EVE Online: Market & Trade discussion

Given the recent discussion in the main EVE thread, my interest in the topic and the complexity of the markets in EVE, I think a new topic is appropriate.

First off, I am very impressed with the economy in EVE. I'm sure some graduate student somewhere has developed a dissertation on the economics of EVE that will go into much greater detail than I have ever considered. On the surface, however, I think it has a number of advantages over all other MMO's. First and foremost, the server is a single shard so you have a significant economies of scale. Instead of at most a few thousand active players at once, you have 30-40 thousand and I guess around 400,000 total subscribers. That is a substantial base to build an economy around. Second, the economy is almost completely players driven. Players generate the raw materials, consume them to manufacture products and sell them on an open market. Sure, there are significant outside factors (isk farmers, selling isk for game time, etc.) that you would never experience in a real world economy but it is probably as close a representation as any virtual economy out there (I don't know, is there any other virtual economy that is as complex as this?).

When I first played EVE three years ago, I got bored with missions and the combat mechanism after a month or so of play. The sheer size of the universe and the nature of the economic system intrigued me, so I decided to dedicate my game time to trading and I began to level up my Gallente Industrial Ship skills. I was perhaps just not smart enough to grasp the full scope of the economy and so I decided to concentrate on something that was easy – trading NPC goods. I started out small, trading holoreels and oxygen and other cheap commodities in high sec space. A trade netting a few hundred thousand ISK was crazy good and certainly better than the missions I could run at the time. As I qualified to run bigger and better industrial ships, I began to haul more expensive goods and dabble in low sec space. Electronic parts, Planetary vehicles, Livestock and other goods with higher margins were my bread and butter. Soon I was clearing $1 million or more ISK per trade run and would do a few runs a day.

The only trouble I ever ran into was getting my Iteron Mark IV ganked at a gate. Unfortunately, warp to 0 was not an option at this time. Fortunately, I was on a return trip and didn't have any goods in my bay. After posting a bounty on the pirate that ganked me, I took the time to bookmark the warpgates for all the trade runs I was working. What a waste of time, but it prevented more such incidents.

Eventually, I found a real nice niche working the low sec markets around Arwa in the Metropolis region. If I took the time, I could do three or four runs in an hour or two and make $10 million ISK. The fact that the NPC markets reset every morning (US Central time) forced me to log on first thing in the morning to buy goods or lose the deals. This got old real fast. The NPC markets are fairly static and, once you understand them, it becomes nothing more than an exercise in procedure. Predictably, this eventually got boring and I stopped playing.

I knew the game had gone through a significant number of improvements over the past three years and was interested in checking out the new graphics and content so I signed back up a week or two back. Fortunately, the missions are a lot more fun and rewarding than they used to be. Still, the draw of splashing around in the economy is there and I've decided to try a different tact this time around.

I know with this background information I've painted myself as a noob. I'm sure many of you eclipse my earning power in the time it takes you to pick your nose. I've got about 4.5 million skill points and maybe $150 million ISK to my name. Chump change but its a start.

So here is what I have been up to. I decided I would play the minerals market. I needed to find something that I could readily follow and understand. There are, I guess, thousands of goods that you can produce, buy and sell in EVE. I know from reading what some of you have said that there can be a very lucrative market in buying and selling ships, fittings, ammo, etc. My problem is that understanding the intricacies of moving these goods in bulk and in an efficient manner is beyond me right now.

So, I spend a few days following the prices of the lower-end minerals in the two regions I have been spending most of my time running missions … Essence and Sinq Laison. I decided to focus on Mexallon and Tritanium. My first order was just to get my feet wet and see that I could turn a profit, however small. It was for 25,000 Mex @ about 32 in a small system a few hops from Oursulaert, a fairly large Gallente trading hub. That got filled in about 12 hours. Great! I was on my way. I picked it up, trucked it to Oursulaert and sold it overnight for about 40. Lets do the math: 8 isk profit x 25,000 units = 200,000 isk profit. Of course you take out broker and market fees and I've made even less. Just a pittance really but for me it was proof of concept. I could make this work!

I've got some larger orders outstanding for both Mex and Trit that are slowly getting filled. We'll see if I can start turning enough of a profit to beat mission running.

