Header art by Redline XIII
EVE Online is not a PVP game. It never has been. It’s been a simulation with PVP in it, but it has never been a PVP game.
The other day I played a few matches in World of Warships. That is a PVP game. If a player wants to progress in the game, they need to queue up for a match and go shoot other players. And though there were some PVE elements added later, PVP still remains the focus. Indeed, it is 100% possible to progress through the game only PVPing. Want to sail a Hindenburg around, Kemosabe? I hope you like shooting other players.
In EVE, there are generally two ways for a character (that’s toonie to you pubbies) to advance. The first is skill points. This normally happens automatically and takes absolutely no effort on the part of the player. The second way to advance a character is to make ISK. This takes effort on the player’s part. Usually. PLEX allows someone to use their credit card.
PVP is an ISK Losing Activity
Let’s imagine that there are two players who have 100 identically fitted frigates each. Let’s further assume that they will maintain a 50-50 win rating. Each frigate is worth 50 million ISK and prices will never change. Those of you who know the physics joke about perfectly-spherical chickens in a vacuum might recognize our scenario will never happen in a dynamic system, but it’s the only way we can really look at this problem.
After 100 engagements, Pilot A has flown away victorious with loot and salvage 50 times. Pilot B has done the same. Because of drop rates, insurance never paying out full value, salvage never equaling the cost of the ship, neither pilot has made ISK. In this closed system, eventually one pilot will have lost everything, and one pilot will have lost nearly everything.
Of course this will never happen in EVE. One player will likely be better and the win rate will change the ISK in her favour. Market forces may come into play with salvage or loot drops. However, the fact remains that in a closed system, PVP is not self-sustainable. Ultimately, the entire game is a closed system.
PVP is Not Rewarded, With One or Two Exceptions
In World of Warships, when a player does damage, destroys enemies, or myriad other things that help achieve victory, the game directly rewards the player with experience points and money, the two things that a player needs to advance. With experience points and money, a player can buy better modules and better ships. Better modules and better ships are the way to advance in World of Warships.
In EVE Online, PVP does not reward the pilot. A victorious pilot might be able to loot and salvage, depending on the circumstances. A defeated pilot gets an insurance payout that does not come close to covering the loss of the ship.
The sole current exception is Faction Warfare. In all of EVE Online, Faction Warfare is the only aspect of EVE that could be considered PVP focused. In Faction Warfare, killing other players in the opposite faction provides a tangible reward within the game, in the form of Loyalty Points. And though Loyalty Points are an ISK sink (meaning that using the Loyalty Points store takes ISK out of the game) it is a reward. However, because Loyalty Points are an ISK sink, Faction Warfare is also not self-sustaining.
The other aspect of EVE that was PVP focused was the Alliance Tournament, or other PVP tournaments. At the end, the victorious teams were rewarded with unique ships that directly added value to their accounts. However, the Alliance Tournament was cancelled this year and no one has any idea if it is coming back. Other tournaments, like the Amarr Trials, happen on an as-needed, or as-wanted basis.
These two are the only exceptions to EVE not being a PVP game. And, again, neither of them are self-sustaining in a closed system.
EVE is a PVE Game
If one wants to make ISK in EVE, aside from using one’s credit card to buy PLEX to sell on the market, a player has to PVE. There are myriad ways to PVE in EVE: high and low sec missioning, abyssal diving, and ratting. Mining and industry also count because they create ISK through insurance payouts. Though that does require destruction. The PVP focused Faction Warfare even has its own missions for Faction Warfare pilots. All of these activities are required for EVE to function as a game. Without the injection of ISK into the economy, the economy dies. Without miners and industrialists to produce ships, the game dies.
PVE is directly rewarding to a player. When a player completes a mission, they get an ISK reward. When a player kills a rat, they get an ISK reward. When a player cycles a mining laser on an asteroid, they get ore in their cargohold. Recently, when CCP did their Season of Skills, killing a rat, or 5 or 10, netted the player skill points.
PVE is also a critical factor in Sovereign Null as well. Without PVE activity of some kind, the Activity Defense Multiplier does not go up. Without the ADM, Sov Null is more vulnerable to attack. So, if an alliance wants to be more secure, the pilots in that alliance, or at the very least the alliance’s system, must PVE. There is no other way.
PVE is Not Bad
So, there we have it. PVE is mandatory for EVE’s economy and game. To change it at this point would require a near-total redevelopment of the game and game systems. Without ISK from PVE being injected into the economy, the economy dies. Without minerals being mined, the economy dies.
