In an article posted to the revamped EVE Online news site on March 26, titled “A significant update to Industry,” CCP developers announced an extensive set of changes to industry in New Eden. To call the changes significant almost seems to be an intentional understatement, and the responses from the community have been varied, both highly polarized and polarizing.
As a writer with INN who has written some considerably longer pieces, I looked at this news and decided to break it into multiple responses. There’s a lot here, and yet simply too much yet remaining to cover in a single, monolithic article. I wouldn’t want to bludgeon you with the whole of my thoughts. This is because, and I can’t stress this enough, I don’t know who these changes are intended for.
This is the first of at least two articles to cover the enormity of this industry change. Part two will delve into the numbers in greater detail; there will also be wider coverage here on INN.
To lay out an overview of the planned changes to EVE Online, the developers have increased the complexity of industry in New Eden. Many of the changes are additional stages to the industrial process, and require a more granular mastery of the resource systems of EVE.
These additions stand in the form of:
- An increased dependency on Mykoserocin & Fullerite gas clouds.
- T1 Sub-capitals up to battlecruisers will require only minerals to build; navy, faction, and pirate vessels are no longer considered T1 for the purposes of industry.
- The following existing products will be introduced as required components for shipbuilding, as well as new products:
- K- and J-Space Gases: Mykoserocin and Fullerites will be required for new required materials and components.
- Planetary Products: (For navy, faction, and pirate subcapitals, and all battleships) Bacteria, Proteins, Oxygen, and Water. (For capitals and super-capitals) All Planetary Products.
- Fuel blocks are a required component now. The following planetary products will be needed more than ever: Robotics, Enriched Uranium, Coolant, Chiral Structures, and Mechanical Parts.
- Moon Products: All of the R4 moon materials, plus some reaction outcomes from other moon classes.
- Ice Products: All ice products.
Potential and Expected Outcomes
It is hard to set a sense of scale on the above changes. Every area of space will be impacted by these changes. Every gameplay style will be impacted by these changes. Every market will be affected by these changes. None of this will happen gracefully or gently.
What follows is a non-exhaustive, broad-stroke, list of the changes players in the defined categories will feel. The likelihood of these stated outcomes is entirely dependent on whether or not CCP responds proactively to player feedback once the changes are in place. If CCP dedicates the time to making this modified system work, it has the potential to be less terrible. If CCP does nothing, the outcomes may indeed be worse than what I and others have predicted.
Let me be clear: The silver lining of this release exists in the form of a silver spoon; the wealthy will be untouched. For the rest, these production changes drive away all but the most dedicated of industrialists. It further significantly dis-incentivizes veteran and new players from engaging in industry. At best, material producers will break even. At worst, everyone breaks.
This represents the setting of a new industrial paradigm.
Setting baseline sectors for understanding the scope of changes, here are some economic sub-categories for understanding the immediate ramifications of these developments:
Impacts to New Players
Currently, new players that explore as a means to generate income, or as one of several streams of income, follow a relatively predictable ship progression. Typically it follows T1 exploration frigate, to the Astero, to (T2) Covert Ops or the Stratios.
It follows this progression because the Astero and Stratios are open to Alpha clones; the hulls are just that good that new explorers will elect to subscribe for the benefit of Covert Ops Cloaks. This will change though, as the new material requirements for Sisters of EVE Vessels are about to drive the prices up. (The Stratios is projected to be the most expensive cruiser, full stop.)
Industry and Mining:
It will take new players significantly longer to get into industry and mining. First, the price of all mining vessels, but specifically barges, are going to go up. The Procurer has already increased in price by 80%. This price creep will have a suppressive effect on progression, as new players have to save longer to get into barges and strip miners.
This creates a delaying effect as new players struggle to decide whether it’s more advantageous to get into a barge or an industrial. It’s worth noting that the price of T1 haulers will also likely increase. The new material costs involved in manufacturing industrials will probably make them approximately 1 million ISK more expensive to build. This increase is, in large part, due to the fact that the Pyrite requirements are going up across the board.
New players lose industrials more often. The cost to replace them is growing, but income is unlikely to scale accordingly. This will dis-incentivize new players from sticking with industry. The sense of defeat in losing industrials and barges will hurt twice as much as now.
I suggest that the Gas Cloud Harvesting skill book has intentionally been priced prohibitively for new players. I suspect that this was a measure to prevent botters and experienced members of the community from taking advantage of huffing wormhole gases with new or low-skilled characters.
