Friday, April 25, 2014

Rubicon Crossing Indeed

So the fallout from the Building A Better World dev blog continues to embroil the EVE community.

The general consensus which I can be included is that the industry changes so far benefit null sec industry the greatest while nerfing high sec industry the most (see: Nosy Gamer thoughts on mynnna's post, and Neville Smit's post for example). A few people have quit over this information1, a few other have cautioned patience while waiting for the rest of the dev blog chain that these first two are part of. I'm pretty much in the second camp although I think we don't need the rest of the dev blogs to discuss what we see so far.

My Crystal Ball

CCP wants to move people to null sec. Not just PvPers, but miners, industrialists, researchers, everyone. Everything in Rubicon and what has followed after since then suggests this direction in bright neon signs. They want farms and fields and populated by pilots toiling in them, and they can't do that while high sec has safer and more profitable (or competitively profitable) farms and fields with lots of room for everyone. So the carrot and the stick approach: make null sec more attractive while making high sec less attractive to do, well anything in.

Now, I kind of agree with mynnna that null sec cannot possibly hope to match high sec's volume of production and meet the demand of the markets even with these changes, but I am concerned that the small casual producer2 who operated in high sec for fun and small profits is going to be the victim squeezed out by null sec producers with larger margins and high sec producers with POS operations to lower their own margins.

But an even bigger loser in this shell game of production benefits and nerfs is the low sec producer: as much risk as null sec (if not more) but only a portion of the benefit. Low sec capital producers may really see the crunch as the volume there is less massive and can be more easily fulfilled by a number of producers operating out of shallow null sec. I can see low sec eventually becoming an importer of capital ships instead of an exporter for the markets as null sec producers would want to move their product to neutral markets to reach the widest audience. However, the crystal ball is cloudy on this issue and more time needs to pass before anything for certain can be said.


We can kind of guess what is going to happen as a result of these changes, and we can see the obvious motive for doing so (i.e. CCP wants people to move to null sec), the real question is what is the ulterior motive for this direction.

Is it to try and break up the null sec coalitions and destabilize null sec for more war by making the territory more valuable / desirable? God, I hope not! If anything these changes and the subsequent migration of industry to null sec only will calcify the existing power structures in their current configurations.

Is it to create more targets in null sec to increase fighting? I don't think so because the net effect will be a wash. There will be more pilots but their activities are going to be in secure POS and stations meaning they are not viable targets except during transport.

Personally, I think the motive is to lay the foundation of an industrial base that will be ready for the subsequent expansions where players will be able to sculpt null sec far more than they can now. The iconic badgers-building-a-stargate image has been the promise for Rubicon and subsequent expansions and moving a good portion of the industrial base may be considered a necessary component of those plans coming to fruition.

If so, then I think the Rubicon has indeed been crossed and CCP is pinning the future of the game on civilization building in null sec, as opposed to the current detente of pure sov wars in null sec, industry in high sec, small gangs in low sec, and crazy people in wormhole space3. High sec and low sec are going to lose out, in some cases a little bit and in other cases a lot, to the effort to make null sec a larger and more dynamic and vibrant area.

Will it succeed? We'll find out in 2-3 years...

1 - When mentioning I knew of three bloggers who quit based on this dev blog on Twitter, I was saddened by the responses who threw out ad hominem attacks and generalizations about bloggers without even knowing the identities of who I was speaking about or there reasons for quitting.

2 - Like me :(

3 - Seriously, you guys are nuts.


  1. Good post. Fair reasoning. Though I would differ (from your presumption of CCP's intention) in that I don't think destruction of high or low sec is a prerequisite to game expansion. People will try all types of Eve environments over time as their training and curiosity permits. Make a good sector of game-play and people will gravitate to it. Makes for a better game. Choice, good; coercion, bad.

  2. It is the marginal cost of production by the most efficient producer that will determine the market price and profitability of goods, NOT the volume of goods except where an absolute physical limit prevents production. Mynnna's post is entirely irrelevant except for determining the pace at which the changes will impact the market.

