Over the weekend, I made a silly mistake in terms of some tech 2 rigs that I manufactured. Intending to make some medium rigs of a particular type, I screwed up and made some small ones instead. To protect the guilty (more on him in a second), I'll keep the exact rig name to myself. After the run of a half dozen of these rigs was completed, I discovered my mistake, then groaned when I realized that it probably would be weeks before they sold. Only one or two sold per week. I was amused, however, to discover that I had created enough of this particular rig to be the majority owner of the rig type... in all of New Eden. But rather than losing my sunk costs by reprocessing the rigs, I went ahead and shipped them to three different markets, listed them at a very nice profit for myself, and then forgot about them. I figured I'd check in a couple of weeks to see if any sold.
You can imagine my surprise when every single one of them sold out in all three markets in less than 36 hours.
You can imagine my greater surprise when -- curious as to whether I should make more of them -- I found that they had all been re-listed in Jita. For 20 times the price I had sold them for.
As you may know, the new Unified Inventory screen has a feature wherein it tells you an approximate value of the things in the particular Inventory area you're looking at. This is a very handy feature on a macro scale: I can throw a hauler full of stuff into my Viator and see at a glance how much I'm risking to a suicide gank. On a micro level, though, the values that this system reports are all but useless. For instance, when carrying a small load of Nanite Repair Paste, the system reported its value as 100 million ISK... about double its true value.
It turns out that some prices were being manipulated for a very specific objective.
When the new faction warfare changes were introduced in Inferno, Hans Jagerblitzen of all people asked if I was going to weigh in on them in my blog. I teased him about it ("You want me to write about this?"), then told him no, I didn't know enough about FW any more to comment intelligently on the changes. But one change that did intrigue me was the fact that FW participants earn LP based on the value of things that they kill belonging to the opposing faction. This sounded a bit like getting paid to PvP, something that EVE PvPers have been asking for for... oh... probably about nine-and-a-half years now.
But the kill values and the Unified Inventory values, it turns out, are one and the same. People were being paid greatly inflated LP for kills based on these numbers.
And EVE players being EVE players, a group of them took this to absurd lengths.
You can read more about this at the relevant post on the EVE-O forums, but I'll summarize. Upon discovering this, the people involved in this little scam immediately loaded freighters full of high-end minerals, and assigned the characters piloting those freighters to FW on one side. Then they assigned a second alt to the opposing faction. They undocked the freighter, single-handedly blew it up with their own alt, and then reaped the benefits of those LP... often tens or hundreds of millions of FW LP.
Once they had those LP in hand, the LP were assigned to FW systems (Minmatar in this case), and upgraded them to their maximum levels. Unlike sov, there doesn't seem to be a timer for this. The benefits were immediate. Among other things, this gives faction members massive discounts on items purchased at the respective faction LP store. Items like, say, Tempest Fleet Issues.
Due to the still somewhat-inflated value of some minerals, it turns out that you could actually make a profit on this benefit alone! Kill your own stuff, "converting ISK to LP at the rate of 1390 ISK per LP." Then immediately sell the items bought with the resulting LP... for about 2000 ISK per LP.
Thankfully, CCP caught this exploit pretty quickly and patched it: cargo would no longer be included in the value of a ship destroyed. Back to the drawing board.
That brings us... you guessed it... to modules. The perpetrators of this little scam learned that by manipulating the in-game price of little-used modules and implants, they could increase the value of those items in the Unified Inventory to absolutely absurd levels. Then all that remained was fitting those modules to a FW ship, plugging those implants in, and then putting the ship and clone to the sword at the hands of one of their alts in the opposing faction.
So many LP were apparently earned by this method that the perpetrators were worried that their alts would crack the 2 billion limit that is the largest number that can be represented by a signed 32-bit integer in the EVE Online code itself.
Anyway, CCP Guard posted this in the in-game news section this morning:
reported by: CCP Guard | 2012-06-21 T11:16:05ZOr, alternately, you can Be That Guy and make tens of billions of ISK, I guess. It'll be interesting to see if the actual ISK gained through this little exploit will be reversed, or just the LP. What of the items? Will they disappear into the ether?
Dearest Market-Interested Space Tycoons,
At downtime today we made an adjustment to the average price of some items in order to curb a situation whereby the average price of an item could be manipulated in order to create a disparity between the value of an item in Isk and its value in Loyalty Point payouts. There will be additional changes in how this system works in the future. We will be monitoring for attempted manipulation of the LP market and will reverse any proceeds deemed to have been obtained through manipulative means. We are watching you. Don't be That Guy.
I think I'm getting a pretty good idea why Inferno 1.1 was delayed...