While I can see why CCP may have taken this approach, it’s a non-sequitur; botters and experienced players don’t balk at a price tag if there’s money to be made. New players are inclined to look at the price tag and cringe.
These new changes make certain gases, specifically Mykoserocin and wormhole Fullerite gases indispensable. These gases will likely command much greater prices than ever before. Why, then, are the skill books priced out of the reach of new players, when their labour to collect these gases could be a vital part of this particular new economy?
Impacts to Independent Producers
Independent producers will see an incredible expansion in the number of skills required to manufacture anything more involved than T1 ships and modules. All faction, pirate, and navy vessels – and all battleships – will require new materials and components: these requirements are comprised of specific gases, planetary goods, moon products, and ice products.
These additional requirements, and the skills required to refine, process, and use the new mats represent a notable increase in additional skill points to be able to build all ships and modules.
Rising Barrier to Entry:
Planetary Interaction (PI) products make up a not-insignificant percentage of the components required to build Upwell Consortium structures. As planetary products are now required for building faction, navy, pirate, capital, and supercapital or titan class ships, demand for planetary products is about to very quickly outstrip supply. This will drive an exponential increase in PI prices.
This is good, right? Wrong.
Sure, anyone doing PI (which requires Omega – sorry alpha newbros) will make off like a bandit, initially. Those gains begin to evaporate when you have to build or buy new Upwell structures and orbital infrastructure to support said PI. This is especially true in a war of conquest, when people are actively trying to remove that infrastructure.
New industrialists face steeply rising initial capital investment. It’s an industrial Catch-22: you can’t build without PI, you can’t get PI without a Player-Owned Customs Office.
Rising Operating Costs:
Compounding with the above, many of the new materials and dependencies in blueprints call for materials which are products of reaction formulae. Reactions take fuel blocks, which require ice products and planetary products. Fuel blocks themselves are also required materials for some of the new components. This feels like administrative double-taxation, but let’s go with this and see where it leads.
If you are a small producer who is currently making fuel blocks in-house, you now need to increase output. If you are unlucky enough to live in one region of space, and the blueprint you’re following calls for fuel blocks from another region of space, you now have the added cost of bringing those fuel blocks in, effectively doubling your cost for fuel blocks.
If you are a small producer who is currently importing fuel blocks, you are about to see your prices for fuel blocks rise dramatically, at least for the foreseeable future. Everyone is going to need fuel and a lot of it.
As many of the gases required are being moved to low-sec and wormholes, this will force small producers to go farther afield to get the required mats, or trade with those who already live there.
Since reactions cannot be run in high-security space, and because having middle-men is an unacceptable pricing handicap in the markets, independent industrial producers will have to establish infrastructure in low-sec and null-sec space. Since low-sec has a lot of pirates, null has a lot of empty space, and rig sec-scaling is a current mechanic, it actually makes more sense to move to null rather than low, as there are greater returns.
Industrialists are benefitted by moving to null.
Impacts to Corporations and Alliances
One part of the new changes to industry is that the demand on ice products will be tremendous, which is going to hurt isotope supply and increase prices for a good long while. Demand will likely outstrip supply. Basic economics, here.
As this compounds with the demand for fuel, that squeeze gets even tighter. Now, consider the logistical demands of large corporations, alliances, and coalitions still engaged in war. Measure this against the cost of maintaining a fleet of jump freighters and keeping them fueled.
If Napoleon is right that “an army marches on its stomach,” then keeping bellies and bandoleers supplied is of critical importance. Supply lines fail if the jump freighters cannot move; much of the non-critical war efforts are likely to face operational starvation.
Another significant drain on the war efforts across New Eden is that the same jump freighters which keep armies supplied and ships seeded are themselves going up in price. Both mineral competition and the addition of new materials demand an increase in material cost. Our current modelling suggests an increase of 75-115% in price.
When replacing jump freighters – lost to griefers, the enemy, and professional pirates – becomes too costly, supply lines will start to fail. This compounds with the increased price and complexity to build nearly every ship in the game. This means that every dollar spent by corporate and alliance war chests goes half as far.
It is entirely possible (and, in some organizations, expected) that we will see ship stockpiles entirely depleted and runs on the market for certain hulls, with no replacements to be found in the short term.
