At the tail end of last week, a few enterprising individuals within EVE’s Goonswarm Federation figured out a way to manipulate the way the newly reworked Faction Warfare system paid out Loyalty Points, to turn it into the kind of money fountain you don’t want to go near for fear of death by a thousand papercuts. The rumoured figure is five trillion ISK, but some say more. CCP have already responded, and while it’s still under investigation, it’s not looking all that promising for those involved; they’ve already stated that “We will be monitoring for attempted manipulation of the LP market and will reverse any proceeds deemed to have been obtained through manipulative means.”
But they’re not the only parties involved in this. Speaking to Mark Tremayne, a diplomatic director for the Goonswarm Federation, we talked about whether there’s any guilt on the part of those involved, Goonswarm’s position in EVE, and if these actions are going to have wider ramifications than just a quick buck.
Do you think that this will fundamentally upset the balance of EVE, both in PvP and in general?
No. The nature of this market action was very selective in both the materials used to generate the 'seed' currency (LP) and how that currency was converted to assets which can be sold for ISK. There will be a period of deflation in specific market products, however this will be in the favor of most EVE players and only negatively affect the select few players who count on those specific products for their income source. Those same players will be able to move to different products for their LP exchange and receive similar profits as they saw before the market action.
Goonswarm Federation cares deeply about both PvP and PvE in EVE Online. While our actions are often extolled as being anti-EVE or anti-CCP, we are all people who play EVE Online and have a vested interest in the continued success of this game. We want a risk vs. reward system that scales such that the incentives for living in nullsec provide an advantage over highsec. We enjoy massive PVP that's based on asymmetrical conventional warfare and not about who can collect the most titans and deploy them at once. Any suggestion that we don't care about EVE is completely untrue. We usually just care about different things than our accusers do.
Are those involved guilty of exploiting a game mechanic? Has there been an EULA violation here?
The team that participated in this situation looked very closely at the formula that CCP released in their own Developer Blog and put together a very complex spreadsheet to calculate the potential profits of the system as CCP proposed. CCP was actually warned many times prior to the deployment of this patch that the values of LP were easily manipulable and chose to deploy it anyways. They likely never expected players to load hundreds of billions of isk of their own assets into freighters to be sacrificed for the LP payouts. After that, it was a clever use of the LP payment system to increase Faction Warfare tier to 5 to receive the best prices on faction items and cash out their LP into assets.
Once the team had proof of concept they documented their actions and attempted to notify CCP immediately. The tweet wasn't passed on to CCP Soundwave or CCP Sreegs and so it took some private skype calls before he and CCP was properly notified and from there they hotfixed the system with a temporary patch and we released the document to the EVE General forums.
Our stance is that nothing needs to be 'assuaged' at this stage because we followed due process as outlined by CCP when it comes to the discovery of potential game-breaking mechanics. Everything that the team involved did required a massive up-front investment of isk and goods to initiate this action, well beyond what the average EVE player could afford, especially for a speculative action. From there they used valid in-game mechanics to achieve their goal and once realized they saw the potential for massive, widespread disruption of the EVE markets as a result. This is when they ceased their activites and created the document that was passed to CCP outlining the process and potential consequences if left in that state.
The important points here are that no ISK was generated as a result of this action. In fact, it was a massive ISK sink as each transaction with the LP store cost a portion of ISK, so in that sense, hundreds of billions of isk were removed from the economy and the resultant 'take' was in the form of assets, not liquid ISK which will take many many months to liquidate properly. As such, we see no exploit here and nothing to be feeling guilty about. CCP takes a hard stance on EULA violations and thus far has not taken any action against players as a result of this event.
Was the huge inflation in Mineral worth after Burn Jita specifically with this exploit in mind, or just happy coincidence?
The two events were only tangentially related inasmuch as they were both the brainchild of Aryth. As a matter of fact, several millions of units of minerals were sacrificed for LP, increasing their value even further. Overall, it's a good time to be a miner in EVE again.
Is there anything left in EVE that can threaten GS, now that you can buy any fleet you like, and fund any army you want?
Certainly. History has shown that Goonswarm's most dangerous foe is stagnation. We suffered a devastating setback in early 2010 when we allowed ourselves to stagnate and failed to keep our membership engaged at the most basic level. I would point out that our members involved in the market action using the LP store realized 100% of the profits of their action, so the alliance is essentially in the exact same position, economically, as we were prior to this most recent patch. That being said, we're far from paupers. We have only recently introduced a new Tier 3 cruiser doctrine to our fleet doctrine portfolio, which is much more expensive (roughly 225% per core ship) to run than our previous Alphafleet doctrine, however many other alliances have been using them for as long as a year already.
We will continue to find creative ways to generate content in EVE Online. We're committed to not only participate in EVE's player-run narrative but to continue to push for even more headline generating content like Burn Jita.
Thanks for your time.