Death to Tech II BPOs

Sensationalist title? Read on, then decide.

I can’t be assed to go out and look, but I suspect that since approximately “forever” (defined as in this case as “whenever Invention was implemented” anyway) CCP has been saying they’ll do something about Tech II BPOs. This occurred most recently at Fanfest and has started off a slew of panicked sales, matched by many vehement denials from the owners… as well as a few hilarious but misplaced and hastily dropped accusations of impropriety. A spate of trolling from fellows of yours truly eventually prompted this post from CCP Eterne.

There are currently no immediate plans to remove T2 BPOs from the game.

I’ve bolded the relevant qualifiers there, because “no immediate plans to remove” certainly does not mean “no immediate plans to nerf.” Quite the opposite, CCP Greyscale seems to have them squarely in his crosshairs.

First thing’s first is this post, which is quite long, so I’ve quoted the relevant part below.

We are currently of a mind to shift invented BPCs so they have positive (or at worst 0) ME and TE figures. This a) prevents the removal of extra materials giving invention an extra-hard kick, and in particular b) prevents every invented T2 item from requiring two of the relevant T1 items (due to always rounding up materials). This will probably put all invented BPCs in the 1-5% ME/2-10% TE range, with decryptors adjusted to match. We may adjust T2 build costs upwards across the board to put the net T2 resource usage roughly where it is currently, so we don’t end up nerfing the demand for T2 components. (This obviously also serves to close the gap somewhat between invention and T2 BPOs; this is not a goal here but it’s an acceptable side-effect.)

It’s easy to read that and go “It’s just a nice buff to invention, how does that nerf Tech II BPOs”, so I’ll explain. The first thing to keep in mind is that one point of negative ME is a much bigger penalty than one point of positive ME is a gain. In fact, each point increases waste by 10% of the base build value; by comparison, getting a BPO to its perfect research level only saves 10% total. Nevertheless, the throughput of a Tech II BPO or even every single Tech II BPO of a given type is extremely limited, and so despite the cost advantage, Invention dictates the price on most things.

To illustrate, consider a Zealot. At ME0 the build cost is about 112m isk; with a month of research, that’s 104.5m isk. Another month to ME10 buys another million isk in savings, which is a bit hard to justify. The optimal invention cost, on the other hand, is either 130m isk (one run, ME-1) or 135m isk (two runs, ME-2) depending on Decryptor choice. Jita sale price, on the other hand, is 148m isk at time of writing. That considerable profit margin is where a Tech II derives its value… though it’s worth noting that the collective delusion that they’d always go up means that when they do get sold, the asking price is on the wrong side of farcical. The last Zealot BPO offered for sale was part of a 179 BPO collection and was clearly posted as a dickwaving thing – the seller turned down every single offer, including a 160b isk (around 13 years of profit) bid for the Zealot print.

But I digress. With Greyscale’s proposal, those invented blueprints would no longer come out at ME-1 or ME-2, but ME3 or ME2, with a build cost falling between 105m-106m isk. Throw in 4-8m isk for the Invention materials themselves and round the result of to 115m isk, because round numbers are fun. It should be obvious here that Zealot prices would fall, with 125-130m being a safe bet. That doesn’t change the inventors profit margins all that much, but the profit the BPO holder is making on each run suddenly dropped by almost half.

Astute observers may note I ignored both the material changes Greyscale referenced and the material changes already promised in the Research devblog. This is to keep the explanation simple, but I’ve checked the numbers with those changes and the outcome is basically the same. And, besides, other less tangible factors such as a shift in decryptor preferences (that +9 run decryptor looks real nice when it no longer obliges you to build at ME-6, which may or may not explain the recent rise in demand for them) and easier access to research facilities may well push the price down even further by increasing supply to the market.

So that’s strike one. It is worth noting, however, that it’s a change which largely affects ships. Most modules are unaffected, either because they use so few components and materials that the difference between ME-4 and ME100 is negligible, or because invention time is so “lossy” that the market is constantly undersupplied. What do I mean by lossy? Invention jobs for many modules run in just a few hours. If you plug in jobs before you go to work, you’re missing the vast majority of your potential output during the day; likewise when you sleep or do anything but regularly babysit the jobs. Once you’ve got the print its not so bad, since even frigate modules take hours to build and the prints start at ten runs. The Invention process itself is the bottleneck, and it’s why Heat Sink IIs sell for 840k when the cost to invent & build at ME-4 is around 460k. Same for 1MN MWD II (1.7m invent & build, 2.4m sale), Wasp II (738k vs an even 1m), and so on.

But don’t worry, Greyscale’s out for those BPOs as well. As detailed in this post, he’s thinking about increasing the max run counts on invented BPOs, and scaling up the length of the job to match. Numbers (and I suppose “even happening at all”) are still up in the air, but nevertheless, the effect would be to diminish the lost time factor in Invention, which would increase overall throughput and bring prices down.

And all this, strictly speaking, is before we’ve even gotten to actual Invention reworks; according to the first Industry devblog, those “are pushed to be done next in line, mainly for fall and/or winter.” Makes a lot more sense why BPO owners are rushing to sell now, doesn’t it?

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7 thoughts on “Death to Tech II BPOs

  1. I think forever is somewhere around the end of year 2006. When I was starting the game. And I think they were talking about removing the BPO’s about after a year.

    Do you have an idea about what you want to happen with how max run copies are used in the invention process? and do have they said anywhere if researching BPC’s would be on the table?

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  2. Interesting post and read as a former Inventor, even if I’m no longer around. It might happen but who knows, the sensationalism effect would be pretty good I’m sure for the T2 BPO market.

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  3. In general, T2 BPOs make up only a small fraction of total sales in most categories, especially the fast moving ones. Ergo, they are competitive, but it’s not possible for them to capture the market.

    The changes to favoring POS-based manufacturing is additionally going shift risk and profitability dynamics in favor of those who rely on BPCs.

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    • Right, they do make up a small fraction. That’s why invention dominates the cost on almost everything, which feeds back into the BPOs themselves having a high profit margin. That’s what’s getting attacked with the two changes being proposed, though.

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  4. Just to add by the way, the comment “There are currently no immediate plans to remove T2 BPOs from the game.” was originally “There are currently no plans to remove T2 BPOs from the game.”. The word “immediate” was added later, which I’d argue is even more telling of their demise than if it existed beforehand. It shows that saying “no plans” was deemed false enough to go back and clarify, so it’s reasonable to surmise that they have plans to remove them in the long term.

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  5. Pingback: Crius Economic Chaos | The Third N

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