Note: This article is about understanding the inherent economy of the X-Universe. If you are more interested in learning how to profit from it, you may find one of the Links at the bottom of the page more useful.
The Economy of X3 is dynamic, but built upon simple principles. Understanding those principles is key to making money (and surviving) in the game.
Products are tiered; higher tiered products provide a greater profit ratio per full cargo-hold, but their factories are more expensive to purchase, and the supply-chain is more convoluted, making it more difficult to source them.
See Also: wares
The X-Economy is tiered; less complicated goods get "used" by factories to make more complicated goods, and the items on the highest tier are Ship's Equipment.
On the bottom tier is Energy Cells, and in between sit "Bio", "Minerals", "Food", "Natural" and "Tech" tiers, before finally getting to Ship Equipment and Special Objects. That might sounds complicated, but please take a look at the Tiering Example below if you can't quite get your head around what it means.
- Ore is simple to produce - you just need an Ore Mine (built on the right asteroid), and they use up Energy Cells to provide ore.
- Meatsteak Cahoonas are produced by a Cahoona Bakery, and they use Argnu Beef and Energy Cells to make Meatsteak Cahoonas.
- Argnu Beef is produced by a Cattle Ranch, and they simply require Energy Cells to output their beef.
So you can see, it all comes down to Energy Cells; and they are a special case - Energy Cells are made by Solar Power Plants, and NPC-owned plants do not require resources to function. As such, the X-Universe will never fall apart (Player-owned Solar Power Plants require Crystals to operate).
Main article: Energy Cells
Energy Cells occupy their own "tier", as it were; and are responsible for all trade in the X-Universe, whether directly or indirectly. They are used at almost every tier of production and are required by almost every plant.
This may sound like it's a great way to get rich, but actually intermediate traders tend to make very little per run - even a large freighter with a 10,000 capacity hold (so it can hold 10,000 energy cells), making the maximum profit usually available (7 per cell) will only make a 70,000 profit on a single run. When a freighter with a 10,000 capacity hold costs on average around 1,500,000, this means energy cell trading is usually used as a single stop of a larger journey, rather than a "get rich quick" route hauled extensively.
Solar Power Plants
Main article: Solar Power Plant
Solar Power Plants are also unique enough to warrant specific mention. NPC Solar Power Plants use up Crystals as a Secondary Resource and output Energy Cells, whereas the player power plants require Crystals as a Primary Resource. Unlike most other factories, which output on a 1:1 Resource:Product basis, Solar Power Plants (even those owned by the player) use very few crystals for the amount of Energy Cells they produce.
The number of them might sound intimidating - "Bio", "Food", "Mineral", "Natural" and "Tech" sounds like a lot, but in practice, you should never really worry about which tier something falls into.
Bio and Mineral
The "Bio" and "Mineral" tiers are the lowest after Energy Cells, as they only need Energy Cells to produce their products. "Bio" introduces the first racial oddity here, as each race has approximately two Racial Bio stuffs (e.g. Argnu Beef and Delexian Wheat for the Argon, or BoGas and Plankton for the Boron), whereas all races use the same Minerals (Primarily Ore and Silicon, although also Ice for the Terrans).
This means purchasing factories from different racial shipyards is often necessary depending upon the type of goods required.
Factories and Mines
Primary resources are used by factories to output their products. The amount required varies from factory to factory, but almost every factory in the X-Universe will require a 1:1 ratio for other factories of the same size (e.g. it will take one "L" sized factory to provide enough resources for a single requirement of another "L" sized factory), aside from Mineral "factories", and Solar Power Plants.
Secondary resources are not actually required by the factory, and do not affect production in any way. They have a lower buying price than the same ware as a primary resource, and are consumed over time (at a rate dependant on the value of the ware, roughly a third of the rate to produce the ware).
So what's the point of secondary resources? Well, there are two:
- A secondary resource consumer helps remove any surplus of that ware from the universe. The surplus would otherwise halt the producing factories and possibly cascade a surplus of resources.
- You can exploit the secondary resource consumption by building factories near secondary resource consumers. Consumption has a constant rate - that means steady income.
Note that factories built by the player never have secondary resources.
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See Also: Asteroids
Varies significantly, but increases on a linear scale. E.g. an Ore asteroid with a yield of 25 will return ore at 1/2 the rate of an asteroid of yield 50; however both will use the same amount of energy cells to produce the same amount of Ore. This means that Asteroids with larger yield numbers require feeding more energy cells per hour, but can also feed more other factories per hour as well.
Main article: Complex
Complexes are used to easily automate goods transport between stations, simplifying logistics, and minimizing the number of supporting traders required to supply them. They benefit heavily from having the Bonus Pack installed, and using the CAG scripts.
|Software||Trade Command Software Mks 1, 2 &3 | Commodity Logistics Software Mks 1 & 2|
|Stations and Economy||Complexes | Wares | Stations | Economy | Traders | Races and Factions|
|Trading Guides||Universe Traders Guide | Complex Building Guide | CLS Guide|