There's a lot of talk about the market lately. Jester wrote a good one over on his blog, asking some interesting questions about how expensive (or inexpensive) ships should be in EVE?
FNG had a good follow up, talking about the idea that ship hulls should be really cheap, and that the ship mods should be the expensive part of fitting out a ship -- making pvp much more lucrative since it is the ship modules that end up dropping when you kill something.
Both perspectives are really interesting. I think Jester hits the nail on the head when he says that there are a huge amount of factors that are going to contribute to the market prices in the end.
While the main discussion seems to focus on whether these changes are going to make mining 'popular' again, I think that we've only scratched the surface of how far reaching the EVE market crash of 2012 is really going to be.
I think that demand will be one major factor that keeps prices from skyrocketting indefinately. Because our income is generally fixed (even decreasing in some cases) the price increases can only be sustained to a certain point.
Simply put, as the prices go up, the demand is going to go down, and eventually people will have to lower their price in order to even sell their stuff.
With a fixed income, you will inevitably reach a price cap that sellers simply can't go over and still move their goods.
Scarcity and Polarization
The changes in demand, (not to mention the game mechanic changes to drone regions) is greatly going to affect supply. This may seem like an obvious thing to note but it is important later on when I talk about polarization.
The other day, I went to a major market hub to buy a relatively standard ship, and I could not find one for sale in the entire region.
So we have several factors at work here. First, ship prices are not independent of each other. As battleships prices go up, demand for battleships goes down, and demand for battlecruisers will go up. This will ripple on down the ship chain, as people choose smaller, cheaper alternatives.
As demand goes down, people will have a harder time selling 'bigger' ships, and an easier time selling 'smaller' ships. What will they do? Well, they'll stop making so many big ships. In other words, you will see less and less of 'bigger' ships on the market, and resultingly, less and less of them in space.
This is where we get into polarization on the ship level. If we could go on infinitately (ie: keep buying smaller and smaller ships) the margin between ships would relatively stay the same. However, frigates are as low as you can go. As a result I think that the 'gap' between the price of a frigate and the price of a battleship is going to change drastically. This is important to note for when I talk about polarization on a more macro scale, later.
Follow me so far?
Now, lets introduce the factor of another game mechanic - hit points.
Hit points are important in this discussion, why, you ask?
Simply put you are still going to need the same amount of 'bigger' ships to deal the dps necessary to take on bigger stuff. In other words, taking space is going to become more expensive, and riskier. Taking on supercapitals is going to be more expensive and riskier. Etc. etc. etc. Because you simply can't just use cruisers and continue to be effective in this regard. (Unlike in low-sec small gang pvp, where people will be perfectly happy and effective at using smaller ships.)
Now, this is where we can look at how this will affect things on a more macro scale.
Right now, there seems to be a gap between the rich and the average/poor. In other words, there are a few alliances who are very, very rich, and remain very, very rich because the very nature of them being rich helps them to continue getting richer.
Now introduce the issues of demand, supply, and scarcity I've been talking about, and we widen this gap significantly. Demand for 'bigger' ships will go down, but some demand will remain--guess who this demand will primarily come from?
Supply will decrease, and as many have noted, mining will become more popular. Guess who is going to control the 'good' rocks?
In many ways I think that CCP has been attempting to shift the balance of power in EVE. I think that in moving moon minerals into belts and etc. they are trying to make it harder for the rich to get rich because they are rich, and easier for the average dude to get rich to counter the richer, and etc.
And I think that they will (and have) failed at this endeaver. Instead, I think the bottom line is essentially going to be that EVE is more polarized in general as a result of the upcoming expansion, and because of this, I forsee CCP taking much more drastic measures in the future.
In other words, Inferno is only the beginning.
Oh....One More Thing....
But wait! I'm not done. There is a very significant, ignored element involved in all of these factors that I haven't even hit on yet -- it may be one of the most important aspects of this discussion.
Right now, minerals are directly tied to the prices (and everything I've been talking about) of tech 1 ships and modules. These will affect who/what controls the components needed for tech 2 ships and modules, of course, so will also directly the tech 2 ship market.
However, unlike a tech 1 item that only requires a blueprint and a list of minerals to produce, the production of tech 2 ships and items is much more involved, and requires an additional little thing called a datacore. Lots of them.
But....Faction War is going to be in control of data cores soon, you say. Oh great, Susan is going to go off about Faction War and Datacores again.
Actually, as far as datacores go, I'm going to just leave you with that to think about. ;) What does it all mean?
Instead, I'm going to touch on something that everyone is ignoring so far. Something that isn't tech 1 and isn't tech 2. Something that doesn't rely heavily on moon goo, or minerals, and essentially is going to stir up the mix a bit:
Have I mentioned recently that I love the Stabber Fleet Issue?
Did you know that it takes only a very small handful of minerals, and a tech 1 cruiser to build one of them? That the bulk of the ship is gotten through the Loyalty Points you use to purchase the BPC?
Also, did you know that in the upcoming expansion, there will be additional ways for a certain kind of pilot to earn said Loyalty Points? That, not only will they earn them through missions, but also through PVP and plexing? Oh, did I say above that all incomes would remain the same?
Not only will these pilots have more ways to earn LP through things like PVP and plexing, but the relative cost of purchasing their faction ships from their LP stores is also going to remain relatively the same, except for the minor fluctuation caused by the minimal minerals they actually need.
Are you following me?
While the rest of EVE burns -- their ship prices increasing, their incomes remaining the same or decreasing, there is a little corner of EVE where the income is increasing
A little corner of EVE where the cost to build certain ships is going to remain relatively the same, or at least not increase nearly at the same rate as other ship types.
A little corner of EVE that will be providing said ships to the rest of EVE. Said ships that, as the demand for them skyrockets in the coming months due to their cost effectiveness, makes their builders an ever increasingly more lucrative income.
Just a little wildcard to throw into the chaotic mix that is now the EVE market. A little wildcard named Faction War.