0% tax citadels are bad, and why you should think so too

Jeronica 2017-03-22

History of the hub 0% citadels

Trading for free is bad. But before we start going into this, let’s start by saying that this is an opinion piece, and as such there will be many people who will oppose this idea. I’ve kept my opinions to myself for the most part, but more and more people have been asking me why I’m so opposed, and to address these questions I’ve created this article to argue my point of view.

So back to my original statement, free trading is bad. Really bad for the majority of traders, except for the ones who are abusing it the correct way. Sadly, for every clever trader using these 0% citadels for their gain, there are countless others who are falling victim to the false promises. Sure, the idea sounds great. Who wants to pay for broker fees if they don’t have to? We’ll get more in-depth with that later on in the article.

These 0% citadels first came about early to mid-2016, when the competing citadels kept undercutting each other’s broker fees. Many traders reported that it was incredibly easy to obtain a 0% rate, even if the public rate was higher. All you had to do was ask the citadel owner. Eventually, one person just set the public rate to 0% and it’s been there ever since. There was a period of time when a coalition was trying to be formed, to raise the broker fees back up to a point where the structures could pay for their fuel, and pay for and defense that might be needed. However, it could never stick for very long and then people started to be reliant on the 0% fees. At this point, the public idea shifted to the understanding that people were entitled to this 0% fee, and then that’s how it stayed for many months.

Things started to change toward the end of 2016, with citadels starting to be attacked by mercenaries. One of the most controversial take-downs was when VMG reneged on a defense contract, which is rumored to be sparked by another client of VMG, whose citadels were not hit. A more in depth article about this is here: This was short-lived, though, and soon enough everyone went back to their happy 0% citadels in peace.

In December, Pandemic Horde decided to enter the citadel market themselves, however, they were not interested in being another 0% citadel. This was purely a business opportunity, and a much-needed one to start building their capital fleet. Pandemic Horde started going after these 0% citadels, which consumed a large amount of the RMT (Plex/Injector/Extractor) market, as the per unit fees for trading those are fairly high compared to NPC prices. And as you expect, there was a very large distaste against horde for doing this action, as it’s cutting into their profit margins and making them move from citadel to citadel. This is still an ongoing activity, as there is one group who’s dedicated to anchoring a new 0% structure every week when the previous one dies. The public sees Horde as the evil group ruining trading for everyone, but in reality, it’s not their goal at all, and it’s not the end of the world either.

 

Why free trade is bad

In EVE, there are many ways you can abuse a system (unless it’s an unintended exploit) with no repercussions. That’s exactly how EVE was developed, and I don’t see that changing very soon. With trading, people are doing the exact same thing, abusing this system which in reality does not fit in at all with the rest of the highsec mechanics. Let’s take custom offices, for example, there is a static NPC fee even on player owned customs offices. If this was not in place, everyone would be doing their factories in high sec. Another example is manufacturing, which uses a cost index to form a minimum tax rate you have to pay. Currently, there is no such mechanic for trading and broker fees. These are set completely by players, and as expected players have been abusing this for a year now.

Free trading allows the ability for margin scamming to be free. One example is adjusting the plex prices, and putting buy orders up that are unrealistic, and will never be filled. People can simply ignore those orders, but that will never be the case. If you’re wondering how this is done, here’s a click bait title to inform you.

 

“Big PLEX traders HATE this guy for sharing their secrets”.

Granted, not all PLEX traders are using this, it’s just currently available to be done for no end cost. Let’s start by defining that margin trading is the act of only putting up a % of the order cost. Say you have Margin Trading trained to level 5, you only need 25% of the cost to create the order. This is great for scamming because you just create an order that’s not fillable because you never have the ISK to fulfill it. You decide to put up a buy order for 100 plex, 100mil above current buy order price. That’s insane, isn’t it? However, you also require a minimum of 100 plex to fill the order. For simplicity sake, let’s say that PLEX is 1 billion. 1b * 100 = 100b ISK, but you only need 25billion to create this order.

Since no one can fill 1 plex to your order, your order gets ignored, and if anyone does have 100 plex, if they try to sell it to you the order gets cancelled because the ISK isn’t in the wallet to complete the order. This is a typical margin trading scam, and it’s usually done by selling contracts with the same item, for a lot less but more than they paid. People see the margin, immediately think it’s good, and buy the contract hoping to sell to the buy order. Problem is, the buy order was never real and now the poor guy is stuck with a dead space mod that’s worth 20 million but spent 200 million on.

