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.
You can follow along, if you want...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Down-stream effects

In my real-life business, we spend a lot of time talking about "down-stream effects."  The concept isn't hard to understand.  If someone shits in the river, it's only the people down-stream that are affected.  The people up-stream are fine.

Put into a more real-world sense, take gasoline.  There are five major steps to making gasoline: exploration, production, refining, distribution, and sale to the customer.  If the explorers can't find oil, then every step in the process becomes more expensive and everyone down-stream suffers.  However, if a major refinery explodes or is taken off-line, that only affects the people on the distribution and sales ends.  The explorers and producers are unaffected.  The oil that the refineries get is still relatively inexpensive.  But the gas stations, and therefore you and I, have to pay for the increased costs of refining.  Take it one more step up-stream: chaos in the middle east causes problems with the production step.  Now the refiners are down-stream also, and are hit by increased costs.  Those are real world down-stream effects.

A good friend of mine in-game left his 0.0 corporation a few days ago.  He's going back to high-sec and he asked for my assistance moving some of his ships.  He's a good guy, but not a very experienced PvPer.  He's still making rookie mistakes that cost him ships, and he admits this.  Still, he was having fun with it and the rookie mistakes weren't hurting him too much.  Like me, he lives in California.  After everyone else in his corp went to bed, he could run havens and sanctums for an hour or so to recoup his losses.

The system he was doing this in was -0.14 truesec.  He's tried belt-ratting and hubs, but his income is no longer keeping up with his losses.  He doesn't want to leave 0.0, but feels like he doesn't have any choice.

Another EVE player and friend of mine also recently left my corp.  He's a quite good PvPer, and extremely aggressive... overly aggressive, I'd say.  He gets great kills, but he also gets somewhat embarrassing losses... let's just say he flies expensive ships.  Come to think of it, I can't recall ever seeing him in a non-expensive ship.  Yep, just checked.  He's got 200 more kills than I do, but he's got more of each of HAC, Recon, and battleship losses than I have losses total.  ;-)  He also relied on ratting for income.  He's out of my corp.  So far as I've been able to determine, he's stopped playing EVE entirely, at least for the moment.  He implied to me that he's going to be joining a corp with "better space."

Ratting money didn't go to the big 0.0 alliances.  It went to the line PvPers, who immediately pumped that ISK into ships and mods, got them blown up, and then ratted to get more ISK to pump into yet more ships and mods.  It feels like that isn't happening right now.  A lot of good PvPers I know are suddenly a lot more risk-adverse.  It's suddenly become much tougher to replace that 150 million ISK Sleipnir.

I hardly rat at all; almost never, in fact.  What I do, though, is production.  I serve one large and one small market, both adjacent to PvP-friendly areas.  And in the last two weeks, I've taken a huge hit on my income.  My products aren't selling.  I've checked with other production-specialist players whose opinion I trust, and they tell me the same thing.  Sales are down right across the board.  This impacts my suppliers further down-stream.  I produce a lot of T1 and T2 items, including both mods and rigs.  To make these items, I buy thousands of units of refined moon goo; tens of thousands of units of zydrine, megacyte, and morphite; and tens of thousands of pieces of T1 and T2 salvage.

At least, normally I do.

I do this with four of my alts.  Two alts are market alts.  One has 45 trade slots, the other has 57.  Two alts are used for production; both have nine manufacturing slots.  Over the last year or so, a pattern has emerged and stayed very consistent.  Between my two production alts, I'm used to having one or two slots free each for special needs.  The other 16 or so manufacturing slots go into producing items for sale on the market.  For my market alts, both of them have five or six slots devoted to buying raw materials, and between five and 10 open slots at any given time representing sold items that I have to reproduce and get back onto the market.  Again, I've been doing this for about a year and it's my main income source.

Today, right now as I type this, both of my production alts have six open manufacturing slots.  Each.  Even more worrisome, between the 102 trade slots between my two market alts, one slot is free.  One slot is being used for buying.  The other one hundred slots have items for sale.  And they are selling... but at a pace roughly one third slower than they have been selling for the last year.  Six items I produce jump out: I make all six types of anchorable bubbles, particularly T2 bubbles.  I've only sold three T2 bubbles in the last week, and not many more T1s.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, my stocks of raw materials are full.  I don't need to buy anything right now.  I know for a fact that there's a guy out there somewhere who makes runs of Intact Armor Plates to one of the two markets I frequent, knowing that I'll buy them.  He and I have never talked.  He doesn't know me; I don't know him.  But he must think I've quit EVE because the number of Intact Armor Plates in that market is going up instead of down.  ;-)

Hell, I'm even producing runs of items that haven't sold out yet, in anticipation of the time when they will sell.

That's the first time I've done that, ever.

Now granted, late March and April are New Eden's least busy time.  The sanctum nerf might not have a thing to do with it.  One data point is not a trend.  This could all just be coincidence.  Once finals are over and the thousands of students that play EVE get back, things might return to normal.

But it sure feels like someone shit in the river up-stream of me.


  1. I have to admit, I haven't looked at it this way (which I is why I leave the running of real businesses to others). But if you're right, the price of T2 reaction materials should soon show a saturation as well - which would make me rather unhappy.

    This'll be interesting to watch.

  2. I've been puzzling over the nerf to ratting in upgraded space ever since it happened.

    CCP wanted more people in null. So they allowed the formerly-worthless space to be upgraded. Then they took away the best of the upgrades in a huge swath of that space. Inevitable conclusion: They want less people in null, now.

    Only, that doesn't make any sense. Why would they want that?

    And so, I continue, puzzled.


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