Q1 2020 Economy review
CCP has been doing quarterly reviews of the state of the economy in EVE Online for a while now. These reviews have been for internal purposes to help our developers better understand how the macro trends are developing in the game. For this purpose, a wide-ranging tool set has been set up for monitoring everything from in-game data points, dashboards and indexes as well as sending out a survey to players for each quarter where they rank statements and situations in the game. Last but not least, special council is sought from individual players in the game such as CSM members.
This time around, some of the developments that are being noticed are shared in an effort to promote a better dialogue around the economy and macro in-game situation. In every case, the playerbase is an important source to understand the complex ecosystem that is EVE and very often conversations with players sparks giant in-house research projects. Having said that, it is important to keep in mind that the blog intentionally leaves out information that can be considered "vulnerable", so this is not the full report, but rather a summary of some of the megatrends that seem to be permeating the world in the first quarter of 2020. Hopefully, you will find this interesting and it will add some depth to the EVE world.
Q1 2020 Economy review
There are three big trends to pay attention to for the first quarter of 2020 in the EVE economy.
The 1st quarter of 2020 was mostly a good quarter for the economy. The Problem Index, which is an index put together by players' rankings of 12 potential problem areas in EVE, shows improvement in 67% of our main problem areas which is great. There are also strong indicators that the economy is now more fair, that the value of labor is increasing and that connectivity is increasing - all positive trends.
1. It seems that the economy is getting fairer
Anti-Botting efforts are removing massive amounts of ill-gotten ISK from the economy and making it harder to bot. This seems to correlate with lower PLEX prices, which makes sense since massive bot farms are no longer constantly driving up PLEX prices with their cheap ISK. Players seem to be taking notice since a year ago only 37% felt CCP was taking active action against botting, but today that number is 50%. Also in Q3 2019, 66.9% of players believed botting to be a serious problem in EVE, but today that number is 52.6%. Botting is absolutely still a big problem but headway is being made in a meaningful manner and it is being noticed.
The Economy Fairness Index consists of 6 statements about the state of the economy that players rank every quarter, all of them dealing with fairness in the economy. The average concern ratio for Q1 2020 is 46.4% compared to the average concern ratio in Q3 2019 which was 52%. So overall, players are ranking the economy to be more fair. Again, there is a lot of work to be done but player feedback indicates things are moving in the right direction.
2. Strong indicators that the value of labor is rising
- There were major changes to mineral distribution made in Q1. The changes seem to be having a big impact since the volume of minerals mined has dropped considerably. According to the Mineral Price Index, the cost of minerals is increasing as well, from a bottom price point value of 68 in November 2019 to 112 in April 2020. Reports from players indicate that “smaller agents” especially are now getting more for each haul. Larger entities are getting better prices, but it is harder to amass massive amounts in a simple manner, which increases the value of labor to a degree.
- Players are now getting more PLEX for their ISK. PLEX prices, in parallel with anti-botting efforts, have now been dropping since Q2 2019 from a height of 4,487 million ISK on 17 May 2019 to 2,455 million ISK on 17 May 2020. So in a year, PLEX prices have dropped 43.5%. At the same time money supply (the amount of active ISK per character in the game) has been increasing.
- Anti-botting has decreased the amount of minerals and ISK coming into the economy, and coupled with mineral changes increasing the value of minerals, has made mining more profitable per unit sold. Along with the price of PLEX going down while active ISK is going up, the cumulative effect is that in important segments of the game, the value of the labor hour seems to be increasing. An oft-mentioned measure from players on valuing worth of time in-game is how many hours of their “average work” it takes to be able to PLEX their account. Player reports and other indicators suggest this number has been going down in most places, although of course it depends on the specific type of work.
3. Connectivity is increasing - The Friendship Machine is getting hotter
Q1 saw a bunch of "connectivity" changes introduced to the game intended to spur connectivity between players. These are as follows:
- Needlejack Filaments were made permanent – filaments are tools that increase the odds of chance encounters with other players
- Wormhole Chaos update - designed to increase wormhole connections
- Loyalty to Lowsec update - led to substantially more lowsec kills and activity
This, partnered with the fact that many more new players are entering the game and solid events happening, have led to social markers for "connectivity" improving considerably in the quarter:
- There was a 14.5% improvement between quarters in how difficult players found it to find other players
- 6.1% improvement between quarters in how much players felt player conflicts were lacking
- 7.9% improvement in how difficult players felt finding content was
CCP sends out quarterly surveys where players are asked to rank a range of social markers such as the difficulty of finding other players, conflict, content etc.
- Corp invitations on 1 January were 1,145 (7 day moving average) and 1,451 on 31 March - a 26.7% increase
- Corp applications were 1,503 on 1 January (7 day moving average) and 2,054 on 31 March - a 36.6% increase
- DAU increase in the same time was 3.5% so the corp application and invitation rise is proportionally much greater
In short, there are now more chance encounters in the game thanks to Filaments, you are more likely to run into someone in a wormhole due to more players in-game, and you have greater incentives to participate in Faction Warfare. All of this is leading to more connections, which hopefully is fuel for more friendships being made. Keep in mind that 73% of players claim they have made a friend as a result of playing EVE Online. Let's hope this phenomenon is increasingly being delivered well to the hordes of new players now entering EVE Online.
As stated at the beginning, this is just a glimpse of the internal economic review that is conducted every quarter. We hope you found it interesting!