If the production costs are rising prohibitively for independent producers, imagine the costs to large corporations, alliances, and coalitions. These groups maintain extensive networks of jump gates, cyno jammers, and beacons; to say nothing of keeping their capital umbrellas pre-flighted.
The costs of moving capital fleets and replacing capital losses are about to become burdensome in the extreme. There will simply be too much competition from the new demands on resources lower down the chain of industry. Supply will be gobbled-up from the bottom.
The dependence on wormhole gases specifically creates a unique situation, whereas the gas clouds themselves do not predictably respawn in the same system, in the same configuration, or evenly throughout Anoikis. Competition for these rarified resources means that you may have to travel through 6-11 systems before finding clouds which have not already been depleted. Many players will find themselves infuriated by the practice of wormholers of leaving a few units of gas in the cloud, in the hopes that at downtime it will refresh in the same system and not move to another.
The effort to chase these gas resources will be exhaustive, expensive, and time-consuming.
An important note is that one of the most expensive components going into capitals are Neurolink Conduits and the racial FTL Interlinks. These are key components in capital builds. They have blueprints on Singularity; however the FTL blueprints are not seeded anywhere and Hoboleaks has them listed at approximately 1.5 billion ISK. The Neurolink conduits are listed at full price (40 million ISK each).
There is the very real possibility that CCP may, in a fit of panic, attempt to fix things and end up overcorrecting. This is potentially worse than outright starvation, as it could completely dissolve confidence in the EVE markets.
Production cost increases may push a lot of skilled industrialists out of industry, only to rebound and be replaced by people trying to fill the void who are less sure of what they’re doing – adding to production delays and shortfalls.
There are going to be production delays. Firstly, everyone needs to learn the new systems, the new dependencies, train up (or inject) the required skills, and prioritize rebuilding production chains. Even with the help of tools like EVE ISK per Hour (which has an update) this is going to represent a significant sink in time spent getting our communal heads screwed on right.
Then, there are the system-based delays baked into the primary resources required in the new capital, supercapital, and titan production chains.
One of the primary newly-required components for capital builds are the FTL Communicators. These units are already looking to be very pricey. Because of the gases and mats required to build them, they vary by price for each empire, with the lowest estimated unit price for an FTL sitting at about 1M ISK each, and the highest sitting at about 10M ISK per unit. The Gallente version (the Gravimetric-FTL Communication Interlink), required for the previously-mentioned Erebus calculations, runs about 4M ISK each based on current pricing & supply levels.
The Erebus requires 500 of them.
Just the wormhole gases required to build those 500 FTL units will cost between 11 and 13 billion ISK at current prices. You require them in sufficient quantity that it will take 4-5 gas-positive C6 wormholes to supply the need for a single Erebus.
Fullerines are also used in T3 production, which puts titan production in direct competition with T3 production. It’s not just titans though; all capitals will require wormhole gases.
For example, Fullerine C320 Primary gas sites in wormholes contain a maximum of 12,000 units per cloud, and secondary sites a meagre 2,000.
The C320 sites are found only in C5, C6, and Shattered wormholes. These number 512, 113, and 100 systems, respectively. That is 725 of 2600 Anoikis systems (28% of wormhole space) that may or may not contain an active gas cloud of the type you want.
Let me provide a concrete example I shared in the CSM Discord:
Let’s assume the following are true:
1. You alone are able to get all of the Fullerite-C320 every day, throughout all of wormhole space (a harvest monopoly).
2. You are building only Erebus titans.
3. You have a perfect supply chain for all the other required materials.
You can build an average of 11 titans per day, every day, with the current amount of wormhole gases available in EVE. Even if CCP ridiculously expands availability of these gases, I project that production rates will fall to at least 50% of their current levels.
Divide that amount of gas across everyone in EVE who wants to build T3Cs, Boosters, or Titans. Then, do the same thing for Mexallon, Pyerite, and Planetary P4s (PI). Then, add in the increased build costs of barges, planetary gantries, and industrials.
It’s a problem of the dissolution of outputs across too many manufacturers.
Ask any wormholer how many wormhole systems you have to traverse before you find the gas you’re looking for under current conditions. Then, add all of the above nascent market demand and competition on top of that.
