Black Friday and STO Economy

d7cThere hasn’t been any official word from Cryptic yet, but traditionally Star Trek Online always had a Black Friday (weekend) sale with everything in the C-Store at 20% off. There’s no reason to expect differently this year, and I’ve been eyeing some items I might be interested in….

While not a top “want”, I might try to grab the Valiant bundle when it goes on sale. The option to run stealth bombers with the Kor and the Malem is somewhat intriguing, but to be perfectly honest, I just want the trait “Withering Barrage” for my cannon-users. Otherwise there really isn’t a ship I’m dying to buy; too bad the T6 Nebula bundle isn’t — wait, hush now.

Other than that, I’m more interested in some service stuff, like character slots and playable species (I’m looking at the kitties!).

The main issue right now is the dilithium-to-Zen exchange rate: as of last night it was sitting at 420 dil/zen rate. It’s very high, and it has been sitting in that 413-420 range for a suspiciously long time. Why suspicious? Because the Dilex used to fluctuate a lot depending on events and gameplay changes. Say a popular C-store ship or a new lockbox is released, players would start buying Zen (for Master Keys in the latter case), thus driving up Dilex. Conversely, when a big new Dilithium sink is introduced, such as the Fleet Research Lab, dilithium goes up in value and Dilex drops. This time around, after Dilex rose above 410, it just sat there and wouldn’t budge -K13 Fleet Holding didn’t make the slightest dent in the Dilex.

Granted, unrefined dilithium is relatively easy to come by now with the advent of Admiralty system, but the effect of this supply should not have a direct impact on Dilex… after all, when you are selling Zen, you are effectively buying other players’ refinement limits, not their stocks of unrefined dilithium. Some players have long argued the economy is being manipulated by a small number of super-whales, and I’m starting to see signs of it. Frankly, it’s not even that difficult to accomplish given the relatively small player base of STO.

I know Cryptic has expressed concerns in the past about this high Dilex rate. At first I thought it’s counter-intuitive, because as the developer Cryptic surely wants players to spend real money to buy Zen, rather than having cheap access to it via free dilithium? And it certainly is true, but at the same time it’s also counterproductive to the game if casual players are driven away, because everything is so darn expensive and beyond their immediate reach. Like any real world business, you have to slowly grow your customer base to keep the business viable.

I don’t mind buying Zen at the high Dilex rate, but not if it’s being manipulated. And right now, I suspect that’s exactly what’s happening. Because of that, I haven’t bought any Zen since the Dilex rate was about 350-360,  meaning I don’t have a whole lot of Zen to spend this coming Black Friday. Oh well!

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13 thoughts on “Black Friday and STO Economy

    1. That’s just my own suspicion (well, me and a few friends, but still). Another suspicious incident took place earlier in the year, when the Dilex was skyrocketing through the 300’s, into the 400’s and speeding towards the 500’s. Cryptic spoke up and expressed concerns, then the very next day Dilex inexplicably dropped to the low 400’s and stayed there ever since.

      To be clear, I don’t mind buying Zen at a high Dilex rate… as long as it’s fair and market value. The problem I have is if there is market manipulation involved.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. On an unrelated note — I don’t know how much resources you now have, but a lot of older items have come down in prices dramatically in the Exchange. Six months ago a Plasmonic Leech console would’ve cost 80-90 million EC; four months ago it was going for 50 million. I bought one over this past weekend for under 5 million EC. :p

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      1. That’s the effect of the infinity lockbox. The items are at the lowest price during the box available window, but are permanently lower than before now because people keep stockpiles and open them over time.

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      2. “Right now I don’t even have 1 million.”

        @Scott, here’s a few easy tips for short-term cash: #1 tour the galaxy. #2 new Romulus system patrols, sell the drops. #3 if you’re on PC (or if consoles have doffs finally) buy green or blue on the auction house, grind to whites and sell the whites. It is minting money and you never need to stop. #4 if you’re on PC (or if consoles have crafting finally) buy white rnd materials and make white components (especially the ones for mark 2 beams and cannons). Again, this is minting money and you never need to stop, you can just keep going until you get bored.

