EVE: Shuttles for Tritanium
Something in EVE that I've only recently come across is a bizarre economic quirk. Most of the EVE economy is based around mining; getting minerals from asteroid belts, which are then refined and built into just about everything else that's available in the game. This gives rise to a thriving, varying economy. One mineral, though - tritanium - has an unintended artificial price cap.
The reason for this is that NPCs in just about every station sell shuttles, at a set price - small, fast ships which carry no more than the pilot and a tiny amount of cargo, and can't be enhanced in any way. They're intended for getting from point to point quickly, in order to pick up small, valuable cargoes - skill books, implants, and blueprints, for the most part - or for getting from one of your ships to another. They're available everywhere, as far as I can see, for the meta-game reason that it's incredibly boring to have to do a 20-jump run in a freighter to get back to your combat ship.
But if you reprocess a shuttle, you get tritanium. So if the market price of tritanium ever rises above the point - about 2.4 isk per piece of tritanium - where it'd be more economic to buy a shuttle and break it up, that's what people do.
The thing that interests me here is that it's one of the very few areas in which EVE has any inbuilt meta-game elements - and they have this weird economic price cap as a side-effect. I'm guessing that at this stage, though, if they removed that price cap - by adjusting the shuttle prices in line with the market, or making shuttles un-reprocessable - the whiplash effect of changes in the tritanium price would cause absolute chaos across the economy. It'd be like someone in this era finding a way to easily and cheaply convert water into iron - whole industries would fall over in days.
Posted by Drew Shiel at September 10, 2007 12:11 PM