Wednesday, 19 October 2016

The in-game economic effect of the ban on gambling sites in Eve Online

Last week the Eve Online community received the rather sensational news that in-game gambling would be banned as from next month. To TMC this was a vindication of their recently-discovered principles against corrupting the innocent youth of our online community (and may have had something to do with losing all their space to a casino-funded war). At Crossing Zebras editor-in-chief Niden was initially appalled but then Dunk chimed in with a more common sense reponse.

A lot has been said about the loss of sponsorship from various community sites but so far not much thought has been expressed about the rather seismic changes to the economic paradigm that generated all that spare revenue.

Here's my theory: gambling players generally pay for their gambles by selling plex.

Not entirely, no doubt there are some exceptions but the ways people grind cash in this game are long, a little tedious and intensely focused around isk per hour optimisation. If you spend 10 hours ratting at 100m isk/hour it's not economically rational to gamble it away and ratters and miners are highly steered towards economic rationality. If you trade on the markets why gamble on a third party site and lose when your main gameplay is gambling in Eve and winning?

However if you're cash rich and just want to make long boring waits on a titan or black ops bridger more exciting then splash some dollars pounds or euros and have a better time while you're waiting for content.

Next we know that gambling revenues have been huge, so large that the biggest richest coalition in nullsec was steamrolled by the economic power of the IWI bankers.

So a lot of "whales" are now no longer able to play the way they like to.

These players will respond in several ways. Some will alt tab or use a second monitor to entertain themselves during those times they would have been gambling. Some will buy the plexes and use them in-game to lose expensively fit soloing ships to gate camps. Some will just carry on playing an Eve that seems a bit duller but proves a lot cheaper. Some may leave entirely.

So we will see a lot less players selling plex.

In addition the launch of Eve's new free to play system will bring a lot of players, particularly teenagers, drawn by the idea that they can join for free and earn enough isk to subscribe. Overwhelmingly the free players will not be plex buyers (if they had the money they'd be subscribers) but an additional pressure on the plex supply.

Plexes are going to get expensive.

Another effect is that there will be more players in space.

As people seek isk in-game by running missions and anoms, mining etc and they're in many cases not all that experienced we're going to find tons of targets on our roams and hotdrops. I specialise in FCing small fast roaming gangs and I can't wait!

Puff... sub runs out in 3 hours.... puff.... puff

I think as a game design point CCP needs to find a method for whales to spend their money that isn't skins. Skins are only entertaining to a point, once you have a good collection you stop caring about new ones and the novelties worn off, people very rarely comment on other people's skin. (The exception seems to be my blue Nightmare which always attracts comments when Waffles fly our Dreamfleet comp).

What do you guys think the economic fallout from the Eula changes will be?


  1. Ah, good, somebody else is tackling this. I was wondering about what this change would do to the price of PLEX, if anything, and if the influx of new players one hopes we'll see with Ascension will offset it.

    1. Area lot of people really gambling with PLEX-purchased isk? I can't imagine this is a thing.

    2. I have seen people claim it is a big number and that it is negligible. I have no insight into this, and I suspect the people making those claims do not either, so I suppose we shall see.

    3. Well here' what we know: Eve players are gambling trillions of isk on these rather trivial games.

      I'm following this up by trying to talk to some former IWI customers to get some first-hand perspectives.

      It does seem a lot more weird to me that someone would grind away ratting for hours only to squander it all on gambling rather than simply being a rich person who wants to let sitting on a titan less boring.

  2. There has long been a lack in the upper end of the EVE curve. Eventually, you have all the skillpoints, and hoarding isk above a 50B or 100B level becomes pointless without supers.

    Citadel and the new structures have put a few extra points on this curve (as Lenny Kravitz2 is showing), but there's still a gulf between what 100B will buy you and what 1T will buy you.

    Satiating whales is a delicate game. We can't give them solo-pwnmobiles, and recent gaming industry swings will close a lot of the gambling outlets (not just EVE's). I'm not sure what the solution is beyond putting more XL-sized landmarks to grab.

    1. Maybe an official minigame that's a bit more fun than Project Discovery. I remember when everyone in WoW raiding got into Bejewelled which entertained people without asking them to gamble.

    2. btw love your phrase "satiating whales." That exactly nails the topic.

  3. all players i know that gambled also bougth plexes for isk. They would need a plex and be "short" by x. Use their available isk to increase it via gambling and then buy a plex on the market, Or failing to win simply buy the plex via ccp. If they had gambled significantely they'd try to make isk in game. Unable to do that and without reserves to gamble for more isk they would at times buy plex from ccp to sell them for isk. But not a single one i know ever bought a plex from ccp, sold it and immediately used the isk to gamble. In fact the need to sell a plex for isk was usually a deterrent for them to gamble for a period of time.