Today, on the Vernal Equinox of all days, we get this developer blog post from CCP Ytterbium (such a cool handle... still.) If you're an industrialist and you've not read this post yet, go read it. You will be gobsmacked just like I was. This was completely unexpected. Of all the things they could have started the summer expansion dev blogs with, this wasn't even on my list. The compression/refining issue has been a long standing one I thought could never be tackled. It's one of those areas in EVE Online's code I felt would have to be completely ripped out to do anything about. After reading his post, I don't think I feel that way any more.
This is totally off the cuff, but I've got to put my initial thoughts down in writing. This may be a bit rambly. I've long felt there was something inherently broken about building railguns to haul into null-sec just to reprocess into minerals again to build something else. It's an immersion breaker for me, and I like immersion. It's one of the reasons I never got into the commodities trade, though not the primary reason to tell truth.
The primary reason is more involved than that. While I lived in a wormhole, I often thought about all the minerals just floating around in them. It wasn't difficult or even too risky to mine them. I've done my share of mining in wormholes. See for yourself.
The thing that always brought me up short was mineral processing. The old refining arrays, as CCP Ytterbium points out, are a real pain in the ass to use. The small and medium arrays are useless for industrial pursuits - too small. The Intensive Processing Array takes so much power you literally have to turn things off in a shared POS (not committed to industry only) to use it at all. Then you have to wait for four damn hours to turn your other stuff back on. When you are a small corporation in a wormhole running out of a single POS, that doesn't sit well with your CEO I can tell you. The power that array takes could be extra defense or hanger arrays. That won't change this summer, but the amount of time needed to complete a reprocessing run will. It means you won't log off while the POS is vulnerable. You can do your business and then put things back to normal. You can have a DickStar and do industry. That makes it a lot easier to sell to a CEO and Board of Directors.
The other part of the issue with wormhole industry is getting the goods out. Because jumping a wormhole is by its very nature a risky endeavor, small, fast and inexpensive transports are best. Cloaky transports prefered. These transports are not known for their cargo capacity. Hauling raw ore out with then is a terrible way to make ISK. It's slow. It's more dangerous. Multiple runs down the same pipe WILL be noticed. It's just not something you want to do unless you have a direct to high-sec connection. Most wormholes do not. The most lucrative wormholes for sure don't, unless you just happen to get lucky. Lucky does not make a consistently profitable business.
At least with the most lucrative wormholes you can get a Rorqual into them. Compression helps a lot - in a wormhole it's everything IMO. You cannot get a Rorqual into lower end wormholes. Capital ships don't all fit through those holes. You have to build them there. That's a different problem all too its own. So you may have a direct to high-sec connection in lower class wormhole, but it's far less useful because you have to make so many runs. And there are always those tourist's who'll try and ambush you on the way back into your home. But CCP has come up with a very nice solution to that by reinventing the fairly useless Medium Refining Array into a Compression Array, and praises to the entire team, completely eliminating the damn blue print requirement to boot! That was the most ridiculous thing about using a Rorqual IMO.
Oh, I'm almost forgetting to mention the niftiest thing CCP Ytterbium didn't expound upon. They are standardizing all ore batch sizes to 100 units! If you've ever processed in a POS, you know the frustration of having 499 units of Omber left. Multiply that by every known ore type and you have lots of wasted storage. With everyone needing to use the same storage, that can get under some people's skin - people who don't mine and would rather store other things than stupid ore. It's a benefit I'm not even sure CCP Ytterbium is aware of, but thank you nonetheless! After the summer expansion, many things in wormhole industry life becomes easier.
As for the decreased yields and changes to the equations, that's fine by me. Mabrick's been maxed out for quite some time. :-D But that aside, budding industrialists need this sort of progression. It keeps them working hard. It rewards them for taking the time to train. It will also decrease the amount of non-professional competition. Those who may mostly PvP, but to make up a lack of ISK will do some industry. That cuts into a professional industrialist's profit. Now these part time industrialists might not be so inclined to bother as their yields will be lower. These part timers are probably few, but in commodities any competition can be bad. The margins just don't support it. Oh, and since they'll have to sell their loot instead of reprocessing it, it adds another niche to the station trading game - high yield reprocessors who buy low end loot and make a few ISK turning it into minerals.
As for what this will do to the economy as a whole, I haven't had enough time to consider it. I'll hold my peace for now. I'm sure CCP has done due vigilance on this change just like hey did for PI. The funny thing is, their changes to PI urged me to walk away from it. Now they are doing something that encourages me to start another industrial endeavor. I'm going to have to give some hard thought to that. I don't want to shoot little red crosses all my life you know.