Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Financial Report - August 2014

Financial report for the month of August 2014 (last month). Trade oriented since trading is how I make virtually all of my ISK.

I buy and sell faction/deadspace mods, ships, skill-books and implants with an army of 24 traders covering 19 regions in most of empire space (everywhere except Aridia and Solitude). All of those traders are also Blockade Runner pilots, capable of doing their own transport (mostly on autopilot).

I surprised myself this month, I took it easy and only expected to make 35 maybe 40 billion yet I wound up making 50 billion again. Then again I didn't burn many PLEX this month, most of the PLEX I bought in August were resold for profits.

Current net worth is 738 billion with roughly half in cash and market escrow. Most of the rest is in sell orders and recently acquired assets I haven't gotten around to posting for sale yet. Very little is in assets I don't intend to sell soon, with maybe 5 billion worth of ships and fittings I keep for my own use.

Monday, 1 September 2014

PLEX Crash - Somerblink Connection?

PLEX prices have been climbing and climbing ever since they were introduced. A while back I predicted PLEX prices could only go so high and would eventually hit a level where they'd be too expensive, demand would drop and prices would drop. I predicted that would happen before prices hit 1 billion ISK and if prices went too high prior to dropping they could crash hard.

The last month or so I've been seeing indications a price correction was beginning.

I've had a number of "guard" buy orders set up somewhat lower than the going price in various regions for some time. When those orders started getting filled (around a month ago) I knew something was up and started paying closer attention to the PLEX market. For more than a month I've been getting some pretty good deals on PLEX purchases and it seems to be picking up steam lately.

Lately the frequency with which my buy orders get filled seems to be increasing.

During the same time period the price of PLEX on Jita started going down on almost a daily basis, refusing to go back over 800 million and mostly staying in the 770-780 range. There was a brief rally where the price went back to slightly over 800 million (probably a failed attempt at price manipulation) but it didn't stay there for very long at all and was quickly right back down around 770 mil.

I believe we are now on the verge of a PLEX price crash. The big questions are will it actually crash and if so how hard will the crash be?

Then there's the question of a possible likely Somerblink connection.

I've long suspected someone was continually manipulating PLEX prices upwards and Somerblink was an obvious suspect. They had plenty of reasons to drive the price of PLEX up and keep it up. At any rate someone certainly was putting up quite large buy orders (100 on Jita, 50-100 on the other main hubs and 20-50 on most large secondary hubs) that didn't seem to be there to actually buy PLEX but rather to get overcut and continually push buy order prices higher.

Someone with very deep pockets (deep enough to make me look like a pauper) seems to have been manipulating PLEX prices for a very long time. Is it just a coincidence PLEX prices started dropping and those large buy orders began slowly disappearing right after Somer got shut down?

I think not. I believe Somer had been manipulating PLEX prices upwards all along. Without them around continually pushing the price up anymore, it's probably going to crash now.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Not Impressed

I've been keeping an eye on the so called Bulk Trade mailing lists for a week now. So far I'm not impressed. Not at all!

Most of the lists seem to be dead with zero messages posted to them.

Only one list (Wholesale Trading) had much traffic. That list seems to be full of sellers spamming cheap junk and "bulk" orders priced over, at or very near normal market sell order prices. I didn't look very closely at the cheap stuff, maybe some of those offers were decent, but with one possible exception none of the more expensive sell offers was worth the time it took to read it.

Why for example would I want to buy Navy Micro Auxillary Power Cores for 4.4 mil each in min lots of 250 when I'm already buying more of them on the market for 3.5 mil and less than I can move quickly? This must be the guy who's been camping the hell out of the Jita Navy MAPC market since the minute they were introduced, frantically trying to corner the market and failing spectacularly. Maybe I should post a couple hundred on Jita for 4 mil each again to correct the price manipulation going on there.

Or then there's the guy selling single (singles on a "bulk" list, go figure!) faction ships for virtually the same price as low volume Jita buy orders and only a few percent under sell orders.

There was one sell offer for Subsystems that looked like it might be ok but I'm no expert on Subsystems prices.

The only other list with any traffic at all is the buy list for a single buyer. Nobody else can post to the list, it's read only for everyone except the lone buyer. That list had exactly 1 post to the list offering to buy a small handful of faction mods. Half his buy prices were decent (comparable to my own prices), the other half were rather low.

This reminds me of bulk buying in WoW. In WoW there's no equivalent to buy orders so your only options are to buy off the market auction, spam Trade Chat offering to buy things or watch Trade Chat for players wanting to sell things.

The big problem with purchasing under the WoW auction model is it heavily favors the no-lifers and bots who are always there. They're constantly (automatically) scanning the auction looking for just posted low priced auctions and snapping them up almost as quickly as they're posted. They're also constantly snapping up any cheap deals (often from hacked account fire sales) in Trade Chat. And they're usually spamming Trade Chat with lowball buy offers.

My server had one particularly obsessive no-lifer and bot (we called him Argabot, a play on his main character's name, replacing the last 3 letters with "bot"). This guy had at least 3 accounts and probably more with multiple max level crafters and a few "disposable" posting alts on each account.

