Notes From The Front Line: Inside EVE Online’s Wartime Economy

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“You can give EVE players a shovel and expect them to maybe dig a hole,” Peter Farrell, community developer at CCP Games tells me. “And instead they’ll take that shovel apart and make a hammock out of it.”

The world of EVE Online is a complex place. Farrell started playing EVE back in 2004, but the layers of complexity around the geography, economy, and trading systems put them off altogether, before they later returned with a new character and ended up getting hired to the community dev team. Right now, EVE Online is at the height of a war that has been building for years – and players are making hammocks out of shovels to cope with it. “This war has been on a scale that you really haven’t seen before,” Farrell says. “All of the groups involved had been building up for something, but they didn’t quite know what was coming. So they would spend eight years building up their personal war coffers. These EVE groups, they’re pretty shrewd. They know it’s important in order to keep the fleets going. As [players’] ships explode, they need to put them in a new ship. A lot of times the alliances [the side each player fights for in the war] will foot the bill, or at least subsidise part of the bill. And earlier this year, there was an incredibly bloody fight. There’s actually been a series of very bloody fights. But the first one that kind of raised alarms for these groups happened in a system in the southwest part of the map – the bill at the end of it [destroyed] the entire month of peak earning in one fight. And so these groups were like ‘Crap, we’ve got a war chest, but if these types of fights are what we’re going to be experiencing, this isn’t enough’. Since these two groups are at war, they have no time to earn money either, because there are no safe areas to get those things. So the players did something brand new and really ingenious. They issued wartime bonds.”

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