A few days ago, CCP gave all ETC retailers and sub-retailers 10 days to stop offering in-game incentives for purchasing them. As you almost certainly know, the most successful organization giving incentives for the purchase of ETCs is SOMERblink. They have traditionally offered a 200M ISK in-game incentive for purchasing 60-day ETCs through them via Markee Dragon. There's anecdotal -- but reasonably reliable -- data that SOMER has a $50,000 U.S. annual business selling EVE time codes. Whatever the actual size of the business, though, CCP is non-anecdotally strangling it.
Of course, it's possible that people will continue to buy their ETCs through SOMERblink without any sort of incentive. It seems unlikely... but it's possible.
In the meantime, this morning, SOMERblink changed the incentive from 200M to 1000M.
They still have until November 7 to fully comply with CCP's order -- and they say right on their front page that they intend to do so. But in the meantime it seems pretty clear they're cashing out. There's also widespread speculation this morning -- best expressed by @GamerChick42 -- that SOMER might be using this final push to build up huge stocks of ISK in preparation for the biggest in-game theft in EVE history. Even if that's tin-foil, whether SOMER can even operate at its current level without the cash income provided by ETC sales is also the subject of a great deal of speculation. All the SOMERblink site has to say about this is "we'll be investigating other options to cover the server expense after the GTC money runs out."
Finally, let's do some math. All amounts in USD. Here are two options for paying for EVE play time. Today, right now...
- Markee Dragon is selling 60-day ETCs for $35 U.S. For eight months, that is $140.
- CCP is selling six PLEXes on sale for $95, or about $16 each. For eight months, that is $127.
That means that you can effectively buy two billion ISK for $13. Four billion if you're "average."
Today, a $16 PLEX is worth a little under 600 million ISK.
Am I making a recommendation here? Nope. Just sayin'. But apparently enough people have come to this same conclusion that Markee Dragon ran out of ETCs this morning and is having to get more from CCP. Assuming that goes well, if you follow this plan, I would cash out in the next six days. You know... just in case. Have fun!