Not only will there be artificial market delays imposed by competition and the gas clouds being rapidly exhausted throughout J-Space (welcome, new virtual gold rush) but we have absolutely no idea what the inciting condition is for wormhole gas cloud spawn incidence, other than downtime. We do not know how long they take to fully de-spawn, what their re-spawn rates are, and how their distribution is governed. So, you might go 1-3 days before seeing another gas cloud of the same type re-spawn in the same J-class system under the current configuration.
Even if CCP implements an even distribution across all high-class wormholes, I don’t think that will meet the demand the market is about to manifest. The above FTL Interlink example I gave is just one component in one class of ship amidst a sea of new requirements. This says nothing of the new Capital Core Temperature Regulators, which at current prices have an estimated unit cost of 1.5 billion ISK each.
Since I’ve just spent the last three hours explaining why wormholes will be critical to industry in New Eden, it bears noting that the largest wormhole groups have been doing everything they can to make wormhole space inhospitable to anyone less organized and determined than they are.
As the materials found only in wormhole space are absolutely critical to maintaining the capital and supercapital umbrellas of every large corporation, alliance, and coalition, you can expect that major beachhead offensives will kick off in wormhole space – if they haven’t already.
Congratulations, meatsacks, you’re going to wormhole space.
Falling Down, one Premise at a Time
I’ll draw your attention to the statement I made at the start of this article:
I don’t know who these changes are intended for.
On the surface, my first reach was that this initiative (to rework industry in EVE Online) was another of CCP’s desultory attempts to incite change and drive the rapidly-evaporating rhetoric which states:
Abundance breeds Complacency and Scarcity breeds War– EVE Development Team
Predictable Inputs lead to Stagnant Outputs
Autarky is Anathema to Free Trade
I repeat: I don’t know who these changes are intended for.
Are they for CCP?
A common interpretation of the first line of CCP’s development “Haiku” (it’s not a Haiku) is a denigration of the capital proliferation in New Eden. ‘Too many caps is bad. Abundance is bad. No one was risking their capital fleets and things got stagnant; we should shake it up and maybe they start fighting again.’
Well, that interpretation can’t be right because with these changes, replacing lost capitals will be 300-400% more onerous. I don’t know about you, but if someone told me I was going to total my car and that a replacement would both take a lot longer and cost a lot more, I would instantly become a new student driver. I would not throw caution and sanity to the wind as Baby Driver.
It appears that CCP is convinced the existing system is completely imbalanced and these scarcity changes have been required to address overwhelming abundant stockpiles without invoking a hard stop.
A fellow EVE player said:
… I’m not in for that neo-Marxist “reset” bullshit…
I am inclined to agree with him.
The more I look at the numbers provided by CCP and the scope of the changes, the more this reads like a specific and intentional change: the insertion of a lever whose objective is to move the economy of New Eden by inserting controls on the price of its most expensive assets. It feels like a sledgehammer aimed squarely at the titan.
As true as this feels, and as much as the data seems to support it, there are cheaper and less destructive ways to achieve that end. If the titans were the only target, it would be easy enough to add a new required component to titans and supercapitals and call it done without impacting the rest of the economy.
Taking a broader perspective, the EVE economy gives CCP ‘one throat to choke’ to steer player efforts and energy, but only if we engage. If this industry overhaul is representative of willful coercion, then these also represent thinly-veiled malicious changes. They present a handsome disguise – introducing ‘change that’s good for EVE.’
CCP may be playing a dangerous game of chicken with the community.
Are the changes for the community?
CCP could be trying to help us. Perhaps this is just their flavour of tough love.
One interpretation of the second line in the “Haiku” is that we have become stagnant and complacent. The abundance achieved by gamifying every possible system and outcome to the Nth degree has reduced risk to the point of non-consideration. Much like teenagers with console gaming systems in our bedroom, mom and dad have arrived to make us play outside.
That said, the forced march relocation to low-sec and wormhole space feels pretty heavy-handed. The low-sec and Faction Warfare communities have been complaining about the slow death of their space for years. Maybe this is what CCP looks like when they decide to do something about revitalizing entire sectors of space?
If the hacker collective Anonymous is right, and none of us are as cruel as all of us, is this Pahlaniuk’s “kick to the ant-hill” meant to spur us into action? Is CCP just taking wild swings at our comfort in the hope that something will snap; that we will begin to see the game the way they want us to? That they can ‘beat it into us?’
Even if it works, will we truly turn on one another and give them the cluster-spanning warfare that would represent sufficient upheaval?