    If you cost to produce item X is 100MISK and the current market price based on the supply/demand equilibrium is 125MISK then as the most efficient producer (since you are under market cost) you have options: #1 Sell at 125MISK and attempt to take a maximum profit at the risk your product will sit and that others will attempt to undercut you, #2 Lower your price below the current market price and take profit immediately at the risk of generally lowering the long term equilibrium to a lower price, or #3 attempt to sell at a higher than market price (which in practice never happens if you are rational). What these options all point to is this one outcome --- whether you take immediate profits under #2 or choose option #1 the market equilibrium will move to the lower price either because of your direct actions or the action of your competitors attempting to maintain their own profitability. Micro-economic principals tell us that efficient markets reach equilibrium at the cost of the lowest cost marginal producer --- all others either become more efficient or go out of business. The guy producing for 114MISK (+14% worst case scenario) cannot compete with someone producing at 100MISK. Eventually the market will lower the price to a point where the profitability for the high cost producer isn't worth the effort.

    The volume of the items being produced is only a factor in that transportation cost in time and ISK must be factored into the final cost for the item. In our effort to produce Orcas it was non-trivial to transport the components or the final product to a far market. This meant that a local producer always had at least some advantage in local markets. I don't see Orcas being produced in null and brought to high sec for sale for exactly this reason. However, every item in the game with low volumes (and thus low transportation costs per unit) will enjoy enormous production cost advantages in null sec. The net effect since the markets are linked is to bring prices in highsec and lowsec down to just above whatever cost nullsec requires to produce an item (factoring in transport and individual profit motive). This overall effect isn't to tranfer all of industry to nullsec but it does transfer the balance of the profit to nullsec. Right now there are profitable manufacturers in high, low, and 0.0. The majority of the profit is being split by producers in highsec producing large volumes. These changes take profit directly out of their pockets and into the pockets of a smaller number of industrialist engaged in manufacturing in 0.0 that will now have a dominant position in any market they enter.

    1. Note that the guy producing at 114 million can produce at 101 million if he finds a really quiet station miles from any competitor. Low sec possibly or some quiet high sec corner in Placid.

    2. We don't know that. And even if you can reduce your cost to 101MISK you are still not the most efficient producer --- I fully expect that you will see a significant change in the production pattern with regard to manufacturing and the profits that come from it --- otherwise, what is the point of the entire expansion?

      The only way to meaningfully make null sec self sufficient (or at least much more than at present) is to make null more competitive to offset the ease of transport and make local production important. Since nerfing jump capabilities is off the table (since making transport to null expensive would be the negative way to make industry important) the only way this expansion benefits null is to the detriment of HS industry.

      This expansion is a zero sum expansion .... it directly benefits a subset of the players by harming a different set of players. This is not unusual in that we often see balance changes in the game that end up favoring one pvp meta over another or nerf aspects of the game CCP is wanting to discourage (like HS can flipping grief etc..). What is unusual is that this change make the beneficiaries of the expansion (null sec powers) the gate keepers to whether the losers (HS manufacturers) will be able to actually adapt. If the most efficient production is in null you must go there or you will always be second in a 2 man race. To be in null you have to pay the man. I can guarantee that every major player in null with the ability to rent will do so.... what restrictions do you think will be in place to make sure that the profits are siphoned off?

  3. "3 - Seriously, you guys are nuts."

    Why, thank you! :giggle: *snort*

  4. Losec industry will be trashed. If losec industry looses, then the small gang warfare we enjoy will also loose, as the industrial side biz that keeps us in new ships will be gone.

    One thing I would like to see: If a POS belonging to a corp has the corp standing drop too low, CONCORD will remove the POS. I don't see why empires should tolerate criminals in their space, especially not a structure. Also, if a criminal gains access to a POS shield in hisec, that POS becomes criminal. Ditto for a suspect.

    Also, can anyone explain to me why (from a gameplay perspective) I take a standings hit for shooting at a criminal or suspect while in hisec ?

  5. So is CCP comfortable with the fact there will no doubt there will be subscription losses, possible significant losses with this strategy?

    Does CCP seriously think it will just be a blip in losses and easily recouped in this new Eve paradigm, where the cartel leaders get insane wealth?

    Clearly, they have reached some kind of accord with the cartel leadership over acceptable levels of RMT, because when these guys start flashing personal wallets measured in the tens of trillions, how will they stop them from using that real life benefit?

