The EVE Online Ecoystem, Looking Back at 2020 and Forward to 2021

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For EVE players, the year 2020 will be remembered for several reasons. On the surface, 2020 will be known as the year that World War Bee 2 started. Vily uniting capsuleers of New Eden to rid the universe of the Imperium. However, more importantly, 2020 will be known as the year of scarcity in New Eden; the year CCP finally decided that they needed to get a hold of the game’s economy. In their eyes, they need to make the game healthy once again. CCP has taken aggressive action to very quickly bring certain aspects of the ecosystem under control.

EVE players are notorious for optimizing changes to the game often before the changes hit the server. Knowing this, CCP opted to leave players (and their elected representatives on the Council of Stellar Management (CSM)) in the dark. While in the short term, this seems like a narrow-sighted approach but the larger picture has been somewhat intelligent, forcing the player base to adapt on the fly. Quoting from the first devblog about the changes to the ecosystem: “No stone will be left unturned in the mission towards a better future.”

The first announcement of a new era in EVE began in February, with the announcement of a moon mineral distribution plan. Quoting directly from the devblog, CCP states, “Of course, that is easier said than done, and the road to get there is long and fraught with peril. Drastic changes are being made that will be felt throughout the ecosystem, but there is a confidence that they are positive changes for the long term health of EVE Online.” Those changes were outlined in a three-phase system, with the first being a shortage phase, followed by a redistribution phase lastly followed by a dynamic distribution phase. As the year progresses, the three-phase system will become a cornerstone of CCP’s attempt to bring the ecosystem under control. With the moon changes, we saw the removal of basic ore types from moon chunks, as well as an adjustment to the volume extracted per day during the cycle and an adjustment to the yield of minerals in the rocks themselves.

CCP’s next move in the era of scarcity was also to beginning to combat one of the largest problems in EVE Online — botting and real-money trading (RMT). In the update “Broker Relations,” CCP made many changes to how traders operate in the various markets across New Eden. There is now a limit on how many times you may update an order, as well as a minimum that you can raise the price on an order. While I would like to tell you the nuances of how the market works, I’ve never been one to play the market and don’t understand how that sort of wizardry works. I do know that with the changes made to market orders it significantly reduced the need for traders to run market bots to stay at the top of orders.

Capital and supercapital proliferation has been an ongoing topic of debate for as long as I can remember. With the “Surgical Strike” update released in April, we saw the reduction in armor and shield resistances, as well as specific capital changes that reduce the survivability of capital and supercapital ships. It seemed CCP was trying to force a shift from capitals being a catch-all for any kind of play to a more niche use. Since the update, capitals and supercapital kills are a far more frequent occurrence. In keeping with the scarcity theme this year, reducing player and alliance mineral stockpiles were greatly helped with the changes of Surgical Strike. While there were plenty of changes made to the game with this update, I’ve tried to keep the changes relevant to what we are discussing here.

After a quiet five months in regards to Scarcity changes, CCP dropped one of the larger bombs of the year with resource distribution. At heart, I am a dirty miner. I’ve spent a vast majority of my EVE career sitting in the belts and anomalies of New Eden happily munching away on rocks while hanging out with friends, or watching The Mandalorian or whatever tickles my fancy at the time. This change almost made me unsub my characters. Having recently come back to EVE a few months prior, I found the heart of my gameplay being gutted.

I decided against unsubbing my accounts based on the fact that I was looking at the changes from a very narrow standpoint. Looking at the larger picture, I began to gain an understanding of CCP’s larger picture outlook. While I am still somewhat skeptical of the changes that were ultimately made, I’ve decided to give CCP the benefit of the doubt and trust the things they are doing will ultimately benefit the overall health of the game. Besides, it forced me to branch out into other areas of the game and try the many aspects of EVE that I have long ignored.

The changes in the resource distribution update included the exclusivity of Tritanium to high-sec, the exclusivity of Isogen, and Nocxium to Low-Sec, and Zydrine, Megacyte and Morphite being solely provided via null-sec. Also of note, the complete removal of most ores from wormhole space. Changes also included the number of minerals available in ores, as well as the mechanics of gas and ice sites. As mentioned in the Devblog, CCP states that they are looking to see movement and destruction in low-sec, a long-ignored space of New Eden. While there remain vast stockpiles of minerals and ores amongst individual players and alliances, it is only a matter of time until we truly begin to see the effects of the mineral redistribution phase.

