The Skillqueue: What’s Going On?

Capsuleers throughout New Eden experienced outages in the Pilots Licensing program yesterday and found their skill queues paused. Capsuleers suspect the issue is related to the licensing change from last year which allowed the operation of capsules and a limited selection of ships despite an expired license.

Prior to this change, capsuleers undocking or even activating their consciousness required a Pilots License Extension (PLEX), and PLEX have varied in price over the last several years with a mind-blowing upward trend. Over the last year, the cost of a month of licensing remained around 1.1 Billion Interstellar Kredits (ISK). Billion with a “B.” Current figures are closer to 1.5B ISK.

The conversion rate between one ISK and any planetary currency is hard to fathom, just like the scale of ships commanded by capsuleers. A frigate class space vessel compares to the largest hulls of planet-side atmospheric flight, and they grow bigger from there. The cost of a frigate-sized vessel with equipment and crew is perhaps five million ISK. Cruisers and Battleships increase in cost by an order of magnitude for each higher class.

So on a monthly basis, a full Pilots License costs the equivalent of approximately two hundred frigates, or fifty cruisers, or four to five battleships. Monthly. A single capsuleer’s licensing costs can fund an average first-world country’s Navy.

The value of the interstellar economy is staggering, and rooted in the movement of PLEX. Pretty nice racket for CONCORD et al.

The big question on most capsuleer’s minds is how, with so much funding month-to-month, one of the core, fundamental functions of the Pilots License program could experience a systemic failure? The exact number of capsuleers in New Eden with active PLEX status is a closely guarded statistic, but most estimates place the figure between 25,000 and 30,000.

By current market value, that’s between 37,000,000,000,000 (Trillion) and 45,000,000,000,000 ISK in License fees.

Trillion. ISK. Monthly.

Just how much would it cost for the skill training program to operate smoothly? What exactly is being done with all that money paid by capsuleers?

Here’s something else about this situation that bothers me. Many, if not most capsuleers didn’t realize their skill accumulation was halted. Imagine your brain could receive information as if it were a holoreel. Wouldn’t you notice if the data stopped? Exactly what state of dormancy do capsuleers enter when they dock, and how far from reality do they detach themselves?

(post-publishing edit: many capsuleers take advantage of a scaling discount for renewing their license for several months, even a year, at a time. At the highest renewal tier, capsuleers remit the equivalent of 11.6 Billion ISK in one transaction.)

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