The job of Nullsec sovereignty powers is to be the easily-found game content for each other and, even more often, for NPC dwellers. CCP risks making that job so unprofitable that the supply of content dries up.
Eve PvE gameplay is notoriously horrible. This is not a unique problem: MMO PvE in general barely rose above the level of “kill ten rats” for many years. But, lead by World of Warcraft, the genre has gradually dragged itself up to a level where entertaining and varied scripted content is available, whether for solo or group play.
Eve, as a sandbox, does not even try to hold the attention of players with purely PvE content. To entertain ourselves, we players are ultimately expected to go out there and interact with other players. The PvE content is, frankly, appalling dull and repetitive: belt ratting and anomalies in particular are a decade out of date compared to the industry as a whole. Missions have hardly moved on since release, with the possible exception of the recently-added 1v1 burner missions. I suspect that those who stick to PvE – especially solo PvE – overwhelmingly tend to unsubscribe within their first year of playing. I also suspect that the vast majority of those CCP customers who are still playing after many years are those who interact heavily with others in a range of ways, but overwhelmingly through PvP.
The Unpalatable Truth
Here is the dark truth: sovereign nullsec space is a way for CCP to bribe players to be in space doing things so that other players can attack them. Make no mistake: the role of sov-holding nullsec players here is to stand in for rats. The inglorious fact is that we are the content. Sov and moon timers are a way that other players can schedule entertainment in advance. You want to provide entertainment for your players? Hit a moon or reinforce a system on a Thursday. Now you have a nice weekend fight set up.
This was not always the case: traditionally timers were a step on the way for one sov-holding group to take space or resources from another one. That’s no longer the dominant reason these days. Right now, The Geminate conflict and the removal of N3 from the South-East by Russians are that sort of fight. But PL’s attack on BNI is not: it is about providing fun for PL pilots. If you think that Pandemic Legion are going to move into Catch, settle down and raise some kids then I have some farmland on Rannoch Moor to sell you. Black Legion’s attack on Venal moons; Tri’s harassment of Bastion and the shenanigans of others: all of these are about scheduled entertainment. And while certain enthusiastic Grr Goons types desperately wanted to believe that the attack on Fountain by NCdot and friends, in conjunction with BL/Tri etc hitting the north, would lead to the loss of the region, I have no doubt that Vince Draken – a canny figure who has been at the top of Eve for years – knew perfectly well that it was all about letting his FCs and players have some fun.
The job of Goonswarm, of the rest of the CFC, of Darkness and Kadeshi, of BNI, of NCDot, Nulli, Legion of Death and of all our renters is to provide content. We are the people who sit here and provide fun targets to others (and occasionally to each other). The value of nullsec is calculated to incentivise us to put up with it.
To this end, with the upcoming sov revamp, it is vital that CCP get the balance right. Greyscale in particular was viewed with huge trepidation by many senior nullsec players, since he had repeatedly and explicitly stated his desire to make living in nullsec harder without any increase in the rewards of doing so. The result of that would be less people in sov nullsec, which means less targets for the predatory powers.
Greyscale wanted to shrink the size of the fields and stop fertilising the fields as much, leading to fewer sheep, which in turn would have seen the wolves starve. And yes, I am comparing my own and other alliances to herbivores, here. Phoebe’s jump changes, while in many ways positive changes to the long-term balance of the game, were nonetheless hugely negative on the quality of life of nullsec dwellers without any accompanying compensatory changes to make up for them.
I hope that the departure of Greyscale will give CCP a chance to see that making nullsec (and lowsec!) more profitable will lead to more targets for PvP which will lead to a healthier game.
My next article will be about how I feel about Goonswarm’s years-long move from being content consumers to content providers. That is, from being harassers to being targets. As you can imagine, this will be extremely politically controversial in certain quarters.