Today, the leaders of the majority of sov null-sec got together and issued a brief, but poignant statement about the state of sovereignty. In it, they lay out three key points, which can be easily translated to the following:
Continued null-sec ownership should be based upon utilization of space. Each null-sec entity is, theoretically, a separate sovereign “nation”, if you will, with its own culture and civilization. Essentially, they recognize that that a civilization consists of what it does, not what it owns.
Null-sec should be less secure. By adding NPC space all around them, they’re begging for additional content closer to home. NPC space can’t be tamed, and the fact that all of these entities signed on to it is telling as to what they and their members want out of the game.
Null-sec systems should be able to sustain a large number of players. Does it make sense that an entire star system can only sustain a handful of players under Dominion mechanics? Of course not! It’s important to note that the request wasn’t for more moon minerals in this space, but rather the ability for players to earn isk in this space.
Most importantly, this statement was signed by the leaders of Goonswarm, NC., Nulli Secunda, PL, Brave, Test, FCON, The Bastion, INIT, TNT, Razor (“The Troika” refers to the three elected leaders – including one of my CEOs, Troyd –not a specific character, BTW), CO2, Executive Outcomes, FA, Fweddit, LAWN, SMA, The Kadeshi, Darkness., Pasta, HONOR, and xxDeath. It was also co-signed by 8 sitting CSM members.
Not Your Average Statement
In my last post, I mentioned how B0TLRD represents everything that’s wrong with Eve, since it favors safety for alliance finances over individual development and enjoyment. I even said that I couldn’t blame the alliances involved for making such an agreement given the mechanics. But it’s pretty clear that this sort of environment is strangling null-sec enjoyment and engagement. As a result, we’re seeing alliances lose members, sometimes to the extent that they fail (the fact of The Bastion’s existence is a direct result of it). Razor has lost good pilots to low-sec, as have many alliances. The blob is a perennial problem as a result of the massive coalition-ing that has taken place.
Nearly everyone, myself included, long for coalitions to fall apart. But until sov mechanics change, it simply won’t happen because alliances will always do what’s in their best interest. Right now, that’s “safety” and “collusion”.
This statement is hugely significant not for the points it raises, but for the fact of its existence. It represents intractable enemies getting together and recognizing that the game they love has a fatal flaw that is strangling the enjoyment of everyone.
Null-sec is what drives CCP’s marketing and PR efforts. And the names who can safely speak for about 80% of the titans and supercarriers and 90% of sov null space just grabbed a megaphone and told CCP that this is a problem that they must fix. Each entity has openly stated that they’ve declined engaging in press-claiming wars because of the horror of a sov grind. The one essential element of existing in null-sec – taking sov and holding it through timers, is widely considered “no fun” and a detriment to engagement and their experience. TiDi, while technically a tremendous success, has done nothing to fix the inherent problems with large fleet fights.
And, more importantly, the concurrent user count has been dropping dramatically – with the USTZ barely breaking 20,000. Many people are logging in less.
If sov mechanics weren’t at the forefront of CCP’s priority list, you can damn well bet it is now. The tentacles wrapped around each player have been loosening slowly over the past year and a half. CCP ignores the significance of this statement at their own peril.
The easy answer as to timing is because CCP put out a call for opinions about sov mechanics, and that the coalitions don’t want CCP to screw this one up. But the issue is more pressing than that. These alliances have all been experiencing trouble with providing content for membership. Many alliances have deployed to low-sec to find action – even though they almost certainly know this action is of limited value in the next sov null war and that their typical flying style is ill-suited for that area of space. Why?
Content. Their members are frustrated and are starting to wonder why they’re still a part of an area of space that is utterly boring. If you can’t offer significance and meaningful content, you can always offer meaningless fights to kill time and keep your membership docile. But “docile” is very different from “happy”, and eventually they start to realize it.
Let me ask you this: other than secure income generation, what does a null-sec alliance have to offer a candidate corporation for recruitment? What sort of corporations are going to be attracted by a safe environment with no easy PvP nearby or, at best, PvP requiring deployment across the universe? Is that offering more attractive to a PvP corporation (the backbone of sov military power) than what a low-sec pirate alliance has to give?
And individual pilots are increasingly opting to enjoy other sources of content, or they’re logging off entirely. Alliances see their participation numbers declining. Large alliances and coalitions have to resort to bringing their howitzers to the Provi/Catch knife-fight, ruining the experience for everyone.
Things have to change, and change soon, or CCP will find that apathy will solve the complaints of null-sec pilots for them – by causing them to give up on Eve either actively (by playing another game) or passively (by choosing to focus on real-life).
To CCP’s credit, they actively sought out opinions like this Empyrean Declaration. I doubt they expected all of these hostile alliances to come together and make a joint statement. But now that it has, they need to pay attention. Implementing mechanics that don’t solve any of the real problems of null-sec or slapping a bandage on null sovereignty is the equivalent of saying, “We don’t care sufficiently about your experience or whether you’re engaged with our game.”
As a player who truly enjoys Eve, I don’t think even I could forgive a casual “patch” of null-sec, when a complete overhaul is needed.