How an EVE player is funding his spaceship business by making amateur porn

In case it wasn't obvious, this story deals with sexuality. If that's not of interest, here's another EVE Online story you can read instead.

There are a hundred ways to make money in EVE Online. Some players mine asteroids, some invest in complex manufacturing ventures, and others solicit their services as mercenaries. But 'TimEllington' makes his ISK, EVE's in-game currency, by masturbating on camera and uploading his videos to Pornhub. 

He's far from a full-time pornstar, but the money he's made so far is going toward building his dream EVE business: An enormously expensive hauling enterprise to funnel merchandise from EVE's dangerous null-sec territories of space to the trade hubs and relative safety of high-security space. As Tim tells me, it's a lucrative enterprise in more ways than one.

"Things weren't really working out with relationships, and I realized I had a natural talent and didn't have stage fright around webcams and I thought, how can I apply this?" Tim says over Skype. His first video under his current moniker was uploaded two years ago, and since then he's accrued over 4,000 subscribers and made over 70 videos. On average, his videos draw in about 40,000 to 70,000 views, but Tim isn't your usual amateur pornographer—he's a dude, and he performs alone.

Amateur hour 

Last week, Tim decided to share his porn-fuelled business strategy with the members of the EVE Online subreddit. He doesn't try to keep his amateur porn career a secret, but he tells me his corp mates have seen his face, so he doesn't broadcast his Pornhub channel either. "I was surprised how cool everyone was about it," he says. "I was expecting a more dismissive attitude, but they've been really supportive and happy for me that I've been able to be so productive with something that most of them do every day."

"My videos are 'solo male,' which involves use of a fleshlight or just plain old masturbation," Tim tells me. It's a niche genre of porn which often is lumped under the umbrella of gay male porn—though Tim tells me the majority of his viewers are women. "It's taboo for a lot of people, but there's a huge market for it. Gay porn and solo male porn has about 60 percent female viewers."

Pornhub's data backs him up. In 2014, Pornhub released findings [warning: this link leads to Pornhub.com's blog but contains no explicit material] on its search demographics and discovered that 'gay (male) porn' was the second-most popular category, with women searching for solo male videos 103 percent more than men.

If there's enticing voicework or music going on the in the background to improve the act that I'm doing, that makes it more sensual for my fans in general.

TimEllington

Looking at Tim's Pornhub page, it's easy to dismiss it as a 30-something guy touching himself in front of a webcam, but Tim says there's an artistry to the work. "I was actually trained in photography and graphic design, and camera angles are very important in getting views and attracting attention," he says. And just like any YouTuber, audience interaction is a must. "You'll get requests from people to perform to their image, but you'll also get requests for certain camera angles too. And if there's enticing voicework or music going on the in the background to improve the act that I'm doing, that makes it more sensual for my fans in general."

Tim isn't the only person in EVE showing some skin.

Tim tells me he didn't get into amateur pornography with the intent of making money in EVE Online. He thought it might be a creative way to meet women after having bad luck with the usual methods, but three years ago Pornhub started its amateur program, offering anyone the opportunity to make cash by showing off their sexy side online. Similar to YouTube, creators are paid a slice of the ad revenue generated by their videos.

Of course, anyone savvy with YouTube knows that if your videos aren't receiving millions of views, you're not going to make any serious money. Tim's earnings on Pornhub aren't enough to quit his day job as a graphic designer and a writer, so he decided to become a billionaire in EVE Online instead. "My last check was over $350, which I mostly spent on EVE Online," Tim says. "That got me about 23 billion ISK and six months of subscription time for my [multiple] accounts."

It's not uncommon for people to funnel money into EVE Online. PLEX is an item you can purchase for real money that can be spent on subscription time and a host of other account services. Or, if you're like Tim, you can sell PLEX on the in-game market for ISK—the only difference being Tim is probably the only person "selling his body" to do so. "When I first realized that I was getting the check, I thought, you know what? I might as well put it into what I love, my greatest hobby, and what I spend the most time doing," Tim says. But that money isn't going towards cosmetic ship skins or other frivolous purchases. Tim is performing on camera so he can build his dream Jump Freighter business.

