In all the sound and fury surrounding the deployment of the new sovereignty system, one seemingly minor change has had a major impact on the future of nullsec logistics. During the changeover from the old system to the new CCP, deleted untold billions in player assets without any attempt at compensation or any way for players to avoid the loss.
The problem stems from the practice, common among larger nullsec alliances, of keeping multiple anchored Infrastructure Hubs (Ihubs) in key systems. There were a couple reasons for this. First, moving Ihubs required a freighter, and moving a freighter around in the middle of an active war is unwise, so having a spare was a smart idea. Second, strategic upgrades, like cynosural jammers, generate bills for having the upgrade installed on an active Ihub no matter if the jammer (a separate module from the Ihub upgrade) was online or not. Keeping one anchored but offline was a major cost savings to sovholders.
After the recent changes, only one Ihub is allowed in space at any given time. According to the dev blog detailing the release,
Under the new system, only one TCU and one IHub will be allowed in space per system. As part of this transition, on the patch downtime any TCU or IHub that is in space but not in an online state will be destroyed. This will ensure that only one TCU and one IHub per system will remain. We advise all Alliances to ensure that their IHubs are online before the release downtime on the 14th.
This would have been no issue, except that most of the value in an anchored Ihub is not the Ihub itself, but the upgrades plugged into it. For example, a basic Pirate detection array costs 130m with each of the four successive upgrades growing more expensive. A cynosural jammer upgrade costs 420m, and a full suite of mining upgrades totals up to well over a billion ISK. More importantly, there is no way to reclaim these upgrades after they are plugged in; un-anchoring the Ihub destroys them.
This problem was pointed out by Goonwaffe robber-baron Aryth in the comments thread,
Why is there no reimbursement of all the TCU/s and IHUBS? It seems simple enough to cause the script to deposit ISK or the TCUs and IHUBS into a station?
CCP Fozzie responded that this was something that had historically turned out poorly,
The large ISK injection is something we would like to avoid at this time, and history has proven that reimbursing ISK for player-manufacturable items is extremely dangerous.
And that was where the discussion rested, with further requests that the upgrades just be dropped in a station somewhere ignored, although other questions were answered by Devs later in the thread. The losses to Goonswarm alone totaled well over fifty billion ISK, along with many logistics man-hours.
In and of itself this would hardly be significant. However it raises a far larger question about the future. The eventual intent of the structure overhaul, currently in progress, is to replace existing outposts with something new. When that change happens, what will become of the upgrades installed on each outpost?
The sums of ISK involved dwarf the Ihub losses; to deploy a fully upgraded station costs around ninety billion ISK. Multiply this across all of nullsec and the bill for an “Ihub style” changeover would run into the double digit trillions, as well as obliterating thousands upon thousands of hours of player effort.
Until CCP clarifies their stance on the issue, it would be a brave logistics team that endured the risk, tedium, and expense of installing a station upgrade, knowing it might vanish in a few months. CCP should make clear, publicly and as soon as possible, that what happened with the Ihubs was a one-off event, or they will be undermining their own stated goal of getting players to live and invest in their own space.
Editor’s Note: As an opinion piece this article reflects the views of the author and not TMC as a whole.
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by FearlessLittleToaster.