Argabot was a real douchebag, he used multiple market bots to constantly undercut serious competitors and drive them out of business. Not only did he bot 24/7 but he sat there monitoring and watching his bots for 16+ hours a day too.

He was the absolute worst for spamming Trade with lowball buy offers too. If anyone else tried to buy something he considered "his" market he'd immediately (within a second or two) scroll your WTB offer offscreen with a 3 part WTS spam post offering overpriced crafted epic gear for sale. Then a few seconds later (with metronome like precision) he'd follow up with a WTB offer for the same item(s) you were buying at much lower prices. He'd do that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week basically forever until the competition threw in the towel and gave up.

It never failed to work for him, his army of auction bots drove many, many competitors out of business in multiple trades. Anyone who started looking like he might be serious competition was a target for his bots.

Then he targetted me...

Big mistake! I eventually figured out a way to combat his bots' buying power though it depended on having deep pockets. Very deep pockets.

I started advertising my better buy prices in Trade Chat with an offer to accept all CoDs at those prices too. CoD = Cash on Delivery, a type of mail used much like private item exchange contracts in Eve. I guaranteed I'd buy it all, I accepted all CoDs matching my prices no matter how much you were selling. I also promised most CoDs would be accepted within 24 hours and usually managed to accept within a few hours (the big exception being when a few thousand CoDs came in all at once, then it might take a day or two to accept them all).

It took a while. For a few months I wondered if I wasn't just wasting my time trying to buy in bulk through CoDs. I was getting some business but it was mostly little guys who thought 10 stacks of ore, herbs or gems was a lot and 100 stacks was huge, massive bulk. And I was looking for thousands and thousands of stacks worth millions of gold.

Then suddenly it took off. Several of the larger miners, herbalists and "elementium shuffle" jewelcrafters realized I was an honest buyer, my prices were quite a bit better than Argabot's, I really would buy it all and not only did I not rip people off but when they made a mistake and accidentally underpriced some CoDs I'd catch the error and make up the difference anyhow.

The word spread fast from there. Pretty soon most big farmers were refusing to sell to Argabot at all anymore. They'd only sell to me and a couple other guys they knew weren't Argabot alts. My prices weren't just better than his, they were fair and I didn't try to grind them down even lower every time the auction price dropped another cent either.

A couple of those suppliers had to be running bot farms, they each sold me thousands of stacks of ore and herbs at least twice a week.

About 3 months later Argabot and most of his crafting alts transferred off the server. With his supply of cheap crafting materials cut off he wasn't making nearly as much from his RMT gold selling business as he used to anymore so he moved.

I won an all out trade war with the worst, most obsessive, manipulative, no-life, botting, real money trading scumbag I ever ran into playing WoW!

Anyhow the point of the WoW story is it took time (several months) to build up my CoD bulk buying business in WoW and I figure the same will be true of bulk contract buying in Eve. I'm in it for the long term and won't be giving up due to poor initial results.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Looking for Bulk Contracts

There's a new Bulk Prices page here at Merchant Monarchy.

I've begun experimenting with Bulk Buying through contracts. The new page lists my prices for various different faction mods, implants and ships I buy in bulk. I'll accept contracts in any of 21 different locations throughout contiguous hi sec.

I've also posted a small subset of the items listed there to the "Wholesale Trading" mailing list.

Take a look at the new page and feel free to leave feedback on pricing, minimum numbers, items you'd like to see added to the list and so on.

When it comes to items I'm generally not interested in anything worth much less than 10 million each. +3 implants are an exception because they're high volume and even large stacks (100+) of them don't take up very much space.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Bulk Trade Mailing Lists

I keep hearing about various different "bulk trade" channels and mailing lists. I never really bothered checking into them before because I'm not interested in buying huge piles of materials or really big stacks of cheap stuff. I deal almost exclusively in expensive items like faction mods and implants.

Recently however I ran across some comments about a rich player X ATM#### who's supposedly the biggest buyer and seller of bulk faction mods (or claims to be anyhow). That definitely got my attention since I'm pretty big in faction mods myself. It's always nice to know who the competition is and what they're up to.

So I did some quick Google research and discovered he does most of his purchasing by soliciting private contracts through an in-game mailing list.

I was a little surprised to find they consider a stack of 5 to be a "bulk" sale, especially for the cheaper items. I was expecting bigger numbers than that. I don't consider myself a really big player in the faction mods market but I can (and do) easily handle much larger purchases than that.

And the best bulk prices? I dunno about that. While their prices are similar to mine on 2 of the above items I pay significantly better for the other 4 items. I buy a lot more than just 6 items and I buy just about everywhere in 21 different regions, not just on Jita.

I also found some talk from X about routinely doing 10 billion a day in business. I can easily handle that kind of volume too. In fact I do that kind of business already, only with a lot of shipping required to get things from where they were purchased to where I want to sell it.