EVE's market is far more in depth than you think; CCP hired an economist a few years back. Here's a slashdot interview from back in 07.

As for playing the market, like everything else in EVE it's PvP. No shots fired(unless you're hauling, then you can have issues), but still very competitive. One thing to consider, however is that with $150 mil in capital, you can easily spend some time looking at market trends and start off with bigger, higher profit stuff. I'm way out of the loop on that, though.

One way I used to make a fair amount is to talk to people whose corps were at war about delivering ammo and missiles to the nearest 0.5 system to the war zones. Made sense for me as I have well-researched BPOs for all ammo and missile types, so I used to cook up batches of 100k ammo and just stick them on the market in 0.5's.

Another tip is to hold your fire just before patches and updates. The latest one is due in about 10 days and will make changes to ship rigs in particular by introducing sizing, so I wouldn't go making any or buying any ships with rigs just at the moment.

A few more tips are to move things (mineral types/skill books/BPO's) between races. As in move the gallente ships skills books over to minmatar space, as you generally can't find them on the NPC market there.

If you could get into a freighter that would probably increase your intake, but you need some serious isk to fill it with minerals.

If anyone needs a loan for a startup trading business, ask here as I don't play all that much anymore but still have some cash sitting around.

Lesson learned today: prices don't remain static.

I placed an order for 500,000 Mexallon at 32. Once again, it got filled in less than a day. Once I lugged it to market, I discovered that the price of 40 I was able to get the other day was no longer going to cut it. Some nutjob had placed a huge sell order at around 37.5, undercutting everyone else by a couple of ISK. Somone else was buying at 37 so I decided just to sell and take my cut. Right now I don't have the luxury of sitting on inventory because I need the cash for future buy orders. I guess there is no credit in this game. So much for a real world economy.

Copingsaw wrote:

Right now I don't have the luxury of sitting on inventory because I need the cash for future buy orders. I guess there is no credit in this game. So much for a real world economy.

Credit only exists in a very limited form, the relevant skill is Margin Trading

Ability to make potentially risky investments work in your favor. Each level of skill reduces the percentage of ISK placed in market escrow when entering buy orders. Starting with an escrow percentage of 100% at Level 0 (untrained skill), each skill level cumulatively reduces the percentage by 25%. For a maximum reduction of approximately 24% total escrow at level 5.
Elycion wrote:
Copingsaw wrote:

Right now I don't have the luxury of sitting on inventory because I need the cash for future buy orders. I guess there is no credit in this game. So much for a real world economy.

Credit only exists in a very limited form, the relevant skill is Margin Trading

Ability to make potentially risky investments work in your favor. Each level of skill reduces the percentage of ISK placed in market escrow when entering buy orders. Starting with an escrow percentage of 100% at Level 0 (untrained skill), each skill level cumulatively reduces the percentage by 25%. For a maximum reduction of approximately 24% total escrow at level 5.

Credit also exists in the form of loans from other players. But that again is a PVP area, as several people have run quite large pyramid schemes in game.

Lesson learned today: Be careful when placing buy orders that jump to multiple system.

I've learned this lesson the hard way. My 500,000 mexallon order was for the Oursulaert system and two jumps from it. I noted that a lot of people will place five jump buy orders and some entire regions, most with a minimum amount of 1. So, I did the same but restricted my range to two jumps. I ended up with Mexallon in about 10-15 different stations with the bulk at two or three stations. In some stations I literally have just a handful sitting there gathering dust.

I took the time to lug 350,000 of it to market since that was all within three nearby stations. As detailed above, I sold that at 37 each .... so buy at 32 and sell at 37 for a 5 isk profit x 350,000 units = $1,750,000 profit. Ugh. That ain't much. Worse is the fact that I still have 150,000 units of mexallon in about 10 different stations I still need to retreive and bring to market. That certainly won't be cost effective.

Initially I thought I would just make another buy order and wait until enough piles up at a station to make the pick-up. The problem is the market for mexallon has soured. Currently in the Oursulaert region, the buy is at 33 and the sell is at 36. That's a long way from the 8 isk spread I got on my first order. To make a reasonable profit with that minimal spread, you need to deal in a lot of volume, which I simply can't afford. Not only that but they are playing the penny game. There are about 10 people trying to sell and each of them is changing their order every 10 minutes to undercut the others by a penny. That's no fun.

