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Why it can be hard to make ISK in EVE Online

The 80/20 Rule, Why it can be Hard to make ISK in EVE Online

ISK in EVE Online is the lifeblood of the economy and players. Regardless of what you’re doing in New Eden, you need ISK to do it. So when you first sail out into the black, you need a plan to make some cash. So why is making ISK so hard? CCP even made this much harder with recent changes over the years. Nerfs for mining and ratting made it much more challenging and time-consuming to grind out ISK in their game. It makes since why they did it, mostly to control inflation, but there are still stubborn players who feel slighted out there.

There is a reason why CCP designed the game this way, it’s all about incentivizing effort. If it was too easy to make cash, many players would get bored. But there’s a simple truth that you should know. That means that many players try to find easy paths to ISK. Trading and manufacturing are things that often end up being noob traps. With this guide, we’re going to give you some tips to maximize profit in these areas.

There’s a pretty hard rule to both trading and manufacturing in this game. People are lazy. Your job as both a trader and manufacturer is to exploit that laziness and provide products to make yourself rich. This trend is best exemplified by what many players call the 80/20 rule.

The 80/20 Rule

When you’re looking for items to build or trade, let’s consider a hypothetical economy to simplify the problem. Imagine that there are 100 items to trade or manufacture and a set number of players trying to compete to make ISK on those items. Some will station trade, or arbitrage; others will try to supply players who just want to play the game.

The reality is that most of the traders and manufacturers are the people just starting out. And they think they’ve found a fool-proof method to finding out what’s profitable to invest in. They will hit up one of the many trading and manufacturing websites for EVE online, and put in a search for the most popular items with the highest margins. It’s OK, we’ve all done this, you’re not wrong for doing it, but there’s a problem.

Station Trading Website

The problem is, you’re not the only one reacting to this information, these aren’t secret numbers that only you can see. Hundreds of other players are looking at the same data you are. All the fluctuations you see in the in-game economy are just players reacting to the same information at different times.

The reality is that most items are being made by this same group. 20% of items are made and traded by the same 80% of players all just looking at the same data. This might seem like a trap, but it’s a healthy lesson to learn. You’re all chasing ISK, but you’re all failing to see the forest for the trees. For one thing, time is a factor.

If you’re constantly updating orders to compensate, there’s ISK flowing out of your wallet to cover broker fees and escrow, that’s lost profit. Many manufacturers, in particular, have no issue with leaving orders at the same price. As long as they have chosen their products well, they make ISK. And that’s the key. You need to do your research. One thing to check is the average price of an item. If you see an item is trading above its average regional price, it’s probably spiked in price. If you see that spike, it’s going to drop at some point.

EVE Online price spikes in action

Normally, you want to time your trades and order updates before the price drops. But that’s not always the best idea. Station trading is a key example where this is much harder to do.

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Station trading is much more volatile, and you kind of have to accept that a certain amount of order updating is necessary. The same holds true here as well. You need to do your due diligence and find items that maintain steady value—and trade them when you can. Just make sure to leave room for profit if they have a lot of competition.

So with the 80/20 rule in mind, how can you overcome it? Simply by doing what that 80% are not, using your noggin.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Everyone has the same basic needs – Every alliance needs fuel, ammo and drones to fight. You could try to make ISK selling those, but trust me, it’s a fool’s game to think that you can outcompete the biggest builders. Unless you have an in on some cheap materials, you will be priced out of the market by the economies of scale effect.
  • Everyone is trying to meet those needs – Be patient and watch your chosen items for a bit. Projections about what the market will do in response to player actions are key. You need to be able to guess what the big NullSec blocs are planning, and then speculate on what materials they might need. If a big war is coming, you might be about to see spikes in fuel prices. Don’t always try to compete on these items, sometimes you have to bargain hunt.
  • Only fly what you can afford to lose – This mantra is in the game for a reason. Don’t overleverage yourself on a trade or manufacturing run. If you lost it, what would happen next?
  • Understand the math – You might be shocked to learn how many people try to get into manufacturing without looking into what they plan to build. Look at the mineral costs. Understand the costs to move to market. Find a good spot to build with low indexes and so on. Failing to take these things into account can tank your profit.
  • Timing is key – When looking for products look at the market history. The in-game market has a history you can look at, and you should. Holding your orders at the price where you know you can make a profit does carry the risk of opportunity cost. But, if you can spare the order slot, you should let the order sit and hope for the best. If you messed up and put items on the market past peak prices, it’s best to let the clock tick by and wait for prices to come back.
  • List past the spike – Remember that price spike we mentioned? Don’t ever try to hit it to maximize profit. It’s a huge mistake to try and predict spikes. Sell on the upswing or at the start of the valley. This applies to both trading and manufacturing. With trading, you also want to avoid buying in too late as well. When you list below the spike in price, it will be much easier for your items to sell at that price.

Keep these tips in mind, and put in your legwork, and you should be flooded with ISK in EVE Online.

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