or 'anarchist' but such a device would artificially limit the politics. As it stands, the EvE sandbox has the best political and diplomatic atmosphere of any MMO I've come across.
      • From the Article:

        "By looking at our results it is obvious how the fixed basket approach can overestimate the impact of price changes, just as predicted by theory. With consumer preferences changing faster now in real life than ever before (consumer electronics is a good example), this might be a lesson that could help us understand better changes in price levels and how we measure that outside virtual worlds."
    • That's why real economists get paid big bucks to process the figures and turn out reports that reflect the variables that each quarter holds.

      However, though EVE's timeline is accelerated and thus requires special attention in that aspect, it is much less subject to the seasons and holidays than a real world economy. Of course, if you wanted to try to be really accurate you could try to consider how the habits of the players would affect the economy based on regional holidays.
    • by eison ( 56778 )
      Real world quarterly figures are compared to the year-ago quarter, not the previous quarter. If they say "up 3% this quarter, while last quarter was up 6%", they mean up 3% from this quarter last year.
      • They sometime makes comparisons with the previous quarter (not the same quarter of the previous year). However, every time I've seen this, it was worded so you couldn't understand something else (the move from loss to profit is usually specified like this)
    • Many places do week to week these days, because it's possible, and you may gain some insight. As the above poster pointed out, however, it's always this week last year or the last two, three, or ten years, depending on the type of business.

      If you notice trends based on the preceding year, you can maybe identify a causal connection, and then increase your business by catering to it.
  • Isk farmers in eve are really out of control.
    You can pull up a list of contracts on a farmer character and see trillions of isk flowing into the hands of isk sellers on ebay, report this and nothing is done....

    I would ask their economist how rich players can afford the very best and how that shapes the economy in the game, when people cheat.

    Cheating is going on, and I know it cannot be stopped... but it is even obvious to the layman by the quantity of isk farmer posts on the official forums.

    • I've never played EVE so I'm going to assume that 'Isk' is something like ore or gold?
    • by TypoNAM ( 695420 )
      Not to mention spend any time in Jita or Amarr for more than 20 minutes you'll get eve-mail spam about sites to visit to buy ISK and it gets worse from there on (it does seem somebody has written a macro bot for this specific purpose).

      You would think by now that CCP would go through at least a method of detecting such spams by analyzing eve mails for content to flag accounts for further investigation, but then again this is CCP we're talking about after all. :)
      • by flynns ( 639641 )
        maybe, but why in the world are you hanging around Jita or Amarr? Of all the places in the vast universe, ... ???
        • by TypoNAM ( 695420 )
          For my alt to pick up large amount of items and then bring it back to me near low sec space which then I jump down to deep 0.0 where I base my operations. So, I really don't hang around those areas. :)
        • Jita I can understand. Lag or no, it's the heart of the economy, at least until they come to their senses and allow market information on a galaxy-wide, or empire-wide basis.

          Amarr though, seems a dead zone to me. Rens is much more active.
    • by GearheadX ( 414240 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @06:00PM (#21355371)
      There's a very simple way to handle isk farmers in 0.0, thankfully.

      It involves blowing them up.

      (Isk farmers drop great loot, by the way.)
      • While we're at it, do you think we can try it on spammers too?
      • Except it isn't that easy when they fly ravens with cloaks and possibly warp stabilizators, and instantly warp to a safe-spot and cloaks when someone enters local. Pretty much impossible to catch them when they do that.
    • by debrain ( 29228 )

      Cheating is going on, and I know it cannot be stopped... but it is even obvious to the layman by the quantity of isk farmer posts on the official forums.
      There are two types of cheating at hand. One, cheating to produce (farmers). Two, cheating to consume (buyers). I believe both types of cheating reflect fundamental faults in the economy.

    • Is it cheating, or is it just trade between two related economies? If the game developers don't have a problem with it, that strongly implies the latter to me.

  • Link to the report (Score:5, Informative)

    by ElMiguel ( 117685 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @05:43PM (#21355151)
    The summary should include a link to the report [] itself.
  • my thoughts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by theMerovingian ( 722983 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @06:01PM (#21355377) Journal

    They need to work on making the game more fun... The interface and graphics are nice, but 1) combat is boring; and 2) there is nothing to do but repetitively mine asteroids and wait weeks for your skills to increase. During the weeks I played, I managed to buy a ship with a huge cargo hold and a nice mining laser. I would just park the ship on a big asteroid and suck it all in, which takes about three hours. For a while I would get up in the middle of the night or during shows to be continually mining 24 hours a day.

