Every patch brings great change, and with it the chance for great profits. Successfully speculating on the market can multiply your investment --provided that your suppositions about the patch are correct. The wrong move could completely wipe out your investment.
The Tyrannis patch will be released May 18th, bringing with it the ability to capitalize on the resources of entire planets, an overhaul of the insurance system, and fine-tuning of how minerals make their way into the game.
This guide will examine the known specifics of the Tyrannis patch, insofar as they exist, and provide some ideas about how to capitalize on these changes. Tyrannis has some of the greatest potential for market shenanigans in all of EVE Online's history, but the general idea of what to look for when patch changes are announced should be useful to all players looking for investment ideas.
Reading The Signs
I don't know what patch notes from other game companies are like, but for EVE Online they are ambiguous, especially on points that might cause market stampedes. Patch notes are introduced fairly late in the game, meaning that a lot of early speculation has already taken place, based on educated guesses and pure moxy. Nor is speculation based merely on patch notes (though they are the most absolute clue one can get, aside from a developer answering a direct question).
There are also developer blogs, which can broadcast changes months ahead of time, though the farther away from patch day, the less likely a change is going to go through, the way it is described or alluded to in said blog. Developers will sometimes post in the comments thread for a blog, too, though I wouldn't wish sifting through those bitch fests on pretty much anybody.
The test server is also a good source of hints, though these are usually well-disguised. For example, the initial production chains for planetary interaction on the test server were supposed to be deliberate decoys. The numbers there still aren't in their final form, so profitability is still very hard to gauge.
None of this is ironclad, of course. If you could ask the producers over at CCP what their changes are, at gunpoint, they could still be revised or even categorically discarded, mere days before the patch.
What To Look For
The holy grail of market speculation is to correctly guess that something will increase in price, before everybody else does. You then buy all the cheap stock, and laugh to the bank when it increases in price. Ideally, you would also ride the post-patch speculation wave, where the late-game (or merely slow) speculators are still inflating the commodity's price beyond what it will stabilize at.
The important thing to understand about this guide is that it is essentially a guide with advice about gambling. There are no sure bets in speculation, and even if there were, they would quickly become so popular that they would no longer yield much return. So, keeping that in mind, you want to look out for the following:
New Uses For Old Goods: A lot of old NPC-seeded industrial goods had the sole purpose of teaching new players about price arbitrage. Some of those new goods are likely going to find uses in Tyrannis, though it's anybody's guess which goods those will end up being.
New Bottlenecks: A bottleneck is where a limited resource constrains an entire project. In EVE, it usually happens that some items are rarer than others, and thus, the most coveted and essential component. A good example of this is Technetium: after years of retaining only mild value, during the Dominion patch it abruptly became an essential component of POS reactors making goods usable for tech two production, increasing in value tremendously.
A Market Run: If everybody is going to be running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to procure a commodity that is suddenly crucial, and you have a stockpile, you can charge above what the item is actually worth just for the convenience and immediacy, assuming you've got your stockpile located in Jita or another market hub.
Collecting The Dregs: This is the surest form of market speculation, but also perhaps the most tedious. Not everybody is going to log into EVE to mind their buy and sell orders, immediately following a patch. As soon as the newly profitable items become clear to you on patch day, you should travel between market hubs into the less well-used regions, checking for market orders that do not reflect the new prices. In a place like Jita, the price of a newly valuable commodity will quickly correct itself, often to above what the final value will be. But the less-used regions will often have market orders that will not be noticed for some time. Similarly, if you bet on the wrong horse and are stuck with stockpile that is quickly losing value, you may be able to sell it at a better price in one of these off-beat regions, where the buyers haven't had a chance to change their market orders.
What We Know About Tyrannis
The best information about Tyrannis that is available at this time is from a few sources: a developer blog about Tyrannis, a blog outlining changes to the ship insurance system, and what we see on the test server. All of these clues are important, but as you will see, none of them are definitive.
The critical developer blog that explained how planets will be working contains some valuable fodder for speculation. The planets are going to be mined or otherwise exploited, and then used as factories. What will they mine? Not, as many feared, tritanium or any of the other basic minerals. If the test server and a recent Ten Ton Hammer interview with CCP's lead economist are any indication, they will be replacing trade goods that have previously been seeded on the market automatically. WIll they be replacing skillbooks? Who knows!
This is good on the one hand, because it means that a vast number of things could potentially be affected. Trade goods are essential for fueling POS, making tech two items, and even fulfilling some missions. On the other hand, the NPC seeded prices prevent these goods from price fluctuations -- their value may in fact go down.
You need to look at the model and try and predict what will become more expensive. This is easier said than done. First of all, CCP has deliberately made the rates of production oblique, meaning that we can't know how difficult a given item is to produce. Nor can we be sure that these items are the ones that CCP will be using. Though having investigated the test server, it seems safe to say that many of the production chains are in their final relationships, but the rates and quantities involved remain scrambled.
In short, it's still a crap shoot, but of you feel like taking a bet, you can look at one of the possible intermediate or final items. I'm actually considering investing in Fertilizer, if that says anything.
The Flip Side
CCP Chronotis' dev blog about re-thinking ship insurance with fluctuating values is a very complex issue. Even CCP can't understand what is going to happen, because messing with the basic minerals will have a thousand un-intended consequences.
The key thing to understand is that, right now, minerals have a price floor beneath which they cannot sink, because the ratio of minerals to ship hulls to insurance ISK ensures it. More simply: because ships can always be blown up for an insurance payout, the minerals used to make those ships will never be worth less than that insurance payout. This is bad because it means that EVE Online's economy is fake, because the insurance payout is not affected by supply and demand, nor risk, nor any other economic factors.
I think that changing this will largely be for the better: Fluctuating insurance payouts is more realistic. Ship hulls will be priced something closer to their real value, especially tech one ships that will likely end up being cheaper. Tech one modules may actually be worth producing, again, as opposed to buying them from mission runners. This last will be especially nice for rookie producers.
The sharp end of that stick is that CCP is increasing the low-end minerals yielded by the asteroids in low-sec, and that the mineral prices will be a great deal more flexible. This flexibility may cause low-ends like tritanium and pyerite may actually decrease in value now that they are no longer buoyed by ship insurance. This could theoretically push more people out of high-sec for mining purposes as scordite and veldspar asteroids decrease in price and competitiveness over them also increases, but since that has never, ever happened before, en masse, I don't see why this would change much. On the other hand, since CCP is tinkering with the NPC wreck loot drop tables, and the rogue drone compounds, who knows. And never mind all the people that have hoarded hundreds of billions of pyerite and tritanium, waiting for a price spike.
So This Is Basically Guesswork?
That's right. Here's what I'm doing, though, just so you can see my logic: I'm reticent to over-invest in drone compounds, which will probably go down in value. I'm reticent to invest in any of the low-ends, too. But the mid-end minerals are a total crap shoot, because who knows where all that mexallon and nocxium is coming from. The ship has already sailed on megacyte, which was the one solid bet for mineral investment, and zydrine may only be inflating a little bit, as a result of market manipulation.
So that's the best I can do: explain what I and many others look for in patches, and outline why I'm throwing darts where I am, and why I'm not throwing them elsewhere. The closer one gets to patch day, the better the information availabe to you is, but the less likely it is that there will still be anything worth capitalizing on. I'll be sure to check, in after the patch, on the Ten Ton Hammer forums, to aggrandize my good fortune or bemoan my foolish spending. See you then.
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