This week, my speculation was rewarded though not directly to me with ISK profit...yet. CCP announced a pair of changes to pirate battleships both to increase their raw material costs but also reduce their availability by two methods. First, to reduce the drop rates of the blueprints and second to reduce the frequency of the escalations they drop from. Immediately, speculators jumped on the ship market and the cost almost tripled in the trade hubs. Given the popularity of these ships and what is certainly a huge stockpile of hulls and blueprints, the price quickly began falling, settling in now at around 430M ISK for a Bhaalgorn up from the 250M where it had been sitting for quite some time. Without any hard numbers on what the material changes will be or any direct impact to drop rates yet, it remains to be seen what the true value of the ship will be in the months to come. It is likely to take a considerable time for the stockpiles to deplete. But, I'm patient and have some idea of a target profit that I would like to make and hopefully walk away with a good return on my speculative buys.
But this change to the meta was not the only one that CCP dropped leading up to the June patch next week. They also announced major changes to fighters in an attempt to curtail what they called unsustainable ISK faucets. This was directly aimed at carrier and supercarrier ratting but also affects their use in PvP as well as the fighter defenses of citadels.
The response to this, as seen by the number of pages of responses on the forum post as well as the repeated posts on Reddit, has been met with significant rage from players who feel their efforts are being thrown out in the name of CCP greed. It is amazing to me the number of players who admit to spending hundreds of real life dollars, some monthly, to play EVE. As someone who has played now continuously for almost 4 years, I have yet to drop any real money on EVE other than my first month subscription. I have watched the cost of a month of game time go from 400M ISK to 1.3B ISK in that time and yet I continue to adapt my game to support two, three, and now four accounts despite that 3x increase in cost. I will freely admit that I am not the most active EVE player, as evidenced by the 19 days since my last kill. I am also therefore not spending the most ISK in game but I'm also not in a position to make the most ISK yet I have enough liquid wealth to make a considerable speculative investment. How players who have access to carrier ratting struggle to make ISK, or are so negatively impacted by this nerf, is beyond my comprehension.
The rage of players also focuses on the most shallow and obvious part of the change without taking any consideration for the larger more nuanced effect that these changes are likely to have on the EVE markets. Those days where 400M ISK subscriptions were a thing were also days where C5 wormhole data sites dropped easily 400M ISK of loot and null-sec anomalies dropped deadspace loot worth that or more. Today, over supply of these items has dropped the value of these sites, in terms of loot, to half or a quarter of their value. What so many people fail to grasp is that the pirate battleship changes to reduce escalation frequency will have a direct impact on the availability of deadspace modules. On top of this, CCP is seriously curtailing the speed at which carriers and supercarriers can clear anomalies and generate escalations. While many decry the AFK VNI as a greater threat, I can only assume that, as usual, they have more data and insight than us, as players, into the ratting income by ship class to know that those two classes are out of balance with the rest of the game. Reduced escalation frequency and reduced escalation generation should have a long term effect of decreasing the availability of deadspace modules resulting in an increase in value and thereby an increase in site value to the players even while their bounties per site are reduced. From CCPs perspective, this turns down the faucet while maintaining player wealth.
Will players respond by moving into the next best ISK/hr generation? Probably. Will this fix all the ISK faucet issues in the EVE economy? Probably not. But it doesn't take much effort to see that lower bounties and scarcer supply of deadspace loot are both good changes for the game as a whole.
We see this time and time again with wormhole space and the value of melted nanoribbon salvage. The easier a site is to farm, the higher the blue loot faucet is and the lower the nanoribbon value is. This affects many levels of wspace due to how our loot and salvage is distributed. There is a tight relationship between the two that is difficult to balance. I'm glad to see that as part of the July changes to Tech 3 cruisers, CCP will be implementing some new faction materials sourced in wspace to add some more variables to our resource gathering options. It is hard to speculate on what form that will take or how they will be collected. I hope that they link this material into the Relic and Data Site loot tables for wormhole combat sites. These sites are woefully undervalued and used only as combat anomalies with higher payout. The actual loot that drops currently has low value because of the availability of the materials. It would be nice to see those drops adjusted to account for increased site running and then the new materials added to the drop tables making them compelling content to run. Given that the materials currently dropping are used in T3 invention, this could also have a positive effect by raising the cost of T3s in general if the drops were split between the new materials and old.
On top of all this are pending changes to moon mining and a winter expansion that will affect empire space. Not many details yet on what that expansion might be. As a wormholer, it is a little disappointing that both of the major changes at the end of this year will not directly affect us. As an EVE player, I can only hope that they start to put some of these complaints to rest and show a more complete picture of what CCP is aiming for with these changes.