Lastly, CCP made several changes to ratting in null-sec, where the vast majority of players generate their income while living in null. With the changes made to ESS and its direct tie into the new Dynamic Bounty System, players are rewarded for ratting in systems with higher PVP content. No longer are the days of innocently and mindlessly ratting away generating billions of ISK. While that technically is still possible, the reduction in bounties make it some of the lowest ISK/hour activities. By doing so, CCP is actively striking at botting and one of RMTers’ source of income. With the release of November’s Monthly Economic Report, we start to see the results of the changes made with ESS/DBS.

With the end of this dreadful year of 2020, CCP has released a devblog giving us an overview of this year of scarcity and finally showing us the big picture of the vision the developers have for Eve Online.

CCP’s desire this year has been the reduction of the average player’s wealth, and thus the average alliance’s wealth. While the changes made over the last year have been at times, drastic I can’t help but applaud the work that CCP has put in to make this happen. By going through and nerf-batting the hell out of the player base’s ability to generate ISK, it increases the value that has been generated and now allows CCP the ability to slowly increase and decrease the ISK faucet until they find what they determine the sweet spot: the Healthy State of the game. CCP could have slowly reduced the ISK faucet in the game, but I feel that the long term would actually hurt the game in terms of player count. By essentially shocking the system with major changes in a short time span, it essentially cuts the fat out and allows CCP to streamline and achieve that healthy state that they so desire. As we near that state with increases to income generation, hopefully we see an increase in the player base as well. CCP has even stated that the era of scarcity will be a temporary one.

CCP also acknowledged that they made the decision early on to keep the CSM in the dark about the changes they were making stating “the strategic decision was made not to involve the CSM before the rest of the community. As fundamental changes were made to the DNA of the universe, preserving the integrity of everyone involved was a priority.” And while this has angered many of the community, as well as members of the CSM, changes were (and still are) being made to one of the cornerstones of this game. keeping people on the same level playing field in this regard is extremely smart. CCP also acknowledged that the CSM was instrumental in allowing CCP to follow up with adjustments and iterations made to items such as ESS, DBS, and ADMs.

So what does the future of EVE Online’s ecosystem look like? Thankfully, CCP has given us a nice outline of items they wish to address in the upcoming year. Included in these changes are my thoughts in parentheses:

  • Changes to the Infrastructure Hub upgrades, allowing for more customization with risk/reward. (Hopefully, we see changes that include a way of designating certain systems for certain activities, i.e., one system is specifically a mining system or a ratting system. Mainly, I would like to see sov holders be able to truly customize their space for their members in an official capacity.)
  • Finally, an introduction of Reserve Bank Keys. (Literally BILLIONS of ISK waiting to be stolen. I know small gangers and hunters are salivating at those banks.)
  • CCP acknowledges that PVE activities can be easily done while AFK. They wish to find a balance of risk and reward among these various activities.
  • After the success of the DBS, introduction of more dynamic systems
  • Balance pass to Carriers and Marauders. (Will we finally see Marauders used for more than just mission running? Lemme go dust off my Kronos real quick.)
  • Addressing cloaky camping. (Are they going to finally add counter play to this ridiculous, but understandable, playstyle?)
  • Further define the differences between the five categories of space and foster geographical variety. (Will Faction Warfare finally get some long needed love? I don’t see why not, we finally got T2 salvage drones!)
  • Industrial command ship and mining ship rebalance. (While I believe Orcas are in a decent place right now, the Rorquals no longer have a niche after rightfully being nerfbatted to death. Mining, in general, has needed some love and attention for a while and I’m glad to see that they are going to start addressing it.)
  • Personal deployables. (Interesting, although I’d rather see something along the lines of a player-owned forward operating bases.)

We of course can’t discuss the economy of EVE without truly discussing botting and RMT. I, like most of the eve player base, detest RMT and botting. CCP has worked diligently, resulting in 42,000 bans this year with approximately 15%, or about 7,200, being reported by players. By CCP’s admission, the main focus of their bans have been on high impact botting, but they have stated they plan on hammering on the more visible type of botting. Kudos to CCP on that!

I have to admit, going through and looking back at the decisions CCP has made this year and reading today’s economic outlook devblog, I have to give CCP a hardy slap on the back with a good show. While at times, their vision has seemed short-sighted, in reality, by sticking to their guns (aside from the drone aggro changes, smart move admitting those were wrong and reverting them) they have placed the ecosystem in a position to be far more successful over the long term, even if it meant dragging us kicking and screaming along the way. While we will remember the year 2020 for many things, the most important thing to remember is this year was the foundation that will carry EVE into its third decade and beyond.

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8 Year Veteran and proud member of Brand Newbros Terribad at PVP and slighty better at Industry

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