I also found a few other bulk trade lists that allow anyone to post WTB / WTS requests. The biggest was named "Bulk Trade" but for some reason it tells me "You're not allowed to join this list". I'm not sure why, maybe it's full (I hear in-game mailing lists are limited to 3000 members) or maybe the list owner has banned starter corps (all my alts are in starter corps). The other bulk lists I found all seemed dead or nearly so.

If people actually sell significant numbers of faction mods to X ATM and his partner(s) at those prices maybe I should start a bulk trade mailing list too. Only I'd accept contracts on 22 different hubs throughout contiguous hi sec (one hub in each region) and allow other traders as well as industrialists, FW LP farmers or whatever to participate with WTB / WTS offers too.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Somergate 2014

Somerblink and their disreputable RMT "money laundering" partner Marquee Dragon are at it again.

Predictably the community is once again in an uproar. There's plenty of coverage elsewhere on exactly what they're doing this time and everyone's probably heard it by now so I won't bother going into that.

Instead I'll go into some conjecture on what could happen if CCP decides this scheme is ok.

Let's all get rich!

Will anyone else who wants to do the same thing be allowed to?

I currently have am worth over 700 billion ISK and make about 50 billion per month. If I were to more than double Somer's "incentive" paying 100 million over the usual price for PLEX provided the PLEX were purchased from my affiliate link, I'd be paying out 1 billion for every 10 PLEX. And making 8 or 9 dollars per billion.

At 8 dollars per billion with 700 billion that comes out to about 5600 dollars. Not a bad deal for any player with a fair amount of ISK looking to cash out.

Or I could just sell 50 billion ISK a month and sustain that indefinitely. 400 bucks a month, 4,800 per year, that's a pretty decent little real life income supplement. Heck if I could double that I could quit my job and live entirely on officially sanctioned RMT plus my pension.

I suppose I could live with that.

And I'm not even all that rich, there are many players as rich as I am and quite a few that make me look like a pauper. And then there are the big cartels, alliances and corporations.

Let's get even richer!

Or here's some food for thought. What if an ETC reseller sets up a program selling PLEX for 30 dollars each with the referrer buying back the PLEX for ISK at double the usual rate and gives the entire extra 10 dollars to the referrer?

That'd be a pretty good "incentive" to buy from that particular setup. The referrer would be making about 12 dollars per billion (considering he gets half the ISK paid out back by reselling the PLEX) and while the ETC seller wouldn't be making any more per PLEX sold he'd almost certainly be doing more volume.

It's a slippery slope, where does it stop?

The final nail in Somer's coffin

Finally there's one point nobody seems to have considered yet. What if the ETC seller buys the PLEX back from the ISK buyer for real money?

Then it becomes a vicious circle with the same PLEX being sold repeatedly by the ETC seller and cutting CCP out of the loop.

I don't think there can be much doubt about what CCP will do once they finally figure that out. And this time around while they're dealing with Somer I hope they don't forget to shut down Marqee too.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Market Price History Accuracy

Market Price History is not an accurate indication of what things actually sell for.

For example here's a screenshot of the market history for PLEX in Domain.

Note the low prices on the dates 08-13 and 08-10 are 760 mil and 763 mil respectively. Yet when I look at my transaction log I can see I bought 5 on each those same dates for only 745 mil and 745.5 mil each.

Obviously price history is not a very accurate indication of what things actually sell for. So what is it then?

Market history does not show the prices things actually sell for. It seems to miss a lot of lower priced transactions (like my 10 PLEX above) which inflates the numbers meaning the prices things actually move at are often lower than market history indicates.

Maybe market history only uses sell orders without taking buy orders into account at all. That would certainly explain why my purchases (usually made with buy orders) are often lower than what market history says is the lowest price.

But that doesn't explain other inconsistencies in the history data, like how I sold 5 PLEX for 784 mil each on 08-13 when market history says the high price for that day was slightly less than that.

I know for a fact that on the 13th there were a whole lot of sell orders listed higher than 784 mil, many of them much higher so history can't be just taking periodic snapshots of listed sell orders as I first thought. That'd push the average way up.

Then again the average prices shown in my screenshots above are lower than I would have expected unless it IS taking buy orders into account too. But in that case why didn't my buy order purchases show up in the data?

Whatever the cause may be something funny is going on with market history. The problem is market history prices are often misleading, sometimes very misleading, especially for low volume items. In a worst case scenario, market history doesn't reflect anything near the real prices an item normally moves at but instead shows extremely overpriced listings that for the most part are NOT SELLING.

What I'd find a whole lot more useful than this is information on the prices things actually sell for. I'd much rather have accurate info on the prices (with volume numbers) something actually sold for than what someone listed it for.

On a related but slightly different note, in the case of PLEX I'd really like to see information on two specific things

1. How many PLEX were bought from CCP with real money.
2. How many PLEX were actually used (taken out of circulation and used for subs, transfers, etc).

Even yearly data on PLEX purchases and usage would be extremely useful though monthly data would be much better. No need to get fancy with in game statistics, regular reports or anything, a simple one time dev blog post containing the information would be just fine.