From time to time, older EVE players will casually inform newer EVE players that they need to find a source of "passive income" to help fund their activities in game. Only rarely, though, is the term defined. Most income in EVE is derived from three sources: active income sources, semi-active income sources, and passive sources.
- An active source is defined as that which requires the player's active and on-going participation on a minute-by-minute basis. Player action drives the income; generally, the more involved or skilled the player, the higher the income. Active income is typically measured in ISK/hour.
- Passive income is defined as that which requires very little player intervention, and that will proceed perpetually with only minor actions needed. In most cases, the player action required is merely to collect the income as it is generated. Passive income is typically measured in ISK/month.
- Semi-active income is defined as that which falls between active and passive income: income sources that require infrequent player action. This sort of income is typically measured in ISK/day.
Typical active income sources are mining, missions, ratting, complexes; or running incursions, scannable sites, or wormhole sites. These are all income sources that require individual player action to be successful. In these income sources, if the player is not present to take action, the income will not be paid out. Often, they either require the action of multiple characters or will be more profitable if multiple characters are involved. As of this writing, income from most forms of active income ranges from 4-8 million ISK/hour (for most forms of ice mining) to one hundred million ISK/hour or more (for certain forms of incurison- and wormhole-running).
The three most common sources of passive income are Planetary Interaction, Datacores, and moon mining. In each case, most of the player work involves setting up the income stream through a specific set of actions that only have to be undertaken once. In the case of moon mining, the character's skills are all but irrelevant during the set-up phase. For PI and Datacores, specific character skills must be trained in order to set up the income stream. Once set up, gathering the income is a process of visiting the location where the income stream has been set up, periodically collecting that source of income, then selling it at market. Almost no effort is required.
This is sometimes disparagingly referred to by EVE players as "push button, receive bacon."
In particular, moon mining generates "moon goo," which is the colloquial term given for various Moon Materials which can be gathered from low-sec and null-sec moons. Gathering moon materials is a passive income stream, one that is typically out of reach for the individual EVE player and is instead mostly reserved for corporations and alliances. Still, there are many lower-value moons that can be successfully mined by individuals for a continuing passive income.
Most forms of passive income available to individual players have an income possibility of a few million ISK per day. A technetium moon, the most valuable type of moon currently available in EVE, has an income possibility of 185 million ISK per day as of this writing. However, "tech moons" owned by individual players are extremely rare.
Semi-active income is derived by sources that require some player action, but that action is either somewhat or very infrequent. Common semi-active income sources are BPO copying, market trading, market speculation, moon material refinining, and industry. Botting is another extremely common source of semi-active income that is against EVE Online's EULA. The income possibilities from semi-active income sources are highly variable dependent on the effort expended and the investment made.
For instance, making copies of capital ship class BPOs is considered a highly lucrative semi-active income source with a low effort but a very high initial investment required. A single capital ship class BPO costs nearly one billion ISK, and researching the BPO to desirable levels is highly time-consuming. However, once accomplished, the BPCs generated through this activity can generate many times the initial investment. This investment can be further enhanced by selling BPC "packs": full sets of the BPCs needed for the various parts to construct one capital ship.
Most moon materials are of little use in their raw state, and another very common lucrative source of semi-active income is refining these moon materials into products usable by industrialists. This requires a substantial investment in POSs usually placed in some quiet low-sec system and then maintained over weeks or months. Input products are purchased from market, transported to the POSes for refining, and then the output products are carried in the other direction and sold for a substantial profit. This is a high-risk, high-yield income source, but requires a fair bit of player action.
A source of semi-active income with a lower investment need but a still higher level of player interaction needed is the so-called "station trading" mechanic. This is the process of placing large buy orders for commonly used materials, mods, ammunition, or ships in large markets, then reselling these stocks at higher prices and reinvesting much of the profit. The initial investment needed for this source of income is fairly low, perhaps a few tens of millions of ISK to flip faction or tech2 ammunition, for instance. However, the amount of time needed is fairly high: orders will have to be maintained frequently to ensure your sell and buy orders are the lowest and the highest price respectively. It also takes a good bit of research to determine good target items to work with.
Sooner or later, each EVE player will require continuing sources of passive, active, or semi-active income. Depending on your play style, the effort you are willing to spend, and the risks you are willing to take, you'll eventually choose those sources which are best suited to your needs.
Occasionally on Sundays, I will be defining a common EVE term for those who might not have heard it. If you have a suggestion for such a term, please drop it into the comments.