EVE Online pilot places a $75,000 bounty on rival alliance

In what might be the largest real money bounty ever placed in a video game, one EVE Online player is offering $75,000 to be shared among pilots willing to help him evict one of EVE's most notorious alliances from their territory. EVE Online has long been known for its explosive drama as players murder, steal, and betray their way to the top of its political food chain, but this is something else entirely.

The high roller’s name is 'holder2k,' and he’s offering a contract through Paypal where pilots can register to help destroy a group of players' bases and forcibly remove them from their star system. If the operation is successful, each pilot will get an equal share of the $75,000 bounty. While it's unclear how holder2k will judge each pilot's participation, he does say that "the money can be contractually recalled if you try to take money and run."

But even if holder2k's bounty is legitimate, some serious obstacles are blocking his way. For one, the alliance he's decided to pick a fight with is none other than Hard Knocks, a vicious gang of killers who were the first to build EVE's version of a Death Star. Complicating matters further, the star system holder2k wants to evict them from is nicknamed 'Rage,' and it's a hellhole of defensive towers and warp disruption bubbles all designed to make sieging it an impossibility. Even if holder2k manages to assemble an army capable of that, there's still the issue of Hard Knocks' 'Fort Knocks' Keepstar citadel—the aforementioned Death Star with a 'doomsday' weapon capable of obliterating an entire fleet with a single shot. That's assuming holder2k can even rally a reliable force. It's more than likely that players will sign up only to do what they can to sabotage holder2k's plans.

Another massive problem for holder2k is that his offer violates EVE Online's Terms of Service, which states "you may not market, sell, advertise, promote, solicit or otherwise arrange for the exchange or transfer of items in the game or other game services unless it is for in-game sales of in-game services or items." That essentially means paying real money to get people to do things in EVE is a big no-no. He could, theoretically, turn his $75,000 into PLEX—an item that can be purchased from developer CCP Games and sold in-game for EVE's virtual currency, ISK. But then holder2k loses all ability to hold his hired mercenaries accountable, as players are free to steal and cheat without consequence according to in-game rules. 

Falling out

Understanding why holder2k is so thirsty for vengeance that he's willing to risk being banned by CCP is hard to say. Members of Hard Knocks are convinced that he is actually an EVE player called 'HeWhoShallNotBe Named' (we'll call him Named for short) and this is another chapter in a months-long battle between Named and Hard Knocks' director of operations NoobMan.

According to chatlogs posted by senior director Jerzii Devil, NoobMan and Named had a falling out months ago when Named was banned from Hard Knocks' public chat channel over a disagreement. Since then, Named has escalated the conflict to a ridiculous degree, threatening legal action against NoobMan because at one point he offered NoobMan his cell phone number to work things out in private, which Named accuses NoobMan of then sharing with the members of Hard Knocks.

"I see that you took it upon yourself to pass that [cell phone number] along to other people in your [corporation]. Because I've received eight voice messages of people trolling me [in real life]," Named wrote. "Most of the numbers were spoofed, but Verizon was able to trace six of them back to the correct origin. That number was a work number for a large global bank where I'm International Legal Council. The bank has now turned it over to the federal authorities to investigate."

You threatened me outside of the game. That crossed the line with me.

Because of the threat of legal action, CCP has locked that thread and I'm unable to confirm if Named has also been banned from the game. According to NoobMan's reply, there's likely a much more troubling side of the story: "You threatened me outside of the game," he writes. "That crossed the line with me. I've been nothing but nice to you. Spending hours talking with you on comms. I have made my choice that I do not want to interact with you ever again. So please stop sending multiple convos per night and have other people convo me on your behalf. Please stop sending me threats over and over again in in-game mails. I'm not going to bend to your will to hang out with you over the threat of a lawsuit or you 'showing up at a EVE meet I'm attending and settling this.' The things you have said to me is not appropriate. So please leave me alone."

The 'EVE meet' that NoobMan mentions is EVE Vegas, an annual community meetup happening on October 28—right around the time that holder2k has said he will reveal the Paypal info for people to begin signing up to evict Hard Knocks. Things are likely to escalate well before that, as days after holder2k's announced his bounty, Hard Knocks struck back when they found the headquarters for Hispanic Enterprises, Named's corporation, and bombed it to hell. "We are evicting Hispanic Enterprises, due to their members constantly being creepy and harassing Noobman, as well as offering [$75,000] to Reddit to evict [Hard Knocks]," writes Hard Knocks member 'misterzigger.'

Given the absurd nature of the internet and EVE players’ tendency to be a little over dramatic, it's easy to assume this is all a load of chest beating by a disgruntled player that’s bordering on online harassment. While no one should believe that holder2k intends to put forward $75,000 over a disagreement in a videogame without proof, there might be some cause to take his threat seriously. If he and Named are the same person, the latter has been involved with EVE Online charity drives where he allegedly donated large sums of money reaching towards $10,000.

There is still reason to doubt that holder2k and Named are the same person, even if their behavior seems to suggest so. However, holder2k's first Reddit comment was on Jerzii's leaked chatlogs, defending Named. It's possible that if they aren't the same person, they are working together to bring Hard Knocks down. Though this could simply be an elaborate attempt to troll Hard Knocks.

I've reached out to both holder2k, HeWhoShallNotBe Named, and NoobMan for more details. We should have a clearer picture in three weeks during EVE Vegas when holder2k's contract goes live and Named will be supposedly dragging NoobMan into a deposition while filing a suit against CCP "on a related subject." Whatever happens, this is shaping up to be one of the most absurd disagreements in EVE Online's history. Whether it's all trolling or these are actual threats, we’ll see soon enough. 

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.