This isn't turning out to be as easy as I thought it might ... but I am finding the challenge to be fun so far.

I don't know if it was the weekend, but the trading opportunities really dried up the past few days. The margins were minuscule and bidders were constantly moving their prices. As a result, I didn't have any trading success and ended up canceling a few orders that clearly would never get filled at a price I found reasonable.

So far I have traded about 1.3 million units of Mexallon and 17.5 million Tritanium. My average margin on Mexallon has been about 6 isk and the margin on Tritanium about 0.8 isk. The resulting profit after the various fees is around 7.3 million on Mexallon and 13 million on Tritanium.

My biggest mistake has been multi-jump orders that are just too spread out and require trips to too many stations to pick up too little inventory. My biggest success has been a couple of orders placed just outside the 5 jump ring of Dodixie to pick up some inventory at a solid discount. My biggest problem is that my trading skills aren't high enough to do some of the remote market operations. I'm working on training up to a few of the more advanced trading skills but that's gonna take a few more days.

I'm realizing that the key to making money in the minerals business is not necessary maintaining a solid margin but simply being able to deal in volume. You can still do well on small margins if you can afford to buy massive quantities. Unfortunately, that's not me so I'm left nibbling on the edges trying to find good opportunities where I can.

I haven't sunk a ton of time into this but I suspect that running level 3 missions/salvaging is a more consistent way of making money. Still, it has been a nice diversion and I haven't given up yet.

My biggest mistake has been multi-jump orders that are just too spread out and require trips to too many stations to pick up too little inventory. My biggest success has been a couple of orders placed just outside the 5 jump ring of Dodixie to pick up some inventory at a solid discount. My biggest problem is that my trading skills aren't high enough to do some of the remote market operations. I'm working on training up to a few of the more advanced trading skills but that's gonna take a few more days.

I think the morale of this is that if you place a region or 20 system wide buy order, you can zero in on the "hot spots" where mining activity is taking place. The next order might be a 10 jump, or even 5 jump near the hot spots. After a while you'll know the systems where folks are active in mining and can just hit those systems.

Another helpful thing might be to find a miner/mining corp and offer to buy all minerals from them at competitive costs. Most miners HATE to haul minerals to trade systems.

Just my 2 cents...

Andon wrote:

I think the morale of this is that if you place a region or 20 system wide buy order, you can zero in on the "hot spots" where mining activity is taking place. The next order might be a 10 jump, or even 5 jump near the hot spots. After a while you'll know the systems where folks are active in mining and can just hit those systems.

While a good suggestion, I don't think I have the stomach for this strategy. In fact, after the events of the last day or two, I know I don't.

I found a good niche buying Tritanium in the Genesis region for around 2.2 - 2.3 per. Bought 25 million at those prices. I then spent several hours lugging it to Ourselaeurt 3 million units at a time in my Iteron Mark V. Sold it all at 3.37 for a tidy $25 million profit. If only I had a freighter I could make a killing doing this in an efficient manner. Unfortunately, I don't have 1 billion ISK to spare for training and the ship. It's just flat out boring making 8 runs back and forth lugging this stuff to market. I may start concentrating on higher cost minerals like Mexallon and Isogen to try and reduce the number of units I end up having to haul.

Still, I am making money so it certainly isn't a lost cause. You can probably make about as much doing aggressive mission running so I'm not sure it will be worth my time in the long run.

Long run, mission running will blow that away. A good L4 mission can pull down large amounts of ISK. Figure you'll get between 3 and 5 mil from the reward, another 20-30 from bounties, then another 50+ in loot/salvage(assuming your luck is in) from an AE4/GE4/DiD4.

Trading, however can blow that away. I knew guys in EVE Uni who pulled billions a week station trading during wars, but they really knew how to play the market, and were into the big stuff.

Yes, trading is very much a more money makes more money issue in EVE. I know people who buy and sell frieghters, making around 100mil per trade and all they have to do is sit in the station, but unless you have the isk to start that up it doesn't really help you.

