Friday, May 30, 2014

A Discussion Regarding Market Mechanics

Almost anything you can think of in EVE is named. IE: you know exactly who you are dealing with.
When you get a wardec, the notification tells you who is wardeccing you. When you get shot in space, you can setup your overview so you know the name, the ship, even the corp ticker of the person shooting you. When you accept a contract, you can see who setup the contract.

In fact, I can really only think of one game mechanic that contains an element of anonymity, and that is the market. Prior to purchasing an item off the market, or selling an item to a buy order, there is no way for you to know who you are about to do business with. Only after the transaction takes place can you go look at your transaction logs for the name of the buyer or seller.
Now, because of how certain mechanics work in the market, there is really no need to know who you are about to do business with. You have no control over it anyway.

For example. Say you want to purchase a Damage Control. You are in a market hub so there are 20 different orders up for Damage Controls. Let’s look at the cheapest four orders: 
  • Seller A is offering 1 for 500,000.00 ISK
  • Seller B is offering 7 for 500,001.56 ISK
  • Seller C is offering 12 for 500,001.57 ISK
  • Seller B also is offering 30 for 500,001.90 ISK

Now, you have no knowledge of the sellers, and there’s no way for you to know that the second cheapest order is being offered by the same individual who is also offering the fourth cheapest, etc. All you see is the quantity, and the prices.

Now, let’s say you want to buy 15 Damage Controls, because you’re fitting 15 different ships. You can’t select the cheapest order and buy 15 because there is only a quantity of 1, so it won’t work. And, being a particularly lazy person you want to complete your order in as few steps as possible. So, you right click the order of 30, and enter in that you wish to buy 15.

What is important to understand here is that you are NOT buying 15 Damage Controls from Seller B, even though you selected Seller B’s order containing 30 at 500,001.90 ISK. What actually happens (and your transaction history will confirm) is you will buy:

  • 1 Damage Control from Seller A for 500,001.90 ISK.
  • 7 Damage Controls from Seller B for 500,001.90 ISK (which will be subtracted from his cheaper order, not his more expensive order of 30.)
  • 7 Damage Controls from Seller C for 500,001.90 ISK

So this means…
  1. The system always operates on a cheapest goes first basis. Regardless of the order selected by the buyer, the cheapest order will get sold first, etc.
  2. You may end up, as in the above scenario, paying a seller more then what their items is listed for. By selecting the more expensive order, that is what you will pay regardless of which orders you are actually fulfilling behind the scenes.

Selling to Buy Orders

Selling to buy orders has some equally interesting mechanics. Unlike purchasing an item, you cannot select a buy order with which to sell to. When you select to sell it, it will show you the order offering the greatest amount of ISK.

However, let’s say you want to sell a stack of 20 Damage Controls. There are 5 Buy Orders applicable to the station you are in:

  • Buyer X will buy 4 for 450,000.90 ISK each (in-station)
  • Buyer Y will buy 13 for 450,000.89 ISK each (in-station)
  • Buyer Z will buy 20 for 450,000.70 ISK each (in-solar system)
  • Buyer Y will also buy 50 for 1,000 ISK each (in region)

When you sell your stack, you will NOT sell 4 to Seller X, and then 13 to Seller Y and then the rest to Seller Z. Rather, you will sell 4 to Seller X, and the system will create a sell order for the rest of that price. A lot of times, your order will be so much lower than the current sell orders that it will quickly sell, and you may not even notice that this occurred, or that you ever had a sell order at all. (Especially in major market hubs.)

Changing Things Up

Now, I have to offer a bit of a disclaimer before I start discussing mechanic changes. I’m fully aware that what I’m about to propose is probably not remotely practical to do from a coding/lag etc standpoint. However, it is VERY interesting to think about. :)

What if we removed the ‘cheapest goes first’ model, and make it so that the order you select is the order you are doing business with. So, in our above example this would mean that you would simply purchase 15 Damage Controls from Seller B, specifically from their order that contains 30.

Now that you have control over which order you are ACTUALLY doing business with, it makes sense that you can also see who you are doing business with before the actual transaction takes place. So, let’s say that we add a column to the market that includes the owner of the order.

And finally, let’s say that you can control who you do and do not see in your market results. So, you can ‘block’ people from your market, highlight specific alliances and corporations and sellers with color coding, and etc. Basically, whatever you want to do.

While these changes sound somewhat straight forward, the ramifications would be massive. With people able to have control over which orders (and with whom) they do business with, it ultimately means that there is much, much more to fulfilling order and selling items quickly then offering the cheapest/greatest price. Who you are matters. How big your order is matters, and etc.

Let's talk about a few specific things:


This new model would introduce some interesting consequences to scamming. Players can now block scammers –even their entire corporation and alliance, potentially hurting others in their alliance trying to do legitimate trading.


Quantity suddenly matters a whole lot more. Players looking to buy in bulk already gravitate toward the larger orders, depending on how much extra they have to pay. So, there may be certain advantages to selling and buying in larger stacks.

