Star Citizen has a booming grey market. Most MMOs have a grey market but Star Citizen’s is unique because the game hasn’t even been released yet. But also because the size of the transactions is pretty large. Every month, tens of thousands of transactions are performed amounting hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Where is Star Citizen’s grey market?
It’s on Reddit, it’s on eBay and its on some private websites.
- Reddit has the most decent prices because there is no middleman. It’s a sort of laissez-faire, caveat emptor type of deal. But there is a reputation mechanism in place, and you are mandatorily asked to use PayPal invoicing which has built in protection.
- eBay is safest but generally has much higher prices.
- Private websites would be my last option. They charge a lot for the service they provide, and you are completely dependent on their goodwill.
Why do people use the grey market?
The Grey Market originated because of CIG’s own policies. Ships sold initially had Life Time Insurance (LTI) but it was then replaced with just 6 months insurance. People were afraid that they could lose ships bought with actual money, so they insisted on LTI and paid a lot of premium for LTI which was only available on the grey market for a time.
Eventually, CIG started giving LTI to all new concepts and then the CCU system was introduced. CIG also started offering longer insurance than 6 months and now we get 10 years insurance during the anniversary sales. Still, the market has now matured and offers opportunities to buy rare or limited ships to users.
Does CIG support the grey market?
Of course not. Use of the grey market is against CIG’s terms of service. Not only do they lose money to the grey market but it’s also a pain for them because it creates extra work for their customer service due to all the ship gifting etc.
But the fact remains that CIG has not shut them down although they have several ways of doing it. Grey market traders do buy a lot of ships and CCUs so they are tolerated.
Is it safe?
Any grey market inherently carries some risk. Even buying or selling old graphics card on the second hand market carries similar risks. The SC grey market on reddit has a lot of safety features built in and the moderators have done an excellent job over the years. The big traders also have an incentive to keep things safe since they are the ones who get impacted the most if buyers dry up. This is why mods and other pros try to keep things in check. But its still far from perfect and people do suffer losses so be extra careful if you must venture there.
Despite some safety mechanisms and protections from PayPal, you still have to use your own judgement every time you trade. I would not recommend using the grey market if you have a low risk tolerance. And if you do, be sure to follow the guidelines regarding invoices, gifting etc. and trade in public. The subreddit has some great advice and guidelines on the sidebar.