After my somewhat flippant response last week I decided to take the trouble to talk about economic information in the Eve community. First some generalities.
Unlike pvp information which can often be bragging or the necessary sharing of mission-critical knowledge sharing information about the market in Eve is almost always detrimental to the seller. If I tell you that Cyclones are going up and it's true and you trust me then it hurts my opportunity to profit from the imminent spike because you're now getting in on the act too. It's the equivalent almost of showing you my hand in poker.
Because of this there's sometimes a lot of disinformation. If I'm buying up Cyclones just before they spike then by convincing you they're about to go down in price I can get you to dump the 20 Cyclones you own to my Buy order at a price far cheaper than the ships will cost in 3 weeks' time. So when researching Eve information always look gift horses in the mouth.
A good market player needs to be able to read between the lines. Don't guess, deduce what will happen, put some capital where you think the profit will flow and learn from what happens. Playing the market well is all about learning the game. Other people might get away with specialising - we have to understand all of it: pvp, nullsec, faction war, suicide ganking and a host of other diverse gameplay styles.
There are four principle tides which move markets in Eve:
- the tide of change. Last Autumn mining barges were revamped by CCP and tech 1 barges had the amount of minerals used to make 1 changed. Retriever mining barges cost 5 million isk each in January 2012 and cost 29 million isk now. Most of the rise happened around August when the change was made public (by being altered on Sisi, the Test server). In this case the dev blog doesn't mention the manufacturing costs change. Changes by the developers are a very significant factor in the Eve market.
- the tide of play. Players in Eve tend to migrate towards the most lucrative gameplay feature (most lucrative after trading that is!). In 2011 it was incursions, in 2012 it was faction war. Making money off these migrations is a matter of understanding the feature they are following a little, understanding how most players will want to cash out and offering them a chance to cash out. For instance in Faction War pre-nerf there would be pushes to get to level 4 or 5 then a big cash out, mostly in implants. Most players were keen to sell to local purchasers if possible - there are a number of hazards for a predominantly pvp player getting 5000 +4 implants successfully sold at a major trade hub including being suicide ganked, being undercut and unfamiliarity with the methods for selling large volumes of stock. So these guys preferred to sell for 10 million or less locally rather than haul to Jita and sell for 14m or wait until now and offload at 22 million. To get good information about when these bonanzas occur the best method would have been to have an alt in faction war fighting for the Minmatar, ideally in a player corp where you'll be told when they need everyone for a big push. Inside knowledge of how your corporation buys items and sells items is extremely useful although in many cases it's possible to get information while still being an outsider. Eve Uni, for example, last time I checked were based in Aldrat so you're likely be able to make money selling Condors and Slashers in Aldrat because it's full of new players losing ships.
- the tide of war. Speaking of losing ships the biggest selling opportunity lies in following the fighting. Pandemic Legion have recently begun the invasion of the Dronelands, which is potentially the next big thing in null sec war. The nearest Empire stations are in Uemon, the nearest high sec stations are in Airaken. If this conflict grows we may see players looking to shop near the fight although this is far from certain as the fighting is quite near to Jita and most materiel will be sourced from there and moved by jump freighter. It's a pretty safe bet however that people will want ammo and replacement drones, particularly the ECM Hornet drones pvpers are so fond of. If the conflict does grow and more alliances join in then look at their killboards, see what they're losing and sell those ships with the modules rigs and ammo at Airaken. If you have an alt in one of the involved alliances then you can import straight to the staging system in nullsec and sell from there although you must be prepared for the station being captured by the enemy. Consider selling fitted ships on contract, consider also talking to people in the alliances that are fighting about supplying them - many will be delighted to encourage you. If you are trying to launch a system as a mini-hub it pays to be proactive. Less speculatively HED and Curse seem to be where most nullsec violence is currently happening.
- the tide of commerce. The market has its own behaviours. Often they are not related to anything that would explain why a price is rising or falling. I had to sell an officer mod recently - it was worth 3.9 bill when I started trying to sell it and for some reason supply out-stripped demand and the price kept falling. It went all the way down to 2.9 bill, I waited it out and eventually sold it for 3.4 bill. For no particular reason other than the luck of loot drops a module that normally only sees a couple in stock at Jita spiked up to about 8 being sold at once, then went down to 2 again. Commerce also sees distinctive shifts during the year and during a week. Generally production is steady and demand fluctuates. Weekends see lots of people log in and fight, stimulating prices. Expansions see many new players start and old players return stimulating demand. Any expansion that brings new ships or revamps old ships in ways exciting to the player base will see a mineral spike. There is also a lot of deliberate market speculation, players buying up stocks of something they feel will rise or that they feel they can push up. (Note that it's very easy to push a market. Put 1 item way over the buys or under the sells and often as not someone will 0.01 isk you with a large order fixing the new price).