    1. Apparently, they're too stupid and arrogant to be concerned with the subscription losses. When they've given everyone the "opportunity" to spend $45 per month, per account, to ghost train all their toons, they've obviously decided they can afford to lose a lot of high sec indy players with triple subscription amounts from other accounts taking up the slack as they use Eve to fund yet another still-born game like Valkyrie (along with DUST and WOD which is still going). Regardless of what the big blue donut boys do with their trillions of isk per month, they will definitely have the isk to triple plex every one of their multiple accounts. The daily player counts are already down to 2008 numbers and people need to remember that the DUST players are also counted when they sit on their PCs and look at the online player count, so yeah, Eve is tanking even harder than people would like to believe, along with DUST.

    2. PCU numbers do not include dust players. I have confirmed that with CCP.

    3. Well, not being a big fan of conspiracies, BUT, knowing the way CCP has conveniently massaged numbers in the past, I doubt they told you the truth. Who ever answered you could just say in the end "Oh, I was told (by another un-named anonymous person at CCP) that the DUST numbers WEREN'T included, even though they are" if it ever came out that the PCUs DID include DUST players. If the PCUs DO include DUST players, which I believe they do, it is in CCPs best interests to lie about it because that means Eve numbers are worse than they'd like to let on, and the daily player counts are now down to the high 20K mark instead of up into the low 30s like a little while ago. It's also in their best interest to hide the DUST numbers in there because DUST can barely scrape together 3000 players in game. ANOTHER CCP failing game.

      Every time the Eve player counts/subscriptions really start to flag, it's really easy for the players to see this because CCP comes up with more ways to spend $15 PLEX in and around the game. What's the new best way to spend PLEX? Everyone can spend up to $45 a month for subscriptions, per account. For rich, multi account null seccers, CCP can afford to lose a few thousand poor/pissed off high sec players when they're getting $45 per account.

      In the end, if they lied to you and everyone about the real numbers, what does it matter to them? What would/could/will players do about it? Nothing. Would they care? Not really. Would the zealots unsub? No.

  6. If they don't nerf power projection into the ground after null-sec becomes self sustaining then this will all be for not. Space is to small in New Eden right now for new groups to establish themselves in null as independents.

    1. Unfortunately, the current CSM made it extremely clear to CCP that no limitations to force projection would be tolerated (you can see this in the most recent minutes). Sov null wants it's slice of cake and eat the rest too. Those of us outside of sov null (NPC null, low sec, WH space and high sec) will have to survive on the left over crumbs.

    2. Can you point me to where the minutes reference that? I've been too busy to read them and I have a lot of interest in the topic of power projection.

    3. Penultimate paragraph of Session 6.

  7. HEYYYYYYYYYY!!!!! ...pure sov wars in null sec, industry in high sec, small gangs in low sec, and crazy people in wormhole space...!!!

    Well! I'm offended that you feel... um...
    Look here buddy, we are NOT.... uhhh...
    How, HOW DARE you impune my... uh, our... hmmm... huh

    yea ok. But look, three years inna hole CHANGES a guy OK? =]

    (and you oughtta see how YOU ALL look to us!)

  8. On your note 1, don't worry. It is not just bloggers that will be disparaged for quitting EVE over the industry changes. Anyone who does will be derided. I'm just waiting to see if the sentiment comes from the CSM only, or if CCP will confirm that people who quit over the changes are people they didn't want playing the game anyway.

  9. CCP is crossing the Rubicon and is leaving behind a sizeable part of their playerbase, and very likely they're aware of it. I think that it's no coincidence that they've laid off 12% of their staff right as PCU evolution points to dwindling revenues as players keep leaving EVE.

    I don't know whether they've come to this point because of smugness, incompetence or despair, but here we are: either "Rubicon" draws in new players, or the game will keep shrinking until below a minimum viable demographic.

    And that will not be because players deserted CCP (we had faith in you guys... we had it!), but because CCP played favorites and eventually betrayed their players in a desperate gamble.

    1. I think my opinions on the relationship between CCP and the cartels is well known. But I have been doing the math and I wonder if CCP and the cartels have decided the losses are acceptable, and it it really may not be that bad.

