Updated Thu, Jul 21, 2011 by Space Junkie
This is the second part of a series describing EVE Online's niche markets. This portion expands on basic market areas and delves into some of the more esoteric areas of the economy.
For the first part of this guide series, click here.
In American politics, there is an adage that "all politics are local". This is true of EVE Online's economics, as well, though the truth might be closer to "all economies are local, and then there's Jita." Some commodities are available only in Jita, form whence they must be exported to the rest of the game. Moon minerals like technetium are a good example of this. Other commodities are sold in Jita at inflated prices due to price manipulation or the convenience of having a large volume available at once. Sure, robotics might be available for cheaper outside of Jita, but it probably means a lot of flying around to pick up stacks of fifty or a hundred, instead of getting a larger quantity all at once from Jita.
Realistic economics is one of EVE Online's most impressive characteristics.
Markets can be more than just regional, though: consider a region like Delve, where two constellations are unconquerable due to being controlled by Blood Raider NPCs. There are entirely different markets in the NPC portions and the player portions of that region, with complex market interplay between them.
Because of the complexity of EVE Online's economics, it is important for players interest in trading to understand as much as possible about why various commodities are in demand, and whether they are sold solely in Jita. The more a player knows about where a commodity comes from and how it is used, the better he can assess whether it is a good idea to buy and sell it.
So without further ado, here are some more important areas of economic activity in EVE Online:
Salvage: The salvage market is largely a newbie player's bailiwick, though many mission runners also dabble. Salvage is harvested from ship wrecks and then used to build rigs, which are an essential fitting for most players. Rig production is very approachable for new players, and the salvage market is generally stable over long periods of time.
The most important thing for new players to know about the salvage market is that only some kinds of salvage are really worth anything, and that the rest tend to be dropped to buy orders without much concern for lost value. Another thing that new players should consider is whether they earn more ISK by salvaging in their missions or by moving on to the next mission. In the lower-level missions it is usually better to not stick around for salvaging any long than you must.
Ice Products: Mining ice asteroids requires more advanced skills than normal belt mining, and requires more time per cycle. Ice asteroid belts do not run out, so the main difficulty in getting ice is player time rather than any lack of availability. Ice products include the four kinds of isotopes, strontium clathrates, liquid ozone, and heavy water. Ice mining is essentially long form mining. Because of this, it is favored by casual players and those miners that only want to check into EVE every few minutes, rather than constantly emptying the cargo hold.
The ice market is incredibly important because (along with some planetary materials) ice products help fuel player-owned starbases (POS). The price of ice products therefore directly affects the prices of things made with POSes, like moon minerals and blueprints, and indirectly affects the prices of tech three goods and supercapitals.
The most important thing for new players to know about the ice product market is that isotopes will virtually always sell when moved to a location in low-sec or null-sec, and that the prices can spike quite rapidly as the mega-alliances buy out much of the stock for sale in Jita.
Tech II Modules: Tech II has become sort of the baseline for the median average player in EVE Online. Once past the early stages of the game, most players work on obtaining the skills necessary to use all tech II modules in their chosen ship class. The market for these is interesting, because it sits on the crossroads of minerals, tech I modules, datacores, non-seeded skillbooks, moon minerals, and blueprints. It essentially combines all of those into a single profession that can be affected by price fluctuations in any of the above. Though all of the markets listed above influence the price of tech II modules, it is the price of moon minerals and datacores more than anything else that affects the final result: the datacores affect how expensive making tech II blueprints is, and the moon minerals affect how much the ingredients used to make those blueprints will cost.
The most important thing for a newbie to know when trading tech two modules is that there is usually more ISK to be made exporting buy-order modules from Jita to other locations than there is in actually making the modules or reselling them within Jita.