It looks like Eve Online is testing a new punishment for cheaters and rulebreakers: sentencing their characters to perform “menial labour” in-game in order to earn back their freedom.
The evidence comes in dialogue strings datamined from Singularity, Eve Online’s limited-access test server. Those strings hint that characters can be given a “penalty sentence”, at which point they will be booted from the game, with their sentence starting on their next login.
Dataminers also report spotting a new type of ore that has no apparent purpose other than to be mined. This all suggests that the memeworthy punishment of turning large rocks into smaller rocks (as Kotaku put it) could quite literally be a cheater’s fate in Eve Online. You can dig into the voice lines, courtesy of the dataminers at Hoboleaks, here and here.
Personally I think this sounds like a suitably tedious and amusing punishment, but it appears that it’s not coming to the western version of the game. Eve Online is distributed in China via local giant NetEase, and Eve developer CCP told Kotaku that the whole thing was their idea:
“After the new EVE Online China beta is launched later this year, it will be synchronized with NetEase’s Guardhouse System. This system draws on the punishment mechanism of other titles by NetEase Games.”
CCP Falcon, an Eve community manager, mentions its Chinese relaunch in an update on the official website and subreddit. As part of that rollout, the Chinese Singularity cluster “will begin to host content destined for” either or both of its western and Chinese main servers (respectively, Tranquility and Serenity). “This will include SKINs, localisation and monetisation features that are destined only for Serenity, along with changes to the client that are required to comply with Chinese law,” says Falcon.
Sadly, per CCP’s statement to Kotaku, it seems the menial labour punishments are among these.