Eve has the most complex market system that I have come across in any MMO. There are very few NPC items in the game and the majority of the items that exist are created by players. This independence from the NPC market makes for a vibrant – albeit intimidating – ecosystem. Today we will discuss the viability of trading from a single character perspective, and a try to make a realistic assessment of whether this profession is a good choice for you.
ADVANTAGES OF TRADING AS A PROFESSION – Even for a hub-to-hub trader like myself, I see it more as a passive activity. On a single character I can usually adjust all my orders from several market hubs within an hour. However, this does go under the assumption that no further hauling is needed at the time.
The activity scales very well. There is a finite number of market orders that a single character can have. If you plan well and are selective of what you wish to devote to a market order, then you could find yourself in a position where you have several billion isk invested across a mere handful of orders.
Another way of looking at it is this – If it takes you five minutes to adjust 20 market orders in a station, then that time will be the same regardless if those 20 market orders have a value of 100 million isk or 1 billion isk.
DISADVANTAGES – This profession is best suited for players who are already wealthy or at least have generous and wealthy friends. Ultimately, you need isk in your wallet in order to place buy orders. If you intend to be a hub to hub trader, then you will need a safe and consistent way to deliver goods from one station to another. If at all possible, focus on methods that minimize the possibility of successful highsec ganks against you, such as using deep space transports, or creating courier contracts for your items.
Of course, you can start with as little capital as you are willing to devote, but be aware that the isk you tie up in the market is isk that you cannot use right now. Much like real life, don’t invest money that you need to pay rent or any other day-to-day costs.
SKILL PRIORITY – For a dedicated market character, focus on skills that allow you to increase market orders and reduce sales fees and taxes.
When I started a new market character, I focused on these skills first, and then moved on to training haulers. I did this because one can be a market trader in a single station; buying and selling the same items from the same location.
Trade – increases buy/sell order by 4 per level
Accounting – reduces sales tax by 10% per level
Broker Relations – reduces fees associated with creating a buy order by 5% per level
Of course there are more trade skills available, but I suggest working on these skills first, to have a good base for further development of your market character.
Now let’s look at some methods of identifying attractive items to begin trading. This is the meat and potatoes of the whole process. For a market as diverse as we have in game, you will need some sort of system to find the best vehicle to grow your investment.
FUNDAMENTAL ANALYSIS – seeks to measure the intrinsic value of an item based on various factors. To me, this method is equal parts art and science. When evaluating an item, I must first disregard its price. I must identify what characteristics an item has that makes it appealing to the consumer.
Let’s look at one of the items that I have been trading regularly – “Langour” Drive Disruptor I. Also, let’s compare it to its T2 variant.
One of the first noticeable advantages of the “Langour” is that it has a much lower fitting requirement. In fact, it is the easiest to fit among all the non-faction stasis web variants.
As far as performance goes, its range is identical to the T2 Stasis Webifier while only losing 7.5% on the maximum velocity reduction that it applies to the target.
The “Langour” cannot be manufactured; it can only be obtained as a loot drop from NPCs. This gives it an incredible amount of versatility on pricing. There is no bottom dollar material cost that can be used as a pricing floor. Its price is mostly determined by market sentiment and availability.
Most importantly, this is predominantly a PVP module that is used by a majority of the hull sizes. This guarantees demand due to the consistent rate of destruction of this item.
Now that we’ve gone over some of the ways we can identify the usefulness and potential market demand for an item, let’s go over pricing information.
TECHNICAL ANALYSIS – analyzes statistics generated by market activity such as past prices and volume. This is important in giving us the ability to determine price trends and distinguish price points where items are attractive to either buy or sell.
Using the same item, let’s look at what the market can tell us.
You can click on each image to enlarge it.
The difference between buy and sell orders as listed in the system is 20%. This is an incredibly generous margin as I typically see only around 5-10% margins on most items I inspect. This makes this item an excellent candidate for station trading.
On a daily basis, the item is being bought and sold consistently for more than 1000 units. This is a very promising indicator if your intent is to hunt down high-turnover items for quick action in the market. Historically, I tend to see high-turnover items with fairly low profit margins, so this is shaping up to be a good find so far.
Let’s break down this market price graph a little further.
Moving averages – These are noted as the green and red lines in the graph. A moving average gives you a picture of historic prices based on the number of days it is trying to display. The picture above shows a 5 day and 20 day moving average.
When looking at this indicator, I will consider buying an item in bulk if the shorter time span moving average falls below the longer time span moving average. This means that at the short term, an item is being traded below previous historic prices. And vice versa.
Although this is not the case in our example, I would still consider placing buy orders simply due to the margin of the buy and sell price. It would be prudent to use multiple technical indicators to have a more robust picture of market activity.
Volume – Perhaps the most underutilized indicator, this enforces a price swing and the sentiment behind the change. On its own, volume doesn’t tell you much, so you need to use this indicator in combination with others.
You will notice in the graph that every time the 5 and 20 day moving average converged, there was a sudden volume spike that enforced a price change. It came very suddenly and prices corrected themselves soon after. Moments like these are the opportunities a market trader hunts for: time to pounce.
The market game is not for the faint of heart. My first true pvp experiences in the game were born out of the shoddy trade hubs of Rens and Hek. I can still hear the words of my first CEO when he would describe such mental battles:
“PVPers play for fun. Marketeers play for keeps.”