Wednesday 26 November 2014

Manipulation Holds PLEX Price Over 850 Million per Unit

Yesterday I mentioned noticing all the PLEX blocking orders on Jita had suddenly disappeared.

When I say "Blocking Order" I mean large volume (typically for 100 units) full regional range buy orders that don't seem to be intended to actually buy any PLEX but rather are there simply to prop the price up and ensure it doesn't drop below a certain value.

There were multiple such orders I've been keeping an eye on for close to a year now. They were always there, everyone else overcut those orders which meant the price of PLEX was always higher than in those orders. Very occasionally they'd bump the price up another notch or two, continually forcing the market higher and higher.

Then after CCP Falcon's announcement on 24 Nov 2014 that as of 01 Jan 2015 input multiplying and broadcasting will become bannable offences (IOW, byebye ISBoxers) the price of PLEX started dropping fast and practically every singe one of those large blocking orders disappeared (most of them before the price dropped to the level they were at).

On the 25th the closest thing left to a blocking order was a station range only buy order for 50 at 770 mil each which was more than 100 million less than the blocking orders had been at the day before and for only half the volume.

Then today (the very next day Nov 26th) I found this.

A new full regional buy order for 100 units has appeared at 850 million per unit. It seems someone has decided to try to keep prices over 850 mil. That's pretty much where prices were a month ago before a recent push to raise them to 1 billion.

Chances are pretty good it'll work too. At least for now. The real effect the new policy is going have on the demand for PLEX won't be known until after Jan 1st when the policy actually comes into effect. Any effect the news about it is having on prices right now is purely based on speculation. After some initial panic and knee jerk reactions from speculators, hoarders and price manipulators things are likely to settle down again...

Until the 1st of Jan anyhow, when the real (and lasting) effects of all this will finally be seen.

This is going to affect the entire economy, not just PLEX prices. Ore and mineral prices are already rising in response to the expectation that all those ISBoxed mining fleets are going to be out of business on Jan 1st. Heck I'm even tempted to buy ore now and I never play the bulk materials markets.

Tuesday 25 November 2014

PLEX Bubble Explodes

Spotted some interesting comments in Jita local today.

Not sure I agree, there's been a big spike in PLEX prices recently and big spikes are almost always followed by a downward correction soon after. Not enough of a correction to call it a bubble explosion or crash yet though.

For now, I'd just call it a downward correction. The price would have to drop back into the 800-850 mil range before I'd even start thinking maybe it might be the start of a crash and a lot lower than that before I'd say it definitely is crashing.

Then again maybe they are right. There does seem to be some momentum building. I've bought quite a few PLEX today without even really trying. It all depends on what happens over the next day or so. If speculators, hoarders and manipulators begin to panic and start dumping stock we could have a crash of epic proportions comparable to the real life gold crash of 1980.

Another Jita local comment found shortly after posting this article.

Here's a link to a thread on the official forums about multiboxing which probably has a lot to do with the drop in PLEX prices.

Update regarding Multiboxing and input automation

In a nutshell, for those who can't be bothered to follow the link and read it, on Jan 1st, 2015 controlling multiple accounts with ISBoxer or with any other method of multiplying and/or broadcasting input to multiple accounts will be a bannable offence (for 30 days the first time and permanently the second time).

Monday 24 November 2014

800 Billion

I haven't posted a financial report in a couple months because I haven't really been doing much lately. It took nearly two months to make what I usually make in one but I finally broke 800 billion over the weekend... Blew it away in fact!

Normally I spend an hour or two a day (on average) working the market for 30-40 total hours a month. When I do that fairly consistently (without skipping too many days) I make around 50 billion per month after expenses (with expenses of 10-12 billion per month).

Lately however, expenses have been up a fair bit due to grinding standings for lower broker fees. I've been spending billions buying pirate tags for Data Center mission turn-ins for faction standings and paying TSCA to grind specific corporation standings for me. That costs 600 mil - 1 bil per character depending on tag prices for faction standing and 2.75 bil per character for 0-8 corp standing. Lower broker fees will pay off over the long term but for the short term it's a one time sunk cost reducing short term profits.

