Behold: you will see a huge amount of uneducated philosophy, wrong assumptions and borderline stupid conclusions. It is more to entertain and to casually elaborate, if the average capsuleer can consider himself rich. It is also just a blogpost about EVE Online, not an in-depth analysis of an economy or something like that.
A question which comes to the mind of many capsuleers at some point of playing EVE: “am I spacerich?”. Right now, we live in times in which dreadnoughts, carriers and FAX are thrown into each others faces fight like frigates into a fw-complex. So is it normal for the average player to have 4 alts ready to camp in a Moros, just in case someone with only 2 working brain cells travels his shitfit-titan through a gate? Are you normal, if you pay your main via hard earned reallife money, even if you are playing this game for 10 years?
Well, the most likely answer to the second question is “no”. But the answer to “am I spacerich” in general is quite complicated. In RL, some consider a certain amount of net worth (e.g. 1.000.000 €/$/₤) as the border, others go quite a bit higher than that and multiply this number by a double-digit factor. And I feel already quite rich, when I still have a positive bank account at the end of the month, because student life without rich parents, only a small allowance from the german state and the nonexisting cash from a not yet founded startup.
So you see, it is also a quite personal question, when you are “rich”. The same principle applies to EVE – a smallscale pilot which only flies frigattes in fw-plexes will consider himself rich, when he can afford to fly his frigattes without a big need of gathering ISK. A miner who mines 12 hours a day is happy, when he… well, when he can mine.
This is the reason why we fist need to simplify the possible answer to this question. So lets take a relative approach. Lets take germany as an example: if you have a single net income of around 3.700€, you belong to the top 5% group of income. While in the USA you need almost 7.000$ on average to reach this position. I will not dive into a deeper analysis regarding currency exchange, purchasing power parity, taxes, additional costs like health insurance etc., as this could fill books and this is not an blog about economics. But it is safe to assume that with this money you are able to afford a house, two cars, a good lifestyle, holidays abroad one to two times a year, college for your kids and a retirement fund which does not let you chose between beein suffocated by your nurse or starving to death in a run down retirement home. So yes, I would say this is rich in comparism to what the other 95% have (even tough many people say “no, I am middle class” with this amount of money…).
Also there is a graph in EVE which offers data to this discussion. So lets just take this 5%, transfer it to EVE and assume that the top 5% of players represent the “spacerich”-group. Yes I know – beeing rich is subjective. Yes I know – corporate assets are excluded. But this debate will never end, if we include all of these factors, because we cannot know all factors (hell, I guess even CCP will not know all of this), let aside including it. And as the income distribution in the USA and in EVE is quite similar, we will go with this assumption. Deal with it.
According to this graph, 80% of players in EVE own 10,5% of all liquid wealth. In the USA, the same ratio owns only 7%. So EVE is a bit more balanced regarding income equality than the USA. Just let that sink in: the most nerdy spaceship-game of all time, advertised with the argument that you can rob, kill, betray, lie and backstab as much as you want, has a more equal wealth distribution than good ol’ murica. Land of the free, land of the poor, land of the pathetic orange presi…
… and thats why I became my own grandfather by marrying my dead stepsister.
Anyways, back to toppic: now we do have an rough estimation on how much ISK is in the wallets of the characters and how it is distributed among the playerbase. And yet again: dont take these numbers for granted. First: the data is around half a year old. Second: corporation assets and non liquid assets (aka items, ships, modules, ammo etc.) is not taken into account. It is purely an estimation on how much ISK is lying on the wallet. So no, your blinged-out dreadnought-fleet with officer-invuls is not accounted.
Now we need an estimation on how many players are actually playing this game. The last official numbers from CCP stated, that EVE did breach 500.000 subscriptions in 2013. Problem is, that this number included the chinese subscriptions. And as we are right now in the middle of 2017, this number is also heavily outdated. So it might be a bad idea to blindly assume this number. There is a good analysis to this number from 2015, which puts the number closer to 350.000 players on Sisi.
Again, we not realy have precise and up-to-date informations and need to rely on estimations. So lets be a bit conservative about this and give it a go with 300.000. But we also cannot blindly take this number and go for it – we need to at least consider the fact, that many capsuleers have more than one account. So lets divide this number by the confirmed median of 1,5 alts per player and ignore the fact that many players with much ISK most likely has way more characters than the spacepoor newbie who started playing EVE last month (hell, I have 10 paid accounts…). Now we are around the mark of 200.000 players. Just let us stay with this number, as we can discuss this issue over hours.
The final calculation would be something like that:
773.780.587.844.708 ISK * 65,91% / 200.000 players * 5% = 50.999.878.545 ISK per player
So one could say that if you are borderlining 51 billion ISK on your wallet, you are part of the top 5% of EVE players in respect of pure ISK alone.
Yes, without corporate assets, characters and items. Yes, with skewed assumptions which might be or are indeed completely false, e.g. because this number is just the average amount of ISK a player in the top 5% owns. Because of this alone, you can safely say, that you need even less ISK to be considered part of the top 5%. Me personaly, I would say that this number is more around the mark of 10 to 15 billion ISK.
But after all: this is just an estimation. EVE is not about becoming rich on a virtual currency, which cannot pay your bills – it is about having fun. Because it is a game. If you are content flying Merlins and Caracals in FW, this is fine. If you are happy hauling in highsec with a freighter: this is fine. If you like to mine, it is the same for your accountant in RL: thank you for your service, someone needs to do (and like) this boring stuff. Dont chase the dream of beeing rich because “rich = good”. Most of us run this hamster wheel our whole life, it does not need to be that way in this lovely game we all like to play. Even tough it is considerably more easy in EVE to let the wheel running by itself.
Tl;dr: if you have more than 15-20 billion ISK in the year 2017, you can consider yourself borderline spacerich in respect of your wallet. This number is flawed and most likely wrong. Now go and do something you like in EVE.