The Great PLEX Crash of YC 118Ashterothi
With the release of Citadel, we have seen one of the greatest changes to EVE Online in several years. With most MMOs, a new expansion means a new chance for crafters to ply their trade and the devaluation of now useless goods. It is no different for EVE Online industrialists. Due to the nature of EVE Online, and the way CCP handles expansions differently from developers of more theme park based MMOs, it is very rare for an expansion to collapse parts of the market. However, Citadel has had a profound effect on the market, pushing up Planetary Interaction goods, sending fuel blocks into fits, causing the builders of New Eden to begin planning for some of the most ambitious constructions in EVE history.
For almost as long as EVE has existed, PLEX has been the gold standard
For almost as long as EVE has existed, PLEX has been the gold standard. While most other value in EVE is tied to base materials (ores, PI, ice, etc.), PLEX is tied to the inherent value of game time, along with the overall economic might in EVE players. Historically, PLEX has only gone up, increasing over the last five years from a low of around 500 million ISK, all the way to the lofty height of 1.2 billion.
In one day, the day of Citadel’s launch, PLEX dropped from ~1.1 billion to buy orders as low as 850 million in Jita. While PLEX had been moving downward for an already rare market trend, the event was so unprecedented that accusations of CCP manipulation began flying on Reddit. Soon after, CCP Quant himself stepped in to deny accusations of direct manipulation, as well as lending some insight into to the relationship between PLEX, CCP, and the market, in addition to more about his position within EVE as Senior Business Analyst.
By the end of the day, PLEX prices had somewhat recovered, however still remained below the 1 billion mark, a major water mark for many economists in EVE.
So What Happened?
What may be considered a “perfect storm”, the PLEX market was impacted by several things all at once:
- The Imperium Exodus: There are reasons to believe that the Imperium maintained several caches of PLEX, both as an organization, but also as a means of holding onto wealth for some. In recent weeks, the market in Dekein has become unstable, and as such many people are attempting to evac or get value out of anything they can. While there has been some failed attempts, it stands to reason that many others were not quite so foolish with their techniques. With the Imperium in a rout, the economic impact that comes with the loss of sovereign space, and the Imperium super capital fleet effectively destroyed without a fight, many members will be looking to cash out PLEX, and are less concerned with the ultimate value they get from it.
- The Money Badger War Machine: On the other side of the fence, the MBC still have a war to fight. A war that has an estimated cost of over nine trillion ISK. IWI likely have unfathomable reserves, but as with many in EVE, could have the vast majority of that value tied up in assets, with PLEX being used for years as a universally solid investment. Many of this “old money” are in PLEX purchased years ago, far below the current levels, and so the owners may see crashing the market as simply the price you pay to pull trillions out of the market at once.
- Citadel Expansion: As with any expansion, excitement peaks on opening day. Although many wish to get in on the action, a large percentage of those players didn’t prepare ahead of time. Now they have to pay the overinflated costs of build materials for the new structures, and more people than ever are eyeing capitals as an option. While this would cause a normal minor dip, the other factors simply amplified the expected behavior.
- PLEX/Aur/SKIN Sales: To celebrate the Citadels expansion, CCP has offered double bonus Aurum on all packs, and 50% off all capital skins. While normally these two would cancel each other out, the capital rebalance and new capital ships mean that SKINS for these ships were already in demand.
- Skill Injectors: As mentioned earlier, this event is part of a greater trend. Since the addition of Skill Extractors/Injectors, the volume of PLEX traded has been far higher, with a general downward pressure towards around the one billion mark. Skill Extractors offered a new and exciting way to turn PLEX into ISK, and many people took advantage of that in the last few months. This has caused an overall weakness in the PLEX market, which means fewer people were ready to respond as the prices hit ever lower points.
- Daily Opportunities Looming: This may be a stretch, however, the daily opportunities as they are currently described have a very interesting effect: Farming few accounts, but performing dailies, will make for more efficient farms than those who are just left to train for the month. This means that those who perform dailies on all of their SP farm alts (for skill injectors) will have a competitive advantage against those who don’t. This works to create a minor disincentive for SP farming as a money making engine – a big source of PLEX accumulation – and suspicions that CCP may take even stronger moves to break up this practice has caused some to look for other methods.
One thing is clear, this downward trend is paired with record volume levels, meaning this is not caused by a dying game, but rather from renewed interest in the PLEX market, and the various features PLEX offers through Aurum and ISK potential. If history has taught us anything, it is that PLEX does recover, and we should see it begin to trend back up. Within less than a day it had returned to just around one billion ISK, which is a low we haven’t seen since last September.
It would seem that this event was a fluke, and perhaps one many people will eventually profit from. Either way, it looks like there is a lot more liquid ISK being readied to either build someone’s dream, or burn it to the ground.