At the time of writing this article, PLEX is priced at around 4.4 million ISK per unit, or 2.2 billion isk to subscribe a single account for 30 days. While this may seem like just a number, this is extremely important. When I first started playing (4 years ago in May), it cost less than a billion ISK for a month’s subscription, and the cost was increasing, but it was increasing slowly. Now that 1 month of Omega costs 2.2 billion ISK, and with the rate of inflation of PLEX increasing on average, this could pose a huge problem for EVE Online.
With PLEX prices being this high, CCP has most likely seen a increase in the amount of PLEX bought from them, in turn feeding more PLEX into the in-game market system. While this is good for CCP in the short term, I think this could lower the amount of players and damage the game in the long run.
The Casual Player
Imagine a person, we’ll call him Jeff. He has a job, goes to the gym, and also has a family to take care of. He gets enough time in his schedule to play EVE for roughly five hours a week. His favorite activity happens to be small-gang lowsec PVP with his friends, but he pays for his single account with isk he earns in-game.
Jeff’s primary income source is by ratting in anomalies using a Vexor Navy Issue, making around 60 million ISK per hour. He would need spend 36 hours in his VNI to earn enough money to pay for 30 days of Omega Subscription. The problem is that with his schedule, he can only play for around 20 hours every month. As a result, Jeff finds himself unable to pay for his month of subscription. Jeff also cannot afford to replace his PvP ships when he loses them, which happens occasionally. Now, Jeff could spend his hard-earned money to purchase PLEX, but he has other priorities in his life, and besides, that isn’t the point. The point here is that Jeff is a symptom of a larger issue.
That larger issue is that the age of casual EVE players is coming to an end. In the modern era of EVE, many players either have a Rorqual fleet of some size, make their ISK in trading or industry, or they rat using capitals and supercapitals. Meanwhile, Jeff cannot make enough ISK to pay for his PLEX each month. In a game that’s known for being able to subscribe and play using in-game cash, many casual or mostly-casual players are finding a monthly PLEX to be a near-impossible goal to shoot for.
Just Don’t Pay?
The automatic response in modern EVE is to simply ask: why not use an Alpha Clone? The simple answer is that for a great many people, once they try a full subscription, they don’t want to go back. There is nobody in EVE that can say an Alpha Clone is not at a disadvantage. As simple examples, Alpha players cannot use Tech 2 ships, cannot use some Tech 2 modules, and they train at a 50% slower rate. These factors alone can make Alpha Clone usage frustrating.
So, most Omega players do not wish to take a hit to their subscription state and the way they play EVE. As a result, these players will continue struggling to play as casually as they have before, as PLEX prices continue to rise. I am in this boat myself, being a student without a job, mostly focusing on my schoolwork and my sports commitments.
The Problem With Prices
The main problem with PLEX is it is needed per account. If you are one of those players who own a number of rorquals, or have a large scale industry or trading operation, the current PLEX prices are likely still manageable. However, when prices start to approach 3 and 4 billion ISK for 500 PLEX, the game will start to see a reduction in the number of accounts being subscribed for ISK.
This will certainly cause a small reduction in the inflation rates of PLEX, but when it gets to the point where the more dedicated players we mentioned earlier have problems paying for PLEX with in-game currency, CCP will be faced with a large problem. When 10 accounts cost close to 200 USD a month to subscribe and players cannot generate enough ISK per month to reduce that real-life cost, the EVE Online player base will fall off a cliff.
To be clear, this is a opinion piece. It is absolutely my point of view. I am not sure if others share the same ideas, but if a majority of players start to recognize this as a problem, then it needs to be addressed before it is too late. In order to ensure subscriptions are manageable, we need to slow, stop, or even reverse the inflation. To achieve that goal, we need to figure out the source of these problems, then push CCP to act. Sound off in the comments with your thoughts!