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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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Year in the Life: PLEX cycle

I want to place a couple of bookmarks on today, 18 January 2014. This is one of them:

In the last two years, PLEX prices have gone through a recognizable cycle (all seasons, northern hemisphere):
  • they climb in the period after the summer expansion, probably as students return to school and their outside activities are replaced by EVE;
  • they peak and hold in October or so as short-term investors make their buys to get their characters through the winter;
  • there's a brief further spike after the winter expansion as some lapsed players return to the game to try out new features;
  • there's a long fall through the winter as exams and school and work intrude on gaming time;
  • they bottom out in April, a month or so before the release of the summer expansion; and,
  • they jump a bit here and there through this period as long-term investors make their buys for the next year.
It's a cycle predictable enough that players and bloggers have started counting on it. And each year the peaks escalate by 50 or 60 million ISK: the October 2011 spike was 500 million ISK. October 2012, 560 million ISK. This year, it was about 610. The valleys in 2011, 2012, and 2013 show similar trends, just with bigger escalations each year, closer to 100 million per year than 60. The winter valley in 2011 (it happened in March that year) was 320 million ISK.(1)

But prior to that first valley and peak in 2011, PLEX prices were actually pretty stable long-term, if two prior years of data can be considered "long term". Here's the proof:

So the PLEX cycle does break, and has broken before.

I bring up this moment as a bookmark because I feel like the cycle of the last two years is going to break in the coming year. I don't have any specific proof of it... just a feeling. That feeling is based on my sense that the EVE player base is becoming more and more "distilled": more dedicated long-term multi-alt vets being fed PLEXes by fewer and fewer newbies buying them trying to get a jump-start into the game. A close review of the data will reveal that PLEX volumes are inching slowly, steadily downward: supply is being reduced. CCP seems to be responding to this with more frequent PLEX sales and this will certainly help, slowing the trend.

But if I recall correctly, economics still have something to say about prices when supply is reduced.

Anyway, I might be wrong, but I wanted to bookmark this moment. I'll come back to it in four or five months after the winter "bottoming out" has either happened... or hasn't.

(1) There was also a recognizable December peak in 2010. It was 380 million ISK, if you can believe it.


  1. "probably as students return to school"

    average player age in eve is somewhere around 35 years. i dont think school has any large scale influence on anything in eve.
    actually i cant even remember the last time i heard someone in teamspeak who sounds like teenager.

    and since iam too lazy to go to the older blog and fight against that stupid captcha again, i add this offtopic comment:
    i think the average online player charts stoped to rise or even droped is probably mostly because of ccps effort vs rmt/bots.
    i mean go back some years to the unholy rage ban wave. they banned only a part of the bots and still there was a significant drop. as noisy gamer blog stats it seems like lots of rmt companys have serios issues with their eve business.
    iam pretty sure like 2 years ago like 30% of the average online players were bots. if ccp kicks them that will realy hurt their active account numbers as well as server activity stats and will probably never recover. (but will make the game more fun for all active players and help on long term)

    1. School years -- specifically, college years -- have a sizable impact on the larger alliances.

  2. I was lucky enough to capitalize last March on a PLEX dump by someone. Word came over comms that prices in Jita were tanking so I placed a buy order for 10 at 480 mil each. Within an hour the order was filled. Still not sure what the circumstances behind it were, but I can't complain.

    So what's the bill for a new player looking to jump-start their EVE careers? Using ballpark numbers, a decently skilled character on the exchange runs about 12 billion ISK, which you could get by selling 20 PLEX (assuming 600 million per). At 15 Euros/USD per PLEX the total comes to about $300. Are there that many well-heeled newbies taking up EVE and willing to shell out $300 on Day 1 just to hit the ground running? And getting stuck with someone else's choice of a character name (usually a bad one).

  3. I have to agree with Jester here... as a significant number of our Allies had school time impact issues... and while some were actual college 'kids', remember they aren't the only people taking college courses...

    One of my corpmates is a FT fireman, a reserve Marine and taking college courses... quite a few of our Allies are adults in the service (Army, Navy) or in FT careers (most are in IT) and they were all taking college courses, some in prep for after the service and some to keep up and/or advance their careers.

    And while the avg age in EvE may be 35 or thereabouts, there still are many at that make up both end of the whole spectrum... I have been in an Alliance with a 16yo and I myself am 53... so yea if High School and AARP are in the mix... college probably does impact EvE.

  4. Houm, interesting to see the traded volume going down. Recently I figured that reduced PLEX supply could be an issue for game economy... and for CCP. Who is going to buy PLEx if people stop joining in and server population becomes more and more PLEX-consuming veterans and their alts?

    Of course, inflation will happen, and will start hitting the weakest link -people who just joined in.

    But well, there's nothing to worry about. CCP haves a three year plan to expand nullsec through player-built stargates and that should be enough to stop the bleeding. Because there's no Plan B.

  5. I'd love to see those graphs with marks added for isk significant events: Dr. EyoG hired, FW rewards gamed, FW rewards fixed, various pushes in the war on bots, etc.

  6. Looks like you are right. Prices haven't dropped yet, in fact they kept rising.

    1. Yeah, I glanced at these numbers over the weekend. But it's still a tiny bit early to say.


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