Conflict is the lifeblood of EVE Online, but how players initiate a war is a serious problem. Right now, 50 percent of all wars in EVE Online are instigated by just five corporations (EVE's version of guilds) who are exploiting the system to sow pain and chaos across the virtual galaxy of New Eden. It's become such a problem that, during the annual fan gathering at Las Vegas, CCP Games announced a series of changes to how war is declared and fought in EVE.
To understand the issue, you have to understand how wars work in EVE Online. When you read about the enormous, server-shattering battles of EVE Online, those are happening between alliances in player-owned territories within Nullsec space where there is no law. Players are free to kill one another as they please. In the region of Highsec, however, a police force calls CONCORD patrols the skies and punishes players who open fire on others wantonly—unless you bribe CONCORD to look the other way, that is.
Players in EVE can purchase and issue formal declarations of war on other player corporations. Whether you like it or not, if someone declares war on you they can find and kill you anywhere in EVE without consequence. For years this system has been exploited by a few groups who act as a kind of mafia, shaking down much weaker, industrial-minded corporations and forcing them into a war they stand no chance of winning. While EVE is a sandbox meant to have as few restrictions as possible, being forced into a battle you have no chance of winning or escaping from is a special kind of hell. Even if players disband their corporation and start over under a new banner, there's nothing to stop their aggressors from just declaring war on them again. And again.
That's why creative director Bergur Finnbogason, better known as 'CCP Burger' by players, took the stage to address the problem. During his presentation, Burger revealed that only five corporations in all of EVE Online are responsible for 50 percent of the official declarations of war. And that these bullies were destroying 105 ships for every one that they lost. Not only that, in all of these thousands of extortion wars, only 4 percent of defenders were able to score a single kill.
Considering Highsec players are typically new players or treat EVE much more casually than its hardcore fanbase, it was creating a serious imbalance. But CCP Burger says his team noticed that when the defending corporation had its own citadel starbase, EVE's version of a space fort, it performed 48 times better than their defenseless peers. So, starting in December, wars can only be declared on corporations that own a citadel starbase.
That's just the beginning though. In early 2019, CCP Games is going to redo the war declaration system from the ground up to eliminate this kind of trolling. It's just one more interesting niche playstyle in the EVE Online universe, even if these war mongers are basically just big jerks.
We're at EVE Vegas all weekend, so stay tuned for more coverage.