Header art by Major Sniper
About a month after the end of Eve Online’s recent galactic war between the forces of the Imperium and PAPI, a friend who is fairly new to the game shot me a message over Discord: “So, when does the next one start!” He had all the enthusiasm of an overstimulated puppy. A month earlier the major blocs were on the verge of collapse from war fatigue, with only 40% of active pilots showing up for fleets, whole alliances collapsing onto the ash heap of online history, and an inconceivable butcher’s bill of destroyed infrastructure.
This won’t be replicated for quite some time
These wars are not organized by CCP; they are not a quarterly event and Beeitnam was the most ferocious conflict in EVE’s history. The cost for both sides amounted to the equivalent of 2.5 million US dollars, according to INN’s Beeitnam Retrospective Article by Ban Syrin.
Imagine setting up a game of chess so complicated that it took more than a year to get it just right and it cost 2.5 million us dollars or so, split between you and a few thousand friends over 2-3 years. This carnage, then, is the cost of rebuilding from a major in-game war. For many players this endeavor also takes up as much time as a second job. Although the Imperium recaptured its former territories within a short time following the withdrawal of PAPI forces, they still have to rebuild all the Keepstars, shipyards, IHUBs, and other infrastructure destroyed in the war (or decide what they will rebuild and what they won’t). Keep in mind that this rebuilding is taking place now with resource scarcity still in effect and the new, costlier, industry system implemented by CCP. Rebuilding might be even more difficult for former PAPI members like TEST and BRAVE, who have moved what they had left to the other side of the map. Other major powers like PanFam, Fraternity, and Army of Mango Alliance had their sov and infrastructure mostly untouched, so they are in a much stronger position going forward.
A quick analogy . . .
If you look at real world history, interim war periods follow the same pattern. At the end of the First World War, not much had been resolved. It’s not like the Allies triumphantly marched into Berlin. All the armies, completely decimated and spent, pretty much ended up where they had started. Many of the major powers, from the start of the war, collapsed into massive rebuilding, revolution, civil war, or ceased to exist entirely. These countries, which still hated each other and hadn’t achieved their war goals, still wanted to fight, but where physically incapable of doing so. It took them two decades, more or less, to repair their economies and replenish their military forces before The Second World War broke out.
. . . and then some EVE history
So, when will the next major war start? If we consult Empires of Eve by Andrew Groen, and look at the history of EVE Online, we see a pattern of conflicts big enough to considered “major wars.” They tend to crop up every two or three years. If we start with The Great War between Goonswarm and Band of Brothers, Mittanigrad in 2011, the CFC vs TEST in 2013, The Halloween War in 2014, The Casino War in 2016, we get to Beeitnam. If the game goes too long without a big war, it tends to stagnate. Players become bored with exploration, mining, grinding rats. They start obsessing over game features they don’t like. Major power blocs make questionable decisions out of boredom, like declaring themselves Viceroys and invading low sec. In game shenanigans, scams, assassinations, espionage – all go into overdrive. Too much constant large-scale warfare, on the other hand, causes alliance members start burning out. They get tired of forming fleets 24/7, which may or may not actually get a fight. They miss doing all the peacetime activities I mentioned earlier. Writers start pumping out articles asking, “When is the war going to end?” News networks implode or start feuding. War can be a nasty business, but it clears out the bad blood.
With the Imperium’s slogan of, “TEST is next,” I doubt very much that Beeitnam is the last mega war we will see in New Eden. You like big wars? See you in 2024.