All over the universe of EVE Online, corporations are rushing to destroy and replace customs offices and replace them with their own. But how much ISK will that cost? And how much ISK will it make them? How long will it take to recoup these costs? In this guide, we take a look at the economics involved in running a customs office in EVE Online.
Assembly Costs For Your Customs Office In EVE Online
Obtaining ingredients used in assembling the gantry are the main cost of building them. The costs can be defrayed if you know someone with a lot of factional warfare loyalty points, or if you make your own advanced commodities on planets, or if you own a blueprint original for capital construction parts, but otherwise they're the price of doing business. Note that all prices involved are prone to fluctuations as the market adjusts itself.
- Customs Office Gantry Blueprint (1-run copy): 22mil ISK.
- x1 Capital Construction Parts (4.7mil ISK)
- x5 Integrity Response Drones (1.51mil ISK per unit)
- x10 Organic Mortar Applicators (.82mil ISK per unit)
- x10 Nano-Factory (1.08mil ISK per unit)
- x14 Sterile Conduits (1.25mil ISK per unit)
Total: approximately 48.75 mil.
Activation Costs For Your Customs Office In EVE Online
- x8 Broadcast Node (1.6mil ISK per unit)
- x8 Self-Harmonizing Power Core (1.65mil ISK per unit)
- x8 Recursive Computing Module (1.13mil ISK per unit)
- x8 Wetware Mainframe (2.05mil ISK per unit)
Total: approximately 51.44 mil.
Grand Total: approximately 122.19mil ISK.
Profiting From Your Customs Office In EVE Online
The point of all this rigamarole is taxes. Much to the chagrin of many planet-using players in EVE Online, CCP has changed the "base prices" of the objects used in their tax formulas. The new values guarantee that customs office owners will be able to recoup their investment costs within a reasonable time frame, even if they are the only users of the planet. When others use the planet, things start to get downright profitable.
Consider the following table. It is shows how much ISK is taxed from an item with a 15% tax rate:
- Advanced Commodities: 202,500 ISK
- Specialized Commodities: 10,500 ISK
- Refined Commodities: 1,350 ISK
- Basic Commodities: 75 ISK
- Planet Resources: .75 ISK
Most players in low-security and null-security space probably do not make specialized or advanced commodities, but rather rely on bringing basic or refined commodities to high-sec for sale, to earn their ISK.
Time Until Customs Office Costs Are Recouped
By way of example, one of my null-sec colonies produces about 720 enriched uranium, per day. If I were exporting that from the planet and there was a 15% tax rate, that would cost me 972,000 ISK per day. That's nearly 30mil in a month. Let's say that you replace the customs office on a planet with your own, so that you are effectively not taxing yourself, regardless of what you set as the tax rate. If the customs office costs 122.19mil ISK, that means it will take about 125 days of active use of the planet in order to recoup the costs of installing it. I bet someone that actually took the time to fine-tune their planet or interconnect their supply chains could produce significantly more than 720 units of a refined commodity, each day. This is just me casually clicking out some starbase fuel every day or so.
That lamentable timeframe assumes that you are the only person using the planet. If you have a second account that uses the same planet, you will make back your ISK in half the time, or 62 days. If you have more characters than that doing planetary interaction or can get some of your friends to set up colonies there, you can reduce the time even faster. It's not outside the realm of possibility to have all three characters on your account using a single planet, which would reduce the payout time to just 41 days, less anybody else making use of the thing.
Like most other things in EVE, this scales up very well when you organize your corporation to take advantage of it. If you have a lower than usual tax for your planet, members of your corporation will probably be happy to make use of it. Get even half a dozen players using it and your time to recouping is reduced to about 21 days. With a time frame like that, setting up a customs office is not a huge risk, at all.