Now, you’re saying that it’s a valid scam and one everyone should be aware of now. The fact is, not everyone is aware of it and they start to .01 ISK and compete with that fake order. Now the PLEX price is upped by 100mil and after an hour the manipulator can just sell his PLEX to these new buy orders, cancel his fake one and be happy with his extra 10% profit margin. The problem is, this is currently free to do in these 0% citadels, and the scammer gets away with it at no end cost while there are countless numbers of people who have PLEX they bought for 100mil more than the actual buy price.

This is hurting the average trader.  New traders now have to compete with the established traders who are operating in these 0% citadels, and even if the citadel traders are using Jita to sell they only have to pay 50% of the broker fees everyone else is paying. This technique is called offshoring, and while it does have it’s perks its not very good for the trading community as a whole. Unless traders are doing speculative trading, their main focus is margins. 2.5% of the order total could be the difference between a profit and a loss for many people and items, and it’s currently free to do so.

How to fix this?

There is no easy way to fix this. Players in-game have tried by shooting competing citadels, create coalitions to try and rate set the broker fees, but it’s truly out of the hands of the player population. There will need to be a change on CCP’s end to finally stop the current 0% market trend. The easiest way is to mimic the rest of the highsec mechanics and just add a static minimum tax to broker fees, which still goes to an NPC. This will solve the free trade issues that occur, which is really the problem. I have no issue with the idea that a citadel owner wants to make 0 profit, even owning a market hub citadel myself. Personally, I’ll never go to 0% because I don’t believe it’s good for people. There will be people who will object and say that the only reason they’re making profit is because of 0% trading. To them, I ask how they traded before citadels were introduced. Did they object having to pay an NPC broker fee? The margins will return to what they are now, and may even increase as people stop trading for free. This is pretty much the only solution I can think of that makes sense for everyone involved, and is doable by CCP without much effort/work.

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Comments

  • Caleb Ayrania

    There is an easy fix that you overlooked. NPC stations broker fees need to be dynamic just like industry costs. We need a Market Index for systems, and the stations broker fees need to be based on that and adjusted for the stations office rental “level”. This way competition with npc becomes valid for more than just the small PLEX speculators and mineral traders etc.

    Current problem with Offshoring is simply that player owned structures have NOT yet taken over the market, and thus there is proportionally too high competition between eachother for a small amount of players. The majority of players is still trading from Jita and npc HUB, if its “fixed” critical mass will move away from Jita simply because its too expensive. The exception will be high volume and high margin items that can and will most likely remain in npc HUBs, but the rest and especially lower margin retail will move out to player owned structures.

    A thing that would help this is if the sales tax and industry index was by default 50% of the npc costs in ALL player structures.

    March 22, 2017 at 8:51 am
    • chimpy Caleb Ayrania

      I couldn’t disagree more with what you said sorry. Where to start. Your assumption is that the 0% in player stations is down to competition with NPC stations, and thus NPC stations need a higher fee to make player stations competitive. This is utterly wrong. It is competition between player stations and OTHER player stations that has led to a 0%. The advantage player stations have over NPC in this rate already very large. Yes you could force traders to move out of NPC with ridiculous rates, but I think 50% is absolutely absurd. Where an end product, say a T2 ship is manufactured from components bought off the market this 50% would be applied not once, but at several stages. The end result would be the cost to the end user of price rises well over 100%. That fee wouldn’t be paid by the manufacturers or traders, it would be the end users who make stuff explode in space. There is a delicate balance between ISK flowing into Eve from ISK faucets, and ISK being removed by ISK sinks. Such a exorbitant fee would really hurt Eve’s economy and prevent players being able to afford explosions in space. True it would utterly force players from NPC stations to player stations, they would have no choice. But player stations are destructible and large power blocks would simply crush all player stations in a region to prevent any trade occurring. It would be gloriously funny to watch the goons jackboot come down on highsec and destroy all trade in highsec. But once the laughing stopped without any trade it would be practically impossible to rebuild trade in an area like that with a 50% NPC skim off the top. It would be utter scorched earth, like we have never seen in Eve before. After initial subjugation it would only take a tiny fraction of the initial force to maintain total subjugation. The 50% NPC rate ISK sink would do more damage to the residents than any military force. It would be great fun to watch it happen to someone else. But to live under it would very shitty and no fun at all. People would leave Eve in droves. You would have some winners of Eve, and no losers to lord over, they would all have left the game.

