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Greedy Goblin: The SRP-PLEX paradox

November 11, 2014

To play EVE, you need to be able to do two things: pay for your subscription (or you can’t log in) and pay for your in-game losses (or you won’t have ships). There is a theoretical difference between the two: someone pays real money for every subscription and someone farms in-game for every in-game loss. However this has no practical significance, since PLEX trade lets you pay both costs with real money or with in-game farming.

CCP told that 476T ISK was destroyed in New Eden in 2013. If we assume 300K accounts, that’s about 3 PLEX-es with 2013 prices. My recent CFC loss reports show 3-4T losses for 40K pilots, if we assume 20K accounts and recent price, that’s about 0.2PLEX/month (2.5PLEX/year). Playing EVE for a year costs 12 PLEX-es, so it’s 4-5x more expensive than the losses.

We know that practically all large alliances have Ship Replacement Program, reimbursing the PvP losses of members. We also know that PvE players often provide tears to gankers. The SRP-PLEX paradox is that players hate losing non reimbursed ships, but they don’t hate subscription costs, despite the second is much larger. If players would be simply poor and unwilling to cover costs, they would focus on the larger one: the subscription costs. The nullsec pilots would demand their alliances to subsidize their PvP account PLEX-es and players in general would flood he forums with “EVE is too expensive, go F2P or I quit”. Neither one happens.

I can’t explain why they behave so irrationally, I can only provide some guesses:

  • Subscription can be planned, losses are sudden. A poor guy can farm 850M or save $15 by the end of the month, but he doesn’t have spare money to cover immediate losses.
  • He feels control over the subscription, but not over the ship loss.
  • He is generally mad for being defeated, in this emotional situation financial losses hurt more.
  • Players want to belittle their defeat by claiming “I didn’t want that ship anyway”. SRP makes it literally true.

Anyway, my guess is as good as yours, but the fact remains fact: players get mad for losing 100M while they pay 850M without being mad. So CCP could change insurance rules to greatly decrease player madness (“not crying/raging at the moment” is the CCP definition of a “satisfied customer”) while removing a problematic ISK faucet. Currently the insurance is a welfare (you get rewarded for losing in PvP), but it’s not big enough, hence the alliance SRP: it doesn’t cover the whole hull, doesn’t cover the modules, the implants and if you want to reship, you must pay insurance money for the new ship, so you still have to pay 40-60% of the cost of the ship from your pocket without insurance. On the other hand it cripples the bounty system since it must avoid profitable alt-killing.

In the real world your insurance costs cover your own losses (+profit +insurance company operation costs) over a long time. If you’d pay home insurance for a million years, your payment (-company take) would be equal to the total damage in your home. The point of the insurance is that paying $1000 with 100% chance is better than paying $100000 with 1% chance: you can live with losing $1000, but not with losing $100000 (literally, if we are talking about health insurance). So players should pay insurance automatically every day that is calculated from their past losses and the ships they fly. Miners losing a retriever once a year pay less than low-sec PvP-ers, titan pilots pay more than battlecruiser pilots. In return their losses (hull, destroyed modules, implants) will be fully reimbursed on Jita costs. The point: players pay for their own losses without welfare, but over a long time, in a plannable fashion, just like with subscription.

I suggest simple and easy to understand insurance system. The “target balance” is the price of your most expensive ship+modules+implants combo. You have to pay 1/100 of it every day until your balance reaches it. (700K/day for a battlecruiser pilot, 1B/day for a titan pilot). If your wallet is empty, you get negwalleted. This is a warning to stop flying what you can’t afford to lose, sell your ship and you get money from the sale and your insurance limit decrease.

The loss (or multiple reship-losses) can be more expensive than your current balance. This case they all get paid and your insurance balance goes negative. So if you lose 10*50M ships with only 30M on your balance, you get fully reimbursed, and have -470M balance and a +50M target, so you’ll have to pay 5.2M for 100 days to make up for it. Still, you were able to reship 10x when it was crucial.

To avoid abusing by losing a lot and biomassing, the balance can’t be more negative than -max((SP/3M-1)*PLEX_price,10M), as you won’t biomass a 63M SP pilot to erase a 20B negative balance, since you’d be better off selling the pilot. So if you lose a 120B titan with such pilot with only 20B on the balance, you’ll get only 40B insurance payout. If you are in negwallet due to not paying, you won’t get insurance payouts.

– Gevlon Goblin

If you would like to read more Gevlon Goblin articles, we invite you to visits his Greedy Goblin blog.

PS: there are exceptions for everything. This minion of evil lost more than the monthly subscription.