Tarnishing the Legacy: Does EVE Online's History Matter to CCP Games?

CCP Games' decision to reintroduce some of EVE's most storied ships via a player-run organisation has caused an outcry from those who value EVE's player legacy.

CCP Games is rightly proud of EVE Online, it stands as a unique achievement in gaming history. Hundreds of thousands of players have contributed to the rich history of the single, persistent universe of New Eden for over a decade.

However, the recent decision to reintroduce historically significant ships back into the EVE Universe via a player-run lottery has caused ripples of concern amongst a segment of EVE players.

Yesterday, Community Manager Pete “CCP Navigator” McKay released this news in a devblog:

“After the success of the 1 Quadrillion Bonk at SOMER Blink and to celebrate EVE Vegas 2013, we wanted to do something extra special that would allow players to participate in a lottery for some exceptionally rare ships and items. Starting today, an ‘EVE Vegas Blink Blast Party’ event will be running in which players can win currently unreleased items from the NEX store, Collectors Editions, Ishukone Scorpions, Guardian Vexors and Gold Magnates.”

The announcement triggered some outcry amongst community members who see value in the stories behind these rare ships and see this move as a dilution of player legacy.

Of particular note is the Gold Magnate, a single prize ship from the Amarr Championship in 2003 which was subsequently destroyed whilst in the possession of EVE player, Tyrrax Thorrk. Also highly coveted and valuable are the Guardian Vexors, unique for their ability to field 10 drones (5 is the usual limit), of which there are believed to be less than 20 of the original 50 surviving, mostly in the possession of renowned rare ship collectors.


To address community concerns, CCP Navigator subsequently took to the forums with a lengthy explanation, which included:

“The Gold Magnate was handed out back when most players playing today did not know that EVE existed. As a single one was handed out and then destroyed it actually removes content from the game and that is not always a good thing. We thought hard about how we could reintroduce the model back in, still in a super limited basis, and a lottery seemed the fairest way to do this.”

“Tournament ships will not be handed out in this fashion ever. These ships require full alliances to work hard over a long period of time so handing them out for free would absolutely cheapen the achievements of teams...”

“Other hyper rare items like Imperial Apocs and Federate Megathrons should stay hyper rare so there are absolutely no plans to touch these at all. The only time we would look to reintroduce a model is when it ceases to exist in any form. After all, players should be having fun with these ships and not worrying that a line of ships just dies when the last one is popped.”

EVE Veterans Speak Out

Even Chribba, one of EVE's most beloved and well-known players, whose calm and diplomatic influence has been a notable counterpoint in many angry mob threadnaughts of the past, has felt the need to speak out against this initiative.

“Please don't reintroduce ships like this. There was one, it was blown up, let it stay that way. That's what makes EVE so great, it becomes a huge part of the lore and history!... (and I know you can change your mind at any time and reintroduce things - as you just sorta did - but that doesn't make it a smart move).”

Tyrrax Thorrk, the pilot who lost the original Gold Magnate, replied to Chribba:

“I'd call it breaking promises/guarantees, not "changing their minds"... I'm not a collector, just an interested party since I owned and lost the original gold magnate, and was active back when CCP guaranteed there wouldn't be any more of them. That's all I'm upset about, CCP making yet another huge mistake...”

However, some players feel that the views held by these veteran players excludes newer EVE players and that allowing rare ships to be won in a lottery “levels the playing field” and breathes new life into old content.

Once again, the EVE community is divided on a controversial topic.

This Correspondent's View

CCP Games clearly see the value in the depth of EVE's history and the stories to be told. After all, they have commissioned a graphic novel based on players' stories and have engaged Hollywood director Baltasar Kormákur to create a TV series based around this same rich legacy.

The existence (or lack thereof) of these ships are interwoven into this history and a decision that appears to disregard or dismiss that seems like an unhealthy decision in terms of preserving EVE's valued legacy and maintaining the faith of the players.

What is unique about EVE is the persistence, the permanency and the loss. CCP are the custodians and the protectors of that unique selling point of EVE. To upset the status quo in this manner is a risky strategy. 

