EVE Online Players to Elect Anti-Corruption Inspectors

By Nick Breckon, Jun 08, 2007 10:49am PDT Following widespread allegations of corrupted employees abusing in-game powers, EVE Online manager CCP has a new response: Democracy.

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?"

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  • Well, I'll agree with you that I don't think BoB needed to cheat in order to get to where they are now. They're the biggest group of vetern players in the server. There are two main game mechanics that make them so much more powerful:

    Skillpoints. These acrue at a constant pace. Playing more will not increase your skillpoints. Skillpoints determine what weapons/ships you can use, including the super-capitals in the game like Titans, and motherships. BoB has mostly old characters with far more skillpoints than any other alliance. Therefore they are, as a whole, able to fly bigger and better ships than their enemies.

    BoB's been around long enough to create monopolies in the market for themselves. Part of this was due to poor game design by CCP. They created a lottery system in which the ability to create certain things were handed out. BoB's been around long enough to accumulate the exclusive ability to make many of the best items in game for a long time. This has given them a huge bank role. They've used this money to buy the super-capitals they fly, as well as all the other expensive ships they fly. CCP is just now changing this rather broken mechanic, but BoB is still benifiting greatly from their monopolies.

    So, BoB has a huge advantage even without cheating or getting favors from CCP employees. Sure, they've played longer than everyone else so it should be no surprise that they're more powerful. But in a game like EVE, which is based around conflict, and the rise and fall of empires, it is important that a balance be kept. Old players can't become too powerful or newer players will be unable to compete with them. BoB taking over EVE is in my opinion just showing that EVE has become imbalanced in favor of older players. Their monopolies will fade in time and this will help balance things, as well as some nerfs to the super-capitals they've bought with all that money they have.

    All that said, BoB truely is a very talented group of people who are very dedicated. It's a shame they've had all these scandals that have marred their accomplishments.