    Finally, I realized that it was pointless because I wouldn't even be able to fly the awesome ships for weeks or months simply due to the skill system. I would never buy a Warcraft character online because leveling is 3/4ths of that game. The only way to get even a semblance of parity in Eve is to ebay a character that has been in training for 6+ months.

    You can only train skills on one character at a time, so in order to be truly efficient you have to buy two accounts so you can train a mining guy and a combat guy simultaneously.

    The auction system and the player crafting are the strong points of Eve. The foundation is there to be a fabulous game, but they need to totally revamp character development.

    My dream would be to combine the pre-jump-to-light-speed Star Wars Galaxies ground game with Eve's space system. It boggles the mind why Sony didn't just buy out Eve years ago and do exactly this. Then, you could do missions and skill up on the ground, AND enjoyably fly around in space (JTLS was vomit-inducing).

    • Agreed. I started three different trial accounts (one mining, one trade, one combat) and got bored with all three before 14 days. By the way, a fun way to end your game on the last day is to go fly around in 0.0 with a noob ship. (It doesn't take all day either.)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Scorpion265 ( 650012 )
      You need to get in with the right corp then. A 0.0 corp is where the action is at. Not to mention mining is the worst way to make isk in the game. Freaking go out and do some missions! L4 missions will bring in 20 to 30 mil per mission in loot + salvage. And that is all eclipsed when you do 0.0 ratting and complexes. and train your learning skills, weeks of training will be cut by half.
      • Yeah because missions are way more fun then mining! Oh wait, it involves doing the same set of a dozen missions over and over again? And salvaging is more boring then mining? Damn, I guess I'll sit at a gate camp for two hours and kill the occasional innocent traveler.
        • by 1lus10n ( 586635 )
          Going down the list of options for new players: A) Mine B) Missions C) Canon fodder in large corp (or a frigate based corp) D) Market work (trade, transport, building etc) But the game is not meant to be played solo, you need to get into a good corp where you get groups of people together to do ... everything. Trade in teams, build, distribute etc, run missions in groups with different types of ships (try running a l4 with a handful of AF's or inties if you fear low-sec/0.0). Then you can get into market s
    • You don't "get" Eve. It's not your fault, you just never left Empire.

      Unfortunately, it takes more than a month to train up a character and/or learn how to do more than mine/run missions.
    • SOE boggles the mind (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @06:28PM (#21355753) Journal

      SOE boggles the mind, there fixed it for you.

      I have a theory for why MMORPG's are the way they are. The companies behind aren't run by gamers who enjoy gaming as a hobby.

      I will tell you a couple of game elements. SWG's jedi XP grind where as a fully experienced character you had to trade regular XP from killing into jedi XP at a 10:1 or worse ratio. Endless amounts of killing for a slow level up of your jedi skill, so that you could kill things a tiny bit faster.

      SWG collectible items, a dozen incomplete sets clogging up your inventory. Lotro's reputation system, that involves farming items for measly rewards. Lotro's deed rewards that involves killing hundreds of critters so you character can go from 10% fire resistance to 11% (which means you still are 89% vulnerable).

      WoW's repuation grind for.... eh what was it for again? Special mounts or something?

      Eve's online levelling system where you have to keep logging in to select new skills to level up while you are logged off.

      Vendor trash, an area populated with half a dozen different critters all who drop 4 different kinds of vendor trash (looted items that have no value except to sold to NonPlayerCharacters, cash but cash you have to have inventory space for) so that you need 24 empty spots in your inventory just for one area, trash like teeth that stack only to ten, while you can carry life sized statues with no problem and go swimming to them.

      They are ALL delay tactics. Stuffing your inventory with junk forces you to travel back and forth. Rep grinding is just a way to keep you busy.

      The odd thing is WHY? Well, because they want us to pay the monthly fee right? Well, no. Think of it, see gaming as a hobby. Is 14.95 that much? I have a friend with a hobby of scuba diving, he pays he would LOVE to be able to do his hobby for my complete costs of PC, internet and monthyly fee.

      Even in gaming, plenty of other games have long lasting appeal without forcing the player to grind. Imagine if MS Flight Simulator only allowed you to fly a 747 AFTER you grinded 1200 Cessna landings. Imagine if Half-Life only allowed to to play multiplayer AFTER grinding the tutorial 100 times.

      Imagine if before you could connect to a multiplayer map, you first had to spend several minutes running around a single player map to set up the story.

      Plenty of single AND multiplayer games have long lasting appeal without introducing a grind, so why do ALL MMMORPG designers have this desperate urge to inject it into their games?