There is no reason to reintroduce items or ships identical to ones of historical value when it would be almost as simple to produce a new variation simply by changing a couple of details. The new items would still have unique value and the legacy of the originals would be preserved.

Nothing is gained by trampling on the history valued by some besides generating some controversy, ergo publicity. New players will not care either way and the credibility and sanctity of EVE's legacy is damaged.

It does seem like a poorly thought-out decision by CCP Games, in which they seem comfortable to sacrifice valued history for the sake of short-term "engagement."

The Other Problem...

To address the idea that this is a fair process which levels the playing field, this doesn't add up to me. I think CCP needs to be very careful about "partnering" with in-game entities like the lottery provider SOMER Blink. Especially considering that in 2007 there was a lot of negativity surrounding CCP favouritism and provision of rare in-game items in what is now known as the "T20" scandal. Whilst the SOMER Blink lottery circumstances differ from T20, there are still parallels to be seen.

I can't help but wonder if it was as a litmus test in advance of making certain ships available on the NeX microtransaction store. CCP Navigator's initial announcement did include the phrase “currently unreleased items from the NEX store” after all.

CCP Games are often damned if they do and damned if they don't, which has made them equal parts attentive and belligerent when it comes to dealing with their vociferous customer base. It will be interesting to see how they respond on this occasion.

Perhaps CCP's livestreamed announcement of the Winter expansion (26 Sep 2013, 2000 UTC/GMT) will shed more light on the matter.


UPDATE (26/09/13 20:50 UTC): Following vociferous opinion from many quarters, CCP Navigator has published a forum post in which some of the issues have been addressed. The prizes have been revised, moving the legacy ships and replacing them with an as yet unannounced ship or an all expenses paid trip to Fanfest 2014. He also tries to explain the justification for distributing the prizes through a player organisation.

Featured Columnist

Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.

Published Sep. 27th 2013
  • MrVayne
    While I can kind of see where you're coming from comparing this to the T20 scandal, I think you do the current event a disservice presenting it as a direct comparison. The only similarity is CCP directly creating limited items in the live game world. You can perhaps argue that passing them to BoB is similar to giving them to Somer Blink to distribute, but note that the difference is that T20's intent was for BoB to keep and use the BPOs he spawned, whereas in this case Somer Blink are just distributing the items (and I imagine CCP would intervene directly in the event that anyone at Somer ran off with the items rather than contracting them to the winners). The most that Somer get out of this is potentially more revenue from their lotteries as more players are inclined to participate for a shot at the super-rare ships, but they'd get most of that anyway from their usual celebrations.

    Other than that the differences are very clear; T20 was a lone dev violating his professional ethics to benefit the alliance he/his friends played in by giving them an edge on their competition, done under the table and only intended to be used by/provide benefit to that alliance, also bypassing the ingame means of acquiring these rare items (the BPO lottery that provided T2 BPOs was still live at the time of the scandal). In this case it's CCP acting as a whole, letting the items be distributed to players primarily through luck with the intent of benefiting the entire EVE community rather than just the chosen party and they're creating items that cannot be obtained by any current ingame method. Perhaps you could argue that holders of the existing copies of things like the Guardian-Vexor will suffer from the increased availability, but I seriously doubt that the existence of 21 rather than 20 will have a noticeable effect on their values.

    I'd also like to add that all the people complaining that CCP adding these ships through dev fiat and distributing them via lottery tarnishes their history may want to pay attention to how the ships current owners got them. For all the talk of history, most of the remaining examples of these ships' pasts consist of being purchased from those who obtained them from one-off competitions for large sums of ISK, after which they've mostly sat in hangars collecting dust or occasionally being spun. Even the Golden Magnate famously lost by Tyrrax Thorrk was first purchased by him for a large amount of ISK. The "fame" and "history" of these ships is mostly in their endings, not the whole journey from creation to destruction and I don't really think that adding in more endings as these new ships are traded, eventually flown and lost will do much to dilute that history.
  • Nerdrage_1066
    Oh please. Nerdrage. Get a life. Some ships are being rerolled and made available. Ok, they will be stolen or destroyed, more stories to write about. Get over it
  • Kyle Yanowski
    Another great article Matt. Poe, I enjoy journalistic rivalries... but there is no need to be nasty.
  • Mat Westhorpe
    Featured Columnist
    Thanks Kyle. I wouldn't worry about Poetic. The fact that he and I agree about most of the issues brought up here yet he chose instead to focus on personally attacking me and wildly speculating about things he knows little about just reflects poorly on him. He's just proving what we already know about him. :)
  • Poetic Stanziel
    Featured Contributor
    We do agree on all the other stuff.

