A few weeks back, we published an article on the wall of PLEX, which generated a lot of interest from readers. This project has now ended, so, we are revisiting it to follow up on what happened.
The PLEX wall has been taken down, as of Friday, May 28. A total of 8,838 PLEX were flipped, generating a gross income of approximately 210 billion ISK, and a net profit of 140B, taking into account the cost of the unused orders which were cancelled. This means Probag Bear was past his break-even point and into pure profit. The actual profit may be higher, as some of the ISK has been used for personal use, and some has been put into further market manipulation in other items.
The continuing downward trend in PLEX prices had an impact on the profit margin, but not in the way that might be expected. When Probag placed his piles of PLEX buy orders at 949m on patch day. Because he didn’t have the capital to cover all of them, he had to move them down to 849m as PLEX prices fell.
If the PLEX price rise back to 950m on buy orders had been maintained, he would have had to pay 2m per PLEX broker fee to move them back up, whereas as the price dropped down, he did not need to raise the price so much, so he paid approximately 1m per PLEX as he updated, saving himself ISK, and increasing his profit-per-PLEX.
He used 70 billion ISK to put up the entire wall, and so the actual investment for the ones which were flipped on the market was around 45 billion ISK, and the profit of 140 billion ISK means that in the month the PLEX were active, he made over three times his investment for the active orders, and twice his total investment.
Two of his stacks were cancelled due to him not having enough capital to cover them when someone tried to sell to them. This happened because someone bulk sold to his orders for more items than he had ISK to cover. These were not in the “wall” at the time – they had been moved up, and on one day, an individual sold approximately 300 PLEX in total to sell to Probag’s orders. On the first attempt, when the buyer got down to his stack, he did not have enough ISK in his wallet to cover the full stack, so it cancelled, meaning he lost the broker fee for that stack. Later in the day, the same individual did the same again. He lost two stacks of between 120 and 140 PLEX each.
The individual tried a third time, but was unsuccessful, and after selling to the buy orders above Probag’s orders, he dumped 110 PLEX onto Probag’s order, but Probag had enough ISK to cover it, so the order stayed up, and Probag gained 110 PLEX for reselling.
Another question that has been raised is how much time Probag has been spending on monitoring his orders. Until May 8 he did not spend much time in game, and since then, he has been making approximately 50 updates to orders per day. Each update takes 5 seconds or so, so the total active time required has been minimal.
One other point of interest is that, prior to offshoring coming into play, there were only two other people involved heavily on the buy side of PLEX. What this means is, that there were only two other people involved in buying PLEX in any volume. By selling to buy orders, and checking the “volumeEntered” in market exports, you can determine who is placing large orders. Other people were, of course, placing PLEX buy orders, but these were generally of smaller volume (usually between one and ten units).
The primary reason for the PLEX wall being cancelled is that, with the advent of offshoring (as explained in this article here), buys could be placed with a one-jump range at a lower broker fee than the 2% minimum in NPC stations. While this did not make the PLEX wall unprofitable, it narrowed the profit margin. With citadels now in highsec, it is feasible for the PLEX wall to be recreated at 0% cost from your own citadel, or to reach a deal with the owner of the citadel to obtain preferential rates in the region of 0.1-0.3% broker fees on the buy side.
Without any defenses, a citadel with just a market hub can be placed for under 20b ISK. If this is set up correctly when anchoring, as the Fortizar has 6 hours vulnerability per week, these can be set to be all in the Sunday after launch, so, if you set it to go live on a Monday, you can have the entire week without vulnerabilities. Assuming you are attacked on the Sunday night when the timer is up, and the shield goes down, you have market availability until the second reinforcement. This will occur on the Monday night, as there are 24 hours between first and second timers. If this second attack is successful, your market will go offline, leaving you with six days until the final timer and inevitable explosion.
What this means in practice is that if you can make back the costs for a Fortizar with only a market module within 8 days, you can place one, let it explode a week later, and place another one. To take it further, you could make citadels on alts in newly created corps. There is a requirement for a corp to be active for 7d before anchoring a structure, so, provided you have an alt in a corp when you anchor the first citadel, they can begin anchoring the second one as the first one explodes.
In order to make back the costs for a 20b ISK structure in 8 days, you would need to save 2.5b ISK of broker fees per day, which equates to 125b ISK of buy orders – or 140 or so PLEX. This doesn’t mean you need 125b in one go to make this viable, it means, you need to move, say, 140 PLEX one or two at a time (or any equivalent item).
This is something Probag considered, but ultimately rejected as he is now moving onto other markets, with plans for something to go active within the next 4 months or so. Given that PLEX is the biggest market in Eve, should the opportunity present itself for large profits (whether because of upcoming ingame events, any CCP driven changes, or just because the markets act weirdly), he will no doubt be diving in again to make some additional ISK.
I would like to thank Probag Bear for providing key info for this article, and for putting up with me bugging him with “Just one more question!”