Recently, Imperium Logistics Director Tuzy posted the stats on the Peak Concurrent User numbers since the blackout. The numbers are all the way bad. The PCU of September 1 is down almost 6 thousand accounts since the start of the Blackout. Anyone intelligent knows this is a bad thing. The dumb, stupid, idiotic, and moronic player thinks that the loss of 6 thousand accounts is good, because it’s either bots, or carebears. While it might take a while for the financial results to hit because of subscription time, this represents a loss of around $100 thousand a month, or $1.2 million a year. In no earnings report does that look good.
“As you can see on line 15, our revenue is down 1.2 million dollars this year. However, we feel that several factors offset this. The first is that Reddit is really, really happy with us. The second is that we feel the overall health of the game is better because it’s more of the hard-core PVPers left in the game,” said no one ever.
The other side effect is that prey has decreased.
Predators and Prey
Recently, I took a trip to the zoo to see the big cats that the Madison zoo has. Big cats are awesome. Around the lion exhibit there was the usual bit about the animals and how they lived in the wild. One thing really stood out to me. On average, it takes about 16 hunting trips for a lioness to make a successful hunt. EVE players bitch if they go one roam without seeing anyone.
For every predator, there needs to be a much greater number of prey. For every lion on the savanna, there needs to be hundreds more of suitable prey animals. For every pilot roaming around in a bomber trying to find a ratter to explode, there needs to be dozens or hundreds of targets. Most of them, sometimes all of them will get away.
All PVE activity needs to have greater rewards than risk. If a player cannot make more ISK, and by a large margin, than they lose PVEing, they will not do it. It does not matter how the losses happen, be it to rats or other players. In the wild, an over abundance of predators reduces the prey population. In turn, less prey means the predators die out. They have to balance. If those 6 thousand accounts less on the PCU were just carebears, then sooner or later there will have to be balance.
The Zimbabwe Syndrome
There is one downside to unchecked PVE: hyperinflation. Without ISK sinks (which oddly enough is not destruction), unchecked PVE will result in the kind of inflation seen in Zimbabwe or the Weinmar Republic. No one wants to pay trillions of ISK for a Tech II module. Predators attacking ratters in null sec does help the economy. Even the presence of a predator helps the economy when the ratters dock up. A docked ship generates no ISK.
There are a few problems, though. Firstly, a less-skilled pilot flying a Myrmidon in null generates less ISK and is more vulnerable than a supercarrier pilot doing the same thing in the same system. A lone lioness will make a rabbit scurry for shelter. However, the hippopotamus does not give one single fuck. However, the issue here is not one of PVE, or the design of null sec, but one of ship balance. Away from keyboard Vexor Navy Issues were never the problem for inflation that an at-the-keys supercarrier was.
Predators that do not like PVE hate their prey. See, the predators have to PVE to keep funding their PVP, but they don’t like it. So, the more effective the prey, the more total prey, the more ISK there is in the system. That means a predator has to do more of what they do like to keep funding the same activities.
(Botting is a completely separate issue that doesn’t belong in this article. Botting is all bad.)
Mining, on the other hand, is a complicated bit. Mining rocks does not generate ISK. Refining rocks costs ISK. Turning the refined minerals into useful things costs ISK. Selling goods on the market costs ISK. Only when a ship is destroyed does ISK get generated. This does not apply to modules. It has been a long time since CCP changed insurance to reflect the mineral cost. See, way back in the day, there were NPC sell orders for minerals on the market, because players didn’t mine enough to run the industrial machine needed to power EVE. Insurance payouts were based on those NPC sell order costs. Once players started mining more, the cost to manufacture and sell certain ships meant that one could buy those ships, insure them, and then self destruct them and make ISK. CCP fixed that one real fast. Insurance payouts are based on the mineral price indices. If every mineral cost .01 ISK, the insurance payout would be lowered to reflect that.
In that way, mining is probably the best PVE activity. More abundant minerals mean less expensive minerals. That means less expensive ships, which decreases the cost of PVP. There are a lot of people that decry the person multiboxing Rorquals, but that is not bad for the game. It’s not even bad for PVP.
And before anyone points out that there are a tonne of supercapitals now because of Rorquals, that is a separate issue! Again, the issue one of ship balancing and manufacturing.
We PVP So We Can PVE
As much as I like The Mittani, when he said recently that Goonswarm PVEs so they can afford PVP and the losses they cause, I think he got it backwards. PVP might be what many (most?) EVE players want to do. I know I enjoy it. However, PVP is not what we have to do. We, in the general sense of the player base, must PVE. So, when someone comes into our space to try and kill our PVE ships, we have to fight back. Without our PVE engine, the economy would crash and burn.
There are a lot of problems with EVE right now, specifically sov null sec (which is all I know and care about). This article doesn’t seek to address them, but rather rebut some of the sheer stupidity that is being said in all sorts of places about what kind of game is EVE Online.