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Eve Online’s Chaos Era: “You don’t want your sandbox to turn into cement”

"We, as the caretakers of the universe, have to step in."

Eve Online anniversary skin

Eve Online has been going through a wild handful of months, kicking off in July with the invasion of the Drifters – a formerly passive NPC faction that started taking aim at players. CCP Games then announced a local chat blackout in nullsec space, and a vocal segment of players were not happy about it. Yet the Chaos Era, as the developers call it, is all part of the plan to keep the venerable MMO fresh.

“Right now the situation in the game is such that the stagnation has been setting slowly over a few years and there is no end in sight,” CEO Hilmar Pétursson tells PC Gamer. “It’s just going to stagnate. You don’t want your sandbox to turn into cement, so it needs to be moved around a bit. And we, as the caretakers of the universe, have to step in. We want the game to be built, owned, and operated by its playerbase. But right now we have to.”

Eve Online’s player-driven society and economy has always been remarkable for its resemblance to the real world, but reality has more outside forces pushing against the status quo. Pétursson notes technological influences like cell phones forcing change, and says that “Eve Online lacks a good ability to renew itself in this way.”

Pétursson says disruption is essentially “form of creative destruction: It breaks up monopolies, it topples industrial giants, it creates new space for things to bloom.” That’s the sort of thing the Chaos Era is attempting to bring to Eve Online.

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Eve Online launched way back in 2003, which might as well be prehistoric in terms of ongoing online games. It remains one of the most fascinating things in the game industry, and things might just keep getting wilder from here.