Eve-online/Eve tribune article on Datacores

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For a while now, the Tribune has been keeping its readers updated on the state of the datacore markets across New Eden. Several things have become clear: Mechanical Engineering Datacores, once the backbone of any datacore harvester’s income, have fallen below price levels that previously would’ve been considered dismal. Where once they sold reliably for 1.8 million, and could be unloaded for two million a ‘core in decent markets, now they are at, or below, 300,000 a ‘core. And, in many cases, still falling. While once a datacore harvester with their time and energy invested in ME ‘cores could’ve stood to make well over half a billion ISK per month, now they’re lucky to make a sixth of that.

While there will always be a need for new ME ‘cores, due to T2 invention, their price point may never again climb to a level where it makes sense to attempt to harvest them as a main source of income. However, this is great news for any budding inventors. There has probably never been a better time to get into the industry.

So, let’s take a brief look at the landscape of the datacore market, and what sort of strategies make sense, both for consumers and harvesters. Before we do that, however, it’s quite useful to go into detail as to what, exactly, the various ‘cores are used for.

Amarrian Starship Engineering

These ‘cores are used for, obviously, making T2 Amarr ships. They’re somewhat valuable, and recent changes to some Amarr ships may see them rising in value. Remember, however, when looking at the RP’s that any individual agent gives, starship ‘cores cost 150 RP’s to buy, not 50, as in normal ‘cores.

Caldari Starship Engineering

likewise, these ‘cores are used to invent T2 Caldari ships. However, it’s worth noting that the PvP sector (largely) drives the invention market, and Caldari ships simply aren’t in huge demand, despite the utility of Caldari recon ships as force multipliers. As such, this is a horrible field to set your research agents to, but can be a cheap ‘core to buy if you’re looking at inventing and then manufacturing some T2 Caldari ships.

Electromagnetic Physics

used for railguns and various electronic systems, this ‘core is of limited use for many PvP projects and, thus, its price reflects this lack of utility. Its price has remained fairly stable across several regions, but it is generally below 100K per ‘core, and shows no real signs of increasingly any time soon. The lack of any huge demand for railgun platforms, beyond fleet level sniping, will probably mean that this ‘core should be avoided as an investment for datacore harvesters. Inventors, however, might want to consider this, especially with many 0.0 regions needing T2 railguns to supply large Gallente/Caldari sniper fleets with the best range possible.

Electronic Engineering

used in electronics and drone research, this ‘core has maintained a fairly decent value, and, if anything, has been slowly gaining in value over the last year. Demand for T2 drones can be expected to stay high, or even to increase, as the skills to fly T2 scout drones are fairly easy to train to, T2 scout drones provide a substantial boost in performance over their T1 counterpart, and almost all ships in the game have some drone capacity. Datacore harvesters might want to consider looking at this ‘core as a secondary and/or stopgap place to invest their RP’s, but most likely they shouldn’t train its skill to V, nor should they go out of their way to get standing in corporations with a large number of EE ‘ore providers. For inventors of T2 scout drones, expect the price to stay fairly consistent and raise a small amount each month. While this ‘core has the potential to increase steadily in price, skyrocketing is unlikely, though not impossible.

Gallentean Starship Engineering

buoyed by the demand for some Gallente T2 ships, this ‘core remains a much stronger investment than Caldari ‘cores, but still quite distant from Minmatar ‘cores. With the current pendulum swing of PvP trends being towards speed-fit ships, Gallente ships are unlikely to see a renaissance any time soon. That makes this ‘core somewhat less than a wise investment choice for most harvesters.

Graviton Physics

An interesting datacore, graviton physics is used for cloaking technologies as well as missile and smartbomb variants that use graviton technology. They are, unfortunately, of limited utility; the ships that fit covert ops cloaks are still relatively rare, and the market for graviton based weaponry is nothing to write home about. The value of this ‘core has dropped as time went on and the Covert Ops cloak market stabilized. It is highly unlikely that this will become a good investment for harvesters any time soon, but inventors should be able to stock up on them cheaply enough.

High Energy Physics

This ‘core has remained fairly stable in price over the last year, largely due to its utility and the moderate, but not overwhelming level, of harvesters who supply the markets. HEP ‘cores are used in various energy system modules as well as lasers and smartbombs. With the boost to lasers, this ‘core may actually rise in value. That is, if enough players gravitate to Amarr and find themselves using T2 fits. Although, with a new highly viable sniper fit and the PvP potential of their pulse lasers augmented to a small degree, demand may see the value of this ‘core rise. The demand for smarties and energy system mods will most likely stay fairly current, as no major changes have been predicted. All that combines to make HEP a reasonably secure investment for harvesters, and a reasonably constant expense for inventors.