      March 22, 2017 at 10:13 am
  • Alot

    Surely this is just an odd situation where the scammer is being overprotected? If I understand this correctly, you allowed to put down orders 4 times larger then your total amount of isk while stating that the order can only be filled if the full amounts of goods is given- even though there isn’t enough money to pay for the full amount of requested goods.

    Surely then, one of 2 logical pvp counters should be added into the trade mechanics:
    1) While margin trading, the minimum contribution to the order can’t exceed the amount of money initially put down.
    2) Fine individuals a % of the 25% they put down for margin trading if any of the 25% is still being held when the order collapses.

    March 22, 2017 at 8:56 am
    • chimpy Alot

      The order is entirely fake but the part the article objects to is that the fake order comes at zero cost to the scammer/manipulator. On an NPC station the same scam/manipulation would cost the scammer some unrecovereable fee. This fee has to then be factored into the scam. Is it worth it? At zero cost it is theoretically possible that someone rich for shits and giggles could spam a practically infinite amount of buy orders at no real cost. Even a small unrecoverable cost upsets this hole, and that what the author is arguing for. A small cost to close the hole.

      March 22, 2017 at 9:43 am
      • Alot chimpy

        I believe I understand that. The difference I’m bringing up is whether the risk to scammers should be passive or active. As is, in non-zero tax markets, the only risk to the scammer is if no-one falls for the scam. What I’m asking is if it shouldn’t be possible (and detrimental to the scammer) to have the bluff called.
        I feel that the solution shouldn’t lie in some small cost of setting up a scam but rather in the possibility of someone taking a series of actions which cause you to loose a proportionally large sum of money.

        March 22, 2017 at 9:59 am
        • chimpy Alot

          I feel that’s a different topic to the topic of the article. Ignore the scam element completely for the moment and just consider the market manipulation element. The author demonstrates a market manipulation with an example. The top Plex buy order is a fake and raises the current bid price, especially if other follow suit and 0.01 the fake order. This is the very purpose of the order. And it comes at zero cost. You get all of your deposit back. The previous small fee interferes with this to a degree. The author argues this is a good solution, bring it back. Its also a very simple solution and in Eve simple usually wins. You would have to propose a better solution that was just as simple. You two example solutions. 1 I don’t understand. 2 you are saying put the fee at the end under certain circumstances rather than at the start in all circumstances. What benefit does moving the fee to the end rather than the start bring? What benefit does making the fee conditional bring given that it add complexity? What if I cancel the order before it expires etc……

          March 22, 2017 at 10:23 am
          • Alot chimpy

            If you separate the scam out of this example, how can a user negatively affect the market through the zero tax issue?
            On the suggestions, I was speculating on ways in which a scammer could be held to some degree of accountability, and actively retaliated against, if people called the bluff.

            The special thing about the margin trading scam is that its the only scam (that I know of) in which you cannot tell its a scam through the game interfaces. It boarders on being a system glitch as while it does allow for an intended trader behaviour, it also allows for an interface behaviour which is bizarrely in favour of scammers.

            In RL there would (probably) be some repercussions for this sort of margin scamming – mostly for not being able to fork over the cash as opposed to the intended “scamming”. I just see no reason as to why this sole aspect of Eve should remain so risk free for the perpetrator – especially seeing as to how profitable scamming is -.-
            To try explain the points:
            1) The point would be to force people to accept at least as much of the commodity as the 25% margin fee which they placed. The scam arises from the fact that scammers can put up unfillable orders. Forcing at least 25% of their order is be fillable (before it collapsed due to the other 75% of the required isk not existing) would mean the scammer could be called out on the offer and lose a hefty sum for being caught out. This may or may not kill the scam, but as I said, this is a strange scam as it takes advantage of bizzare interface malfunctions.
            2) Firstly, I thought of an unrelated flaw in this suggestion which I wont mention till its brought up by someone else :). Secondly, the idea would not be to move the cost from the beginning of the process to the end of the process but to have both beginning and end charges – the later being a fine for being an unreliable trader. You may legitimately use margin trading to make sure you always open for buying more of a given goods (which out having to reset your order every time you cycle your entire wallet). I see no reason not to impose a fine on traders who do not have enough isk to complete oversized orders that they do not meticulously maintain.

            March 22, 2017 at 11:54 am
          • chimpy Alot

            “If you separate the scam out of this example, how can a user negatively affect the market through the zero tax issue?”
            The article explains this with the plex example. They are adjusting the market price at no cost of doing so. They move the bid price for free. Read the article again. Pay attention to the 7 Plex in the picture.
            It similar to the scam, but for a different purpose, and works differently.

