The Looming Technetium Crash In EVE Online

EVE Online's market reshuffles itself at least every six months. It's a lot for a single player to track, so it's a good thing Ten Ton Hammer's SpaceJunkie does it for you!

Keeping current with this-ever changing whirlwind is a full-time job that leaves weekend warriors in the dust, and even the most dedicated traders can only hope to fully comprehend a small portion of the market at a time.

This guide takes a look at the state of the market at the start of summer (in the northern hemisphere, anyway) with an eye for helping people understand the economic forces at work and make sound long-term investments.

As with all economic articles, this is advice and not gospel. I indulge in a lot of speculation and repeat rumors as near-fact. In short, you should always do your own research before making any large investments.

Alas, Poor Technetium

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Though technetium has long been king of commodities, all things come to an end.

Though currently sitting at its comfortable perch of 115,000 or so ISK per unit, the much-coveted technetium moon mineral is poised to plummet.

First, there is the matter of the Northern Coalition. They have been the largest single source of technetium, and by all accounts they have used that leverage to force the price of technetium upwards. When perhaps a third of the production is within a single bloc, it should be a relatively simple matter to sit out of the market for a while to drive up scarcity. I and many others believe that they have done this.

With the immanent loss of of most (all?) of the Northern Coalition's territory, I don't see the new occupants sitting on their stockpiles, and I don't see those moons sitting empty for long enough to cause a real supply disruption. Without a cartel controlling the technetium moons anymore, the price will trend downwards. Since the Northern Coalition presumably retains their stockpiles of technetium, they will probably be dumping stock in an attempt to get rid of it before the market corrects itself. This will, of course, only hasten the process. How fast it falls depends on how many people have technetium stockpiles and how light a touch they have when using the market.

Second and more importantly, there is a wide consensus that CCP is probably going to nerf technetium in some time in next year, most likely in the winter when CCP will supposedly be working on improving null-security space and alliance warfare. This is one of those rumors that everybody was repeating at Fanfest like gospel, and it was certainly implied by Dr. Eyjo, CCP's in-house economist. This is credible for single simple reason: if CCP's winter expansion is aimed at "fixing" alliance warfare, it would be criminally insane to not fix them.

Sure, fighting over technetium is the main thing that drives alliance warfare, but there is no good reason for a single moon to be the sole source of contention, with most of the other moons being largely ignored when making strategic decisions. So it seems likely that some kind of moon rebalancing will occur to spread out their value a bit.

Even if these rumors are not true, the perception that they are true will fuel a lot of traders to divest themselves of any technetium stock, even as the prices sink from the termination of the northern cartel.

The Second Great Bot Banning

In mid-2009 there was an extremely successful purge of bot-using accounts. Some 6200 accounts were banned, probably users of the most popular mission-running scripts at the time.

Now, with CCP Sreegs working full time to catch these guys, it seems like a large number of players using some mining and marketing bots have been banned. Accordingly, the price of isotopes has jumped (this is also partly due to upcoming jump bridge changes), though the prices of other minerals seem to be holding steady.

Notably, the basic mineral zydrine continues its long, slow plunge as players in wormholes and null-sec continue to mine asteroids for it, seemingly with little produces by bots. Likewise, tritanium does not seem to have taken much of a hit despite constant claims that the bulk of it is mined by bots.

Though it would be nice to hope that the Jita market would be a bit less competitive sans market bots, I doubt anybody will notice. Local chat certainly hasn't gotten any less spam-filled.

Note that if we see another generation of mission bots get banned, there will likely be an increase in the value of all items that are mostly produced via loyalty points, especially implants and faction modules. That's what happened last time, anyway.

Too Much Time Syndrome Vs. The Artful Dodge

For whatever reason, EVE players have a lot more time for during the summer. This is felt in the market because things that players like to produce tend to be more in abundance. Whenever there is more supply than demand, prices go down.

This may be felt as a general slump, where nearly every market has trended downwards in price at least a bit overall, and it is especially true of more grassroots markets, like that governing the goods made with planetary interaction. The result in this case is that the planetary materials market is in a general slump.

On the other hand there is talk from some planet-based industrialists that this last little Incarna patch may have reduced the amounts produced by planets by as much as a third. It was not in the patch notes, though, so I find this a little hard to believe. If it is true, it may be a reaction to the increasing supply.

The PLEX Bubble

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Many EVE players rely on PLEX to play EVE. This is especially true of players from countries with weak currencies.

CCP recently announced the introduction of a new currency, Aurum. The currency will be made by breaking up PLEX, and spendable on special clothing or other goods. It also seems possible that the currency will be used for microtransactions in Dust 514, whenever that comes out. This has spurred a large amount of buying, both as speculation and by players eager that fear not being able to afford PLEX in the future.

Plex have risen perhaps 10% in price since the announcement, though there are some signs that it may be settling down a bit. The reason I think it is a bubble is that there speculative demand for something this expensive is necessarily limited, and there is not yet actually any pressure on PLEX from people buying clothes. The volume of PLEX traded is huge, with buy orders being filled within minutes, and the market is de facto in competition with real-money trade interests. In short I think that plexes will hover around 400mil ISK for the rest of the year, unless something really crazy happens.

Spare Thoughts

  • I expect Nomad implant sets to go down in price now that there is a good level four Thukker agent in high-sec.
  • Despite the news that jump bridges will be nerfed in the near future, Jump Freighters do not seem to be going up in price. Or if they are, the prices of their ingredients are keeping pace.
  • As of this writing, the actual price of the jump bridge module has not increased despite the need more or less doubling overnight. Indeed, it has gone down. Perhaps alliances make their own?

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