Or will we band together and rebuild what was lost to establish a return to the old status quo? Given sufficient time, I am certain EVE players can gamify anything you give them.
In any case, that sounds like a pretty abusive relationship.
Are the Changes for Someone Else?
As much as I hope that CCP wants the best for New Eden, the idea that “Autarky is Anathema to Free Trade” is laughable.
Free trade can only occur if a state exists with enough self-sufficiency to produce a surplus. Without surplus, you cannot have trade. You trade something you have for something you need. Even states which are functionally independent don’t live in a vacuum.
Sidebar: North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
If you’re looking for a real world parallel for the abuse of relationship we’re examining here with CCP, the North American Free Trade Agreement stands as a great example.
It was an agreement entered into by three nations, on the promise that each would benefit equally from increased trade and lowered barriers to interaction. In practice it didn’t turn out that way, with both Canada and Mexico seeing significant portions of their industry, primary harvesting, and manufacture losing ground. NAFTA formed the foundation for an unequal relationship.
Changing the interactions of previously stable relationships significantly hurt the industries of two countries.
Subsistence farmers are not traders. You cannot trade if you are busy trying to feed yourself. There is also a challenging situation in Latin America; that privatization means that a smaller number of individuals are able to concentrate surplus in meagre economies, by virtue of access, force, or capital fortitude.
To quote Julio Piumato of the Argentinian Justice Worker’s Union,
“When the workers lose through inflation, it’s not because that money is disappearing. It’s because someone is profiting with what should be ours and the rest of the workers’.”
So who benefits from this kind of upheaval?
Who benefits? Anyone who enjoys the conditions of disparity and the development of socioeconomic classes in New Eden.
That is, after all, what is happening here. We are seeing the creation of four new socioeconomic classes. We have thus far identified the three primary groups: new players, independent producers, and player corporations.
We have not looked at the fourth group: the ridiculously wealthy.
Mirroring the real world, those whose wallets, stockpiles, and – at the risk of sounding like a Marxist – command of the means of production will at most face minor bother. Much as in the real world, the costs and responsibility of reorganizing the industrial machinery to accommodate for these changes will be delegated downstream.
The burden of the effort will be distributed across the bulk player organizations, with the most onerous activities being driven to the bottom. The time about to be spent scanning wormholes and populating tools like Pathfinder with the locations of gas anomalies is going to be foisted upon junior players.
In this way, the EVE trillionaires won’t be significantly disrupted. They live so far above the mean of New Eden’s society that they have the freedom to functionally ignore the daily goings-on. They smash the last line of the development ‘Haiku’ like Einstein’s relativistic rock; Autarky and Free Trade are their bitch.
If CCP isn’t hyper-vigilant with “turning the dials” (to quote Kenneth Feld – CSM Discord, #serious_talk, March 28, 2021), we will see the beginning of full-scale systems collapse and outright failure cascade. I am not convinced this isn’t already under way, and we just haven’t noticed yet. All it will take is one of CCP’s competitors to make a better, full-featured space MMO, and players will leave in droves. This should terrify CCP – they have exactly one profitable product.
This is only the second time in my career as an EVE reporter that I’ve had to use the term “failure cascade.” The last was when I was reporting on the collapse of Fidelas Constans (FCON). The notable characteristic of that implosion was how quiet it was. I am once again beset with concern for the community.
CCP is functionally telling us, and apparently the majority of the CSM as well, that “this is how it is, and you’ll have to adjust.” They are dictating terms while accepting that some will inevitably benefit from privileged positions, while morale, sinking again, echoes the collapse of FCON.
“All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.”Noam Chomsky
Currently in EVE Online, players feel helpless. Players feel as if their decision to consume is being punished by CCP. Players feel as if their ability to ratify decisions is being restricted by developers refusing to engage with their elected representatives; the Council of Stellar Management.
Veteran players’ gameplay, virtual livelihoods, and operational expansion are largely dependent on the simultaneous use of multiple accounts. This is by CCP’s own design. In fact, there is very good data to suggest that a significant portion of new character creation is alternate accounts for existing players who are scaling up or branching out.
Why, then, does CCP seem insistent on punching down against those who repeately subscribe to the game? What deficiency do the players possess that we continually succumb to the Stockholm Syndrome that is playing EVE Online?
We will be back with further by-the-numbers industrial analysis. We hope, in the meantime, that you will enjoy our other coverage and seriously consider some of the questions raised here.