      Would you keep playing a MMO (and more importantly paying the fee) if the pure grind like the reputation grind was removed and the only lasting appeal was the gameplay itself.

      Would you raid the same instance if you didnt need to in order to get all the items?

      Other games can pull that off, are MMORPG's as games that bad that they got to hook us with something else then the fun of gaming?

      No, I don't think so, but it seems MMORPG designers think so.

      Oh well, no time, got head into misty mountains and collect rings, almost at exhalted status, so I can get a new skin for my horse.

      • by RobinH ( 124750 )
        The only MMO I played that wasn't like this was Planetside, and it wasn't an MMORPG - it was an MMOFPS. It was fun nearly 90% of the time. It had an experience system, but a brand new character could still beat a veteran any day - because there was skill.

        I think the grind you're talking about is due to the RPG genre. It comes from D&D. You have to build a character, and it takes time. The fun is in the imagination. When you play WoW, you're not relying on your own imagination - you're expecting th
        • God I wish Sony hadn't messed Planetside up. As an idea, it was beautiful. But they rushed it to the door instead of taking time to really polish it. The controls never did "feel right" after coming from much twitchier and tighter controlling games like Quake and Unreal. Half the things they announced at launch still aren't in the game to this day. They then added in things no-one wanted, and worse yet, that broke existing play mechanics. But the worst, the absolute worst thing about the game, is the
        • That's exactly why I'm still playing EvE and now WoW, EvE provides a sandbox where the players will set up their own content and drama.
      • by brkello ( 642429 )
        You don't really make any sense considering your gripe is on MMORPGs other than what SOE is responsible for. I think the fact that millions of people pay an online subscription to WoW just demonstrates how wrong you are. WoW has grinds in them but they are largely irrelevant. If you enjoy questing and the story line, you don't really care about level 70. It's only a grind for people with the mentality that they have to have the best of everything and get to the top as quickly as possible. I guess I thi
      • Most people - most game players nowadays even - are not computer geeks like many of us here at /. So they are lacking that innate aversion to repetition that we programmers have (we write code to do repetitive stuff for us!). The grind is popular because it actually appeals to a lot of people.
        Personally, I just try to avoid it with as much variety as possible, taking advantage of the different aspects of the game and simply not participating in things like reputation grinding or re-running instances for r
      • Plenty of single AND multiplayer games have long lasting appeal without introducing a grind, so why do ALL MMMORPG designers have this desperate urge to inject it into their games?

        Because an MMORPG without grind is a FPS.

        If everyone in EVE could fly a Titan (the most skill intensive ship to fly) the first day they logged in, you'd have a first-person shooter, not a role playing game.

        Although I do agree that having to log in to change skills is stupid.
        • The grind happens when you already levelled, but still have to do the same thing an INSANE number of times to advance tiny amounts.

          For WoW and LOTRO this is the reputation grind. For Eve it might be mining.

          Let me explain how the rep grind works in lotro.

          Say you want the gain reputation with the hobbits. You can't do this until you are 39. To gain rep, you need to get special loot items that drop from human enemies past level 35 BUT with a max level. They drop rarely. 10 mathoms (the item) is 300 points,

          • by Rhys ( 96510 )
            In some games, leveling up is (or has been) grinding. Take Asheron's Call. Your character stopped meaningfully improving (versus NPCs) at about level 100 to 110. Your skills were already within 5-10 points of cap (on a inverse tangent system, so the last couple points don't help very much as long as you're already ~30 points over the target skill). You weren't going to get enough skill points to really train new skills (skill points stopped at 125) before the "max" level of 126. You could earn XP to raise s
          • The Eve Grind:

            Log in.
            Check to see if skill is done training.
            If not, go have fun.

            If so, change it, then go have fun.

            Eve doesn't wear out your mouse buttons, clicking on rabbits. It wears out patience, which too many people have far too little of.

            Are there "other" ways to advance? Yeah -- but there is more than one way to earn an isk, as opposed to the "Go kill 1000 innocent woodland creatures of a semi-rare variety"
        • If everyone in Eve could fly a Titan on day 1, that wouldn't address that Titan's are fucking TOUGH to build. It takes months of effort by entire corporations to assemble the components, and 3 months of RL time to cook the Titan itself. There are plenty of people with titan skills that do not have Titans because of this.

          Same with supercaps and other large ships. There are enormous isk investments and time requirements outside the SP system.

          The SP system is fucking stupid.
    • by fitten ( 521191 )
      You played inefficiently and in a boring way. You should have jumped in a frigate and flew around in lowsec space (0.4-0.1) for a while.

