I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!
-Jacobim Mugatu, Zoolander
It is time to put on my Napoleon hat, start channeling Gevlon, and commence spouting crazy talk once again. Crazy pills for everybody today!
I love a good conspiracy theory, and used to be quite the fan of watching them from afar, at least until we got a president who tried to run the country based on them.
Video games though, we’re safe there, aren’t we?
And today I want to unwind a theoretical tale about EVE Online. Like any good conspiracy theory, there are some facts I can use to anchor it, after which I can spin freely into the stratosphere of nonsense.
We’ll start with the end point and work backwards from that, as one does when one spins such a tale. And the end point is this, the Prospector Pack in the EVE Online web store.
The details, expanded, so you can see the full range of what you get for your $25.
Now, this seemed like a really odd move to me. Yes, CCP was pushing their mining changes with the patch earlier this week, and even running an event around mining, but part of the update was a new tutorial to teach players how to mine. It seemed like a bit of a jump, that $25 Retriever pack.
And then I looked at the Jita market for the Retriever and saw that they were kind of pricey and not exactly in plentiful supply.
It is possible that the Procurer, being more defense oriented, is preferred. Or maybe the Covetor is better due to its yield and range bonuses. The Retriever’s big thing is a lager ore hold. But the supply of the other two wasn’t exactly indicating popularity either.
Meanwhile, the T2 exhumers had all gone up in price as well, which made me start thinking about why that was.
But we know why that was. CCP has spent the last two years dedicated to strangling the economy in EVE Online. The scarcity era drove mineral prices to all time highs, well beyond anything ever seen in New Eden.
Even now, in the so-called “age of prosperity” resources remain extremely limited when compared to the time before CCP’s economic changes and the mineral price index, while no longer at an all time high, still remains well above any point in the history of the game.
What was CCP thinking?
This is the part in the conspiracy theory where you start to pull together different pieces of data… the facts that are needed bear the weight of the crazy you plan to unload… into a single narrative.
CCP has hamstrung the economy, reduced demand, made life miserable for both resource harvesters and industrialist… and now they are selling what seems to be one of the ships affected by the these changes for cash in the web store. What could all of this mean?
And then there is the great “AH HA!” moment that cements the facts together in a bundle of crazy.
CCP HAS WRECKED THE ECONOMY ON PURPOSE SO AS TO SELL SHIPS FOR CASH!
It is all so simple, so clear, such an obvious solution to the problems that the facts present that it must be true. All great conspiracies take silly, happenstance items and roll them up into a sinister plan dreamed up by an evil mastermind. It is all connected. The answer is out there.
Now, with that laid out, is time to cherry pick some supporting evidence, and there is nothing more fun that twisting someone’s words to fit your theory. Enter CCP Rattati.
He has stated in interviews that he has the last word on what goes into the game. Changes to the game follow his plan, so he must be the mastermind driving this. He has certainly been the leading proponent of the economic changes, claiming they were necessary for the long term survival of the game.
But he DIDN’T say that meant player production and industry specifically. And, in fact, his plan has gone out of its way to make those play styles much less viable. Scarcity stopped wars, got capital ships to dock up, sent people hoarding raw materials, and generally caused a large slump in activity.
What if he isn’t a complete incompetent at economic policy? What if he actually knows what “autarky” means, and that it being “anathema” applies to the whole of New Eden being self-sufficient? What if this was the plan all along? What if he meant “more cash flow” when he was referring to the survival of the game? What if this was the plan all along?
But, is this out of character for him or CCP in general? Would they go back on their much burnished statements about how important the player economy is? Can we find another time when CCP seemed to be saying… or maybe even explicitly said… one thing, then did another?
Does such a situation exist? DOES IT?
Why yes, yes it does. Let’s talk about skill points. I mean, sure, we could talk about how asset safety was said to be important to the game, until it wasn’t. But skill points are… more to the point.
We have, of course, the now infamous past statement from the company regarding skill points and skill injectors/extractors:
It’s very important to note here that this means all the skillpoints available to buy on the market in EVE will have originated on other characters where they were trained at the normal rate. Player driven economies are key to EVE design and we want you to decide the value of traded skillpoints while we make sure there is one single mechanism that brings new skillpoints in to the system – training.
Note also the reference to “player driven economies.” That is important.
And we all know that how that went. The promise that skill points would all come from what was trained in the game at normal speed fell by the wayside with Alpha Injectors, then skill point login rewards, then a new player focused, once per account skill packs on the web store, then skill points being bundled into other packs, then direct offers to buy skill points, and then, finally, just straight up skill points for sale in the web store.
Each step along the way was just enough to annoy people, but not enough to cause a revolt. They were just baby steps and there was always some way to rationalize them. It was boiling the frog slowly, and we didn’t realize we were cooked until it was too late.
We now have an established pattern of behavior… you just need two points to define a line here in crazy town, and you can just assume one of them… for the company, and from that you can draw all the parallels you need to fit any other behavior.
So who killed the New Eden economy?
CCP Rattati, in the conference room, with the dry erase marker.
And why did he do it?
To sell more stuff from the web store, because otherwise EVE Online players would just keep making things for themselves in the game.
Or so my crazy conspiracy theory goes.
But it is just a theory and I tend to attribute things to ignorance over malice most days of the week. I mean, they are selling a fit Retriever, but then didn’t include anything for the rig slots? For a $25 mining ship, I want all the damn slots filled.
But maybe they just want me to think they’re incompetent as a cover! Hrmmm…
Addendum: Apparently if you run the new mining career agent you get the “buy a barge” offer as a pop-up in the game… with a discount!