Economic Ramblings: Of Bounties and Mining

Bounties and Sinks

Retribution has been live for a couple of days now, and the Bounties system in particular has been... interesting. Some self-described carebears are finding they can use bounties to retaliate against their tormentors (whether advertising this fact was a good idea for him is another matter), while others are feeling a bit abused. Still others, such as the perpetually quitting blowhard Krixtal Icefluxor, have found that their detractors have a new way of expressing their ire. Unfortunately, a CCP mod cleaned the thread (read, "made it less interesting"), so most of his response to the four billion isk bounty placed on him by goons (a quarter of that from yours truly) is gone. Nevertheless, the "consequences for actions" aspect that his tears demonstrated is of particular interest to many, as it extends potential in-game consequences to one's actions on the forums, both official and otherwise.

I did say these were economic musings, though, so I digress.

It occurs to me that CCP has implemented a bit of an isk sink here. Many bounties, regardless of the reason they're placed, will never actually be claimed. Forum warrior alts won't actually ever undock, while actual players may not ever appear in space in something ganked easily enough to justify the bounty, and so on. It's a soft sink, to be sure, but nevertheless, some non-trivial portion of isk spent on bounties is likely to never re-enter the system again.

Unfortunately, CCP does appear to have limited the size of the sink. While there's no mention of it that I can find in the original patch notes, a line in the December 6th update reads "Bounties on inactive users were sometimes being reimbursed too early." This seems to imply that if an account is unsubbed by its owner, any bounties placed on that account's characters are returned to those who placed them. Quite a pity, as otherwise any bounties on unsubbed (or banned) characters could have turned into a hard sink instead, and Eve desperately needs more hard sinks.

Ah well. They can always change their mind, right?

A Look at Mining, Again

CCP Recurve (who seems to be the replacement for CCP Diagoras, if only he tweeted like Diagoras did) posted a devblog about mining and the price indices. The blog makes some ill-advised claims about how the barge buff "increased diversity of miners" (it did nothing of the sort, and here's why), but it also has some nice pretty graphs. One in particular shows the volume of mining since January, which itself raises a question obvious enough to have been asked: If mining volume in highsec has gone up so much (by roughly 30%, eyeballing the chart), then why are low ends so expensive?

A more canny poster further down the page nails it: CCP removed a major source of minerals, the drone alloys.

Textual answers are boring, though, so let's have some charts of our own.

First, the low end minerals, average daily supply and demand of each. Three time periods are represented - just prior to the removal of drone alloys (back in March, specifically), early May at what would have been the peak of Hulkageddon, and roughly now.

Higher end minerals require their own chart, since the numbers involved are so much smaller. Again, we're looking at daily supply and demand.

Two key points to take away here. First, when drone alloys existed, everything was being produced in excess. Second, the demand for high ends was fully or very nearly met just by mining, even then. The same could not be said for low-ends, though.

And, yes, the demand (the "usage" bars) numbers are a bit funny. How can demand exceed supply? It can't, or at least, it can't permanently. But recall, the chart represents daily production, and the drone regions were producing alloys for years. Significant stockpiles built up, and got sold off as prices rose, allowing demand to continue as normal. But, with new supply diminished, those stockpiles eventually vanished, and production became limited by mineral which has the worst relative supply - in other words, by the bottleneck (or "limiting reagent" for the chemistry nerds). Collectively, that's the low end minerals, although some are more under-supplied than others.

Naturally, CCP could address that with one stroke if and when they so desire (and fix many other problems as well). Perhaps someday they will.

Seven year veteran & economics guru of EVE Online as well as CSM 8 representative. On the side I play PS2, WOT and Hearthstone.