User:Laura Karpinski/Making ISK
So, you've joined the wonderful world of EVE Online - congratulations! It doesn't take long for new players to realize that EVE Online does not present you with the keys to survival on a silver platter. After giving them a noob ship, a short tutorial, and some helpful starter missions, EVE Online kicks players into the harsh environment of space to fend for themselves. This is one of the aspects of the EVE Online sandbox that is both thrilling and frightening, at the same time.
One of the first lessons that every capsuleer learns is: InterStellar Kredits (ISK) run the universe. Without money, you cannot buy ships, equipment, trade goods, and just about everything else one needs to thrive - or survive.
Fortunately, there are many ways to earn ISK in EVE. This brief guide intends to describe some of the typical options that many EVE players pursue, and to provide some helpful guidance about which ISK-earning careers might be the best fit for your personality and playing style.
- 1 PLEX
- 2 Industrial careers
- 3 Business careers
- 4 Exploration careers
- 5 Combat careers
- 6 Outlaw Careers
It is possible, through hard work and perseverance as described below, to earn enough ISK to remove the burden of purchasing your EVE Online subscription using PLEX. PLEX can be purchased using ISK obtained in-game, and used to pay for 30 days of game time.
It is by no means an unattainable sum. Once you've learned some of the techniques described below, you too could be one of the many players who let their EVE pay for itself. Be warned, however - The path to self-sustained gaming nirvana is not for everyone. Many people find that it turns EVE Online into a second job and makes it less enjoyable.
Conversely, you can also purchase PLEX using real-world money, and sell it on the market for ISK. This is completely within the game rules, and many players choose to buy PLEX for some starting capital. If you choose to do this, ensure that you only buy PLEX from a CCP-verified seller.
Mining and refining
- Main article: Mining
Perhaps the easiest way to make an honest wage in EVE Online, mining is simply extracting and selling ore or refined minerals. To be a miner, you only need some basic ship piloting skills, mining skills, refining skills, a suitable ship, and some mining lasers. Travel to one of the many asteroid belts in a system, point your lasers at an asteroid, gather ore, bring it to a station, refine it, sell it - then repeat. The upside to mining is that it produces a fairly predictable income stream, with little (but not zero) risk, especially in high security (0.5 and above) space. The main disadvantage is that mining can be highly repetitive and boring, as asteroids generally do not fight back! You also have to be on guard for can flippers and gankers - players that prey on miners, especially those that have gone "AFK" (away from keyboard).
- Main article: Planetary Interaction
Capsuleers can extract planetary resources and produce commodities on all the planets of New Eden. Pilots can run several planets at once, and with the right combination of planets, PI can be quite lucrative.
- Main article: Hauling
Also a relatively low-risk way to earn ISK, haulers either buy low in one location, and sell high in another, or execute courier contracts in return for payment. To become a hauler, you only need an industrial ship and suitable command skills. Moving goods around in high security space is fairly safe, but hauling in low sec or 0.0 can be extremely risky - and also extremely rewarding. There are entire corporations of haulers, such as Red Frog and PushX. The career for a hauler can be fairly long, starting with simple industrial ships, then eventually moving to blockade runners and huge freighters.
- Main article: Manufacturing
Almost everything in New Eden - ships, modules, ammo, etc. - is created by players, for their own use, or more frequently, for sale to other players. Building items and charging for the value-add can be a very lucrative way to generate ISK. Unfortunately, this career option is one of the hardest to generate large amounts of ISK from, as it is extremely competitive. In addition, many miner/manufacturers undercharge because they do not include the value of the minerals they collected - they tend to think of ore they mined as "free" - so, many common items have very low profit margins, if any at all. However, for those who develop a high degree of manufacturing skills, and who can amass sufficient capital to purchase blueprint originals (BPOs) for high-demand items, this can be a lucrative second career.
Research and invention
- Main article: Research
All advanced items in New Eden, of the Tech 2 variety, are made possible by the efforts of players who conduct invention on lower-tech items. The capabilities of Tech 2 items keep them in high demand, so invention can be a rewarding source of ISK. Through research, players can also improve the efficiency of blueprints. Because they improve production time and reduce manufacturing time, blueprints with higher efficiency are valuable to manufacturers - and therefore are another potential source of income. Players can also work with dedicated research agents to "farm" valuable datacores, used in invention - a form of passive income that can produce a reasonable stream of ISK over time. To become a scientist/researcher/inventor, players must invest in science and related skills, and have access to a research facility.
