Playing Market Games In EVE Online (EVE Online Guide)
Participating in economic activity in EVE Online is more than a suggestion, it is a necessity. This game is a capitalist's dream. More than most other MMO games, it is critical to understand how the market functions and how to manipulate it.
Though it may seem simple enough at first, there are enough twists and turns that players regularly make accidental purchases or misunderstand how it works. This is a guide to some of the more common market tricks, plus some tips about investing to help get your wheels turning for CCP's big winter patch.
.01 ISK Games
Keeping your sell and buy orders updated is important. You need to have the lowest sell order or highest buy order to ensure that your orders get filled in a timely fashion. Unfortunately for casual players, the competition in places like Jita can be intimidating. There are people that literally spend hours at a time updating their prices. Not to mention that there are more than a few market bots out there.
One trick that might work with some simpler bots is that it is possible to set up a small sell order for a commodity that is only .01 ISK above the buy order price. A bot might hypothetically try to correct the item price to be lower than that, thus filling your buy order. It seems unlikely to me that this would really work, but some people swear by it. Your mileage may vary.
The Lowest Order, Only
The most important thing that people tend to miss about the EVE Online market is that an immediate buy order will always buy from the lowest priced item, even if you right-click on a higher-priced item in an attempt to bypass people playing .01 ISK games. Should you attempt this, you will pay the person with the lowest-priced item the higher price, which I am sure they will appreciate. In short, there is no way to bypass the jerks that constantly are reducing their price by mere cents at a time.
Relisting is the practice of buying some or all of an essential item on the market and then immediately selling them for a much higher price. It does not work very well in Jita, where supply is not generally a problem. Out in null-sec it is often so effective that most alliances consider it High Treason. Fortunately for us, with the right skills (Procurement and Marketing) one need not be docked to buy and sell goods. That means you can breeze into some backwater solar system in a region like Querious or Detorid, buy all of the Warp Core Stabilizers, and then immediately put them up for sale at twice the price.
Relisting is an art more than a science, and always works better when the target audience is under duress from an invasion or severed jump bridge network. Be wary of buying things for a big markup over their high-sec price, as you may find yourself undercut before anything sells.
Some suggested items to relist:
- Damage Control II
- Heavy Missile Launcher II
- Large Shield Extender II
- Power Diagnostic Systems II
- PvP ammunition (EMP M and EMP L are both good bets)
Scams are nothing new in Jita, and there are two in particular that rely on market tricks.
The first relies on putting an exorbitantly high buy order for an offbeat item up on the market, then getting players to buy that item from an overpriced contract. The catch? The market order has a high "minimum quantity" amount. This underused market feature is probably intended to let EVE players set up region-wide buy orders without ending up with tiny amounts everywhere. In practice, this means that if a player is so unfortunate as to attempt to fill the order, he will find that he instead defaults to the next highest buy order, usually at a painful loss.
The second market scam is similar to the first in that it involves players buying an overpriced item from a contract in an attempt to fill a seemingly high market order. Unlike the first, this buy order will seem to have an acceptable minimum quantity, or perhaps even just the usual one item. The catch? The character that controls the buy order will not have enough ISK in his account to fill the order. Through the use of the Margin Trading skill, it is possible to put up more market orders than one can afford. If you attempt to sell to that buy order, you will get an error message and the buy order will disappear.
I guess the moral of both these scams is to never buy anything from a contract linked in Jita local chat. As with most scams, it is usually newbies that fall for them.
An interesting thought: both of these market tricks have theoretically been around in EVE Online since near the beginning, but have only started to be used for scamming over the past year. It is kind of interesting that these tricks were waiting like ripe fruit, ready to be picked, all along. It makes me wonder what else is out there that has not been discovered.
Investing In The Market
More than nearly any other activity in EVE Online, investing ISK in items is probably the best way to earn ISK. Notably, it is also probably the best way to lose ISK. Most investments are purchased off the Jita market, retained for a few weeks or months, then resold. "Buy low, then pray that you can sell high."
- It takes a lot of work and research to figure out the best moves, and even then it is usually just educated gambling. Some tips:
- Limit your investments to a few areas at once, so as not to lose track of them and miss your opportunities.
- Be sure to record the cost of your investments so that you do not forget the original price.
- Developer blogs are a good way to get hints of upcoming changes, though because they are so widely read it is likely that you will not be the only person acting on possible investments. There are still risks here, as these things can change at any time.
- The test server is where the real investment bread gets buttered. Aside from a few feeble attempts by CCP to put decoy changes in, most of what happens here will end up going live. Lots of people (including fellow Ten Ton Hammer columnist The Mittani) have raked in really crazy piles of ISK just by looking at the test server market for changes. Not everything is written in stone, but it is the next best thing to patch notes.
- Nothing in a developer blog or on the test server is absolutely certain until it is listed in the patch notes. These notes are usually published a few days before a patch, and will usually contain enough details to make rock-solid investment decisions. Unfortunately, it is darn unlikely that you will be able to read them and log in before someone else already has, meaning the best patch note investment opportunities are usually already taken. Still, there can be good opportunities if you notice something others haven't, or if you buy out a non-Jita market.
- Speaking of buying out other markets, most players that make speculative investments do so in Jita, with slower investors picking up orders in other markets or scattered amongst random stations in regions outside The Forge. There can sometimes be sizable opportunities out there if you have the patience to look for them.