War, PVP, and Loyalty

And, of course the most interesting facet of this model would be that having control over and knowing who you do business with means that politics will come into play in the economy in a much more tangent way. While some players may choose to always pick the cheapest order, some may make an alternative decision because they see a well-known corpmate is selling something for only a slightly higher price, or etc.

And, in larger nullsec politics it stands to reason that if they create coalition ballots for the CSM, they would probably take advantage of these mechanics and create certain white lists and black lists.

Imagine not being able to buy something you need because your enemy has blocked you from seeing their orders, and they are the ones selling the only ones available…

Imagine the ability to set up entire internal markets –offering cheaper prices for your friends without having to deal with the limitations of contracts?

Imagine being able to decide not to buy something because a known enemy is selling it?

The fact that your enemy knows it is you who is attacking them is a taken-for-granted thing in every other aspect of EVE. You don’t take a region of nullsec anonymously. You want people to know that you did THIS, and you are attacking THEM, and you are beating THEM. YOU are taking their stuff. Not some anonymous force.

I think that market PVP could become a lot more interesting to people if it was less anonymous. Manipulating or taking over an enemy’s market would not just be a practical thing, but a part of the war itself –a slap in their face, so to speak.

Black Listed

And finally, I have to mention one more, somewhat funny thought.

You know how industrialists don’t like to get suicide ganked? Well, imagine if someone got it into their head to come up with a sort of shared, industrialist black-list.

All of a sudden, shooting the people mining the minerals to build your ships could potentially have some very real economic disadvantages.

Of course, you can always use market alts to hide your identity. The bottom line though, is that you have a lot more choices as a seller and a buyer, and your actions in the market and elsewhere could have much more concrete economic rewards and/or consequences.

Anyway, crazy, crazy market ideas. But definitely fun and interesting to think about.


  1. Since almost everyone is trading from anonymous trader alts, you'd have very little actual control over who do you trade with.

  2. There are some changes I'd like to see to indirect nature of the buy/sell system. For example, as you point out, if you try to buy the larger number at the higher price, those sellers with a lower price will sell their goods first AND get the higher price you offered. I think they should only get the price they offered their goods at so what you would pay is what they put the order up for. The same for when you sell an item. If the buy order is for 50 million isk per unit and you make a mistake and enter 5,000 isk as the sell price, you should at least get what the buyer offered for the item, 50 million and not the 5,000 mistake price. That's probably the most common mistake I've made station trading. Now that won't fix it if the item is worth 500 million and the highest buy order is 50 million, but I guess you can't have everything.

    1. 100% agreement, this is something I've been saying ever since I started playing the game. It's a broken mechanic that would be easy to fix, so why haven't they fixed it?

    2. I think CCP feel it's entertaining when someone who meant to buy a frigate for 100k isk accidentally clicks the order selling it at 100m isk instead.

  3. I love this idea! It expands the options that are offered to market participants and introduces a lot of opportunities for emergent gameplay.

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    1. I have big problems with showing the name of the player offering a buy/sell order.

      First there's market griefing, the market bots would soon have the names of all their biggest honest (non bot) competitors blacklisted so they cut them more aggressively than others. WoW lists the names of sellers on the auction and that's exactly what auction bots do there.

      Then there's plain old gank griefing, the gankers would soon have all the big traders on their watch lists, be station camping traders everywhere and ganking us whenever we undock. It wouldn't matter if it's your main or an alt, all that would matter is if the character has enough orders up for gankers to decide he's rich enough to make him a target.

      Honest traders would be forced to either:

      1. Give up trading and leave the market to the bots. Sell prices would skyrocket, buy prices plummet, the cheaters would own the market and everyone else would be getting ripped off.
      2. Start botting themselves to remain competitive.

    2. I haven't decided if I agree that this will necessarily happen to the extreme you imply. However, even if it did I'm not sure I personally think it would be a bad thing. What you are describing sounds like...well....EVE, in general. =)

  5. your final thought was explored by Mabrick:

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  7. Hi! Two thinks came to mind when reading...

    Regarding "Selling to Buy Orders", you can avoid the automatic creation of a sell order by choosing the right options. I am away of EVE, but I think it was selecting "Immediate" or something alike as duration for the order. The other (quicker) way is to collapse the buy/sell window, so the extra options aren't shown, then it's always handled as immediate order.

    The part about Quantity was exactly how I made a lot of my gold while playing WoW: simple buying stuff that is sold in random stack sizes and reselling in handy quantities that are used most often with a small (about 10%) price increase. A lot of people were willing to pay that markup for the service / comfort. I should mention that the auction house interface was bothersome without addons installed for things like buying items stacked to 1 times 50 (no partial buying a order like in EVE, it is buy whole stack or nothing, so a lot of people made "small" stacks, so that they wouldn't lose buyers who wanted small quantities).

  8. Thanks Susan, for revealing why my stuff sometimes sells for more than the asking price.