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Sunday 1 June 2014

What is the purpose of Plex?

That is not as daft a question as it may seem.

Clearly, the purpose is to allow some players to exchange real money for ingame ISK whilst allowing other players to play the game for free or receive other benefits such as Dual Training.

However, Plex are used for two other purposes that i know of:

1) Market trading - quite simply plenty of traders buy plex with no intention of using it but merely taking a view they can sell it for a higher price in that station or in another region.

2) Investment - and this is the point of this post.  There are players like me who invest their surplus ISK in Plex because it rises in value over time and so allows my wealth to keep up with inflation (that is a topic for another time, some in CCP maintain there is no inflation in Eve Online).

The point of (2) is that the Plex which is bought as an investment is unlikely to be sold back onto the market and therefore this Plex is in effect denied to other players.

The darker side of (2) is that those players that invest in Plex tend to have large sums of ISK to invest and therefore can amass some very large holdings over time.

This can cause an interesting cycle: A player with $45 would have bought 3 x 500m ISK = 1.5bn ISK a few months ago.

Firstly, today, that same player need only spend $30 for 1.4bn ISK or for $45 gets 2.1bn ISK.  I suspect the player targets the ISK, not what $ they have to spend and so today they are buying less plex for US$ than they were a few months ago.  In other words, i suspect the monthly supply of Plex is falling as the price of Plex rises - there may be a direct correlation  here.

Secondly, the demand for Plex to fund free game time is broadly the same but is now focusing on a smaller supply and so can only force the price of Plex up.

Thirdly, those that invest in Plex see a rising price and so feel confident to keep on investing.

And so we have a self fulfilling price rise.

The summary of all that is demand remains unchanged but supply falls - and so the price of Plex rises.  Not all the fault of those that invest in Plex - but they are not helping and i am quite sure they do not play a part that was foreseen by CCP when Plex was launched.

And this is where it gets controversial - the use of Plex to fund accounts adds liquidity to the game (additional accounts = additional ships = more activity = more explosions) and so enhances the game for the player base.  Therefore, it is perhaps undesired that Plex should be used as an investment vehicle . . . . . except of course to those spending $15 to buy an ever increasing amount if ISK.  And, as CCP point out, the price of Plex on the Chinese server is 3bn ISK!

I don't really know if CCP want a high or a low price for Plex.  A low price forces those spending US$ for Plex to spend more to get the ISK they require where as a high price of Plex tempts more players to spend US$ to get Plex though presumably they don't need to buy as much as before.

Having said that - what can CCP do about this, assuming they wanted to do anything about it?

Firstly, worth stating the CCP intervention in the Plex market is a finite source - limited by the Plex they have from banned accounts.  Sooner or later the Plex held by CCP will fall to zero.

Personally, if i wanted to provide a headwind to a rising Plex price i would not make Plex the soul way to undertake certain actions such as Dual Training or moving characters between accounts.  Sure, keep Plex as one method but also allow an alt to spend an outright amount of ISK also.  Infact, if the choice was spend 1 Plex or 700k ISK to Dual Train for 30 days then immediately CCP could start to influence the price of Plex by moving the ISK cost of Dual Training.

I could also put a rental cost on holding Plex.  So, if someone holds Plex for longer than 3 months then they are charged a rental fee based on the value of their plex (say 5% of the Plex cost per quarter).


  1. Remember back in, I'm not sure exactly but the 80's I think, when investors went crazy buy gold driving the price up rapidly? It went up to 800 dollars an ounce or so and then crashed down and finally stabilized around 500 or 600 an ounce where it slowly started rising again at a normal rate.

    Eve's PLEX market is like the real world gold market only more exaggerated. Eventually all the PLEX investment, speculation and manipulation are going to drive the price too high. It will crash and readjust at a lower price.

    I figure the limit before the market adjusts is no higher than 1 billion ISK per PLEX. Probably somewhere in the 900-950 million range.

    In MMO markets when the price of something crashes investors often panic, start dumping massive stockpiles and make the crash even worse before it gets better again... After the really rich decide the price is low enough for them to start buying it all out.

  2. Actually I just googled it, the gold crash was worse than I remembered here's a quote

    "In January 1980 gold hit a record 850 US dollars an ounce. After reaching those dizzy heights it then plummeted down and remained steady in the 300-400 dollar range for some years before starting to climb again to new levels.:

  3. TMC has a take on this as well:

    and to much the same effect: the PLEX bubble may eventually burst.