Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Friday, September 13, 2013

Oh, that's rich

As part of the latest Blog Banter, Kirith Kodachi wants to know what "rich" means in EVE.  For various reasons, this is a topic that I've been thinking about a lot lately.  Fortunately though, Kirith asks the question at the simplest level possible:
What is "rich" in EVE? Is it simply having more ISK than most everyone else, is it measured in raw numbers of some other ethereal quality? Can you actually be poor? Have you ever lost nearly everything and had to claw your way back? If you are rich, how do you know and how did you get rich?
"Rich" -- like "simple" -- is by its very definition a relative term.  In both life and EVE, people are going to tend to look at it relative to their own circumstances.  By this definition, when viewing income or more often net worth, people are "rich" is their income or net worth is an order of magnitude or higher than yours.  People are "poor" when their income or net worth is an order of magnitude lower than yours.

About a year after I started my career in EVE and after I had been mining with a couple of alts for a while and had worked up to a Hulk, the Orca was introduced to the game.  It did not take long at all for them to appear in my local asteroid belts and they were hugely expensive.  I considered anyone who could own one of these useful ships rich.  That was, until I could afford one myself.  I had to plan for the purchase for a while and had to buy it for slightly above build cost from a builder in my alliance at the time.  But once I had it, I no longer considered ownership of one to automatically indicate being "rich."  In the time between seeing my first one and owning my first one, my income and my net worth increased.

But by that time, the first tech 3 ships were being introduced and were even more hugely expensive.  I considered anyone who owned a Tengu to be rich.  I again planned and saved for a good long while before I could afford my first tech 3 ship and again I purchased it from an alliance-mate that was building them.  And again, once I owned it I no longer considered it an automatic entry into "richness."

This is more or less how humans think.

In the U.S. a couple of years ago, during an on-going debate about tax structures, there were arguments regarding whether a $250,000 per year salary was enough to be considered "rich."  By a huge majority, those making $250,000 per year didn't consider themselves rich, and many considered themselves "middle class".  The fact that this level of income is wildly over the median for most of the world wasn't even considered.

And that's where the real line partially lies: it's relative to others.  If your income or net worth is greater than that of 85% or so of the rest of the population, you're rich.  But it's also defined by the level of planning you have to do to gain the goods and services you want.  This is easily measurable in EVE because there are upper limits to how much things cost.  After a certain point -- unlike the real world -- there is simply nothing in the game you cannot afford.

If you have one trillion ISK in your wallet, then you're definitely rich.  You can afford any ship or object in the game.  You can buy a titan, a Revenant, an Etana, a 100 million SP character, a good T2 BPO, ten years worth of PLEXes, and still have plenty of ISK left over to buy and fit a dozen capital ships and hundreds of sub-caps.  If you have an in-game profit of 200 billion ISK per year, you're definitely rich and for the same reason: there's little or nothing in the game that you cannot easily afford and even outrageous purchases are within your reach with some planning.

By this scale, I am definitely not rich.  I will probably never be able to afford a titan, a tournament prize ship, a T2 BPO, or similar purchases.  But I'm not poor, either.  With some planning, I could buy the new navy mind-links or a pirate battleship.  An EVE player who cannot afford a navy mind-link or a pirate battleship probably thinks of me as rich.

The flip-side question, "can you actually be poor?" is an easy one to answer: most definitely!  There are players in this game that cannot afford the most basic needs in this game.  The problems that I brought up 18 months ago, about EVE trying to strangle new players in their crib, definitely still exist.  The amount of ISK needed by new players for skill books in their first year of the game continues to consume a major fraction of their income.  With additional skills being added every expansion and major patch lately, this is a problem that is only getting bigger.

Except for very early career problems involving small amounts of ISK, I've never had to claw back from a devastating loss.  Finally, as for the "how did you get rich?" question, I can't answer that one because I'm not.  I don't think.  But I got the vast majority of the ISK I do have from three means: T1/T2 manufacturing, incursions, and wormholes, in that order.  And the vast bulk of it came a few hundred thousand ISK at a time, building and selling module after module after module after module...  My in-game manufacturing business has slowed to nearly a crawl since I joined the CSM (no time), but I recently sold my 350,000th ship module.

Interesting question, Kirith!  And that's the simple part of the question.  The harder part of the question, like I said, I've been spending some time thinking about.  Maybe I'll blog about it soonish.


