EVE Devblog: Security Update – Q1 2019

Bill McDonough 2019-02-21

This Tuesday, Feb 19, Team Security released a new devblog on the subject of botting and RMT in EVE Online. The opening paragraphs summarized the state of the current efforts. In many ways, these have become almost boilerplate prose. ‘Hello, players. Botters, RMT, other bad things. We’re aware/discussing/looking at things. Here are numbers.’ All pretty standardized by now.

And it’s easy to start to glaze over at these opening grafs. They feel like the same thing over and over, and they should. Because they are. But that’s not a bad thing. It’s an ongoing project, after all, and one in which the trench warfare is going to be a long, immobile slog. In some ways, this is the real foreverwar of EVE: Team Security vs The Bads. But you know us EVE players… we love our killboards, and CCP helpfully obliges this quarter, as with all the others:

  • 1350 account bans for account hacking.
  • 4102 account bans for botting related activities.
  • 1205 account bans for RMT related activities.

Those numbers show a drop in the bans for hacking and RMT (and, hopefully, a corresponding drop in the actual activities), from 2316 and 2595, respectively. Botting, up all of 93 cases since the Q4 devblog last year, remains statistically unchanged. When taken together with the Q2 and Q3 devblog reports, this means that Team Security has issued over 43,000 account bans for hacking, botting, or RMT over the last year. But the numbers of ‘the war so far’ aren’t the end of this quarter’s report. Instead, we get a look at Future Plans (not worth anything for bingo outside the Fireside, Goons), and a reminder to be vigilant.

CCP’s Do’s…

The biggest news to come out of this devblog is what CCP is planning to do. CCP is going to restrict all Level 4 and higher missions to Omega-clones only. This means no Alpha-clone Ravens running L4s in lowsec. No Alpha haulers trucking L4 Distribution missions across highsec. This has easily spurred the greatest amount of commentary in the feedback thread. There’s a lot of questions about how L4s really contribute to botting, but after reviewing a few guides, it’s probably not botting L4 combat missions creating the problem. The L4 Distribution missions are the bulk of it. But using dozens of accounts to spam mission agents so you keep getting burners to do has to add in.

Alphas can get burner missions, but the ships they have available, with the skills they have available, really aren’t good enough to do the missions. But they don’t have to be. Instead, all they need to do is get the bookmark to the mission site. That bookmark gets transferred to an Omega, who runs the mission. Then the Alpha turns it in, and gets the higher-than usual rewards. It’s like running escalations in nullsec, if you were farming them with 50 accounts. Rapid-cycling Alpha logins to check a hundred mission-offering RNGs isn’t what Alpha clones were designed for.

And there are almost certainly more variations on the theme that don’t immediately come to mind. So CCP has decided that it’s simply easier and more time-effective to limit the Alpha clones to L3 and lower missions. It sucks that this will impact honest, ‘blue-collar’ alpha players who were using the system properly. Still, it’ll be easier for CCP to loosen the reins in the future than it would be to keep slowly taking bites out of what alpha clones can do. This change will be going in as of the March release, which, according to Eve Updates, will never occur. Hopefully the updates page will be updated soon. We’ll be watching for that on the CCPlease chart.

… and Don’ts

The devblog also cautions Alliance and Coalition leaders against harboring bots and RMTers. ESI tools do allow a level of granularity that would let leadership audit the ratting and mining activity of their members, even in rental alliances. However, it’s unlikely that CCP really expects anyone to do that. Rather, the warning is likely a pre-emptive measure. It’s not even an usual stance. In most countries, you can’t benefit from a crime, even if you didn’t commit it. Received a gift that was stolen? It’ll get taken by the cops. Got money from a heist? You have to give it back to the person who lost it. It’s normal.

Unfortunately, it can also be crippling. Imagine an alliance in the middle of a war, finances already straining under the SRP burden, that suddenly winds up with a wallet ballance of -300,000,000,000 ISK. How do you afford SRP? Or fuel your jump freighters to keep the materiel coming in, and the citadels going down? How do you afford anything, all of a sudden? That kind of sudden upheaval in an alliance’s finances could be catastrophic. And who can the alliance leaders recoup it from? The bastards who got it taken away have already been banned. So CCP appears to have chosen to present a reminder to alliance leaders, rather than simply standing back to point and laugh when it happens.

… And So It Goes

The devblog then includes the now-familiar call for players to use Two Factor Authentification (2FA). And really, that’s just common sense. This is EVE, folks. Protect yourselves, because there’s a whole lot of terrible people out there between your keyboard and chair. Think about what jerks your friends can be. Think about how much less other people in EVE like you. Wear an account condom already.

Then it wraps up with a reminder to keep letting CCP know if you see anything egregious, a promise to keep on working, and a link to the feedback thread. No promises of future Yulai Deathsquad parties like in GM week, though. Shame. They were fun. Bring those back, CCPlease!

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Comments

  • Zaand

    I know right? Why should paying customers get access to more of the game than non-paying customers. Eve would be so much better if it was just one big F2P theme park. Non-consensual PVP should probably be outlawed as well, lest a new player gets their feelings hurt and leaves the game.

    February 21, 2019 at 3:48 pm
    • Arrendis Zaand

      Alpha and Omega are only tangentially connected to ‘paying customers’ though, because PLEX.

      I know people who have Omega on all of their accounts, and haven’t paid for a damned thing in years. They make money in-game, buy PLEX, and go that way. (Actually, I know a lot of people like that. Even without getting into ‘literally thousands of skill-farming accounts that are all Omega and never actually pay a dime for it’.)

      And, I know people with just Alphas who make ISK and spend it on PLEX for SKINs.

      In both cases, that player is not a ‘paying customer’, but they are putting money into CCP’s wallet by providing demand for PLEX sales (almost said ‘supplying demand’, but damn, that’s an awkward construction, huh?).

      I also know people who have Alpha accounts who actually buy PLEX with cash… for SKINs. I won’t claim to understand why they don’t go Omega, make more money, and spend ISK to get PLEX for SKINs, but they don’t.

      They’re actual paying customers. But they’re getting penalized here, through no fault of their own.

      I’m not going to say CCP’s right or wrong in doing this. I think it’s a shame that people playing by the rules and spirit of the Alphas are getting hit because others aren’t playing by those rules… but I don’t have the info CCP does about their options. So I can’t really make an informed call on good/bad overall.

      But the very nature of PLEX makes it a lot harder than it first looks to peg one group as ‘paying customers’ and the other as ‘non-paying customers’.

      February 22, 2019 at 5:06 pm