Back in the beginning of my time in Eve, low sec was a wasteland where new corporations went to practice PvP until they jumped into a null sec alliance, and other corporations called themselves pirates and camped the gates from high sec and null sec with abandon. Away from those pipes, it was a desolate desert scoured by every PvPer looking for a kill that passed through. It was the bastard child of high sec and null sec, saddled with more risk than null sec in many instances and less reward; PvP crippled by sec status hits and 15 minute global criminal timers that forced you to fight in the belts or use the biggest sub caps ships; more reward in PvE than high sec but many magnitudes more dangerous. The worst of all worlds.
Things over the years have changed that. Exploration as a profession made low sec PvE a little more feasible as the sites were not so easily warped to by the hunters and the rewards could be very lucrative. Faction Warfare introduced in Empyrean Age gave PvP without penalties a chance to occur and brought more people to space. Faction Warfare was revitalized in Inferno with better mechanics and rewards and has since become the engine of low sec that drives the burgeoning PvP. The Criminal System revamp in Retribution expansion removed the worst crippling features of being a pirate and made PvP more accessible for pirate type PvPers who did not want to participate in the faction warfare aspect of low sec.
More recently we have seen a couple more low sec only features announced. Tags for Sec feature where special rats spawn in low sec belts and drop tags that can be turned in for rapid sec status, and coming this summer there will be special Mordu's Legions rats which will randomly appear in belts and drop BPCs to the new ships. A low sec only lottery if you will.
All of these changes have made low sec its own space, vastly different from null, high, and womhole space. It is the wild west of New Eden, where solo explorers can strike it rich panhandling the belts or exploration sites for gold nuggets in one system, while next door a pirate gang is mugging someone of their pod, and next door to that a major battle for control of a system wages between two large fleets of faction warfare militias.
Which brings me to the blog banter and the point I want to make:
What is the future of low sec and NPC null sec as the economic center of gravity shifts from high sec toward null sec?Sugar Kyle at Low Sec Lifestyle in her post feels that it does not matter as any Null sec entity could never control a part of low sec due to the proximity of refuges in high sec for the "barbarians" to assault the newcomers. I'm not so sure about her assertion based on what I've seen relatively small corporations and alliances (to null sec alliances) do in terms of asserting control over systems and constellations in low sec with my own eyes. If the rewards were sufficient enough to support a large group of players, I have no doubt that space would be claimed and resources farmed just as what happens in null sec today. Faction Warfare has already been used as a farm for null sec alliances regrouping from null sec (see: TEST, Evoke, etc) albeit with mixed success.
That being said, I don't think the "economic center" will shift from high sec to null sec. I think a portion of industry is going to shift as it will be more efficient there but I think the travel tax of fuel and time will prevent it from becoming the majority producer of all of Eve's economic needs. I suspect that at best we can hope null sec becomes self sufficient (but even that may be a stretch).
Low sec will suffer in the upcoming industrial overhaul as it will find it hard to compete with null sec's more efficient stations and the production cabals bidding for teams in both high and null sec, but overall it will remain as unique and vibrant as it is now.