Revisiting Cartel Resale Prices

Back in November, I correctly predicted that quirks to SWTOR's non-subscription model would drive down the re-sale prices for unlocks used by non-subscribers.  I then made an unfortunate attempt to apply basic macroeconomic supply and demand principles, concluding that the poor return on investment would discourage people from purchasing the unlocks to resell, thus gutting supply.  I therefore concluded that the time to buy was ASAP, before there was nothing left to purchase. 

I now own account-wide unlocks for basically all of the unlockable restrictions, other than the guild bank (which I don't need because I don't tend to take my guild's stuff even when it's offered)
Here at PVD, I'm not just the author of the analysis - I actually use it for my own purchasing decisions.  In this case, following my own advice caused me to overpay by probably at least two million credits for all of the stuff that I have since unlocked, when compared to better prices I have seen since.  It's hard to complain about that outcome when you consider that the credits I earned while playing at max level with one month of subscription time (some of which I spent starting new alts) turned into permanent account-wide unlocks for almost every feature available in the Cartel store - all without spending a single Cartel Coin.  The total would have been over 9000 Cartel Coins, at a real world cost of at least $80.

A lopsided "exchange rate"
I have been very surprised that the going rate for Cartel market items has gotten so low - many unlocks that run for around $5 in real money are available on the Global Trade Network for prices that non-subscribers can pay (i.e. no more than 350K credits due to the cap).  I would not have figured that people would open up their wallets for so few credits.  More surprising, this trend is not limited to the more expensive unlocks.  Some of the rarest items in the random gambling packs - items that people have not been able to get after spending $200 - are available for maybe 1-2 million credits. 

A few possibilities jump out to explain what we're seeing here.  It's certainly possible that some of the inventory was purchased before people realized how little demand there would be, and that folks have been stuck with stuff they can't sell for months since.  It's also possible that some subscribers do not place any value on the stipend of Cartel Coins that is included in their monthly fees.  Meanwhile, my perception of what credits are worth is defined by what I can get on my max level main, but many newer players are limited to low level income.  Finally, the random packs do mean that some players are going to end up with rare items they don't want, which will go on the market. 

Overall, it begs some interesting questions about who is paying for the Cartel Coins.  I get that there is a demographic that is categorically opposed to daily quests for any reason - I might even count myself in that number if not for the fact that they provide something to do while waiting for the random daily dungeon queue (which I actually enjoy running).  That aside, there's a real possibility that some players who do not own a max level character are dropping substantial amounts for real world money to get their characters set up with relatively modest amounts of in-game money for their leveling experience.  If so, it's a fascinating experiment in dev-sanctioned real money transactions.