            March 22, 2017 at 2:45 pm
          • chimpy chimpy

            Look at the picture with 7 plex at the top of the buys. They have increased the buy price, especially once other people 0.01 that order. They SELL their own plex to the 0.01ers who are now paying/bidding higher.
            It cost the market manipulator NOTHING to hike the price he sells at.

            March 22, 2017 at 2:50 pm
          • Alot chimpy

            Read the article again just to be sure, but its not me that lacks understanding.

            The scam being talked about here is the ability to put up overly priced buy ordered which fizzle instead of resolving if someone tries to fill them.

            While the article talks about the lack of repercussions to performing this artificial inflation, it is not possible to pull this off without the scam.

            Without the margin trading trick, an overly generous buy order would just be filled – resulting in a loss of isk to the scammer and little else.

            It is the scam mechanic which is central to this whole thing, ergo addressing the scam mechanic directly is just as valid as dancing around it.

            March 22, 2017 at 8:45 pm
  • Pew Pew

    How do player owned structures make money if they don’t charge fees? This is really something I know nothing about.

    March 22, 2017 at 9:47 am
    • nonsciolist Pew Pew

      for some people the cost of avoiding fees for themselves is enough to justify the cost of the citadel & it’s upkeep.

      March 22, 2017 at 10:22 am
      • Pew Pew nonsciolist

        But then what’s the incentive to open it to others for free? So they stock your market for you?

        March 22, 2017 at 2:21 pm
        • Basically, from what I gather, the 0% owners are now doing this just for their own fame. They want to be looked at as the person/savior who’s giving people all that they are entitled to, which apparently is 0% broker fees.

          March 22, 2017 at 5:28 pm
          • Maxwell Jeronica

            Obviously there is a conflict of interest here, being that you are PL, and are painting Pandemic Horde as somehow saviours of high sec; rescuing traders from the evil market owners by destroying all the public hubs and charging everyone 1%. I am sure you must realise how silly that sounds.

            After reading your article, the problem you are pointing to is actually that the margin trading scam is broken which is what people have been saying for years.

            March 22, 2017 at 5:42 pm
        • jasperwillem Pew Pew

          No. you need critical mass at a trade entity before you will get a turnover that will give you decent profits.

          The scale of turnover is (in general); station, regional, inter-regional, continues high-sec (80% of EVE players reside there), a low sec region, all 4 low sec faction regions, a null sec region, null sec.

          Most traders are basing trade and industry calculations on the first 3 tiers, pro traders will scale well above that, then the turnover vs margin games need complete different market strategies.

          Now I neglect trends in the different higher tiers, that you can give sling slots up and down. Like supply chain trends and supply chain market distortion (intentional or not) and Time To Market speculation games.

          March 23, 2017 at 12:54 pm
    • Alot Pew Pew

      I work in the IT industry and major brands have been making this odd move towards making the majority of their services/products free and only charging for extremely specialised or upscaled services.
      While its not the main reason, or even necessarily a large reason in this sandbox case, there is definite value in owning a culture – even if you not being directly paid for buy-in to it.

      March 22, 2017 at 11:58 am
      • Daito Endashi Alot

        Could you tell me more about your point from the IT industry? This really intrigues me

        March 22, 2017 at 7:54 pm
        • I’d start by saying that Eve recently moved to a free to play model, but you probably noticed that one by now ^^

          Like mmos though, lots of programing IDEs (or interfaces) are either allowing more of their base features for free or going completely free to use – with only the most specialised or complex of tools requiring subscriptions.

          The most blatant example would probably be that Microsoft is currently making a port of visual studio code (and I believe visual studio as well) for Macs. This is a rather ironic turn as Microsoft used to flout the exclusivity of their products – not only refusing to let them work on other systems but also engaging in purposeful fear/uncertainty tactics to discourage people from attempting to mix non-Microsoft products and Microsoft products together.

          Its gotten to the point where you can accomplish most programming tasks for free without paying subscriptions or costs for anything, unless (and this is a big unless) the system you building is extremely large or delicate. I was working next to a high skill team that was designing some interior systems for a major bank and they completed at least 95% of their work with Microsoft visual studio community edition (free) but before pushing their additions into the bank’s life environment (which people are always touchy about for some reason) they needed to perform a suite of integration tests (which isn’t testing that your code works internally but testing that your code behaves as expected when interacting with completely separate systems) for which they needed to purchase a subscription for a single enterprise edition of microsoft visual studio – which is the proverbial snare.

