Trading goods is by far the best way to make money. Every space billionaire in Eve Online has earned their ISK from trading at some point, and the richest people of Eve got there by trading. Having said that, trading is simply not for everyone. You will be going head to head with other players in a competition to get the sales. Eve Online trading arbitrage lookup and analysis tool. Scans market prices, lets you filter and visualize trading opportunities using the most up to date prices available.
First, let’s get some acronyms out of the way:
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- RMT: Real Money Trading
- MMO(G): Massively Multiplayer Onling Game
- GM: Game Master
- EVE: EVE Online, a subscription based MMO.
- CCP: Developers of EVE
- ISK: EVE’s in-game currency
- PLEX: An item in EVE that grants 30 days of play time, purchased with USD
- SK: Spiral Knights, a daily energy based MMO.
- OOO: Developers of SK
- CR: Short for “Crowns”, SK’s primary in-game currency
- CE: Short for “Crystal Energy”, SK’s secondary in-game currency purchased with USD
- ME: Short for “Mist Energy”, another secondary currency that fulfills the same function as CE, is free, accumulates over time, but maxes out at 100.
In EVE, the RMT system revolves around the purchase and selling of PLEX. PLEX codes are purchased using USD and can be redeemed in game for a PLEX item. The item can then be traded as though it was any other normal item in the EVE universe. EVE’s system enables players to do two things:
- Players can buy PLEX codes using real money then sell them for ISK.
- Players can buy PLEX using ISK and play EVE without having to play the subscription fee ($15/month)
SK is in more or less the same situation. CE is bought with money, and can be sold in game for CR. CE also plays a part in the game itself, as most of the gameplay revolves around expending CE or ME. SK’s system enables players to do two things.
- Players can buy CE using real money to advance through the game at a drastically faster rate than those who rely purely on the allotment of free ME.
- Players can buy CE using CR in order to play the game without needing to spend any money.
EVE’s RMT system differs from that of SK primarily in the players’ motivation to buy in-game goods with real money. Since EVE launched as a subscription based game, and is still one today, the PLEX system isn’t integral to its survival. It takes a very skilled and patient player to be able to get enough ISK to buy a PLEX every month, something which is out of the reach of most if not all new players. Moreover, Advancing in EVE isn’t a simple matter of buying PLEXs and selling them for ISK. Skills advance in real time, and effectively dictate what the character can or cannot do in the game. And even if a player buys the character and the ISK by selling PLEX, they will still lack the years of experience that should come with a character of that standing. Ignition 2.0 task chair model. The risk of losing in-game assets in EVE is very real, and an inexperienced player can easily blow through his or her fortune. Because of these factors and more, the PLEX market is the territory of experienced and/or dedicated players.
In contrast to EVE, ME and CE are integral to SK’s gameplay. In order to go through dungeons, players need either ME or CE. To revive inside the dungeon after death, a player needs to pay ME or CE. To craft and upgrade weapons, players need materials (obtained from dungeons) and CR (also from dungeons) and a fee of ME or CE. Like EVE, in order for players to reach a point where they can buy CE with the CR they get from playing, they need to possess a high level of gear. Unlike EVE however, SK’s learning curve is a much gentler slope. Characters are also limited solely by their gear and there are no restrictions as to what gear a character can wear. If a player is not picky about the aesthetics of their gear, they can “reach” end game on their first few days for less than $20.
Since CCP introduced PLEX, there has been an ongoing debate over whether or not it upsets player balance. As mentioned previously, there are many barriers preventing a new players from paying his or her way to end game (because the term “end game” is meaningless in EVE). But what of an experienced player? Well, even with a fortune acquired through selling PLEX, a player would still need the combined man power and experience of many other players in order to accomplish the most lofty goals in the game. Since in-game scams are considered a part of the game and will not prompt GM action, there is always the possibility of betrayal, especially when large sums of money are involved. While I am, in principle, against the idea of “pay to win”, I have to admit that EVE, of all MMOs, was the best suited to an RMT system because of its intrinsic checks and balances.
Another reason why I feel the PLEX system is rather safe comes from simple math. Here is what happens when Player A buys PLEX to sell to Player B.
CCP: +$20 from the sale of PLEX
Player A: -$20 from buying PLEX, +500 mil ISK from sale of PLEX in game
Player B: +30 days from using PLEX, -500 mil ISK from the purchase of PLEX in game
It should be obvious that this transaction is almost mathematically identical to Player B directly buying game time from CCP.
CCP: +$15 from monthly subscription
Player B: +30 days from subscription, -$15 from subscription.
All that’s happened in the first scenario was that Player B payed an extra $5 (assuming he didn’t buy PLEX in bulk, which can bring the price down to $16 per unit) and 500 mil ISK was shifted from one user to another.
On Spiral Knights:
SK’s system, while devious and manipulative, is not a bad implementation of RMT at all. While the game has many other flaws, particularly with regards to economy management and the content pipeline, the RMT system remains accessible and useful for all players of all levels. The problems with SK’s RMT market lies solely with OOO. Veacon, on the SK Official Forums, wrote a long and detailed post concerning the mechanics and behavior of the CE market. The main ideas to take away are:
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- To solve the problem of inflation in the CE market, OOO can either increase CR sinks (which also decreases demand for CR because of lower purchasing power) or create promotions for CE (which increases supply and lowers cost)
- OOO, as a business, would choose the latter option because in one scenario they profit and in another they don’t.
- Without adequate crownsinks and inflated prices on CE, wealth is being allowed to accumulate.
- If prices of CE are allowed to rise with the established player base getting richer all the time, it becomes increasingly difficult for a new player to gain entry into the game because of all the inflated prices.
A snapshot of the SK CE Market Watch (user aggregated) taken on June 12, 2012.
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One Key Difference:
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It should be noted that unlike PLEX, CE has value in the context of SK’s gameplay. A PLEX serves two purposes. One is to grant game time, the other is to be sold to another player for ISK. The total amount of wealth in the system has not changed, only the distribution of it. However, an SK player who buys CE does not have to sell the CE to another player in order to gain some utility from it, it possesses utility all by itself. This is one of the dangers of RMT, because SK players can introduce wealth into a supposedly closed system by paying real money, breaking the borders of the economy and making inflation more likely if it’s not counterbalanced with faucets. Vaceon touched on this with his post, and I also agree that more CR sinks are necessary to drive down prices in SK.