      Eve combat is the only game where I *still* get so hyped on adrenaline that I shake so hard I can't control the mouse. Combat is far more fun when you really got something to lose (or win) rather than just respawning to zerg it again.
    • Mining in EVE is boring so dont do it. There are many other ways to have fun and it doesnt require high skilled characters either.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by smonner ( 468465 )
      I have played EVE for a little over two years, and I think I might have mined once for less than an hour the first day. I'm not sure why you felt trapped into playing EVE as a mining simulator. I never felt even the slightest urge to do that.

      In the early days, I made my isk ratting (killing the NPC pirates that infest the asteroid belts). That admittedly became a bit of a grind, but not anywhere near as bad as the mining experience you describe. That being said, I hate grinds, so when I discovered that
    • Sorry man, but any MMORPG that allows exploits like the Guiding Hand Social Club []'s is incredible. I don't think there's another game out there that allows playing on that level.

      • Yes but this is considered boring by the drones of reviewers that quit before the trial is up. The midas 'get something for nothing' attitude is prevalent here. Why Do people really expect to become the unstoppable uber miner/missioner/pvp'er during the trial?
    • Actually, the way the skill system is designed, at 3 or 4 million SP, you could be on par with a guy who has 15 or 20 million SP. It's more complicated than SP directly translating into ability to kick serious ass. Even T2 equipment is no guarentee that you'll be able to achieve something.

      The game is more complicated than setting your guns to autofire and sitting back and waiting for the pop. You have to manage your capacitor and make sure your drones aren't getting blown up. In PvP, it's even more complex
    • You were mining in a hauler, I assume? (one mining laser, big cargohold) You probably found the most boring thing possible in the game, and did it poorly. No wonder you quit. Ironcially, what you did was not even remotely efficient use of time.

      Here's a hint: You don't need to mine to make money. At all. Ever. Train your combat pilot and run combat missions. If you fancy PVP, then go do that. I guarantee you, the real thing holding you back from using whatever awesome ship you're talking about

      • Based on your post, I reactivated my account and figured I would give it another shot. I am having more fun this time, but I still don't think I quite get it.

        I have my hauler which generates $400k of money with two mouse clicks at 3 hour intervals (the boring mining thing). I also have a cruiser ship which can three-shot kill npc's in 0.8-0.5 space. This only generates about 100k isk per hour of active playing, most of which is spent trying to find npc's that someone else hasn't already killed.

        Any advice
        • Find an agent, preferrably something combat related. (Any of the navy corporations, for example. Or any agent related to security) Run combat missions. You get semi-instanced encounters with a lot more stuff to deal with, and far better rewards.

          If you havn't run the chain already, I recommend going through the mission sequence that your starter agent gives you. The reward at the end is a stat boosting implant, along with a sizable standing gain with your faction. Standings determine what quality agen
    • OP []

      It boggles the mind why Sony didn't just buy out Eve years ago and do exactly this.

      I'm glad they didn't. Just look at their current leper Vanguard... They acquired it and almost immediately started dumbing it down. If they got hold of Eve, they'd probably rip out the entire economics part just because it's complex. Now, just to appease the Vanguard players: I've got a copy and a dormant account lying around. I still think the game has massive potential, but judging from the patch notes, it still n

      • The white elephant in the room is that EvE is much much more friendly towards players with a life outside the game. If you have a life or kids, you can still have a meaningful progression in the game, as the skills progress over time, not with skill use or XP gained. Don't have time for the next 3 months due to a deathmarch project at work? No problem, spend 3 minutes per week to login, set skill training, logout.
        • Exactamundo. And, since the game is so complex, you still get better (although in Eve, you get better instead of your character) with practice, so somebody who does that but never plays is still going to be basically worthless. Even better though, if you're smart you don't have to spend quite as much time on it.

        • I love that aspect of it, but I also hate it. Since everything is at a fixed rate regardless of what you do.

          I wish there was a way to improve skills outside the SP system, so if I have a large chunk of time, I can spend it on actively grinding say, my probing skills by doing exploration missions or scouting or something.

          I really do think a hybrid of a UO/Galaxies style skill system, where skills level up as you use them, with passive attribute based offline skill increases ala Eve would be ideal.
  • The actual report. (Score:4, Informative)

    by fava ( 513118 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @07:29PM (#21356565)
    So we have a story that talks about the economic report, that links to a story talking about the report, but doesn't actually link to the report.

    The report that the story is actually about (but doesn't link to) is available here. []

  • What is that third letter in the chap's name and how do you pronounce his name ?

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