          A single enterprise edition subscription is fairly expensive but when needed, worth it – especially when you consider how expensive senior developers are to keep around every month. Additionally, systems like visual studio (or Amazon if you want a different sort of example) are extremely well integrated with their own product lines. If you using visual studio community edition, then its an extremely streamlined (and time efficient) process to use the expensive Microsoft add-ons to accomplish the complex tasks which require those add-ons.
          There are a multitude of open source or free/cheap free standing programs which can accomplish any goal in programming but they can be more difficult to use and (as they developed by different people) get increasingly difficult to mesh together properly.

          Microsoft products don’t have that meshing problem (as they all developed by a single group) and if you find yourself with a 95% done C# program, the sane option is just to use Microsoft’s well integrated tools – which is why Microsoft is now pushing to make so many of their tools free and usable by all, so when the masses tend to start developing in their enviroments, the extremely large (or just extremely successful) systems become reliant on their expensive offerings.

          Its not just a Microsoft thing though. Things like the unity game engine (which can port products to most consoles), the google-developers-api or even alternate programming ide like intellijay, they all offer extremely generous free-usage packages just so you land up developing in their environment instead of competitors environments – cause you don’t have to capture a market for future deals if everyone is already dependent on your existing infrastructure.

          March 22, 2017 at 9:46 pm
          • Daito Endashi Alot

            Thank you!

            March 23, 2017 at 6:26 am
        • jasperwillem Daito Endashi

          Look at the Unreal Engine atm. They charge almost nothing for use of their general coding. When you need special applications or scale, you are paying a fee. But by setting the base cost at almost zero for starters, lots and lots of people are going to use their code. Their possible pool of future experts explodes that way.

          March 23, 2017 at 12:48 pm
  • MAFRI

    sign the 0% tax thing is bad.. but we have those bad people as well in GSF..

    March 22, 2017 at 10:42 am
  • Maxwell

    That is a lot of words to explain what everyone has been saying for years; the margin trading skill is broken and open to abuse. What has that got to do with 0% citadels though? The obvious solution is to remove or rework the margin trading skill.

    March 22, 2017 at 5:23 pm
  • Cloon McCloon

    If you think some idiot putting up a margin 100 plex order is going to affect the market by 100m per unit, you have no business writing an article about a market you clearly don’t understand. Big traders can sell a chunk of 100 plex to void that order on a moments notice with no loss, so it has little to no impact on price.

    Margin scam orders have been here long before citadels, and have not been any more or less effective with citadels.

    People want to offer free rates at their own expense? Good for them. Welcome to the sandbox.

    March 23, 2017 at 3:39 am
    • People who want to sell an opinion by explaining it with a wall of text, while the opposition can do it in a simple sentence (“it’s free”) just don’t know when they’ve been beaten.

      March 6, 2018 at 6:21 pm
  • Jump Clone

    Let’s try to dumb this down : the lower the taxes, the higher the PLEXes prices (in ISK).

    So, if you’re the nice gal, paying her plexes putting real money into CCP pockets, higher PLEXes prices are better for you.

    If you’re one of the people not paying to play farming whatever to get PLEXes from isks, it’s bad.

    Do you really mean CCP should change something to help people playing for free instead of living things as they are to get more money from their paying customers ?

    And how about you, INN team ? What would be the best for you : having people throwing money at CCP or being read by people spending lots of time trying to not even pay a cent to play ?

    March 23, 2017 at 12:06 pm
    • Zaand Jump Clone

      Yes. Yes they should.

      It’s in CCP’s best interest for PLEX prices to be as low as possible. A decrease in the value of a PLEX decreases the in game buying power of each PLEX, while the RL cash cost remains the same, thus requiring players to spend more real cash to purchase in game items. The exchange rate for cash to PLEX works in CCP’s favor. It esentially creates artificial inflation in the market for PLEX sellers. One of the reasons why CCP will never remove PLEX sell orders from the market, but they will -and have- release PLEX that they confiscated onto the market to control prices. It’s the least intrusive form of market control; esentially a hybrid of appreciation and revaluation due to one currency exchange (cash to PLEX) being fixed, and one being floating (PLEX to ISK).

      And that’s today’s econ-101 lesson.

      March 23, 2017 at 3:58 pm
  • jasperwillem

    “booh!, people found a free way to scam people”. Really.

    The premise of this article makes no sense at all.

    March 23, 2017 at 12:44 pm
  • Peter Davidowicz

    Nonsense article provides no real arguments or reasoning, it just states that ‘fee free’ margin buy orders are bad, and still no reason why.

    February 21, 2018 at 6:13 pm