EVE Online Controversy Erupts Over In-Game Dev Influence (Updated)

By Chris Remo, Feb 07, 2007 11:44am PST An absolutely monstrous thread has erupted over at the official forums of EVE Online, CCP's space-based MMO, dealing with various allegations of shady in-game events tracing back to developers abusing their power within the game world itself. In the initial thread post, EVE community manager kieron stated that the issues have been investigated, with CCP taking action against and deleting the characters of developers whose real life identification was apparently leaked--deliberately or not--to other players within their in-game corporations.
As for the allegations themselves, they consist of two parts. The first part involved a case that happened seven months ago when a CCP employeeÂ’s identity became public knowledge within his corporation. Per company policy, the incident was investigated and actions taken where appropriate, including the removal of characters whose identities were compromised.
In both cases, these accusations were recently brought forward when a player revealed the identity of numerous CCP employee characters. Since these play characters are known to belong to CCP employees, they will be removed from the game. Many of them have been around since the creation of EVE and it is most unfortunate that these developers are now forced to end their relationships with their in-game friends, but that is our policy when the anonymity of staff members has been compromised.

The epic thread that follows proves that kieron's explanation was not enough to satisfy player concerns, however. The overwhelming sentiment within the thread is that the official post completely sidestepped the most noteworthy and concerning issue, which is that EVE developers apparently used their station unduly to create advantageous situations within the game, upsetting the balance of the game world. Many players are calling for CCP to address policies relating potential abuse such as this, which went unmentioned in the original post, and speak on the concept of conflict of interest as it relates to developers participating in the game.

In a post speaking to many of the posters' concerns, forum member Cringely writes:

I have never been a major proponent of this whole dev misconduct outrage. I agree that devs should be allowed to sample the game, both for their benefit and ours. But this answer you have given is just ridiculous. Devs have played with an in-game alliance, and revealed their identity to their allies. They have done so selectively, and they have delivered major financial benefits to their in-game friends. Worst of all, some CCP employees seem to be able to get away with this, while others who have made contact with other alliances have been brought up short for doing so.

Now whether or not there was any formal cheating involved, you have a major conflict of interest problem on your hands, and you haven't even taken the first of a thousand steps towards solving it. When you were investigating I assumed that things would come out for the best, but this answer has struck my faith in CCP really, really low. Now I'm just waiting to see if devs take in-game reprisals against those who brought the issue to public attention.

There has yet to be any further comment by kieron on the matter. Thanks to Blue's News for the tip!

Update: Community manager kieron returned to post a followup comment and locked the thread, stating that CCP will be providing further comment and explanation on the situation by the end of the week. "It was my hope that the replies to the original statement would remain on topic, but due to the lack of clarity in that statement this was not the case," wrote kieron.

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27 Threads* | 133 Comments

  • For those who don't want to dig through all the crap on the forums, after an hour of research I've found the following:

    - The devs were outed by a guy who hacked alliance forums/email accounts/instant message accounts/EVE accounts to get the info.
    - Supposedly due to those methods his accounts were closed immediately along with a friend of his that helped him out.
    - A majority of the accused devs were regular players who eventually got jobs with CCP.
    - Lots of people don't like Band of Brothers, the alliance being accused of cheating.

    Found most of this at the whistle blower's forum: http://www.kugutsumen.com/

    Part of me knows this shit happens in every game. Just having "knowledge" of the game but not doing any kind of physical shenanigans will always allow a dev to have an advantage in the game they help create.

    Except Quake. Have you seen Willits in the Q3 demo used for benchmarking? Maximum lols.

  • I have to disagree with those that are dismissing this issue as irrelevant. Whether you think of games as "just games" are not, the point is that there are gamers paying for a fair and balanced gaming experience. I personally have no issue with game developers playing their own games, but when something like this happens, it's completely out of line, and I feel that real life disciplinary actions should be taken.

    I wouldn't be surprised if EVE loses more than a few subscribers due to this problem, and I'm sure there are others like it in other games. Just because these gamers are concerned about the fairness of their game does not mean they're overly geeky; it means that they want an experience they're willing to pay for.

  • that's pretty upsetting to the balance of a persistent virtual world like the one they've created in EVE, where supposedly it's predominately player driven content. I played for a while and the game had huge potential because of how the players could dynamically shape the universe. Not quite like a WoW where so what if a dev were to go so far as share pve strats with his guild...they still gotta come together and beat the content and then they get some loot and that's that. Although there have been cases of entire guilds in WoW getting special treatment from GM's because devs were involved, like that one time an entire guild was displaced to a new server because everyone on the original server hated the guild.