A stroke of genius 

There is no singular endgame to EVE Online like there is in, say, World of Warcraft. But piloting a Jump Freighter is as close as you can get if you're a merchant-minded player who likes the idea of playing with EVE's complex player-driven economy.

These lumbering haulers boast around 150,000 cubic meter cargo holds, enough to carry all but the biggest ships in EVE Online. They can cost just shy of 10 billion ISK for the hull and requisite modules and can take a new player upwards of six months of training before they can even sit in the captain's chair. 

But for players wanting to move a massive stockpile of merchandise safely, there's no equal. Jump Freighters come equipped with capital jump drives, letting them navigate from system to system without having to use the stargates other players use. This is important because stargates are where EVE's pirates love to hang out waiting to take a whack at those loot-filled piñatas. It's the kind of career where one wrong move can cost you 15 billion ISK in the span of a minute. "You have to be very careful," Tim warns.

Jump Freighters like this Rhea are an extremely costly investment.

The business operates on the back of EVE Online's contract market. Unlike the trade market, which automatically handles the exchange of one type of goods between pilots, contracts are a more robust way of trading. In Tim's case, players can make a hauling contract, asking a pilot to move a set of merchandise from one system to another. In exchange, the hauler gets a payment upon completion. In order to ensure the move goes smoothly, however, they have to put up collateral to cover the cost of the goods should they be destroyed or stolen. 

"Say someone wants to move 400 million ISK worth of merchandise from null-sec to high-sec, well they're going to ask you to pony up 500 million ISK as collateral to take the contract and to ensure that their merchandise gets there safely," Tim explains. "And I'll have to do that for each contract that I take, so it can be a total of about 5 billion ISK collateral for a single trip hauling multiple contracts."

If you have the ISK to afford everything and maintain an acceptable overhead, it's an incredibly lucrative business that can make you tens of billions of ISK a month. "Each trip takes you about an hour or two hours to get there and back, so it's a cost-efficient way of doing things." Tim says.

Risky business 

So why aren't more people doing it? Well, hauling goods is a bad combination of boring and dangerous—especially if you're doing it out in the lawless region of null-sec space. Unlike high-security space, which is patrolled by an NPC police force, null-sec has no laws. It's up to players and the alliances that assert control over star systems to protect their own. Tim has to 'multi-box' (play with multiple accounts at the same time) to stay safe, using alternate characters to scout and activate cynosural beacons that act as the destination point for his jump drive. 

Fortunately, he's a member of TEST Alliance, one of the biggest in the game. This affords him a good deal of security when moving through their territory. Once he gets to high-sec, however, his jump drive is deemed inoperable by EVE's rules and he has to use the gates like everyone else. "We have an established jump freighter route and various tools in the alliance that keep you safe," he says.

This was the sexiest EVE Online screenshot I could find.

The good news is that danger means players are happy to contract the work out to someone like Tim rather than risk moving their merchandise themselves, and they're willing to pay top dollar too. "As long as you keep your routes secure and you do it around downtime [when fewer players are on], it can be safe," Tim explains. He tells me that he expects to make 30 billion ISK in his first month and those earning will only scale up from there. That massive amount of money will cover everything he could possibly want to achieve in EVE. It's EVE's equivalent of being set for life.

What's more, he could spend that money on building his own trade empire. If TEST Alliance goes to war, they'll need ships and equipment to fuel the ongoing effort, and Tim can use his investment to buy the goods from high-sec trade hubs, haul them to the frontlines, and sell them to pilots needing to refit.

And so far, Tim's business plan seems to be working out just fine. If the worst happens and he's ganked and can't afford to recoup his losses, he'll simply make more videos and spend more of his Pornhub earnings in EVE—which, as far as backup plans go, sounds pretty solid.

I was expecting a more dismissive attitude, but they've been really supportive and happy for me.

TimEllington

Tim never expected the kind of reception he'd get when he first started filming himself on Pornhub. "I even have dedicated people who have been following my work for a long time. That's very interesting for me. It's been overwhelming for me to be receiving that kind of attention," he laughs. He tells me he's interested in finding a partner to join him on his channel, which will make his work appealing to a much broader range of people.

But for now, Tim is content to continuing touching himself for space riches.