Copingsaw, your right about the higher end minerals giving you a better margin, the problem is that most of that margin is going to be moving it from 0.1-0.4 sec space out to high sec. However you could probably find some decent routes in those few high sec areas that jump straight out to null sec. What I always liked about the type of trading you do is the ability to do it afk, while that just doesn't work in most L4 missions.

Your right Anime. I ran a L3 mission last night that ended up clearing me probably close to $5 million after salvage and trade. It was a lengthy mission and took well over an hour to clear and salvage. Still, that is more engaging than hauling. I have the feeling L4 missions are a ways out for me. Everything I read suggests that I don't have the skills for it yet. I understand L4 missions are a lot less forgiving than the L3 missions.

Yes, I do like the fact that much of my trading can occur while I am sleeping. I am enjoying the exercise so far and have certainly learned a lot about the markets. I am going start putting it all on the line with some $100 million plus buy orders to see if I can up my profit. My margins will go down but even making 20% is a really nice profit, at least for me.

Construction and invention can also net big bucks. My corp has just spent 2 bill on setting up a hi-sec POS with labs, assemblies etc and I'll be disappointed if the initial player loans for capital investment aren't paid off within the month.

The best bit of that is that you can actually then spend a lot of time missioning or just tootling about because build orders can be done remotely if you have the appropriate skill (Supply Chain Management). If you can back up and defend it, a POS in low sec with moon mining can deliver riches beyond even that, but bigger corps may want a piece (or indeed all) of your pie.

POS maintenance does take a little bit of care (yesterday afternoon saw 3 of us ice mining to contribute the week's fuel load of O2 isotopes, liquid ozone and heavy water), but nothing a spreadsheet can't deal with.

Copingsaw wrote:

Your right Anime. I ran a L3 mission last night that ended up clearing me probably close to $5 million after salvage and trade. It was a lengthy mission and took well over an hour to clear and salvage. Still, that is more engaging than hauling. I have the feeling L4 missions are a ways out for me. Everything I read suggests that I don't have the skills for it yet. I understand L4 missions are a lot less forgiving than the L3 missions.

Yes, I do like the fact that much of my trading can occur while I am sleeping. I am enjoying the exercise so far and have certainly learned a lot about the markets. I am going start putting it all on the line with some $100 million plus buy orders to see if I can up my profit. My margins will go down but even making 20% is a really nice profit, at least for me.

I'd have to see your current skillset, but with that in hand even not being familiar with drone boats and the like, I could build a progression path that would get you there pdq. It's not really that hard to do, especially if you're handy with EFT and EVEMon(I used to teach the course on these for E-Uni; you could say I wrote the book on it).

AnimeJ wrote:

I'd have to see your current skillset, but with that in hand even not being familiar with drone boats and the like, I could build a progression path that would get you there pdq. It's not really that hard to do, especially if you're handy with EFT and EVEMon(I used to teach the course on these for E-Uni; you could say I wrote the book on it).

I'll take you up on that offer. I've just made it to a L3 agent, 14 quality so I'm probably not that far off from being capable of running L4. You need my API or what? I have both EFT and EveMon installed. I've got like 4.7 million skill points but a large chunk of that is dedicated to skills other than combat. We should continue this discussion in the other thread ...

Well, I'm still working the trades, although I have found my income from trading lag behind my income from mission running, especially now that I seem to have the L3 missions down pat. I cleared about 25 million ISK from a single mission the other day ($20 million loot, $4 million salvage, $1 million reward).

I've been concentrating on Mexallon and Isogen. I've been disappointed in my ability to buy Isogen. I've tried to post multi-system buys in several different regions that have Omber 'roids and the sales simply don't materialize. Most of what I get are handfuls here and there from mission runners. That's it. Do Isogen miners take the time to haul it to market for the best price while other miners do not?

I have managed to find some nice niches for buying Mexallon and can clear around $10 million for a few hours work researching and setting up the order and then hauling it to market. The problem is that the work is usually spread out over a couple of days, most of which is simply waiting for the buy order to get filled.

I must be making money because lately I've had up to $200 million ISK in escrow at any one time and I started with just $150 million a few weeks ago. I've spent a ton of money on skills but have also supplemented my income with mission running.

Perhaps I'll try out some station trading. I know there is a ton of money to be made doing that but the exercise just seems a bit to boring to me.

