Dust has polarized a large portion of the EVE community. Many people are excited that the EVE universe will be expanding. Others look forward to pounding ‘dust bunnies’ into the dirt. Others still are sceptical of its introduction and fear that a failure on DUST’s part could cripple EVE. In any case, developer time (that we have all helped pay for) has been spent on a different game. How can Dust improve EVE at a very fundamental level?
Inflation is Rampant
To get the full benefit of this article, watch a small portion of this video from about 26:00 to 29:10. It features a talk on the economy of Eve, given by CCP Eyjo at Fanfest 2012:
In summary, a lot of instability and inflation in the market right now is due to players having too much ISK. There is simply too much ISK entering the game, and not enough leaving it. The disparity is to the tune of 24 trillion ISK per month.
What I found most intriguing about this small clip was what CCP said about the situation improving. The presenter commented that quarter three of 2012 was expected to improve slightly and that Fanfest attendees would learn about quarter four later. The economy improvements in Q3 could be chalked up to the expected end of speculation and the resulting market stabilization. He may even have been hinting at the technetium nerf. But what would bring such sweeping improvements to the EVE economy in Q4 2012?
Enter: DUST 514
Dust, as I’m sure everybody is aware, is a free to play shooter coming out on Playstation 3 that takes place in the EVE universe. One thing about shooters is that you die. A lot. In a 15 minute match, you can easily die a dozen times, something that would be quite an accomplishment for a capsuleer. Why does this matter? After all, ships dying in EVE isn’t an ISK sink. The materials are lost, but insurance is paid out. The net effect is that PVP in EVE is actually an ISK faucet. How does this differ from DUST? DUST is being launched with exactly zero industrial content. This means that every item is seeded by an NPC. NPC seed orders mean that any time an item is bought (be it a dropsuit, a module, a rifle, or a tank), ISK is actually removed from the game.
These amounts are small in terms of individual transactions. However, there is an old saying that “A thousand pinpricks will make a man bleed.” In the case of Dust, a few thousand players will remove a ton of ISK from the economy. Unfortunately, no article about the economy would be complete without at least a little bit of math, so here it is:
Let us suppose you have 50,000 players playing Dust at any given time. Personally, I think this number is conservative. As a F2P shooter of the quality that Dust should be, I would think there would be many more active players than this at a time. Assuming a day of 23.5 hours, and a 15 minute match time, there is room for 94 matches that that pool of players could play. So each hypothetical player can play 94 matches per day. Remember that we assumed 50,000 players at any given time, not 50,000 total. This means that on a given day, 4.7 million matches will be displayed on a TV around the world.
A little bird told me that players shouldn’t be able to afford the highest tier gear constantly without lucrative contracts, or unless they’re really good. This implies that in any given match, if people are well equipped, there will be a net loss in ISK. This doesn’t mean that Dust players won’t be able to make ISK, it just means that ISK will be coming from EVE in the form of contracts (which is what CCP is expecting and encouraging).
For argument’s sake, we will assume a (very modest) net loss of 200k ISK. If you take that 200k ISK per player, per match, you end up with just over 940 billion ISK per day. Over a 30-day month, that comes to just over 28 trillion ISK. Let that number sink in for a minute. Not only is that value larger than the current faucet to sink disparity, it also happens to be greater than every ISK sink in EVE combined.
So in one very clever move, CCP is not only launching a new game, but they are also helping to fix serious problems in their flagship project. Now, is this all wild speculation? Perhaps. But it is something that is grounded in CCP statements and conservative math.
Regardless of your other opinions on Dust, I think that anybody in tune with EVE’s economy can appreciate why Dust might just be the feature that EVE needs.