The current state of affairs
PI can be seen at the moment as an industry producing for 3 main markets:
- the POS fuel market
- scientists and industrialists putting up new POSes
- Nullsec wars.
At the moment the buzz is about POS fuel. Coolant has spiked as have Electrolytes. Either a great deal of this particular POS fuel is being used up or people are speculating. As there hasn't been a comparable jump in the other fuels used for POSes I think it's just clever speculation. All over Jita there are vast hangars crammed full of coolant waiting for the price to hit 30K, 40K or some such.
There are several reasons why speculating in coolant is canny. First most POS-owners are relying on diminishing stockpiles bought when it was a NPC good. Those will run out. Also war-based PI demand is seasonal and spikey. When commanders start dropping 10 SBUs per day all of PI will get really expensive then will collapse again. So even if the market were to flood with coolant it's likely that anyone left with a large overstock could clear it at some future date during a war. Coolant is produced on gas and storm planets and the producers are quickly learning not to set up on gas planets.
All the same I think now you've missed the bubble on coolant if you're looking to speculate. Other POS fuels will be more lucrative.
Regarding the other two elements they're rather dormant. Not many scientists are putting up POSes in the face of rising fuel costs and shrinking profits and war consumption is minimal and largely met by stockpiles.
The short term future
The future is WAR! Nullsec alliances, bored of stand-downs and ratting will brave the lagmonster and get busy during the later part of August and the whole of September. There won't be constraints caused by key personnel being away on holiday. There's lots of money and not much to do with it. Eve will surge out of its summer slump with an explosion of violence.
It's just possible that this will be facilitated by improvements in fleet battle lag. CCP Hammer mentioned they have several fixes in mind that they would deploy between Tyrannis and the Winter expansion. I'm not holding my breath.
War is wonderful for PI producers. All those buildings being blown up. You even have to deploy special one-use buildings to contest sovereignty.
Another factor that will help PI profits is boredom. A lot of people got all excited over the new feature, trained 10 alts to each run 5 or 6 planets and then discovered the clickfest became horrible at that scale. Some of these people are burning out at the moment.
However the big question mark over PI as a way of making money is how well the macroers do at it. Many people will try to cheat in this way and on the face of it the system looks open to it. I really have no idea as to whether there are working PI macros already but it's likely they will figure it out soon.
The longer term
We know of a couple of planned changes that CCP have said are coming.
Links between players are coming. That's actually really good. An industrial corp that cooperates could set up substantial production cities.
The dreaded clickfest of turning all your harvesters on is set to become a "thinkfest" instead. So for example instead of double-clicking each harvester twice you might have to complete a short game of Minesweeper to enable the Turn All Harvesters on for a planet. This not only makes doing PI a bit more fun but would seem to make macroing much harder.
Another thing that may happen is the extension of planetary industry to more product types. There are several Trade Good categories which as yet have no in-game use. One of them (Carbon) even has had a Production Information tab mistakenly added. Most likely they were considering it for PI during the Tyrannis build and forgot to change it back. Obviously if this is announced then get those region-wide buy orders up and stock up on these while the NPCs sell them.
The massive change with be DUST514. DUST will allow Eve players to contract console gamers to kill opponents' planetary set ups. Here's some guesses about the shape of the coming system:
- security levels will match Eve, in other words High Sec PI will be pretty safe, Low Sec something of a free-for-all and NullSec will be driven by space-holding alliances.
- generally at any given time it's unlikely that your PI will be lost
- they will take a fairly major effort to destroy and will be able to be defended. I expect some kind of SBU mechanic which will allow Eve players to frantically muster defensive forces to save their planet before the timer runs down.
- WH PI will be something of a loophole. While corporations could attack other WH corps on the planets I don't think these guys indulge in the same bitter long-term wars that people like BoB and the Goons do. Because of this I think WH PI will give awesome yields while seeing little console conflict - certainly the best place to extract.