Hydromagnetic Physics

this is our ‘shield system’ datacore. And, of course, it generally bucks the trend, as shield tankers are wont to do. Demand for this ‘core is driven, largely, by mission runners and Raven based ratters. As such, the PvP flavor of the month isn’t particularly likely to change the dynamic of this datacore’s market performance. It even has some degree of PvP usefulness, as multiple fits have found some utility in T2 shield extenders. Worth noting, however, is that an influx of new ‘core harvesters have managed to slowly lower the value of this ‘core. While it currently stands as a strong investment for harvesters, it may very well fall over time should too many players invest their RP’s in HP ‘cores. Inventors should carefully watch this ‘core over the next few months. While some markets have auto-correcting features, which the Mechanical Engineering market notably seems to lack, a price dip may very well bounce back as ‘core harvesters switch over to other ‘cores and the supply/demand curve reaches a new equilibrium. Should the price for this ‘core plummet, inventors should seriously consider laying in a stockpile of them.

Laser Physics

a real tough call as to what weapon this ‘core goes to, eh? Eh? Well… obviously, this ‘core is part of inventing T2 lasers. It’s also part of inventing EM based missiles and smartbombs. The above comments about changes to Amarr certainly apply to LP ‘cores as well, and the fact that these ‘cores have slowly climbed in value during the last month, after remaining fairly stable for most of the last year, speak to their utility and potential for increase. Unlikely to take off running, their value will quite possibly continue to creep upwards as time goes on.

Mechanical Engineering

the ‘core that got the hysteria started. This sucker made it worth it, once upon a time, to spend days grinding away for corp standings, maybe even for multiple alts, just in order to reap the rewards. During the height of this datacore’s history, billions in ISK were traded on it, just in the Forge alone. Those days are over, quite possibly forever. A massive increase in datacore harvesters saw the value of this ‘core plummet, even as demand stayed fairly constant. And demand will stay constant, as ME ‘cores are used in the invention of T2 hulls and armor modules. The massive demand that these two factors represent is what made ME ‘cores so profitable in the first place; PvP players will be guaranteed to keep the demand for this ‘core very high, at least in the foreseeable future. And as mentioned above, this market seems not to have auto-corrected. Rather than diversifying and training new skills/grinding new corps’ to a good level of standing, evidently many players have left their harvesting alts trading in ME ‘cores. Expect this market to stay depressed, perhaps permanently.

Minmatar Starship Engineering

a highly secure investment, and one that is likely to increase in value for harvesters as time goes on. Minmatar ships are, currently, red hot. The nano craze has seen Mini ships at the vanguard of changes, and this trend is unlikely to stop any time soon. The price of these ‘cores has steadily increased over the last year, and will most likely continue to do so as more and more players train up Minmatar skills in order to fly ships like the Huginn and Vagabond. While, perhaps, not (yet) as solid investments of skillpoints as EE or HP ‘cores, harvesters might want to consider training Minmater Starship Engineering up to at least level IV, as long as they have standings with Minmatar research corps, that is. It’s (probably) not worth training to level V or grinding stats with Minmatar corps solely for these ‘cores, however.

Molecular Engineering

used in hull and propulsion systems, it’s not hard to understand why there is significant demand for Molecular Engineering ‘cores. While they have fallen significantly from where their price was about a year ago, they remain a rather solid investment and, if anything, their price has been slowly rising again. However, datacore harvesters should approach this ‘core with great caution. All signs point to it being a ‘core that’s in enough demand to justify investing in it, and the corps whose research agents give it out can, easily enough, be used to diversify and switch to other fields at a moments notice. All that aside, the very fact that this ‘core is valuable may very well case another ‘stampede’ of datacore harvesters. Should the value of this ‘core start to drop, especially if it starts to drop rapidly, it’s a very safe bet that it’s time to get your RP’s out of this field, pronto. Selling your ‘cores immediately so as to avoid a loss, as most folks who hoarded Mechanical Engineering Datacores likely suffered, might be a very good idea as well.

As with all other volatile ‘cores, inventors should keep track of this one. While most T2 ship inventors probably are buying these in any case, propulsion invention might become more profitable should this ‘core crash in value.

Nanite Engineering

in many ways, this is a ‘twin’ datacore to Molecular Engineering ‘cores. Used for various armor and hull invention jobs, demand is, and almost definitely will remain, strong. Even better (for datacore harvesters), the value of this ‘core has actually been increasing across some markets. Harvesters may want to strongly consider investing in this ‘core, especially if recent trends hold. It’s also worth pointing out that there are very few level 4 research agents, and no level 5 agents, who give out this ‘core. In fact, there are only five level 4 agents, with one of them being a Thukker agent whose home system is risky, to say the least. That leaves us with three Carthum and one Duvolle agents. With any luck, the scarcity of agent will leave demand for this ‘core high while supply remains at a point less than total market saturation (or over saturation).

Of course, the very fact that I’m publishing this article may very well change that fact, and the NE ‘core market might very well crash if enough people get interested in it. Such are the perils of financial reporting.