More recently PLEX prices have gone up significantly but the increased cost there has been more than offset by the fact that I'm using fewer PLEX (none at all right now) for dual training than I used to. I used to pretty much always have at least 2-4 accounts dual training and sometimes more.

Most importantly though, I've been far less active on the market, spending only 10 or 15 hours at it in Oct and another 10 or so in the first half of Nov. Last weekend though I was almost back to normal and it shows in my bottom line. Total net worth went up by more than 25 billion over the weekend.

Of course that doesn't mean I made 25 billion in profit in just a few days, a lot of that sudden increase was due to stock that had been purchased weeks ago but I didn't get around to transporting and posting for resale until last weekend.

I probably won't continue spending an hour or two a day working the market for much longer though. Unless and until that changes I won't be making 50 billion a month and I won't be posting regular monthly financial reports either.

Thursday 6 November 2014

Malma Bot - Part II

Shortly after posting my Market Bots article last week I received the following eve-mail from another player.
about your Market Bots article
From: Name withheld at sender's request
Sent: 2014.11.03 09:24
To: Moxnix Induli,
I just read your "market bots" blog entry, smiled really big, and wanted to share some private words of encouragement.
I petitioned that activity in Genesis, on 2012.08.21
It was closed with the standard "thank you - we'll investigate."
I wish you good luck with your petition.

All I do now is keep a few token buy orders active in Genesis, to cramp his profit. And watch with fading hope, for the day the next highest orders disappear.
I had too much time on my hands, and pressed hard on several orders at all hours.
In my original petition, i noted:  A real player is monitoring the activity.
Frequent buy order increases result in this player raising his usual increase amount, sometimes significantly.
This player will reduce market buy order amount if I "give up" and back down by a significant amount, and there is no other competition.

(not in the old petition, conjecture:)
One of my ship buy orders while "playing" with this... character... went over a threshold, and I was rapidly sold a ship.
I didn't name the name in my original petition, *because* it felt unprovable by me... I just listed a few orders and prices they could reference.
Then some time later, I got this, lol. Same character that sold a ship. Frequently seen in Malma ;)
Bounty placed on you
Sent: 2012.12.14 23:13
Name Withheld placed 50,000,000 ISK in bounty on your head.
I'm active nearly every day... and have lost only ONE ship since this bounty was placed ;)

That was about 2 years ago. I'm quite certain he's talking about the same bot I am since the one I ran across uses exactly the same methods described in this mail.

In other words, the Malma character has been obsessively guarding his business with near instant responses at all hours for at least 2 years. Sure sounds like a bot to me and I have a lot of experience fighting back against bots from back when I played that other game that's even more infested with auction bots than Eve is with market bots.

Though I didn't mention it in my original article (it's always a good idea to keep a few details secret in any investigation) I'm certain there's a real player monitoring the bot too. That's easy to tell when he suddenly raises his prices significantly, cutting by much larger amounts than usual, then goes right back to the usual near instant 0.01 ISK response on most items. Most items that is except the ones where I've already forced him over the bot's usual high price threshold settings.

Oddly enough (that's sarcasm btw) on those items his response is no longer near instant.

Having a few billion sitting in escrow doing basically nothing for the next 3 months (or 3 years if that's what it takes) forcing the bot to buy at, near or over Jita prices really isn't a big deal to me. Now let's see how long the bot can keep it up with his even larger buy orders. If he's bluffing, as they often are with high priced orders for large(ish) volume, it's going cost him a fair bit in lost broker fees when he finally realizes I'm not going away any time soon and cancels his orders.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

The End of Skill Queue Online

Oceanus Phoebe is now live and with the patch comes something I've really been looking forward to, the changes to skills training, in particular the removal of the 24 hour limit to the skill queue.

I've been arguing for longer skill queues for some time but was only hoping for something like allowing 5 skills regardless of the time required to train them all, or maybe being able to add 1 more skill after the 24 hour limit was passed.

