EVE Online Economics Part 2 The Post ISBoxer World of New Eden


–Read Part 1 Here–


What ISBoxer brings to mind

Coming off my post about EVE Online Economics and the pursuit of fun, there’s been some changes to the way CCP views input broadcasting, an often important part of the process of “multiboxing”.  That is to say, running multiple clients on effectively the same machine and using software to push inputs from a single keyboard and mouse to dozens of clients at once.  CCP has flatout banned the practice of input broadcasting.  Now this will not stop the more complex multioboxers.  But it will have some effect.

Multiboxing has always been a somewhat difficult to understand practice.  As the players who did it typically have other motivations besides enjoying the game.  Aside from outliers, there is a stigma that many multiboxers are allegedly engaged in RMT (trading in game assets for real money).  This accusation however is not the subject of this post.

There have been no serious attempts by the EVE community to gather data on these multiboxing players, and not many of them come forth willingly and admit they do it.

Most of the data and claims about multiboxing are cloaked in anecdotes.  Usually taking the form of baseless accusations of “My friend said this Russian guy runs 40 mining barges in this region and farms this much ISK.”.  The bigger problem here is that some players are actually drawn in to mutiboxing as a result, because they want to chase this mythical ISK gravy train.

This does pose an economic porblem for EVE if more eplayers are drawn to multiboxing.  The drop in prices that a flood of resources being farmed would bring.  But this would also have the boon of an artificial increase in revenue for CCP.  This is a hypothetical issue of course, and only being included for the sake of trying to give the issue as it stands a fair shake.

To attempt to put a face to the problem, lets look at some data.  Here is some Google search data that may give some indication to how much interest there has been in ISBoxer assisting multiboxers with various types of activities:

Eve isboxer ice = 5890 results
Eve isboxer mining = 10800 results
Eve isboxer incursion = 5730 results
Eve isboxer anomalies = 14300 results
Eve isboxer missions = 8640 results
Eve isboxer wormholes = 45500 results
A quick look at the search results shows that the top result, (i.e. the one that Google’s sophisticated algorithms think you are trying to find) are pages on the isboxer site explaining how to set up a multiboxing isk-making setup in EVE.

What’s more is that ISBoxing players will tend to have a high level of productivity. The stereotype of an ISBoxer is perhaps the high sec miner, usually in cheap Tech 1 mining barges earning about 10 million isk per hour. Now a plex is about 900 million isk. So to profit from adding more miners this player would need to play for more than 90 hours per month. So not only is this player multiplying the number of accounts in use but they are multiplying the number of hours, probably playing at least three times as long as a ten hour a week casual.

Let us now look at what they produce:

  • Ice
  • Minerals
  • Incursions generate ISK and loyalty points
  • Anomalies generate ISK. (Some ISBoxers use MTUs and savage drones to collect loot and salvage but it is fair to assume that those keen on clearing sites rapidly do not bother). They also generate a small amount of loyalty points if an ESS is present.
  • Missions generate ISK, loyalty points and some mission specific rewards like Mindlinks.
  • Wormholes generate blue loot that is cashed in for ISK and special salvage used in T3 production.

This all means that production of the following will be reduced in January:

  • Liquid isk
  • Ice products
  • Minerals (basic not moon)
  • Loyalty points
  • T3 salvage.

Anything not on this short list is likely to decrease in value because of a seesaw effect. This drop in loyalty points may have a slight impact on the prices of faction loot, but the resulting LP from Faction Warfare is far higher, so there may only be a market result from speculation on trends in FW and minor notes from the ISBoxer loss of LP.

Lets be honest here, resource gathering and PVE is some of the dullest activity in EVE. But it also being the most important for all other content means that no matter what the quantitative impact of the change, it will result in an increase in prices.  The order and spread of which depending on both how many multiboxers disappear, and the speculation on prices that is sure to come in the next couple of weeks.

It’s impossible to put a hard number to this.  So some marketers might bank on a slight increase and buy conservatively in things like minerals and ore that are sure to see at least some increase.  This again could be thrown way out of whack temporarily as others go into panic buy mode and stock up on everything hoping for an increase.  I’m betting we see a minor version of the same market swings we saw from Crius and it’s panic buys and sells.  Although on an extremely small scale.

The change in policy will slow the flow of resources and might increase prices in small amounts in the short term, but it shouldn’t have more economic impact than say a few players leaving the game.  When a ~2000 player null alliance crashes and a few hundred quit, the market doesn’t panic.  Local markets might feel the sting, but the overall game economy barely feels the slowdown.  This is what I’m seeing for myself, and banking on happening.

This isn’t like the T3 invention change that made pretty much anyone with extra ISK a huge lump sum from speculation.  This will be an event relegated to regions with high numbers of multiboxers.

There is one interesting bit of speculation about this change involving Null rental alliances.  A quick glance at the systems rented by the likes of Total Absolution, N3, and xXDEATHXx show declining membership and systems changing hands.  The January change may have some impact on the alliances that are undoubtedly botting and multiboxing in remote SOV.  But I would argue that the loss of membership in these entities is due more to the landlords being hands off to their renters, and the encroachment on once quiet regions from other players is probably pushing some of these back into Low Sec.

I wouldn’t argue that renting is dying though, simply changing hands to more active and smaller entities.

Overall, the economic picture of EVE looks stable for now.  Along with the spurt of new players from the “This is EVE” trailer, we may even see more growth than usual.Only time will tell if that changes.

READ MORE  CCP announces major changes to EVE Online industry

Sure, as far as “the economy” goes, a corp of 10 is equivalent to an individual with a bot army. But the former clearly makes for a more interesting, healthy game. Who are these 10 people? Why are they willing to spend so much time shooting rocks and receiving nothing in return? How does the CEO hold it all together? Is he going to run off with everything? Are the miners going to revolt, kick him out, and take their stuff back?

If it’s just a game about clicking buttons in space, EVE is very boring. What’s interesting about EVE is the people and their relationships. Input broadcasting is a tool that makes it easier for an individual to be as effective as corporations, especially when it comes to industry. It encourages less interaction, and makes the game less interesting.

In a perfect world, mining would be such an engaging activity that it just wouldn’t be practical to multibox 10-20 accounts. Maybe they’ll get there someday. But in the meantime, banning input broadcasting seems a reasonable, low-impact step, and it’ll mean people can get into the industry game without having to multibox a dozen accounts at a time to make it worthwhile.


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