So, where are the sources of economic information in Eve? Well they're everywhere. Every change, every conflict is also a market opportunity. Here are some specific sources:
In game features like the market history and the statistics shown on the starmap are very useful. Dotlan summaries many of these statistics in a helpful manner.
Often the first indication of future change and the best way of anticipating the tide of change. Paying attention to official announcements can make you a great deal of easy money. Some dev blogs are economic articles that specifically explain an aspect of the economy.
The various Eve test servers are often the first chance players have to get a look at what exactly is changing.
Sometimes devs just tell you market critical information. Here CCP Fozzie responds to Goon market gurus pumping him for information. Blue posts on the Features & Ideas Discussion board are particularly important.
The economy only got 4 pages this time around but there is some fairly detailed statistical information there. The minutes generally are a great source of information about future development and people may reveal forthcoming changes for the first time without really considering the market impact.
Interaction with informed people will often give information about the game. CCP have Fanfest and a variety of social gatherings such as pubmeets, CCP developers often chat on Twitter and so on. Developers being interviewed on podcasts will often give indications about where the game is going. There are worse investments in Eve than buying a developer a pint of beer!
MoxNix is a
market trader who uses alts with full Trade skills in each of the
largest high sec hubs. His blog has a teaching focus and is probably the
only pure Trade-oriented Eve blog written by someone with a solid
market knowledge (in the sense that every article is a market article).
is a former WoW marketeer who transitioned to Eve trading with
spectacular success. If you look past the rather irritating style
there's a wealth of information from a trader who is both extremely good
at making money and very open about his methods. He's currently
obsessed with extorting high sec ice miners, but his once per week
business report is interesting and you can go back a few months to find
lots of posts explaining his business.
Blake is a large volume ship producer supplying null sec alliances and is profoundly expert.
Ardent Defender is a well-informed trader/industrialist.
Mabrick is an industrialist/PI blogger.
Jester is Eve's most prolific blogger with a good understanding of the entire game. His economic posts are infrequent but sound.
Kiger Wulf is transitioning from a "My time is free" industrialist into a solid market player and one can learn a lot from his journey.
One also sees quite a lot of trade blogs run on the premise I gave my alt 100m and wanted to see how I did building up a trade empire. These invariably fizzle after a few weeks.
I do occasionally talk about the market here but not all that often. I'm a poker player who prefers to keep his cards close to his chest. Perhaps more useful is that I always think about the market so if I write about, say, removing Local I'll be looking at economic ramifications that other bloggers may not have thought of. So while I'm not a market blog Stabbed Up is still a useful site for economically-oriented players to read.
The Mittani.com This is the better of the two major Eve news sites for market players as there are sometimes well-informed analytical articles. Be careful with this site as some of the articles include dishonest attempts to gull you. For example this interview by Powers on freighter suicide ganking is an expert analysis by a seasoned Miniluv veteran but draws an entirely misleading conclusion that it is better to pilot a fat freighter with billions of isk of stuff in through Uedama than use a (then unscannable) Orca. Wonder how many suckers took his advice then got blown up! For all that there's some good information here.
EN24 is a solid news site but doesn't have analytical articles on the economy.
There are a number of great specialist Eve sites out there. Google works well to find them but here are some of my favourites:
ISK: The Guide
Ten Ton Hammer. Famous for The Mittani's column the site also includes many very good How To guides
Two places on the official forums are particularly important:
Market Discussions This is a weird place where nothing is what it first seems. Be very careful of the various IPOs - most of them are ponzi schemes waiting to happen. Also be careful of posts naming a product such as Robotics - the sky's the limit! as they are usually dishonest posts put up by people wanting to sell you over-priced Robotics just before a slump. However this isn't always true and when this forum is accurate it's often deeply illuminating. Akita T's famous post Technetium - The sky's the limit was the first clue anyone had that Tech was broken. So this is a very important forum to read although for god's sake don't blindly follow advice until you have a really good understanding.
Features & Ideas Discussion. The blue posts tell you about upcoming changes.
Places like Failheap and Kugu can be good for tracking null sec developments but they rarely discuss industry or the economy per se.
I don't think anyone currently podcasting has a sound grasp of Eve's economy. Please comment and let me know if I'm wrong.