EVE Online has been made famous by its players doing outrageous things in their shared sandbox. Recently, a group of players on opposing factions came together to shut down the ability for players to make money in the game, so that they can focus on war instead.
EVE’s Faction Warfare mechanic allows players to swear allegiance to one of the four main NPC empires in the game’s lore. Once sworn, these newly-inducted militia members are able to fight for control of areas in the game’s lightly policed low security space. As a reward for taking control of this territory, militia members are rewarded with reputation to their chosen militia, as well as loyalty points. The loyalty points can be cashed in to access special items. Control of certain systems within the warzone also enables access to special mission agents that give PVE quests that reward massive amounts of the faction war loyalty point currency. These mission-giving NPCs are the target of the current faction warfare blockade.
Some players take advantage of the loyalty points structure, which is what the blockade focuses on. Player militia corporations aligned with the Amarrian 24th Imperial Crusade and the Minmatar Tribal Liberation Force, bitter enemies in the game’s lore, have come together to cut off access to the NPCs who give loyalty points quests. As one faction attains higher levels of success inside the warzone, loyalty point rewards increase for everything they do. Loyalty point farmers run the missions to reap the militia’s hard work, avoiding combat and instead completing the missions to cash in on the massively inflated rewards. By doing this, they end up inflating the amount of loyalty points being rewarded and impacting other players’ ability to make an in-game living just participating in the warzone.
The Faction Warfare blockade began on October 1st and is set to last until the first of January. According to a post on Reddit, players, corporations and alliances on both sides have come together to organise a trade of control of key systems within their own territories. The two groups are seeking to cut off access to the top tiers of the mission-running NPCs, effectively removing them from the game.
In effect, the blockade works like this: players in the Minmatar aligned faction have ceded control of the territories that contain their faction’s mission agents, allowing the Amarrian militia members to conquer them. Since factions can’t access their opponents’ stations and quest-givers, this renders the quest-givers off limits. On the other side of the war zone, Amarrian pilots have likewise ceded key mission agent systems to the Minmatar pilots, creating a symmetrical blockade extending to both sides of the conflict.
This trade effectively removes high level faction warfare missions from the game. In theory, it completely cuts off the flow of loyalty points from quests, making the only source of the currency actively fighting other players. Without these missions, there will be no reason for players who only want to farm the game’s currency to be in Faction Warfare space. Without these farmers, the effective value of the loyalty points awarded for participating in the war will increase.
Blockading the mission-running systems and removing the ability to earn money in this way is not without cost to the militia members, and is not being done lightly. Months of discussion, diplomacy and deal making have come together to culminate in this action. The decision is also not unanimous; several player factions within the militias have chosen to not go along with the agreement and are in some cases actively fighting to break the blockade and re-enable access to the mission NPCs. Signatories of the treaty are working to jointly enforce the blockade and keep the systems in lockdown.
Part of the experiment’s goal is to draw attention to faction warfare, both for other players in EVE and for the games’ developer, CCP. Faction warfare players have long been crying out for an overhaul to their style of gameplay, but over the last few years, only very minor tweaks have been made. These players hope that by demonstrating their dedication to improving their small corner of the game and taking things into their own hands, they will attract some positive attention.
This radical action by the players of the faction warfare militias certainly seems to fit the current “Chaos Era” theme that EVE’s developers have been talking about lately. The goal of the Chaos Era is to shake up the sandbox of EVE and break up some of the areas of gameplay that have stagnated. Will this attempt to change the cycle of rewards in Faction Warfare work to increase activity and health in the warzone? Only time will tell.