  1. i think you start consider yourself rich when your incomme/your asset worth is way above your standard of living.
    or better if your incomme/worth of assets is way above your social environment.

    if you make 1 bn isk per week, but you do pvp in strategic cruisers/t2 cruisers/battleships without a ship replacement programm you can consider yourself as poor. if you have bad luck you could probably lose your entire income within a few hours.

    if you pvp only in red vs blue in t1 cruisers while having the same income its absolutly impossible that you could lose ships that fast that you could run out of money ever.
    that is rich. having more money then you could ever possibly spend in the way you live your life.

    for my self, i make probably around 15 bn isk per month. if it comes to sub capital fleets there is no way i end up with less money on my wallet at the end of the month then befor.
    even dread and carrier losses are no problem. so i would consider myself in this point of view as rich.
    but on the other side i want a titan and saving money a whole year to buy 1 ship makes me look pretty poor. also no way i could replace that thing in a reasonable time if it explodes.
    losing my supercarrier would be the same. that would realy hurt my wallet.
    so as long as i stay in the subcapital/normal capital ship class iam rich. if i want to play with the big toys iam poor.

  2. When asked by a reporter “How much money is enough?” John Rockefeller answered “Just a little bit more.”

  3. "By this definition, when viewing income or more often net worth, people are "rich" is their income or net worth is an order of magnitude or higher than yours. People are "poor" when their income or net worth is an order of magnitude lower than yours."

    We got a problem: how do we determine ourselves rich or poor then? If rich is simply "richer than me" how can I be so filthy rich(I am)? I would argue that despite there being minor differences, there is an objective rich or poor, like beauty or intelligence, that we all agree on.

    Edit: Luckily, you get there in the "trillion isk" paragraph. -.-

  4. So, Ripard, what does jEveAssets say you are worth? :)

  5. I am rich in Eve not by isk terms but by the quality of the friends, corp mates and colleagues I fly with on a daily basis.

  6. wow what a way to complicate a simple concept: Eve Rich is being able to conduct any in game content you want (which involves isk resources) when you want. Eve middle class being able to conduct any in game content you want (which involves isk resources) with some planing and bit of budgeting. Eve poor being forced to do content (that you don't really want to do) to generate isk so that eventually you can begin to do the content you want. Not nearly as complicated as you make it seem. In other words a person who can buy 10 titians because they want to is no more rich then the person who can buy ten wolfs (if that is the upper goal for each person respectively).

    1. While your response seems to have a hint of sarcasm, IMO it is mostly right.

      Eve is a game you should be playing to have fun. If you're not enjoying the experience you're doing it wrong.

      I don't care if someone can buy 10 titans, I can afford my 10 assault frigates which meets my end goal. If I can't afford what I want, I do stuff I enjoy to make ISK.

      Later on I may want a titan, the "right now" is really what matters.

    2. wow that one is realy good.

  7. In no way I was rich in EVE. Had including assets 3billion isk for 7 months of on and off gametime.

    Yet I have lost it all to a too good to be true scam. Famous Erotica 1 scam.

    Losing everything including assets, instead of rage quit, I worked my way up again and now am able to do lv4 missions again after finally getting a BS.

    Sad but true story.

  8. If I may, I wish to share how I made my fortune at eve. I simply moved expensive ships for ratting from jita to 0.0. Specifically ratting fit tengus to fountain. Realising I could make 20% markup on sell price point of jita it made no sense to rat. Move ship, sell on contract buy more. After a month I bought a carrier and moved up to 10 at a time, putting 3-4 on contract. 6 months later I cracked the 10bil mark in isk. It was a nice mix of flying and marketeering.
    I gave up about 2 months after that and gave all my isk to a newby mining who was brand new at the game. Best use of my isk ever, I made his month I think.
    Too all the new bros out there. I hope u find your fortune and dont let it get to your head. Rich is just the means.

  9. By most standards of people who'd been playing a few years, I was more or less space poor. I earned a relatively small percentage of my ISK through in-game activities; most of it came from playing EVE Online Hold'em and the sale of a couple of characters. I remember how excited I was when I had finally won enough ISK playing EOH to buy a jump freighter (4.2 billion at the time) and how hard it was to turn over all those funds for one ship! So worth it, though...that thing and the subsequent carrier I bought were quite useful for moving my gear (and that of corpmates) around. But by and large, I only flew small T2-fit ships that were fairly trivial to replace. As long as I could afford to replace them, I felt "rich enough" and didn't really worry about ISK too much. I gave it all away when I quit playing. I think Mynxee is sitting in a stealth bomber and might have two other ships and almost no ISK to her name.

  10. "The flip-side question, "can you actually be poor?" is an easy one to answer: most definitely!"

    Yes you can be poor, if you don't enjoy the game, with or without friends, doesn't matter, if you don't get impressions you deem worth to remember, you are poor.

    So everyone who gets joy out of this game is rich in one way or the other.


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