Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Skill Trading - Forecasting the Brainmeat Market

After much anticipation, CCP Rise announced finalized plans for Skill Injectors/Extractors.  I was going to write about specific tweaks I'd like to see ahead of the release in February (2nd bracket is too generous, 30M max), but instead I want to try to dispel the idea of 1 Extractor should/will cost 1 PLEX.

Let's Talk About RMT Tokens

Let me skip the fluffy story and cut straight to the meat about PLEX.  For extended pontification about PLEX, tune into the Prosper show live.

As I mentioned in my Forecasting Experimentation Blog, PLEX trends positive over time.  There are a lot of factors driving this behavior, but the general tendency to be so securely positive is troubling.  What goes up should come down.

Though I don't expect a slide back to <1B PLEX, I do expect that SP trade to act as relief valve for PLEX runs, capping the wildest swings.  The line of thought I expect is "why buy a PLEX and wait 30d to do what I want, when I could instead buy the SP directly and do what I want today?"  Especially with such a top-heavy game, I expect SP supply to be substantial if the extractor price is right.

Running the Numbers

A PLEX/MCT yeilds ~1M SP over its period.  With extractors/injectors running in 500k SP blocks, expecting a AUR price over 0.5 PLEX seems ridiculous.  Any higher and buyers will just wait out the 30d, and the gerontocracy remains in tact.  Sellers might want to participate, but buyers aren't going to want to pay something like 1.5 PLEX equivalency as a base price.  North of 0.5 PLEX makes Injectors a much worse deal than just going to the character bazaar, where a 5M SP toon would cost something like 4+2 PLEX.

To get both sides to the market, we need to talk about a 0.25 PLEX price ceiling on extractors in AUR.  This will drive "farmer" clones who are just extracting SP, but this is exactly what I want to see.  If an Injector is a better deal than the 30d of equivalent account time, it will drive target-buyers to consider waiting vs leaping ahead.

Also, at that generous 0.25-0.20 PLEX price, I think it is a serious temptation from the supply side to subsidize accounts that may not need more SP.  Where the supplier could be looking at a 40-60% ISK savings on monthly fees for account-only toons, it would be tempting to keep accounts active that may have otherwise been shuttered.

Forecasted Speculation

The first week of skill trading I expect to be extremely hot.  To put it simply:

  • Tentative SELL: PLEX, price will rise due to rise in AUR demand
  • SELL: Extractors.  Expect extreme demand to be first-to-market with Injectors
  • BUY: Injectors.  Supply should vastly outstrip demand.  Hold for market to calm down, target Citadel for sale


Other pundits might expect large runs on PLEX, but I expect only enough movement to push us to 1.2B, but not break the RSI cap.  This basically wipes out weakness from over the holidays.  I still expect a lot of Incarna AUR to be out there to be cashed in, and this will temper how much PLEX->AUR will be converted.  Also, savvy suppliers may be going straight to $->AUR, skipping PLEX entirely.

Skill Extractors

I expect demand to be very hot for these.  This would be a great chance to liquidate Incarna AUR out of the wallet.  Though things might be wild in the opening hours, I expect to reach AUR<->PLEX equivalency quickly.  There may be a chance to get a deal on quick buy orders, but this will be a seller's market pretty heavily.

Skill Injectors

I wholly expect injectors to be a buyer's market.  For a target, I'd be aiming for something like half the PLEX equivalent.  Specifically as (Extractor + 1/2 PLEX)/2.  That may be an ambitious buy-target, but I think if the price hits in that 1-4$ price point, that there will be a huge surge of suppliers rushing to market for a quick cashout.  This may also rebound into the price of PLEX, but I still think people should be holding PLEX for Citadel rather than turning around the quick gains in the shorter term.


There is a vocal segment of the playerbase who considers this pay2win, but I would like to lobby against that position.  EVE has never been strictly an egalitarian space-bushido paradise; ISK has always been a deciding factor in conflicts of all sizes.  Though skill trading adds a new vector to that equation, I don't think it marks an irreversible deathspiral.

  1. SP still needs to be sourced through legitimate means.  Account time or MCT is the only way to generate SP in the first place
  2. Cash/ISK will always be a deciding factor, regardless of skill trading.  Pimp fits and hot drops aren't considered pay2win today, why would SP trade suddenly change that idea?
  3. Soft-skills win fights more than raw SP.  PLEX/Purple tanks haven't saved people in the past.  Having an extra 10-20M SP isn't going to make the difference
  4. Account trading already exists as a legitimate way to skip the grind.  This skill system only fills out the bottom ranges of that trade to make a more complete ecosystem

Remember that skill injection is going to be a net-drain on total SP in the cluster.  Though the 5M bracket gets 100% efficiency, all other brackets destroy SP in some measure.  Also, I expect SP trade to mirror the PLEX trade, and some decent percentage will get locked away in RMT bans.  This pruning of SP from the top should move the median down, giving our youngest recruits a better initial feeling of fairness, and a lowering of the pain for that first 10M SP that are so critical to long term operation in EVE.

I'm excited to trade in brainmeat, and will be adding it to the Prosper analysis as soon as its released.