Needless to say I was very surprised (pleasantly so) when CCP unexpectedly announced they were removing the time limit for subscribed accounts entirely.

Finally, with a few limitations, I can set up long training queues taking weeks or months to complete without having to check and update the queue on a daily basis!

With 29 characters on 12 accounts (30 if I count a junk gathering character with almost no training) this is going to make training skills a whole lot less hassle for me. In fact it's an encouragement to start filling up the 6 empty character slots.

Trail accounts are still limited to 24 hours, subscribed accounts are not. The only limitations for subscribed accounts now are a maximum of 50 skills total allowed in the queue and the need to have any prerequisites trained before you can put a skill into the queue.

Monday 3 November 2014

Market Bots

Something I've not mentioned much in the past because it's so hard to prove anything conclusively but Eve markets are thoroughly infested with bots. Cheaters using automated market posting software to constantly, perpetually undercut your sell orders and overcut your buy orders.

It's very difficult for us non-cheaters to prove anything especially since we don't know who's posting which orders unless we play into their hands by buying and selling to their orders just to get a name. Even then in a busy market with multiple orders around the same size it's nearly impossible to keep track of specific orders to figure out which ones are being updated too quickly/frequently and therefore must be bots.

Sometime it's a bit more obvious though. Like very large orders on the main hubs that continually get updated like clockwork all day, week, month, year long. But those are mostly big botters, the experienced "pros" who've been doing it for years. They aren't stupid enough to update too quickly, too frequently or leave any one bot logged in for too long so it's nearly impossible to prove they're bots.

Or even more obvious the obsessive cutter on some backwater station far off the beaten track in one of the less populous regions who's always there cutting your prices within seconds. You can log off for hours, days or even weeks but as soon as you log back in and modify a few prices he'll already be cutting the first ones before you finish the last ones. He'll easily go through 305 orders much faster than humanly possible.

Many of the bots are set so if they cut 3 times in row 5 minutes apart they'll take a break for 3 hours before cutting again. At least one of the Eve bot sellers mentions a feature where it "can tell when someone is screwing with it" and stop cutting for a while (default 3 hours no doubt).

Today I found a very obvious bot working out of Malma I - TransStellar Shipping Storage in Genesis region. I've been wondering for a while why I hardly get any ships from my buy orders on Apanake and Tar, especially since it's mostly just me and one other player buying them... I guess he ran all the rest of the competition off with obsessive, perpetual cuts.

I did have some minor problems with an obsessive cutter on other items in Genesis for a while until he finally realized he wasn't running me off that easy... Especially not on core items I've been working for a long time and know the markets for extremely well. Ships are a bit of a different story, my business in ships is very sporadic, so I didn't realize I was dealing with such an extremely persistent obsessive undercutter in the ship markets.

I finally got around to checking what was going on with my ship buy orders there today. I logged in and updated buy orders for 22 different ships (Mostly T2 and T3) then immediately double checked those same orders. It only took a minute or so to update them all, yet the first ones had already been cut again before I even finished. Long before the 5 minutes when I could modify my orders again was up, every single one of my orders had been cut.

I modified again as soon as possible. Once again the competition had most of them cut by the time I finished. I continued doing this 4 or 5 more times just to see if he'd stop after a few. No such luck, the cycle repeated multiple times over the rest of the day. After the first 5 or 6 times I didn't cut every 5 minutes, I mixed up my timing quite a bit, but I did cut 30 or 40 times in total throughout the day. Every single time, the bot had already cut the first orders before I finished and all of them within a minute or two.

At one point I logged out for 1.5 hours, logged back in, redid the same orders again and got the exact same too quick, too efficient response from the competition again... 3 times in a row 5 minutes apart. It's just not humanly possible to update orders as quickly as he does or to respond as consistently, efficiently and immediately as he does, especially not over long periods of time the way this guy does.

I've no doubt there's a market bot on Malma and he's so obvious about it even CCP should be able to recognize it this time. Hopefully he'll be gone shortly after CCP finally gets around to reading my ticket about it!