While Industrialists specialize in making and moving things, Business people earn ISK by investing capital, liquidity and talents in corporations, markets and infrastructure, and earning returns from their investment.
- Main article: Trading
The dynamic and comprehensive player-driven market in EVE provides multiple opportunities for players to earn ISK, without even owning a ship or leaving a station! By investing in trade skills, building up your standings with a owner of the station you plan to trade in, and with a bit of starting capital, players can purchase goods on the market, and then sell them at higher prices. By providing liquidity to the markets, traders can make a good return, although this requires some investigation of market opportunities and vigilance in monitoring your market orders. If you've ever fantasized about making it big as a Wall Street speculator, becoming an EVE trader might be for you.
- Main article: Forming a Corporation
Become your own CEO! By developing Corporate Management skills, players can found their own corporations, recruit other players, and earn ISK from a salary drawn from taxes and fees. At a more advanced level, you can also create a citadel or POS to host valuable research facilities and a market, or you could join an alliance and negotiate to build a lucrative moon mining POS. Being a corporate CEO requires some very advanced skills, and a great amount of capital - either yours or someone else's - and so, this career option usually comes later in most players' EVE experience, if ever. But the entry requirements for starting an EVE corporation are quite low, and since non-player corporations (NPCs) now charge an 11% tax on bounties and mission rewards, starting a small corp of your own might be an attractive option.
Explorers are people that find things, and then make money on what they find.
Exploration and hacking
- Main article: Exploration
Searching wormholes and hidden space for valuable sites, then selling the relics and information you discover, can be a very productive way to generate ISK - and a lot of fun, too. To become an explorer, players must invest in several specialty skills (Astrometrics, Archeology and Hacking), some dedicated equipment (probe launcher, codebreaker modules) and a suitable ship with bonuses for astrometric modules. You must also become an expert at probing.
- Main article: Salvaging
EVE Online is a place of constant combat, and as a result, there are a lot of wrecked ships left behind after every battle. Finding, collecting and selling items from wrecks can be a great way for players to earn ISK. Many items collected from wrecks are used to produce specialized rigs for ships, and so there is always a strong demand for these items. To become a successful salvager, players must develop salvaging skills (of course), and also sufficient command, electronics and engineering skills to use tractor beams and the salvager module. It is also useful to acquire a destroyer ship and convert it into a dedicated salvage vessel - with their large number of high slots and fairly large cargo bay, destroyers are perfect for this task. You can peruse asteroid belts for wrecks, of course, but the best way to earn a salvage income is to join a mission team and clean up any resulting wrecks, then split the resulting revenue with your teammates.
Combat specialists earn their income from becoming very, very good at one thing: blowing stuff up. Since EVE Online is a universe populated by players interested in developing their power and influence, there is always a demand for military might.
- Main article: Missions
One of the first ways that every player makes ISK in EVE is by executing assigned missions assigned by agents in non-player corporations, or by running through deadspace complexes. Mission running is worthy of an extensive guide all by itself, so we won't belabor all aspects of this career option here. Suffice it to say that to earn real ISK as a mission-runner, players must invest in larger ships and develop the skills to fly them, so that they can earn access to higher level agents, higher level missions and the much higher levels of rewards that come with them. There are also non-repeatable COSMOS missions, that give you modules worth hundreds of millions of ISK, but beware, they are harder than your average missions!
Hunting and killing NPC pirates (a.k.a. "rats") can earn some ISK. But frankly, this is not the most lucrative way to earn money in EVE. Still, as a supplemental source of income, ratting can be fun, and a great way to refine some combat skills. To be a ratter, players only need to develop some combat skills and have a suitably outfitted fighting ship. High-sec rats are relatively easy to kill, and they spawn most frequently in asteroid belts - low-sec rats are a little tougher, but ratting in low-sec space is riskier because real-player pirates, who are infinitely more dangerous, also lurk there. Player beware!
Running wormhole sites
- Main article: Wormholes
Wormholes are an environment which is difficult to inhabit, and yet which many players call home. Players can live in wormholes by establishing citadels or POSes, or alternatively players may choose to "day trip"i.e. visit a wormhole temporarily. Wormholes have 'sites' which can be very lucrative. The difficulty of the site (and the payout) depends on the class of wormhole. Most wormhole sites require tanky ships or a group of people to run, so they are normally suited to more experienced players.