I think the main reason is most folks (in empire space) mine for Trit nowadays, since the profit -> time spent ratio is so much higher with it. Isogen and other minerals tend to lag behind in demand and supply. Kernite being just slightly more profitable is the big Isogen producer. Omber has fallen to nearly the bottom of the mining list.

Exactly. Empire mining is focused on Trit (unless they mine for minerals to build with, in which case they aren't selling them). Low sec mining... don't think you'd see much of that, it would be for their use, same with 0.0 mining.

So, Isogen is probably a poor choice for your purposes.

LtWarhound wrote:

Exactly. Empire mining is focused on Trit (unless they mine for minerals to build with, in which case they aren't selling them). Low sec mining... don't think you'd see much of that, it would be for their use, same with 0.0 mining.

So, Isogen is probably a poor choice for your purposes.

Okay, what you guys are saying makes sense. There is a huge market for Trit but because of the volumes you have to deal in to make any money, it's not worth my time without a freighter. I can concentrate on Mex but that won't pay all the bills. Are there any other suggestions for high volume, easily tradable items (gases, ice, moon rocks or something) that I could deal in? I'm happy to visit low-sec but so far I haven't seen any products worth making the trip to low-sec for. Maybe I just need to try my hand at station trading finished product instead of concentrating on moving raw materials.

I would look outside of minerals. The jumbo corp freighters keep that market held down pretty tight. I know a few of my past corp mates had good luck moving weapons and ammo from trade hubs to places closer to "lawless" regions. As well as some ships. especially frigates/cruisers for faction warfare. If you can build them even better!

I'm still trading but I've slowed down the pace a bit. I did have an interesting run-in with a gate camp yesterday.

Prior to realizing that Isogen was not the market to pursue, I put an order in for 1 million units in the area around Villore in Gallente space. It just so happens that Old Man Star was within my buy range. Even I have heard stories about Old Man Star. It is one of the most dangerous system to travel through and a notorious hideout for Pirates. I was a bit surprised when I saw that I had purchased almost 400,000 units of Isogen in the system. My only guess is that some pirate obtained it as loot and sold it to me. I can't imagine anybody would be mad enough to mine Omber in Old Man Star. In any case, I had a choice ... I could sell at a loss or I could try to retrieve it and bring it to market. I stood to gain about $6million ISK as I had purchased it at a basement price.

I know that several of y'all have warned me just to stay out of lowsec but I'm a gambling man by nature so I decided to go retrieve what was mine. I fitted myself out with 3 warp stabs, 2 inertia stabs and several shield extenders. As I make the jump from Villore to OMS, my overhead suddenly turns solid red. There are between 10-15 pirates gate camping and I'm stuck in the middle of them. With really no other choice I uncloak and attempt to warp to a station. Immediately I am targeted and scrambled. I can't say for sure how many scrambled me but I saw at least one icon on the overview. A few tense seconds pass with my heart in my throat and suddenly I warp away to the station. The local channel just lights up with pirates taunting me but the bastards missed their chance. I grabbed a beer, kicked back for a while until they left the system and hauled my load to market.

Question: about 15 people in local had the little red star on them after I docked. Some of them had very high security ratings. Were they red to me because they were part of a gang or something? If a gang leader targets someone, does that mean the entire gang has them targeted?

Copingsaw wrote:

Question: about 15 people in local had the little red star on them after I docked. Some of them had very high security ratings. Were they red to me because they were part of a gang or something? If a gang leader targets someone, does that mean the entire gang has them targeted?

Do you mean a white star inside a red box? That's the icon for a target that is at war with your corporation. If you're playing the character "Copingsaw" then I'd admit to being a bit confused since it's not possible for someone to wardec an NPC corp.

Your mistake wasn't going into OMS, it was failing to scout. You can get into the most pirate infested hellhole in the game eventually in relative safety if you use a scout. Just roll up an alt on one of your other two character slots. Skip the tutorial, and fly them in their newbie ship to wherever you're wanting to go and check for gate camps. If the scout gets blown up, no problem, they even get a free newbie ship.

You can also use a trial account as a scout, but I don't really recommend it because continually rerolling trial accounts to be scouts strikes me as a bit abusive.

