Header art by Major Sniper
Recently NetEase has implemented a new ship insurance system which has caused a great deal of controversy in the Eve Echoes community. As a response to this new insurance system, a Let Jita Burn Protest was held. I sat down with the organizer of this movement, Tryum.ph, to learn more about this new insurance system and the future of EVE Echoes.
How did you find out about Eve Echoes? Did you have any previous background with Eve Online?
I opened up Google Play one day and it said “recommended games for you.” I was like Huh, I wonder what this is about I’ll try it out. But yes. Eve Online is probably the reason I’m still here and is the reason I have my degree and profession. It truly is Spreadsheets in space.
How does the insurance system, proposed by NetEase, work and what are its main problems?
It works by taking a fraction of the ISK value of the insured ship; for instance a 100 million ship costs 30M in Plex/Insurance Points for a person to reinsure and get back. Then, of that 30M, 20M goes into an ISK insurance pool. Once the insurance pool has 20X the estimated ship value, it will put up a single buy order. In the above example, that would be 2 billion ISK. Then, the insurance pool decreases from 2.0 billion to 1.9 billion and another 5 of those ships will have to blow up for the insurance pool to raise the required 100m to bring that 1.9 billion up to 2.0 billion to create another buy order. Simply put, about 80% of ships/modules/rigs that are reimbursed by the insurance system are made by Netease.
There are many issues with that system: It gets rid of logistics, by allowing you reimburse your ship anywhere, including inside the enemy’s station. That, in turn, removes the advantage of “home space” in nullsec while also reducing one major aspect of the game, logistics. It reduces demand for all modules and rig blueprints that drop from ratting. as now up to 80% of them will appear from thin air. It reduces the demand for industry, as now instead of a player buying a ship after they blow up, they are essentially only buying only 1/5th of a ship from an industry player and 4/5ths of that ship from NetEase.
It streamlines the game at the cost of nullsec integrity, mining, and industry. There is an argument that Echoes is a “Mobile Game” and thus a “casual game”; however, nowhere on the app store (at least for android) does it say “Casual.” Faster Than Light, Slay the Spire, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. All mobile games that are far from “casual.” The thing that makes EVE different than other games is that players’ actions have consequences, and those actions are all connected.
Now, the alliance with the largest credit card can just swipe ships into existence and large battles become meaningless. To illustrate: Let’s look at one of the most powerful ships in the game: the Nightmare. It creates huge shields that alliance fleets hide under. They are strategic resources and when FireFlies (FF) alliance lost 4-5 of them taking down Genfed’s Stations, that loss had an impact. Actions had consequences.
FF could not turn around in 12 hours and repeat this attack because even if they had 100’s of billions of ISK, there are only so many Nightmares in the game due to the Sansha debris bottleneck. But now, the whales in FF can just run their credit cards, and for 30% of the cost, make that entire Nightmare fleet appear from thin air and they can repeat that to eternity every 12 hours – as that’s the PVP timer on ship reimbursement – as long as their credit cards hold up.
How has this proposal impacted you personally and the players you know?
You keep saying the word “proposal,” when it isn’t a proposal. It’s implemented; it’s live. When I speak up at the level I have been, my personal impacts are the last thing on my mind and the impact of those I personally know is second to last. I view it holistically, from the impact it will have on the larger player base. I didn’t play the game for personal gain; I played it to share the love I had for EVE with other players so that they could experience something truly unique and magical. I’ve had voice comm conversations with teenagers/young adults trying to figure out their industry spreadsheets as they use Excel/Google sheets for the first time, asking me where they messed up on their formulas. To have those same players come to me several weeks later, excited to show off their ore calculators – these moments were why I played.
To me, that is EVE. It’s more than just the game on the screen. It’s the discord channels; it’s the spreadsheets; it’s the diplo talks of alliances waving their giant egos around. Once it became clear what this system was doing, as well as other changes made by the devs, it killed that optimism for me. I don’t see EVE when I look at Eve Echoes anymore. I quit the game. I handed over 10B in ISK and 50B in estimated loot to the corp I was in and stepped down from being CEO. So, in a long-winded way of answering your question, I guess I would say the personal impact for me has been freeing up several hours of my day, as I’ve stopped playing. and after seeing the devs’ poor response, my belief for leaving has only been further reinforced.
You organized a “Let Jita Burn” event in response to this new insurance system. For those who do not know, what is the history behind Burn Jita in EVE and how many players do think you showed up?
Our Let Jita Burn event was different from a typical Burn Jita event in EVE Online, as we weren’t there to destroy anything. We were there to light up Jita, to show that Jita was already burning, because of these new changes. We specifically reached out through multiple channels to devs to make sure that Jita’s caps were raised so the average player base would not be impacted. Burn Jita, from my understanding, has had multiple iterations in EVE Online.
The one I am most familiar with was in 2011, when Eve Online added more micro-transactions into the game including an $80 monocle for the avatar. With this, an article was published entitled “Greed is Good,” that discussed the idea and concept of things like buying ammo and the like. The players felt that this was the beginning of CCP turning the game into a “pay to win” model. Further, players felt CCP was wasting resources/assets. There was a thread with over 300k replies; people shot at a monument in Jita with thousands upon thousands of players protesting and it ended up with Hilmar, the CEO of CCP, coming out and saying the seven magical words that good leadership is capable of saying: “I was wrong, and I admit it.” Words, I would like to point out, NetEase has yet to say. Honestly, I feel I’ve already done a good job writing up this event elsewhere.
Do you think Eve Echoes is in its own Summer of Rage moment that happened in EVE Online in 2011? What are the similarities and differences in your opinion?
No, I don’t think that anymore, maybe at one point. . . . But I was wrong, and I admit it.
I think this happened so early in Eve Echoes lifespan that the expectations of what is “good” or “bad” for Eve Echoes isn’t really clear to the average player. The summer of rage was eight years after the launch of Eve Online. There were clear expectations and understanding of the importance of an interconnected, player-driven game. I feel like a lot of these Echoes players don’t know better, and me saying that will cause comments like, “See! He’s just a jaded bittervet!” In reality, Eve Online Succeeded where so many other MMORPGS failed because of its complexity and how all player interactions wove together. There is nothing like it on the market.
Maybe I’m wrong, and I hope I am, but unlike the Summer of Rage where CCP admitted they were wrong, stepped back, and self reflected, I don’t see NetEase doing that. NetEase is a 93 billion dollar company with other games; they don’t need Eve Echoes to stay alive long term, like CCP needed Eve Online. From the research I’ve had to do on NetEase because of all this, it seems like it is their standard operating procedure to launch a new game, work on it for about 1-2 years, and during that time transition more and more whale “Gotcha” mechanics in to milk players while throwing the resources at yet another game and letting the previous game dwindle out.
We remember the Summer of Rage because there was change and we saw results. From my interaction with NetEase discussing the issue, I honestly don’t think they care. To them, EVE Echoes is just another intellectual property for them to make money. Nothing more, nothing less.
Have there been any new developments since the Let Jita Burn protest?
They reached out and are looking for solutions while being tight-lipped and claiming they need further data. We are trying to provide them useful KPI (Key Performance Indicator) metrics, essentially dashboards that executives/management can quickly look at and track success. An example of a KPI that an industry might use is employee retention, player retention etc) and metrics for them to pull to be able to better analyze the state of the game. I still feel they aren’t moving fast enough to course correct.