Nuclear Physics

an investment that seems to be gaining in steam, the price of this ‘core is actually doing better compared to where it was a year ago. It is used in nuclear missiles and smartbombs, but its real utility lies in its role in T2 projectile weapon research. As noted above, Minmatar ships (and thus, their guns) are currently in high demand. With many, many level four (and even a couple of level five) agents who’re giving out these ‘cores, it’s easy enough to invest in this ‘core, and easy enough to switch over to another field should supply eclipse demand. Harvesters should strongly consider using this ‘core as one of their investments. However, as a word of warning, as its value climbs over the coming months, expect to see the possibility of more and more harvesters flocking to sell these ‘cores. Should that happen, even the solid demand that has been driving this datacore’s rise will not prove sufficient, and it will crash hard, and soon. If harvesters do invest in this ‘core, be sure to have secondary ‘core choices trained up to at least level 3, and viable agents already identified.

Plasma Physics

harvesters? If you invest in this ‘core, you might starve to death. Well, that is, if your pod pilot required food. Governing blaster invention as well as smartbomb and plasma based missile invention this ‘core should ,theoretically, have a decent amount of demand behind it. Instead, it is one of the least traded ‘cores at consistently comes in at the absolute lowest price. Inventors should consider this datacore’s price if they’re looking into getting into industrial production, as it seriously cuts down on the price for inventing blasters.

Quantum Physics

a much stronger price profile than the PP ‘core QP ‘cores are used in shield and blaster invention. It is almost definitely the former module class that has kept this ‘core propped up in the market, as there will always be Empire denizens who need spiffy new shield gear. The value of QP ‘cores has fallen somewhat over the last year, but it also seems to have leveled off at this point. Although, of course, things can change very rapidly. While there are plenty of level four research agents, and two level five research agents who give out this ‘core, the corps that they’re from make it less than totally simple to plan for diversification. Roden shipyards, in particular, doesn’t have (in my view) enough high agents producing high-value ‘cores to justify grinding for standing with them. Still, this market does hold promise for datacore harvesters, and should at least be considered. Although, and I can’t over emphasize this, due to the potential volatility of this market, harvesters should be damn certain that they have a backup plan, should this ‘core start to fall in value.

Rocket Science

you get three guesses what field this ‘core is primarily associated with, and the second two guesses don’t count. Yep, missiles, obviously, and propulsion systems, semi-obviously. This ‘core is a bit tricky, however. PvP missile use has never been extreme, but recent changes to some Amarr hulls have made it a bit more viable. As already discussed, nano-ships are the current craze, so propulsion systems remain in demand. However, it should be pointed out that while missile systems are highly useful for ratting and mission running (when slapped on the ubiquitous Raven), and have become more useful for PvP work… many pilots do not choose to fit T2 missile system to their ships. The reasoning behind that choice is simple: in many cases, T2 launchers take up much more grid than their ‘best named’ counterpart, Arby launchers. In addition, for almost all ratting and mission running, T2 missiles simply aren’t worth the price, as they’ll significantly cut into your profits. Even in PvP, faction missiles often do the job as well as the T2 versions. As such, while this ‘core remains a decent investment (its value has mostly remained constant during the last year, while falling slightly), it is unlikely to be a strong investment and , more likely than not, should be passed over unless harvesters have a free research agent slot and happen to have good standing with a corp that has a RS agent (and no other decent agents that they could work with.)

Final Note

One final note on the datacore markets across New Eden.

While increased competition is absolutely awesome for inventors, it’s horrible for datacore harvesters. Especially when you have a few stupid datacore harvesters. Since 99% of people are freakin’ morons, you can imagine what percentage of datacore harvesters are morons, as well.

On that topic, it has to be said… when you’re setting up sell orders for your cores in a high-traffic system, it can actually pay to nickel-and-dime your way to the lowest price (especially if you can leave a character in that system to continually alter your bid to make sure you remain competitive), rather than making huge leaps to undercut your competitors. I know, that seems a bit counter intuitive. After all, if you undercut your competitors by 50k, it’s unlikely that they’ll match you, right?

Well, yes, that is unlikely. But what’s likely is that the next couple dozen yahoos (emphasis on yahoos) who come after you will nickel-and-dime your datacore price. And that, of course, leads to a situation where the folks after them will be bidding a few ISK (or a hundredth of an ISK) less than them. And then, of course, some other window-licker will come along and underbid those folks by another 50k. After a while, this is how prices fall through the floor.

So, engage in some serious market PvP. If some idiot shoots himself in the foot, let him. Make sure your bid is a reasonable one that’s the lowest sell price, after his sells. That way, hopefully, he’ll end up selling significantly under the market value while you, and those who are setting up orders with the same thought process, will keep the value of your ‘cores high. Otherwise, you can be sure that you may turn a decent profit for that trip, but as that behavior goes on, your ‘cores will become less and less valuable.

And no datacore harvester wants that. Eh?