Elycion wrote:

Do you mean a white star inside a red box? That's the icon for a target that is at war with your corporation. If you're playing the character "Copingsaw" then I'd admit to being a bit confused since it's not possible for someone to wardec an NPC corp.

Yes, that's exactly what they had. A little red box with a white star on all their portraits in local chat. It went away after 15 minutes. There were like three or four different corps represented in the group of people with the red icons. I think everyone who was in the gate camp was flagged that way. I assume it meant that I had rights to shoot at them since they tried to shoot at me; however, since I know that only one or two of the pirates actually shot at me, I assumed they were all in a gang or something and that's how they all got flagged.

Eve is really a game I want to play. I'm just afraid that I'll turn into a zombie like those in that "Second Skin" movie. My job is that of an economist, so I could try to have a lot of fun in this game.

Copingsaw, there was another option. Let someone else take the risk. I have had this problem, bought something cheap, then found out I screwed up and the items were in low-sec. Rather than trying to fetch them myself, I put up a contract, made the deposit enough to cover the value of the items (roughly) and then put up a reward on it of 100k or so. When the destination is just 2 or 3 hops away, that seems to be enough to get someone to make the freight run for me. Haven't lost a ship or shipment yet, thanks to that.

Trying what you did, just loading up the warp stabs and jumping in, that should work well... until you run into a HIC. If I'm not mistaken, a Heavy Interdictor loads a script, and instead of putting out a bubble, he gets an infinite strength single target warp scrambler.

Scouting is a sensible tactic. Carry a shuttle (packaged) in your hauler, dock in the last high-sec system, and fly the shuttle in to scout the gate. Shuttles are pretty hard to lock, and are pretty agile and fast. Odds are good you'd get back through the gate, and if not, eh, you lose a shuttle, woop. This is also a market option, you might haul a bunch of shuttles to that high-sec system, and put them up for sale, with a suitable mark-up.

I will admit, it can be entertaining, just loading a fast hauler, sneaking in and stealing your goods away to safety. Playing it safe is all well and good, but can be boring. Just remember to update your clone as you skill up, and maybe use a jump clone if you have expensive implants.

LtWarhound wrote:

Copingsaw, there was another option. Let someone else take the risk. I have had this problem, bought something cheap, then found out I screwed up and the items were in low-sec. Rather than trying to fetch them myself, I put up a contract, made the deposit enough to cover the value of the items (roughly) and then put up a reward on it of 100k or so. When the destination is just 2 or 3 hops away, that seems to be enough to get someone to make the freight run for me. Haven't lost a ship or shipment yet, thanks to that.

Trying what you did, just loading up the warp stabs and jumping in, that should work well... until you run into a HIC. If I'm not mistaken, a Heavy Interdictor loads a script, and instead of putting out a bubble, he gets an infinite strength single target warp scrambler.

Scouting is a sensible tactic. Carry a shuttle (packaged) in your hauler, dock in the last high-sec system, and fly the shuttle in to scout the gate. Shuttles are pretty hard to lock, and are pretty agile and fast. Odds are good you'd get back through the gate, and if not, eh, you lose a shuttle, woop. This is also a market option, you might haul a bunch of shuttles to that high-sec system, and put them up for sale, with a suitable mark-up.

I will admit, it can be entertaining, just loading a fast hauler, sneaking in and stealing your goods away to safety. Playing it safe is all well and good, but can be boring. Just remember to update your clone as you skill up, and maybe use a jump clone if you have expensive implants.

Good ideas. I have actually thought about taking out some contracts on hauling I don't want to be bothered with. I may just do that. I also like the scout shuttle idea, just pack it up and put it in the cargo bay.

Ulairi wrote:

Eve is really a game I want to play. I'm just afraid that I'll turn into a zombie like those in that "Second Skin" movie. My job is that of an economist, so I could try to have a lot of fun in this game.

Indeed you could....my corp is mainly involved in making and selling stuff, we might even hire you (spreadsheet knowledge will be required)

If you've been tempted to try EVE, this is a good time. Steam has it for $4.99 this week.

Elycion wrote:

If you've been tempted to try EVE, this is a good time. Steam has it for $4.99 this week.

Damn, and I just got it last week!