      CCP stated that 50,000 players do some sort of industry every day. Now, how many are accounts, given how many accounts are pure indy, with 3 dedicated chars. Let's say it is 50/50 between single indy char accounts and 3 indy chars per account, so now we are down to 25,000 accounts.Let's say 20% of those accounts leave, and that is pretty big number. That means 5000 accounts are looking to walk away. That would be 1% of the entire sub base, if CCP is to be believed.

      That seems like a reasonable gamble, if they really believe that null sec is the future. Now, that number is of course only the indy accounts. That does not factor in all the other accounts that will quit when the full extent of these changes hit the overall population, nor the changes when high sec Incursion income and mission income is nerfed to shit (btw, people should calculate how much these indy changes hurts LP payouts). Because, you KNOW that the cartels need to hammer high sec PvE if they want to force more people into null. The exodus of players from the game when that happens will make the rage quits over these indy nerfs look like nothing.

    2. You need to get it through your head the difference between accounts and actual people. In the summer of 2012 the CSM chair let it drop on a podcast that there were about 160,000 PLAYERS. That averages out to about 3 accounts per person. Maybe the individual players have gone up a little since DUST hit, and are quite likely back down to 160K players again. I think 160k is a safe number to work with.

      Most of the pissed off players are older players OR at least players who are seasoned enough to realize that smart indy PVE play will allow them to fund multiple accounts through PLEX each month. I had 30 characters doing indy over 10 accounts, in high sec, and averaged about 13 bisk a month total. More than enough to plex them all with some left over. So, you need to keep in mind how many older/seasoned players are going to leave and how many accounts they really might have.

      Did CCP say 50k PLAYERS or CHARACTERS, because they aren't the same, and CCP collects a ton of info off everyone's machine every time they connect, so they know exactly what unique player/machine IDs are out there and how many accounts are run off each machine.

      While trying to keep straight how many accounts might be lost with each player leaving, you can also take into account how many multi account players there are that can afford to spend double or triple the plex on each account as they ghost train all their alts.

      I am/was a high sec player - no interest in null whatsoever, ever, but I was building caps to sell to them, but primarily mined. There were a large number of people I met with similar mind sets to me, also multi account holders, and they too would never move to null. No interest. I can easily see how there are tens of thousands of players more that think like me, and if they can't play a spaceship game casually in some place like high sec, they'll leave. There are also all kinds of high sec players that will have little problem with the indy changes as they do little on the indy side. I'm interested to see how their indy nerfs balance out with the $45 account subscriptions.

  10. I think there are two main reasons CCP are trying this. First is that risk vs reward should favour null-sec. If its riskier it should be more profitable. Now there is a massive argument about risk. Are a tiny alliance at risk in null-sec? Yes! Are the CFC at risk? No! So the risk vs reward will be unbalanced. Secondly, I wonder how much of this is to get people into groups. I'm guessing that players who become part of a community stay longer than those who solo. By encouraging people to null sec and thereby forcing them into corps and alliances do CCP hope to improve retention?

    1. I already said at Jester's Trek, CCP is deadly wrong about the retention thing. New players start in hisec and hisec is so bad that they leave the game. They only reach nullsec by accident or because they're recruited away from the game, like the Goons do.

      Fixing hisec would had improved the retention better than any stuff done for nullsec, but then nullsec are the cool dudes and CCP just can't despise enough those who "stick to the starter zone".

  11. CCP is doing it backward. Why not change null risk first so that the 'cartels' start to disintegrate, providing an opening for high sec players who may want to move but do NOT want to rent?

    Oh, and bubbles are awful.

    1. Agree completely. Imho, CCP should have buffed the risk in sov null sec before handing over the reward or, at the very least, introduce risk increase WITH the improved rewards.

  12. The as yet unseen affect on Lowsec industry, predominantly Capital Production, could be a fix to what everyone has been screaming about during the Halloween war. Mass proliferation of Jump capable ships with logistic and offensive capabilities. With multiple producers with no clear affiliation to any side of the conflict able to sell to all and sundry. These moves will hopefully see the farms and fields approach where if we need more capital ships we need to build them from within.


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