        For long-term cash, flip items. When a lockbox is out (sphere builder currently) buy everything you can and hold it. When the next lockbox comes out, but before that next one ends sell them. You can also buy keys during sales and hold them, then sell when the infinity box comes up or during the first week of a new box. During any event that makes lots of lobi available (key sales, universal lockbox, rnd event, etc) buy lobi items (costumes, ships, pets) then sell them a few weeks after the event is over. Not counting keys you can usually pull 50-100% profit per item. Keys don’t swing that much.

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      3. @GavinRuneblade – This is all true and good advice. But if I know Scott’s situation, he doesn’t have a whole lot of real world money to throw around on STO, so buying Zen items won’t work very well for him.

        The freebie tips are sound. Tour the Galaxy is a definite to-do, though for some reason it’s harder than it used to be; in the old days I can score 1 million EC almost every time, but nowadays I don’t get that even with a properly geared ship. 500k is very doable though, not bad for 15 minutes.

        Grinding Doffs also works, but I find it so tedious that I wouldn’t do it for very long.

        Selling trash drops can sometimes be lucrative, and I recommend either doing an Undine BZ run for it, or better yet, do a solo Elite Starbase 24 run… this latter generates a crapton of trash gear.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Right now I don’t even have a million EC. Last I checked, I had like… 200K? If that? lol Like I said, I’m just pathetically space-broke (spent it all on a couple ships I’d been wanting for a while).

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  1. “I know Cryptic has expressed concerns in the past about this high Dilex rate. At first I thought it’s counter-intuitive, because as the developer Cryptic surely wants players to spend real money to buy Zen, rather than having cheap access to it via free dilithium?”

    That is too simple a way to look at it. Consider a fleet project that costs 200,000 dil. When the exchange is 25:1 (minimum) the price is 8,000 zen. When the exchange is 500:1 (max) the price is 400 zen.

    At both extremes sales drop off, when it is at minimum people slow down posting zen. At maximum people slow down posting dil.

    Cryptic makes more profit per fleet project the lower the dil exchange, so that is a reason for them to want to keep the dil exchange as close to 25 as possible. Cryptic makes the most money over time when the highest number of transactions take place per day, which is a reason for them to want it higher than the minimum, but not near the maximum either.

    But that’s not the end of the complexity either, once people buy everything they want they have no more need for dilithium, so it piles up until more fleet holdings, items needing upgrading etc come into the game. There are too many zen items for the zen demand to ever truly dry up except for a very small number of people. It is not terribly hard to fill your need for dilithium except for converting to zen. This will constantly make an upward pressure on the exchange.

    Cryptic’s profit isn’t linear, I guarantee it makes some form of bell curve, but we don’t have enough data to really understand the curve specifics. They want as many transactions as possible at as low a price as possible.

    Years ago, when the exchange was in the 130s to 200s, they took action to increase dilithium availability. As it passed 400 they talked about actions to push it lower, including those massively expensive costumes which where targeted at a small group of the STO community. From this I guess that Cryptic’s highest profit point is most likely to be between 200 and 400. They don’t seem to be in a rush to change things so I’m guessing the low 400s is close enough to their ideal point that there is a solid amount of sales happening per day where it is now.

    I suspect that yes there are people keeping the price high, and I also suspect that cryptic is looking for ways to lower it. Though I doubt they want it down as low as some players do.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good analysis.

      Like I said I’m not expecting Dilex to drop back to the good old days (first batch of Zen I bought on the Exchange were at a rate of about 180). Somewhere in the low 300’s would be more palatable, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gavin: Those are some good suggestions, and yes, I have done Tour The Galaxy for some easy EC before, so I’ll give that a try once I can get back on the game.

    Heidy: That’s right; my real money funds are pretty limited right now. I really need a new computer but I’ve just been needing the money for other, more important things, especially after my car accident and fixing my car. This year has been arguably the most difficult year of my life thus far. 😦

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