Long Term Profit From Customs Offices In EVE Online
If you are successful, consider expanding to additional planets in the same solar system, or nearby. It's a good idea to start with the more valuable ones (like plasma, lava, et ceteras) , then to go back later and include the less valuable ones (gas, barren, et ceteras) if you think the planets will be used. Heck, even if you don't think they will be used too much, their low value makes it less likely that other parties will want to take them over. That could potentially mean that even if some big dog corporation takes over your cash cow planets, you might still be able to continue making profits from the shlemiel planets. Not something to base a business around, but at least worth considering. Just remember not to set the tax rates too high.
Determining The Optimal Tax Rate For Your Customs Offices
If you could tax active users of your planets at above a 15% rate, you would quickly make a great deal of money. Unfortunately, if you get much higher than that you will find people deserting your planet for greener pastures. High tax rates are a good tool to force people off your planet, but not such a great way to make ISK.
If you were to charge even a 25% tax rate, it would tax each unit of enriched uranium for 2,250 ISK per unit (a difference of 900 ISK). That means that the user is losing 648,000 ISK per day by using your planet, over one that has been using a 15% tax rate. That difference means that unless your planet is very lucrative or the user is very lazy, they will probably move to a planet with a more palatable tax rate.
Putting a tax rate at lower than 15% is probably a good idea. There have been several posts on the official EVE Online forums advertising low rates as a way to attract users, including one in low-sec in The Forge region with a rate of 3%. In practice, many of these will fail due to either a lack of ability to protect these customers, or a lack of ability to defend their customs offices from pirates.
In the long run, we may see the formation of planetary interaction-based renter corporations in null-sec, where the planet-users can be guaranteed a reasonable measure of safety and the customs offices will be relatively insulated from destruction. Whether the current entities that control territory in null-sec embrace this model in the short run is another thing, though. I expect groups like CVA to do very well with this model, while groups like Goonswarm will likely miss out on a lot of profit.
Hidden Costs: Defending Your Customs Offices In EVE Online
All of our profit calculations assume that you will be able to protect your customs offices and use them for long enough to make a profit. That's entirely possible in much of EVE Online, or possibly even most. At least, as it stands today. In the long run, planets will come to be seen as a more important resource, possibly more important than moons (if CCP nerfs those hard enough). When that happens, customs offices will start to be consolidated by corporations that specialize in their acquisition, and by alliances that specialize in consolidating capital of all kinds.
Should you choose an imprudent location to put up a customs office, it may come under siege. For this reason it is best to build up infrastructure in a new area gradually. If things go wrong and you come under attack, consider trying to sell your customs offices to the attackers. They can be transferred to other corporations relatively easily. It may involve swallowing some pride, but you would be wise to recoup your costs and the attackers ought to be happy to get a discount on the price of installing the gantry.
Alternatively, you may want to defend the customs offices. Doing so involves much of the same skill sets as defending starbases. Can you and your friends fend off the attacker? How many buddies does the attacker seem to have? Do you need to defend the customs offices more than once, or will making a strong show of force dissuade the attacker? Do you need to hire mercenaries to defend your planets? These are questions that only you can answer. In any case, be sure to try and set your customs offices to have their reinforcement timer come out at a time inconvenient to your attacker. That way even if you can't defend or sell it, you can at least have the smug satisfaction of knowing that he had to stay up until four in the morning to finish the job. At some point it may make more sense to just let others take the customs offices.
Final Thoughts About Crucible Expansion Era Customs Offices
It seems clear to me that there are two reasons to set up customs offices: convenience, and for profit.
If you already run a starbase in an out of the way system, it may be worth setting up offices just so that you don't need to constantly bring fuel from Jita. You will save the ISK on taxes, and if other people use the planets, so much the better.
If you are setting up offices for profit, it will require either a large personal interest in planets to the tune of several characters (many planeteers seem to run half a dozen or more) or a devoted customer base, such as a corporation with a focus on PvE activities.
Whichever way you go, EVE Online's harsh world will eventually require you to eventually defend your planets, or move on to greener pastures. Don't get too attached to one area or take it personally, it's how things happen in EVE. Be glad that you made ISK, for however long you did.
Good luck out there, and remember: go, planet!