Plex or Pilot’s License Extension allows players in game to buy game time with ISK, and players who have real money to buy ISK in game. This system benefits all parties by providing money to CCP and ISK or game time to players. For years now, I have seen players asking the time-old question: Is Plex the gold market of New Eden?
I don’t know if there is a clear answer because that question could use a better definition. If the question refers to Plex’s ability to gain value over an extended period of time, then yes I do think it reacts like the gold market. You could chalk this up to inflation, which both gold and Plex are affected by. There are other factors in both markets that can affect the price as well. There is demand and supply and, while Plex has an unlimited supply, there is a theoretical limit to it because only so many people are willing to spend real money and convert it into fake money. Gold too seems to have a limited supply but there is an abundance of it. The problem is that the value is not high enough to justify going to retrieve it far down in the earth. Of course we cannot forget the panic that we recently saw from the market crash where the gold market gained a substantial value. This is not likely to happen in Eve because players do not make a living income from the game and losing Isk is a daily occurrence, not to mention that Eve is extremely unlikely to have a true market crash.
Plex does not however behave like the gold market explosion we have seen over the last few years. Plex does not often spike in price great enough to consider it a worthwhile investment. If Plex does begin to gain value fast, CCP has stated that they will intervene and try to slow down the rise or fall of Plex. CCP has stated that there is no magical ISK number that is unacceptable for the price of Plex, but they don’t want players to cancel accounts due to the steep rise in cost. Likewise, they don’t want to see fewer players purchasing Plex because it has a low ISK value. This means that although it is uncommon for spikes to occur in the Plex market, it does happen. However, when they do spike it often only lasts a week or two because that is how long it takes CCP to start correcting it. In a two-week period the price usually doesn’t raise substantially enough to consider the investment in Plex worthwhile.
For example, Plex spiked around the end of September and in October in 2012; it hit the peak only to begin its slow decline downward. Investing in Plex in early September (520m) could have netted a player 60 million Isk profit per Plex. When it comes to the return on investment, it is about 12%, which is not bad for a few weeks, but generally the same amount of ISK could be invested and turn a 50% profit with almost no work. Keep in mind this is a rare occurrence because Plex usually only spikes for ten or twenty million ISK and after broker fees that number dwindles quickly. In terms of investment, the Plex market should be avoided because there are too many unknowns and even though the price does rise after taxes, the profit is too slim. The profit that will be found in Plex will take decades to earn just like gold and by then you could have found a better investment.
While Plex is affected by the same factors as gold there are also other elements in play. Even with CCP taking a direct interest in Plex I do consider it to have the same pattern that the gold market has in everyday life. Both Gold and Plex prices continue to rise very slowly over decades and I suppose they can be worthwhile. Don’t believe that Plex is the Gold of New Eden? Check out the two graphs above (both set for one year as Plex hasn’t been around for decades). If I had the graph for Plex over its lifetime it would be similar to gold’s price over the same time period, starting low and slowly gaining value, while spiking once or twice. I do not think the Plex represents stability as gold appears to in the real world, but they do share some of the same stable investing attributes.
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