Call the Removalist

In my last post here I suggested the current call to Nerf Empire through increased taxes and reduced effectiveness of services will have no real positive impact. In this second part of the blog I look at the desire to move people out of Empire.

Why is it a goal?

If I was to summarise all the comments and arguments about this, I think it comes down (simplistically) to the view that people are not really playing EVE properly if all they do is stay in Empire.

I suspect there is also the view that more people moving into Low and Null sec will resolve some of their issues. It makes sense too that there is more player generated content and drama outside of Empire, and of course the expectation that more people will come under the guns of their fellow gamers.

Why wouldn’t people want to move?

The most common reasons seem to be that Empire is too safe, you can earn too much ISK, and people are too risk adverse. Some also suggest a level of ignorance of how good the game can be outside of Empire, while others suggest the rewards v risk ratio isn’t a compelling enough argument for players to want to move.

All are right and valid points in their own way, but I also feel they are fundamentally flawed. They lack an acceptance for the fact people play EVE in a myriad of different ways, and they don’t comprehend how unsuitable life can be outside of Empire for many players.

EVE is a game. The money spent on it for most people is discretionary – it is entertainment, it is meant to be fun or a distraction. For some this is shooting other players in the face, or maximising mining yield, or trolling people into ill-advised reactions, or building a trading empire, or scamming people out of ISK, or working as a team, or working solo. There are all sorts of valid ways of playing the game – which includes happily never leaving Empire.

Some of the arguments come across like this – “You should be playing the game differently, and here are my suggestions on how to make the game less fun for you, so that you will change.” How successful do you think that will be?

I harp on the same thing over and over – EVE is a sandpit, maximise the options, don’t restrict them. If you want more people out of Empire, do so by making fun and compelling reasons for them to do so. Having said that – you also need to sit back and relax, and accept that many are just as happy where they are.

But why are these people happy in Empire?

I am sure there is a wealth of reasons, but there is one which I rarely see anyone addressing. Life outside of Empire really does not suit a lot of the EVE players.

The EVE player demographic tends to be of the older gamer. They have partners, careers, households to run, and the biggest time sink of all, kids. So they log into EVE at inconsistent times, under threat of interruption, and they just want to have fun.

In Empire, unless under a War Dec, they can generally do just that. There is risk from griefers, suicide gankers, scams, and so forth, but they have options.

Outside of Empire your game is generally controlled by others. There is a cloaked hostile in your system, or roaming hostiles in the area and you can’t do what you wanted. There is an alliance CTA – all people logged in must be in fleet, so you log off. Or you join a fleet, but then get left behind because your family called you away. Of you join, but after 2 hours of waiting around doing nothing, your game time is up. You log in after a week away, and your station is now in the hands of your enemy, or the POS you are living in was destroyed, or your Corp has moved across the map, and you missed all the travel fleets. If you make a mistake and lose a ship, you find your alliance leader ranting and raving on the forums about your stupidity, or fitting skills, or even find yourself booted to set an example. You can find yourself training up for certain ships and fittings, even if you are not interested in doing so, and commonly your enemies will berate, troll and insult you at every opportunity they get.

Yes there are moments of brilliance or coolness – but basically if you are time poor, there is every chance that outside of Empire you will have those rare precious moments of gaming taken from you.

What happens if you force that sort of player to move outside of Empire? The game stops being fun for them.

There is another white elephant in the room. As I admitted just the other day here some people simply don’t enjoy PVP space ship combat.

It’s funny; I’ve almost always being in Corporations that are newbie friendly. I have constantly seen the forum posts from people as they make their first moves into 0.0 and try out PVP. A great many of them regale all with tales of how brilliant this aspect of EVE is. And then do you know what happens? Two months later, very few of them can still be seen in 0.0. Most quietly go back to empire or cut back how often they log on. Only a handful remain to be regularly seen in fleets and on the killboards. PVP is not as much fun if you do not regularly win, and for a great many people that is their reality.

Forcing people outside of Empire pushes them into PVP. For many, the game then stops being fun.

So to summarise this long winded diatribe, the assumption that life outside of Empire is better is simply incorrect for many players. Forcing the issue will likely have a negative consequence instead of a positive one.

So what can be done?

By all means play around with the income levels of Empire, but do not focus on forcing people to live outside of it. Instead – focus on giving them compelling reasons, and the accessibility, to visit Low and Null Sec far more frequently.

I’ve remarked on a few blogs now that in my travels through quiet low sec backwaters, I am seeing far more solo mining barges out and about. That is because pilots now have appropriately priced and useful tools to allow them to do so. I wait with interest to see what the POS revamp brings – since I could imagine if they get that right, that would encourage more people out of Empire, even if just for visiting. Let’s have more solutions like that.