Players of the space-based MMO will soon be given the chance to vote on nine members who they feel would make up a fair team of independent inspectors. The established oversight committee will then be flown to CCP's Iceland headquarters for their own appraisal of the EVE team's innocence.
"Perception is reality, and if a substantial part of our community feels like we are biased, whether it is true or not, it is true to them," EVE corporate chief Hilmar Petursson told the New York Times. "EVE Online is not a computer game. It is an emerging nation, and we have to address it like a nation being accused of corruption."
Two weeks ago the in-game corporation Goonswarm accused CCP employees of deliberately and unfairly aiding the largest alliance in the game, Band of Brothers. "This is a serious situation and it warrants the highest levels of attention on your part," read an open letter to CCP from Goonswarm. The letter was accompanied by various evidence Goonswarm had collected against the developer, which appeared to show a Band of Brothers member summoning a CCP employee at whim, as well as a CCP official joining a corporation to briefly appoint himself director. CCP roundly denied the charges, claiming that the employee was merely repairing a bug in the game code.
The new accusations came on the heels of an earlier corruption scandal involving Band of Brothers and CCP. After several lengthy forum discussions fraught with wild speculation, one CCP employee came forward, admitting that he had illegally handed out valuable spaceship blueprints to Band of Brothers.
While CCP denied the majority of the claims, the developer undoubtedly lost credibility in the eyes of its user base. And in an online world where fairness is of the utmost importance, the company can't afford to ignore the seeds of distrust. "A government can't just keep saying, 'We are not corrupt.' No one will believe them," said CCP's Petursson. "Instead you have to create transparency and robust institutions and oversight in order to maintain the confidence of the population."
The move to create the committee has already been met with considerable optimism by fans, many praising CCP for attempting to resolve the situation in good faith. "Although I do not trust CCP anymore, I believe that this is most definitely a step in the right direction," said forum poster Badlands.
Some remain skeptical that the unusual process will accomplish anything, expressing concern that players won't have the know-how to properly investigate the massive game. "There's no point in these ombudsmen if they can't take deep looks into the log files and live databases, and actually understand them," remarked a user on Goonswarm's website.
Questions have also arisen regarding the potential for corruption among the committee members themselves. CCP says that election monitors will be culled from universities in the United States and Europe, but that does little to ensure the goodwill of the actual candidates. A forum poster named Babbette summed up the problem: "EVE prides itself on having the most cutthroat and back-stabbing players in any MMO. Is anyone really gonna trust 8-9 people you don't personally know to do anything [about] EVE?"