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With all the hype about the latest EVE Online war and it "costing" over $300,000 actual USD, I'd like to know how this is calculated?

From what I gather you cannot purchase ISK in the game, and therefore, there should be no real conversion rate from ISK to USD... so where is this figure coming from?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

You can buy a PLEX, which means Pilot License EXtension. Those can be bought for real money and then can be traded ingame for the virtual currency ISK. On Activation, a PLEX grants 30 days of playtime.

At the moment, 1 PLEX is about 600.000.000 ISK or 20 USD if bought from CCP.

PLEX Purchase Options

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There is some base to this figure, but it is also reported in a very misleading way in many cases.

First, you can buy ISK with real money, and you can calculate an exchange rate between ISK and USD that way. The way this works in practice is that you can buy a PLEX with real money, and you can sell this PLEX to another player for ingame money, effectively converting real money to ingame money.

The most accurate data on the losses in this battle come from a CCP devblog:

The Economic Impact

11 TRILLION ISK.

According to some PLEX conversions that could equate to approximately $300,000-$330,000 USD.

The part of the quote I want to draw your attention to is the use of "could" here. If you would want to buy that much ISK, you could buy it for ~300,000 USD (if the PLEX market can deliver that much at this price), but that doesn't mean that the ships that were lost in the battle were actually paid for in real money.

There are many ways to earn ingame money, and the big alliances that were involved in the game have substantial regular income sources. They own certain moons that produce a significant profit, and they rent out part of their own space to other players in exchange for ISK.

In short, you could buy 11 trillion ISK for around 300,000 USD, but that does not mean that anyone actually paid that much for all the ships that were lost.

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It kind of does, since selling PLEX for ISK does not generate any new ISK - someone somewhere had to sit and play the game to earn it, and that person had to fund their account. The ISK cost of PLEX is very close to the amount of ISK an average player can earn in one month. On the other hand, the average player isn't flying a titan. –  Alistair Buxton Feb 2 at 15:37
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Effectively that means that it really did cost that much to build all those ships that got destroyed, but the cost is spread much further than those players actively involved in the battle. –  Alistair Buxton Feb 2 at 15:46
    
How long does it take to get enough ISK to buy one plex? Let's say an average player playing a couple of months. –  self. Feb 2 at 21:15
    
@self. The common PvE activities that players use to earn ISK typically provide for around 50-100 million ISK per hour. There is a huge span though, depending on what exactly you do you can earn significantly more than that (wormholes, trading, ...). So I'd say around 6-12 hours per PLEX is a good lower estimate. Most players also don't fly around in Titans, and for one PLEX you can lose around 50-100 frigates or 20 cruisers. –  Mad Scientist Feb 2 at 21:21
    
@MadScientist Tnx, So you have to be pretty a serious player to avoid paying actual money. –  self. Feb 2 at 21:25
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