First off... shame on you, potty mind! I said "prognosticate".
In the last of my, “What does it all mean?” posts about the Phoebe jump changes and the effects it will have on null-sec, I’m going to indulge in a bit of fortune telling. I’m going to peer through the veil of time and bring you, dear readers, golden morsels of delightful insight from the future.
That pretty much means I’m gonna make wild guesses about how things are going to be in the final state of the world. This is wildly convenient for me, since it’s easy to make rock-solid predictions about Change Set #1 in the long-term when Change Sets #2 & #3 will be influencing the game well before these long-term states exist. So, basically, I have nothing to lose and can’t be proven wrong by talking about a future that won't exist. Wee!
Yeah, pretty much this is all for fun, so take it with a whole damn salt lick, not just a grain.
Prediction #1: The World is Not Going to End
Sorry, folks, all of the current null-sec players aren't going to charge for Unsub Limbo, and all of the null-sec empires aren’t going to suddenly wink out of existence. N3, PL, and Goonswarm are all still going to be there.
But… and there’s always a but… the landscape IS going to change dramatically. How many alliances could have conquered their space on their own? The answer: not many. Some alliances have proven to be particularly tough – I could see Solar Fleet and xxDeathxx return to prominence – but a lot of the members of various coalitions will face a tough time. Even Razor, probably the second-most powerful alliance in the CFC, will need to prove their worth. After all, the CFC conquered Tenal, not Razor on its own.
We’re going to see a lot of the null-sec world burn or wither away. I’d be surprised if anything remains of the rental alliances in light of the difficulty in defending both those areas and their owners’ sov. Alliances will need to judge carefully what they attack and what they defend… and the past two years of null politics has left a lot of have-nots who have nothing to lose, or nothing to need to defend right now. I think it’s safe to say we’re going to see a lot of independent actors injected into null-sec.
Prediction #2: The Second Wave Will Rule
That said, I don’t want to be among the first wave of new null-sec residents. Just like with most colonization efforts (Jamestown, Roanoke, anyone?), the first few alliances who try to move into null-sec are going to be utterly savaged by their neighbors. If you’re interested in moving to null-sec long-term, I’d recommend waiting until the established players’ attention is elsewhere or until attrition has taken the bite out of some of your fellow null-aspirants. Otherwise, even if you’re successful you’ll only be tired of the grind and in a vulnerable position for that second wave of invaders to tear down.
And be prepared… the established blocs have a huge advantage over any newcomer and will absolutely concentrate their efforts on the most profitable space. They’re sitting on isk stockpiles that leave them very capable of defending their chosen homes, and not only do they have huge supercap leads, they’re still producing large amounts of them. Goonswarm, NC., and PL will continue to be major players, although not as hegemonic as they have been.
Prediction #3: Wormholers Will Face More Resistance
The jump changes are going to force more alliances to stay closer to home. As a result, wormholers aren’t going to be able to enjoy the regular easy gank anymore. Help is going to be much closer at hand – to the point that an alliance may be able to muster a strong defense of one of their caught ratting carriers. Some attempted ganks are going to turn into an actual fight.
This is a good thing, for everyone involved. For the victim, it gives them a chance to survive. And for the wormhole corps, it gives them a proper fight, similar to what they’re used to seeing when they brawl with other WH corps. Content will be more plentiful in the space of proper null-sec entities. No longer will they have to subsist on the gank as a content generator.
Prediction #4: Long Live Low-Sec
As has been covered by others, the ever-present fear of the hot drop will fade somewhat, but only in the long-term. You can be absolutely sure that null-sec entities will be evacuating some of their assets to low-sec in the short-term, as they asses what the effects of both the Jump Changes and the next two rounds of null-sec changes will be. Why would null-sec groups keep all their supers and titans in null-sec if they may find themselves needing to evac them at some point? Low-sec is safer and ensures their assets are accessible.
So, until null-sec settles down, the only thing that will keep low-sec from being hotdropped is the desire of a null alliance to keep their supercap assets hidden. But once that does, and null-sec entities decide whether they’re going to double-down in null or evac to low, expect that ambiguity to result in at least some presence in low-sec space.
Once the shake-ups are over, though, low-sec will experience a lot less interference from null-sec groups. One of the first moves will be on low-sec moons currently held by null-sec alliances. These moons won’t be defendable anymore, and will – one by one – fall. If moon mining survives the Null Purge coming in 2015, be surprised if the null alliances don’t start calling for an increase in the number of minable moons. Null-sec should be more profitable than low-sec, right?