    The television show is a pet peeve of mine.
  • MA_6784
    "Perhaps CCP's livestreamed announcement of the Winter expansion (26 Sep 2013, 2000 UTC/GMT) will shed more light on the matter."

    >> All this means is that CCP deliberately planned the timing on these two announcements so that the winter expansion being discussed later today will deflect a lot of this negative attention the "Blunder of 2013" is creating. It's Incarna all over again.
  • Mashie Saldana
    "CCP Navigator's initial announcement did include the phrase “currently unreleased items from the NEX store” after all." If you had looked at the Somerblink website you would have seen that the NEX items Navigator is referred to are some unreleased monocles.
  • Mat Westhorpe
    Featured Columnist
    I don't dispute that. It was his use of "CURRENTLY unreleased" I was drawing attention to, causing me to speculate about CCP's intention to introduce more microtransaction items, including limited edition ships.
  • Winterblink
    I highly doubt the winter expansion stream will shed any additional light on this, beyond purely marketing the expansion and the Somer Blink promotion. They won't touch the sensitive issues which you are highlighting with a 10 foot pole.

    I suppose the big difference between now and the time when the T20 incident happened, CCP has significantly improved their internal affairs monitoring of what developers are up to when they interact with the community. I'm not suggesting that's a perfect solution, but I think there's less obvious opportunity for sneaky stuff to go on.

    As for reintroducing these types of rare ships back to the game, well I have to mirror Chribba's comments on the matter. However, I doubt that the greater community will give a shit about the historical significance of things.
  • l0rd carlos
    Can you tell us a little bit more about those "comparisons" between Somer and T20?
  • Mat Westhorpe
    Featured Columnist
    Sure. An in-game player-run entity is being provided with unique privileges and items to further their cause (albeit an allegedly "philanthropic" one). Of course it's not the same, as the T20 scandal was done surreptitiously by a rogue CCP employee to the benefit of a player alliance rather than in plain sight for marketing purposes as is the case today. But nonetheless it is dodgy ground and CCP need to tread carefully.

    Edit: On reflection, I think the word I was looking for was "parallels". Gonna change the original text to that.
  • Poetic Stanziel
    Featured Contributor
    "... engaged Hollywood director Baltasar Kormákur to create a TV series based around this same rich legacy."

    Would you stop furthering this bullshit TV thing. That's pure marketing. To get into the news. A TV show will NEVER be made because there is not a large enough market for it. CCP knew this all along ... but it does get EVE Online into the press more often, when folks like yourself report it as though it is fait accompli.
  • Mat Westhorpe
    Featured Columnist
    Evidence? Or is this just another excuse for an obnoxious outburst?
  • Poetic Stanziel
    Featured Contributor
    Rational thought?

    Who the fuck is going to invest in a TV Show based on a video game with only 500K players? On a property that nobody has heard of.

    Where's your evidence that there is actually a TV series being produced? Other than paying a director some small bit of money to link their name to the ruse. Is there a production company? Have there been any cast announcements? Any movement whatsoever, other than a poster?
  • Rothalack
    Master O' Bugs
    Sci-Fi TV shows can do well, if they make a TV show based off EVE it would obviously not be intended for purely the EVE player base. It would be intended for Sci-Fi watchers. It doesn't matter where a story came from, if the story is good people will watch. They are making the WoW movie and everyone said that would never happen, they made the Halo TV series, Forward unto Dawn (wasn't a huge success, but I wouldn't consider it a failure). The Resident Evil movies were most definitely not watched by purely people who played Resident Evil.

    Rumors are rumors, a hoax is a hoax, either they turn out real or fake. Who cares?
  • Stephen Johnston
    Universal and Trion invested in a TV show *and* a game that had no players or viewers: Defiance

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