Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Economics of ISBoxer and Ham Shaving

There have been a few threads on the EVE-O forums about the use of ISBoxer, notably complaints about, to whit;
  • A guy running 10 nightmares and effectively soloing Incursions
  • A guy running 2 x Nestor, 24 x Ishtars and soloing C5 sites
  • Various complaints about PVPers in FW (Admiral Hayes, etc)
There haven't yet been complaints about, to whit;
  •  32ofMany
  • Unimatrix
  • Various other mass-botters utilising ISBoxer for mining
  • The PL fucktard who ISBoxes supercaps (criticising this is taboo)
I have already stated the business case for CCP to eliminate these people from the game and make it a bannable offence, mostly to refute the argument "if someone wants to pay up 24 accounts, then CCP won't knock it out because that's 24 subs worth of money".

Sure. Makes sense, if CCP are fucking dullards.

i guess this post comes after a discussion of the issue after Crius launched. This patch was to "fix"or at least "update" industry in EVE. The complaints about ISBoxer are rising at the moment because the program is becoming more prevalent, but it is also just a random happenstance that complaints are peaking during an economic update to EVE. However, the impact on EVE is far from just a very few people making dickheads of themselves once a fortnight in C5's by dying in their Ishtars.

Lets take the Nightmare guy. Ten Nightmares, ten accounts, booster toon somewhere no doubt. Each site takes 10 minutes, each toon makes 10M. That's 1.5B an hour, or 5 hours of game time to PLEX all ten accounts with a spare to PLEX the booster. That's 99 shares in Incursion sites no ne else can take, because this shit is competitive. only the gang with the highest DPS gets the payout, so people won't compete with this one guy. If he runs for 5 hours a week, he's cleared 6B profit a month after affording his PLEX. If he's as much of a neckbeard as most people and churns 40 hours a week of game play he'll be raking in billions. But who cares? The people who can't run Incursions because he out-competes them. The people whose PLEX prices go up.

The guy (Verisimilidude) who runs 26 accounts in C5 space. Not quite as direct competition, but the rewards are equally as high by comparison. If he finds a quite C5 with 30 sites - which is quite possible - he can clear them in a couple of hours. Even without cap escalations, that is a hell of a lot of blue poo and ISK fountaining into the economy and 26 PLEX per month he will buy, driving the price up. With perfect drone assign you would be mad to attack his fleet, as 24 Ishtar alpha would be horrendous to face.

The ice miners, 32ofmany and Unimatrix. I've seen them dunk a whole hisec ice belt inside of 5 minutes. 32ofmany even has a 10 man security squad of sniper oracles and has expanded the number of accounts to account for the reduced yields of Skiffs. Which he uses after some guys smartbombed his fleet and totalled 40 Mackinaws. So he is presumably PLEXing 32 accounts or more, and crowding out the small guys who want to try their dab hands at ice mining. Problem is, ice belts aren't permanent in the system so if you are happily mining away and it gets blitzed, you have to haul arse to the next system or wait. 32ofMany just hauls arse in perfect ISBoxer unison, his in-screen macro program coordinating his fleet's movements like the Borg. Is it right to discourage people from mining by having one guy essentially solo rape Genesis' ice belt systems?

Belt miners, too, can suffer from dedicated abusers of ISBoxer, who can easily clear whole systems of belts. Sure, they supply plenty of raw material to the market, but they are taking advantage of a rent. When you dominate an economic position to the extent that you can dictate the terms of the system, and gain income simply from this domination, it is termed an economic rent.

EVE is full of such rent-seekers and rent-holders (and the CSM clearly is there to just entrench the rents). The whole T2 production chain is a rent-seeking edifice of breathtaking simplicity. The big Blue Donut controls the supply, and since there's no oversight body to even tax them (beyond ISK taxes on production jobs) they just dictate prices and everyone suffers.

This flows through to their demand for supers. The rent they get from R64 and R32 moons allows them to not only set up whole alliances to supply minerals for supercap production but to crowd out other consumers. Supercap proliferation can be traced directly to inflation of costs in subcaps in hisec and Empire space, because the mineral supply is finite (linked to miner activity) so the end-use of minerals is determined by wealth. Unlimited wealth comes from rents, and from botting and, these days, from ISBoxer abuse in the three most lucrative domains of EVE - incursions, wormholes and ice mining.

The Crius expansion, I'm not very much across all the minute details. All I know is that it's basically going to increase the already hot inflation in EVE, and is an attempt to force Industry out of high security space by making competition rice-based and not slot-based. This may work, but it's not an answer to inflationary pressures, as the ISK sinks aren't that huge.

MUDflation hasn't been a huge problem in EVE as transactional taxes shave the ham (it's bona fide economic jargon, look it up) every time an item changes hands. However, blue poo supply and Incursions are pouring money into EVE ever faster. Wormholes are getting dramatically safer, to the point Verisimilidude can exist, to the point all the N3 guys have alts in C5 farming corps, who all have detente about the "no-siege"policy. ISBoxing Naga gangs could equally be used to flip Sanctums in Nullsec inside 2 minutes, and with near-instant anomaly respawns this would be a huge fountain of ISK.

Meanwhile miners aren't more efficient, refining is less efficient (constraining supply and forcing up prices), manufacturing in safe space is more costly, and getting your shit to market more risky, thanks to the risk of ISBoxing Tornado gangs blapping your freighter perfectly which all adds more cost - especially via JF.

The problem with all this? Firstly, is this game pay-to-win? You only need to pay a certain amount, to train or buy your toons. You can multi-PLEX train 3 toons on the one account to the ship and fitting of choice. Just use EVEmon, you can figure it out, then go and do it. If the cost is met by a store of in-game cash, you can basically pay $9.95 a month and spend 16 hours a week Incursioning per breeder account. In 6 months, you Power Of Two the shit out of things, spend a bit more transferring out your toons, install ISBoxer, and you've won at EVE. Without a huge amount of effort you can work from home ISBox mining with 16 toons on one screen while doing whatever it is you do on another. Pay to win.

Secondly, this is all horribly inflationary. The majority of people want to sign in, pew pew, and sign out before their wife bashes their ear. Massive competition for PLEX from ISBoxer alts who game the system drives PLEX prices up. ISK fountains and rent-seeking moon goo going toward supercap proliferation drives up mineral prices. If the PLEX price rises slower than mineral prices, then it becomes less cost-effective for people to pay for PLEX instead of ratting in-game. Indeed, if Cyclones are now pushing 50M, that's an hour of high-efficiency ratting to afford a fucking BC you can lose inside 2 minutes of PVP.

What's the endgame of EVE? Is it a burnout of ideas leading to stagnation and sluggish gameplay and a slow death of boredom? Or is it going to be the death of casual members and noobs entering a game, finding the old order entrenched politically and financially in a cartel system between ISBoxing pro-gamer miners feeding minerals to the rent-seeking nulltard overlords, leaving the noobs to realise after a month or two in-game they can never earn enough money for a Cyclone, let alone a battleship?

Crius simplified Industry. CCP now needs to fix the rent-seeking moon goo system, despite the CSM and the old guard, for the good of the game. CCP needs to quash ISBoxer before it is the only way to get ahead in the game. CCP needs to make mining and industry more effective, and rebalance Incursions down and up the risk in w-space, reducing ISK fountains. Oh, and getting rid of the Accountancy skill, too, would shave the ham even thicker.

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