Prediction #4: Subscription Rates Will Drop
Up above, I said that Eve won’t lose players, but you can be damn sure it’ll lose accounts. I don’t foresee super roams through gates happening more than once or twice for novelty – and certainly not after the first super roam is dropped on and obliterated by PL. Supers are going to be useful only to defend an alliance’s space, and will be kept unsubbed until the need arises. Plus, think of all those cyno characters who aren’t going to be used as frequently… I know mine is going to pretty much go to waste (good thing I have her cross-trained as a market trader). With the contraction of space, many scouts won’t be as important as they are now.
All in all, a lot of accounts will be unsubbed, and that’s even before you factor in angst about any of the changes. Some people are going to be turned off, but I predict the bulk of the unsubs will be due to a lack of need.
Prediction #5: PLEX Prices Will Drop
Some of this is a result of the drop in account subscriptions (reduction in demand), but increased supply will also play a part. Why? Null alliances are going to be losing access to low-sec moons and will ultimately be able to control fewer systems each. Renter empires are likely going to cease to exist or become trivial compared to their current size, too. That means the null alliances won’t be able to generate nearly the same amount of isk.
And that means RMT-based isk supply will take a hit.
Yes, I’m saying I believe RMT is happening in null-sec. And yes, I’m saying that contracting the space alliances have to RMT in will reduce that income. RMT sites have to pay more than the cost of PLEX in order to compensate buyers for taking the risk of purchasing RMT’d isk, which CCP confiscates when they find out about it. After a while, the volume of available isk will start to dry up and players will increasingly turn to PLEX to fund their incoming ALODs. That means the PLEX supply will increase, taking pressure off PLEX prices.
For a long time, I doubted whether anyone would take the risk of running an RMT operation while being connected with a major null-sec alliance, but the intensity of the “foul” being cried by so many in the null-sec community strikes me as running deeper than, “My game is going to get harder and involve more risk!” Almost as if these changes were going to directly affect their income. I know I’d fight tooth-and-nail to keep my family’s income safe.
I have no inside information to support this, so it’s just a gut feeling. But RMT operations are getting their isk from somewhere, and I think it’s safe to say null-sec is a likely source of at least some of it.
But, we’ll see.
Prediction #6: The CFC Will Be Under Siege
I’m sure a lot of you are eager to see this one. The simple fact is that the CFC has been the most successful group within Eve to date – more so than BoB, more so than anyone else. They were able to weld together diverse groups. They were able to line up and incorporate replacement entities as original members faltered and fell apart. Their space never contracted and they never faced an existential threat after their infancy. They are more organized and cooperative than any other entity out there. Quite simply, no one can stand up to the CFC in a sov war.
But that dazzling success has led to its own problems. They operate as a legion, smashing one point all together – a playstyle that will be more difficult in the future. Their individual skills don’t tend towards small-gang or independent operation in the way a collection of independent, small entities do. None of their members carved out their current space by themselves; they all had help in conquering their patch of turf.
And, perhaps most importantly, the CFC has obliterated many alliances. -A-, Test, NC., White Noise, Raiden., Evoke and Ewoks, not to mention all the former BoB alliances, BL, Mordus Angels, and the like… the list of defeated enemies is endless. If the CFC were a real life entity, their enemies wouldn’t be alive to protest or avenge themselves (NC., for instance, would have been snuffed out). The CFC empire would be untouchable.
But Eve is a game, and within this game, no one ever really dies. They just collect resentment. They’re still there, just embarrassed or angry. All of an entity’s enemies continue to live in a present heavily mortgaged for the hope of a future when a moment of weakness leaves the CFC vulnerable.
The jump fatigue changes are going to be that moment of weakness. They’ll lock the CFC into fighting on multiple fronts at once, and they’re going to have to split their forces to do so. It will face its Caesar moment, when all of its defeated enemies sense the time is nigh and strike – likely all at once and coordinating at least the timing of reinforcement timers to coincide.
It may not kill the CFC, but there will be revenge to be had. Seeing that some type of occupancy-based sov seems inevitable, I doubt the CFC will be snuffed out, but it will likely have to fight on its own turf for a while. I could even see some of the smaller alliances, particularly in gateway regions, being forced out of their sov for a while. I, for one, am hoping for a gloriously epic conflict.
Speak to Me, O Ether!
So that’s my little thought exercise. I make no estimates on whether specific entities will continue to exist or not, but I do think we’re going to lose some entities, at least for the short term; whether they fall off into oblivion will likely depend on the strength of their individual alliance cultures.
And, as I said, the next two promised changes to null sec (likely focusing on sovereignty maintenance and industry, respectively) will tip the apple cart over again.
But, the more I think about it, the more I’m excited about these proposed changes. We need a change; null-sec and most of the entities in it are already dead. Hopefully we’ll see lots of upheaval and most of them will be brought back to life as they fight to survive. Prosperity causes laziness. We need a little more hunger.