Well, last night after I finished up some rescue runs, I started thinking about goals, and decided maybe get the last bit of cash I needed for a fleet carrier might be a good mid-term goal for me. This led me to wonder what activity I do might yield the best money-per-hour ratio, so I decided to spend the day and do a comparison to find out. Thought these results are strictly based on me (my available equipment, my style, and my loadouts) I thought there may be some interest in the results.
Note I didn't test exploring. I love exploring, and Inara says I've made more money that way than any other activity. But it's also an activity that is measured in terms of weeks or months – so if you're interested in money per hour, you're probably not exploring…
Mining: (NOTE: laser mining; I don't do core…)
I started with mining, thinking this would be the best moneymaker. I grabbed my mining cutter, and started the clock as I launched from my base on my way out to the mining area. Stayed in the mining area as I always do until I had a full load of platinum (512 tons), then did a quick search to find the best sale price, went there, and sold it, stopping the clock after the sale. Note that I'm not a very efficient miner – I tend to wander, and look for good rocks that aren't spinning too fast or look scary, so my time might be long, but in this case it took just over 2 hours to fill the hold and return.
135 million in profit, total time of 2.1 hours, for a result of 65 million an hour.
Mining result: 65 mil/hr
For trading, I switched over to my trade cutter (shielded, with a capacity of 712 tons) and visited EDDB to determine where the best trade loop was. EDDB identified a loop with just over 23k per ton profit, indicating I could make about 16 million per loop with my 712 tons. I headed out to the starting system, and started the clock when I left the first system, not stopping the clock to time a run until I was back on the first pad and ready to launch again. (I actually made 3 loops, to get a good sense of the time). Note that this particular route was 2 jumps each way for me; might have shaved a little time if I'd searched out one-hop route and traded a little less profit for a little more volume.
I found I could do a loop in about 14 minutes. Figure time for mistakes (the occasional interdiction, distracted by the TV and forgot to slow down in supercruise, etc) and I'm probably looking at 4 runs per hour. I also noted I should probably pay more attention to supply and demand – the prices were close to what eddb had said they were, but not exact, and the 3 routes I ran had my profits slightly decreasing each time – I wondered if they'd have bottomed out at some point, but an hour or so of running a loop was about all I wanted anyway…
4 trips in an hour, 16 million per trip, yields 64 million an hour.
Trading result: 64mil/hr
Of these 3 activities, this one is probably most at the mercy of RNGesus… but I thought I'd try a test run anyway. I grabbed my corvette, and headed out to Sol, where I knew I could stack a couple of massacre missions. Here's the rub – I could only stack 2 factions worth… so my payout may have been lower than your average run. With that said, in the 3 times I was there, I only ever saw two of the six factions giving overlapping massacre missions for the same targets (and yes, I'm allied with all of them, so I have a full mission list to choose from) so maybe this is more representative than I realize. Anyway, I selected a massacre mission from 2 factions – 2 missions from one with a total of 45 targets, and one from another with a total of 63 targets.
I started the time when I left the station to head to the target system. After killing my targets (in mission signal sources – seemed to me to be the fastest and most consistent way of finding them) I then stopped in-system to cash in bounties, then a quick stop at a nearby interstellar factor to cash in all the out-of-system bounties generated by my kill warrant scanner, then back to sol to turn in the missions.
The whole trip took just over an hour and a half (1.6 hours), and generated all-told 95 million, for a end result of 59 million an hour.
Combat result: 59mil/hr
So, for me personally, looks like whatever I do – I make about 60 million an hour. I actually was kind of pleased that it was so balanced; for me it speaks well of the tweaks made to mining and combat. Not saying these numbers hold true for everyone; maybe core mining will score big, or massacre missions stack up better, or you're a better trader than I am.
But, for what it's worth, looks like FDev balanced the game around me…. 🙂