- Main article: Incursions
Incursions are high-end PvE content and are done are part of a fleet. They involve repelling NPC invaders and can be a reliable method of earning a high amount of ISK. Payouts are made to a limited number of people within the fleet, which means that each member of the fleet needs to be effective in their role - you cannot compensate for inexperience and low skills with lots of people! For this reason incursion runners normally fly battleships or more advanced ships, with logistics support. For EVE University members, our EVE University Incursion Community always need players to act as scouts or pickets, and this role does not require any specific skills or experience. In return for keeping the incursion fleet safe, they will provide tips, which can be a very lucrative income for a new player. However, note that this is specific to our community, and not a role that all incursion communities use.
- Main article: Factional Warfare
Factional warfare allows players to fight for one of the main four factions (Amarr, Caldari, Gallente, Minmatar) for control over certain areas of low-sec space. Players fight players from opposing factions in an attempt to gain control of the system, and are rewarded with Loyalty Points.
If you can develop very high levels of combat skills, you can make a decent living by hiring your guns out to corporations that can use you for fighting pirates or war targets. Mercenaries are typically hired by large corporations who want something done without their name being all over it. A mercenary could also be a hired guard for miners, an extra hand in a full scale war, or an escort through low sec areas, among other duties. If you are serious about being a mercenary, joining a dedicated mercenary corporation is a good idea, as the one thing you need more than anything else as a "merc" is contacts. Be wary of courier assignments ending in low sec areas - they may actually be an ambush set up by a crafty pirate.
- Main article: Bounty Hunting System
Many players that pursue outlaw careers (more on this later) have bounties assigned to them. Players can hunt down these characters using locator agents and intelligence gathered from other players, and collect the bounties. While this sounds like an exciting career, it is really very difficult to execute. You must have extremely high combat skills, a powerful ship, and a lot of luck - you must also have the element of surprise. The rewards are also fairly minimal. For this reason, bounty hunting, when it occurs, is usually a venture of opportunity, rather than of planning.
In the EVE sandbox, there are people who play nice and pursue honorable careers - and then there are those who do not. Both styles of play are allowed. In fact, EVE Online is one place where crime does indeed pay - and pretty well, too.
- Main article: Can flipping
Perhaps the easiest entry-level way to get into a life of crime in EVE is to simply steal from miners who are "jetcanning", where miners jettison their collected ore into unsecured cargo containers for later retrieval. Can flippers only have to get within 2,500 meters of a jetcan, then grab the contents. Miners are generally in weaker ships, with poor defenses and few weapons, and there is usually little they can do to stop this theft. Further, if the miner fights back, then the can flipper may simply destroy the miner, and then loot the poor victim. Note that can flipping is not allowed whilst a member of EVE University, under the EVE University Rules.
Pirates specialize in player-versus-player (PvP) skills, so that they can attack and pillage players (mostly haulers) in low security space, or capture them and ransom their ship or pod for money. Successful pirates must also have good scanning and probing skills, and the best ones hunt in packs. Joining a piracy corporation is therefore an attractive option for the aspiring space buccaneer.
Scamming or theft
If you have ever fantasized about being a high-stakes confidence man, EVE provides you with lots of options for becoming a professional scammer - tricking players into giving you ISK or luring them into traps for profit. Some of these scams are simple - mislabeling contracts on the market and selling items for far more then they are worth, for example. But some are far more elaborate and dangerous - issuing an attractive courier contract into low-sec or null-sec space, for example, for the sole purpose of tricking a hauler into an ambush. Another form of scam is the corporate raider, who gains entry into a corporation, earns a director level position, and then uses that position to steal everything - including the corporation itself! Note that scamming and theft are not allowed whilst a member of EVE University, under the EVE University Rules.
- Main article: Suicide ganking
If you initiate an unprovoked attack on a ship in high-security space (0.5 or higher), then CONCORD will destroy your ship. But losing a ship might be a small price to pay if you pick the right target - a nice fat freighter or a faction ship laden with high priced modules, for example. By working with teammates, who can loot the victim after your suicide attack, you can earn enormous rewards. This comes at a cost to your security status and grants kill rights though, which may severely impact your ability to operate in highsec. A judicious ganker should be able to easily afford security tags, while an indiscriminate one may have to rat or live with the consequences.
There are illegal substance abusers in the EVE universe - and this includes many pilots. Booster drugs can temporarily increase certain capabilities, and though illegal in Empire space, they are in demand. And where there are buyers, there is a market - one that a disreputable drug dealer can fill, and for decent profit, at moderate risk.