EVE: Behind every great deal is a knife to the back

Yesterday I talked a little about my recent marketing ventures, but I left out one aspect of doing business in EVE: the ever-present possibility and haunting feeling of walking into a trap.

Unlike most (all?) MMOs, the economy in EVE is, in many ways, a well-oiled machine. There are countless pilots with YEARS of marketing experience who are all competing to make the most ISK possible, and they are very good at what they do. And given the depth and breadth of the economy and what’s possible, I fully believe the truly great MMO economic minds match wits in EVE. To borrow a sports analogy, EVE is the big leagues, and only the truly great make it here. So if there is a massive profit to be made, they are the ones making it, and have the knowledge and ISK to make sure that they are the ones pulling in the biggest gains.

At the same time, there are also pilots with YEARS of experience pulling of complex scams. The best con-artists in EVE make Bernie Madoff look like an amateur, and the extent of some of the social engineering that goes into these things is pretty crazy. You simply won’t find people spending months, let alone years, infiltrating a corp or setting up a long-con in other MMOs. If something looks too good to be true, odds are it’s someone setting you up in New Eden.

Combine the above with the fact that EVE itself can be a somewhat complex place, and anytime I come across something that I can make some ISK in, my suspicions always rise and I wonder why no one else has done this before. After all, EVE has been out for 7 years now, has 400k+ pilots, and all of them play on one server. The odds that I’ve found some magical source of ISK that no one else has before is pretty slim, right?

Well no. Most of the time the answer is not nearly as complex or insidious.

If I can buy something at location A and sell it for a 10% gain at location B, but the volume is limited to hundreds of thousands of ISK, the reason that opportunity is out there is because the big fish can’t be bothered by something so insignificant. If I come across what looks like a 100m+ profit for minimal work, the odds of THAT being a scam are pretty good, or would require an investment of a few billion ISK up front.

And while all those pilots are all playing in the same universe, this does not mean they are evenly spread or ‘fighting’ in one global server auction house. Finding profitable deals in low population regions is far more likely than pulling off something great in Jita or another major trade hub. The volume will be lower, and the profits will come in at a slower pace, but that might be just what you are looking for when getting started.

At least that’s what the scammers want you to think.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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7 Responses to EVE: Behind every great deal is a knife to the back

  1. Werit says:

    I’m always wary of those great prices in low sec. Thought about getting a blockade runner in order to take advantage. Still pretty risky, need practice using a br to run gate camps.

    • Stabs says:

      Exporting from lowsec is imo best done with a cheap ship like an unrigged badger. Any T2 transport ship has a chance to die in a gate camp and people are extremely professional.

      Take a cheap ship, fly out just after the server restart, scout in a noobship first and if they catch you save your pod by targeting the sun or a planet and hammering Warp To while your ship dies.

  2. Raelyf says:

    You’re absolutely right, and you should walk into every situation cautiously and asking yourself ‘why aren’t others doing this?’.

    But don’t assume that just because it’s not done, it can’t be done. Or that because it can be done, someone is doing it. Most players are average, by definition, after all – there’s plenty of room in Eve to think of something they haven’t.

  3. Stabs says:

    You’re actually wrong about legitimate trading. Early on trading is very noob friendly because all the veteran traders have too much money to trade in the cheap stuff. I started by putting regionwide buy orders out on the implants and skill books you get in the tutorials and flying them up to Jita. No vet is going to put a regionwide buy order on Salvaging skill book, you can get them for about 50 isk sometimes. I moved on to station trading at Jita, looking through the ship modules for ones with wide margins (eg top buy order is 20k, lowest sell order is 1m).

    You won’t make money station trading Trit and Tech without perfect skills and very good game knowledge but there are plenty of opportunities.

    Regarding scams the main one uses a high minimum order. If it looks too good to be true it’s probably because the guy buying Raven battleships will only accept them in lots of ten million at once (and doesn’t have enough money to cover the order anyway). Google eve marging trading scam for more info.

  4. Stabs says:

    PS I didn’t talk about contract scams. Until you have some experience never ever buy something on contract. Most advertised contracts in Eve are scams (but once you’ve a feel for it it’s another place you can make money by trading).

  5. There is a very simple reason why profit opportunities continue to sprout: There aren’t enough players trading to satisfy every permutation of sellers, items, buyers and locations. Just evaluating them carries a substantial opportunity cost, even if you ignore travel times.

    I had several market alts, some custom software and spreadsheets. And just evaluating a snapshot of the market would take about 30 minutes alone. Nevermind the time required to actually take advantage of any specific profit opportunity. Sure, there might be enough cheap ingredients to make a specific product at a respectable 50% ROI, but they’ll probably be scattered around the region. And the flight plan to retrieve them will make the autopilot choke.

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