As with any patch day, there was a certain sense of anticipation. Are things going to release the way they were planned? Are there any surprise changes? Will the game load at all?
In the most recent patch, EVE players saw the release of the CONCORD Rogue Analysis Beacons – the CRAB (trap) sites. This main focus item may or may not create a reason to have capitals in space again. But the patch notes said nothing, at least at first, about a change that will have far broader impact on every player in the game.
Death and Taxes
Shortly after downtime on October 19, highsec market traders began to notice significant changes to their sales orders. A quick review of the patch notes said nothing about changing market taxes or fees. What started out as confused murmur quickly changed to angry crowds on the EVE-O forums and multiple threads on r/eve.
Based on the clamor, CCP responded to clarify the situation. The patch notes were updated, and a second news release was posted to provide the details. What is less clear is why the changes were released in this way.
Examination of Changes and Impact
In the second news release, the CCP team has given us all the details to understand the potential impact.
Taxes have risen from 2.5% to 8.0%, increasing by 3.2x. Broker fees have changed from 2.5% to 3.0%.
This makes the total change before skills and standings an increase from 5.0% to 11.0%, more than doubling the maximum taxes. If you factor in standings and max skills? The total change went from 1.165% to 4.6%, or nearly quadruple the total cost on sales.
Lest we forget, in the closing scenes of the Beeitnam war, tax changes were implemented by CCP, phrased as a tax holiday. It’s quite clear that the holiday is over.
If you do the maths based on the original rates before the tax holiday, the overall outcome for most NPC market users is a modest increase of approximately 1%. For those with absolutely max 10/10 standings and all V skills, it results in a fraction of a percentage reduction. Based on one INN report, with standing of 9/9+ they saw a final set of NPC station fees in the 1.2% range, compared to the 1.0% seen during the tax holiday.
Was this an attempt to sneak in a change under the cover of the crab traps? I think this is unlikely. The attention to detail evident in the spreadsheets of your average EVE player would have made spotting the change trivial.
I suspect it was something that was nearly ready for the marketing and PR team to sell to players, but was folded into the 19.09 patch. I suspect these changes were pushed, but the teams were not fully ready. This would explain the very quick alteration of patch notes (which would typically be compiled in the days before deployment), as well as the immediate launch of a second news item.
The bigger question is going to be how this impacts market player’s desire to log in and play. In the ongoing era of scarcity, taking an even bigger bite out of every sales transaction is an interesting attempt to manage EVE’s ongoing inflation. We can only hope this strange and bold move is part of a wider economic plan – but we shall have to wait and see.