Let’s get something straight from the outset; I am very slow on the uptake. I left school at 15 years old, and have spent most of my working life in trade related blue-collar work. The complexities of life are something I shy away from, and that includes Eve’s intricate political arena.
At some point, in pretty much every corp I’ve been in, I get asked to step up and help out with the running of the corp. I’ve done it, mostly out of a sense of obligation, but I hate it. Because I’m rubbish at it.
Right, now we understand each other, let’s push on. So today I had a minor epiphany regarding the major conflict driver in Eve. I had just read this article on Mitten’s website, which gives an excellent review of the history behind the current siege of the Emporium. And, aside from the lack of proofreading (as per usual) and more than a tad of bias, I have to declare it to be the best post I’ve ever read on that site. This caused reflection on my usual obsession; what is the underlying motivation behind all this?
Let’s run this theory up the flagpole and see if anyone sets fire to it; passive income is the driving force that CCP uses to instigate and promote large-scale conflict in Eve.
That’s right, it’s not an accidental consequence, it’s not some conspiracy between ex-Goon and PL devs and their masters, and it’s not left there due to CCP being a group of hard-headed numbskulls who don’t know what they’re doing. The presence of a passive income source in a top-down format is very deliberate. It’s also needed to make Eve what it is.
Think about it for a minute. What does CCP love to promote most about their game? The big fleet battles. Isn’t it also true that they tend to focus on null-sec when it comes to development? How many complaints have we heard over the years from other areas of the game that their sectors are woefully out-of-date and ignored?
Sovereignty null-sec has easily been the major focus of CCP ever since I started playing in 2009. With all the upcoming stuff, it has to be said that this focus shows no sign of a shift anytime soon. So, is it not logical to conclude that the thing that motivates nearly all the conflict in null-sec, passive income, is also deliberate?
That being the case, let’s look back at the history of top-down passive income in Eve. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to research this thoroughly beyond my own recollection, so we’ll start where I started; 2009. If anyone can add to this, please don’t hesitate to do so in the comments section.
When I started playing, the core conflict driver in null-sec was moons. Specifically, one type of moon; the one that yielded Technetium. Technetium was a bottleneck resource. That is, it was a critical ingredient in the construction of T2 equipment and ships. These moons were not evenly distributed around, but clustered into certain regions. The entities controlling those regions were, therefore, sitting on a goldmine. Wars were fought, powers shifted, and eventually, there were only a few alliances that sat on these particular ISK printers.
Following the example of the OPEC nations, these people formed a cartel, and commenced to price-fix the living daylights out of the stuff. Protests erupted, and the cries went unheeded for a very long time. At the time, conspiracy theories abounded, and the consensus was that CCP devs were up to naughtiness on a grand scale. Eventually, in the Odyssey patch, they restructured the moons, and Technetium was relegated to nestle in with other resources, R64 and R32 moons, in importance. To this day, however, those moons remain an impressive source of passive ISK (billions per moon per month), but they had a successor for the top spot.
The Russians had discovered another passive ISK source; renting out systems. When the moon-goo waned as a premium source of passive ISK, rental programs sprung up everywhere. Even the Goons joined in for a while, although that was relatively short-lived. Then FozzieSov changed the landscape, along with the capital jump-range nerfs. To this day, though, PL and the Russians in particular rake in billions of ISK per month for very little effort.
Now, we stand on the threshold of a new era, and CCP have outdone themselves with this one. The new citadels will usher in a literal wellspring of totally passive ISK for the chosen few. I myself have decried this obvious free gift. The conspiracy nuts have gone ballistic, with their efforts spurred on by the total silence about the issue from both CCP and the organizations who are set to benefit.
However, I’m seeing this whole controversy from a different angle, now. Just look at what the citadel tax has already done, before it even hits Tranquility. One of the big organizations, Pandemic Legion, as just one example, stands to make trillions of ISK per month, by building just one citadel in their rental area, Malpais, and making it the trade hub. NPC station taxes will be dearer, so the shift won’t even be hard to implement. But, what PL stand to make pales into nothing, in comparison with what the Emporium stood to make. Think about it; let alone the idea of a New Jita in the high-sec system next door, the hubs in the Emporium’s null-sec regions would have seen Mitten’s pockets bursting at the seams.
Under the existing system, most of the passive ISK from null-sec trade hubs was more active than desired. FC’s made good money by setting doctrines based on their stocks and then whelping said fleets to promote sales. But, that involves a lot of work in comparison to doing nothing, and the ISK went to a larger group of people than desired. Add to that the SRP which had to be doled out, too.
Under the new regime, ALL the ISK goes directly to the very top, and they have to do absolutely nothing to get it. Hell, they don’t even have to build the damn thing in the first place, because of all the starry-eyed industrialists who would do the job just to say, “I was there.”.
Pandemic Legion, NC., and a few other bigger alliances are not stupid. With all those regions under Mitten’s control, the Emporium would have plenty of citadels to pump out obscene amounts of ISK. Mittens would have become the virtual owner of null-sec, and I doubt those alliance’s leaders want to rely on the crumbs from their new master’s table. Happily for them, Mittens is, above all else, a complete twat, and had managed to offend pretty much everyone else who played Eve and wasn’t a Goon. The IWI fight with SMA was a good starting point. All they had to do from there was put their boys into the mix with the newly crowned Money-badger coalition, and Bob was, indeed, your auntie’s uncle.
So, with the Emporium burned and bruised, there’s a lot of potential citadel sites now up for grabs. It all depends on when the allies decide that Mittens has been subdued enough as to how much of the new teat the Goons have access to. I seriously doubt PL and NC. will go all the way. CCP would not appreciate a raft of discontented Goons heading off to another game, or torching high-sec. However, the generous handout CCP have promised to the powers that be has already reaped a bountiful harvest. Scores of players are re-subbing, to get in on the action and seize the chance to give the Goons a black eye. I read many comments that the game is alive for the first time in years, and it’s obvious many who have never experienced Eve’s end-game are doing so now.
This will all renew the player base to a certain degree, and CCP haven’t even delivered the goods, yet.
I have to say it; well-played CCP, well-played.