When one person says a thing, it's an opinion. When two people say it, it's a fluke. When dozens of people independently come up with the same statement, it's a groundswell. Wilhelm's comments exactly represent the reasons I chose to leave the CFC and join Adversity.
More and more, folks are realizing an inevitable truth; having won Eve, the Imperium finds it self as a weapon without a target, bereft of purpose.
Don't get me wrong... nothing can stand up to the Imperium; in any are of space, at any time, the Imperium can exert its will with complete freedom. It has the pilots to both maintain its activity defense multipliers and conduct a complete, ruthless, and effective war across the galaxy or on multiple fronts. No one can fight them.
But no one really wants to fight them, either. They have a deserved reputation for ruining the enjoyment of their enemies. They create dominating doctrines and iterate the hell out of it (ie. boringly do the same thing again and again). They overwhelm enemies with one-sided battles with such regularity that no one wants to waste their time playing with them anymore.
What happened in Cloud Ring wasn't an accident. A number of alliances were having great fun attacking each other, taking assets, and generally having a great time. One of those entities was SMA, an Imperium alliance. And while it was just them, everyone was getting their jollies and things were looking up.
Then the CFC announced they were coming, and before a single shot was fired, before they even showed up, every alliance that had been in Cloud Ring realized the fun was over and all went their separate ways. Fighting the CFC isn't entertaining and doesn't provide meaningful content. Increasingly, potential enemies are saying, "You guys are invading? Okay, you win. We're going over here to fight someone who plays by the same rules we do." Because, as it's become clear, the CFC doesn't play by the same rules. They play to crush your spirit; everyone else just plays to win.
And the reality of this is having a significant effect on the experience of line members. The content available is reduced to covops fleets (one bait pilot finding another who wants to fight solo, then hot-dropping 30 ships on him), a non-challenging fight after hours of waiting in boredom. Large fleet fights are far less common; increasingly few are willing to deal with the annoying and soul-sucking experience of fighting an Imperium fleet.
The recent Viceroy program was so over-the-top that savvy observers identified it for what it was: by declaring war on all-comers, TheMittani is trying to rejuvenate his people by making them the enemy again. Unfortunately, everyone already identified the winning strategy; refuse to engage the CFC, pull back, and wait until they get bored and starve from the lack of content.
So, you get what we had in Cloud Ring. The Imperium is the bully who beat up on everyone, and now has no one to sit with at lunch. You want to play dodgeball? Here, take it, we'll go play basketball. You want to play on the swings, take them; we'll come back when you're done. You let us know what you're doing so we can do something else until you're done.
That's pretty bleak. It's what I was feeling, and it's what countless other players I've talked to are experiencing. Thousands of CFC pilots have just stopped logging in. Sure, they still talk to each other on Slack and jabber, and can log in for a rage-ping, but on a daily basis they're frequently finding more valuable things to do than play Eve.
This is ennui, the malaise and hopelessness of the purposeless existence. It descended upon the Imperium with AegisSov, and it won't be changing any time soon. If corporation leadership was in a state where it was a year ago, they'd be leaving to try new things; unfortunately, too many now are simply going on auto-pilot. The CFC is sick, and for many, the smallest operational unit is no longer corporation or alliance, but coalition.
And that leads to the kinds of dissonance Wilhelm describes: whereas previously all his close friends were in the same corp, now that corp resembles Swiss cheese, and the people he interacts with most are spread across a hundred corporations. The content is unsatisfying, but at the same time, he's not willing to abandon all those friends. You don't enjoy what you're doing I don't enjoy what I'm doing, but I don't want to leave my friends."
So, I made the call to leave before I lost all interest in Eve. And, in so doing, I became rejuvenated. The rest of the game really is having fun out there.
Increasingly, I'm convinced more and more that the CFC is an extremely well-organized group with leaders who generally honor their word, tight loyalty among friends, and a range of theoretical advantages that appeals to a ratter or casual PvPer, but one which now exists in a universe with mechanics ill-suited to its kind of structure. It's like if the U.S. would have kept the same style and size of military from WWII in the modern age; unsuited for the new environment.
The CFC has truly already won Eve. But that's in its past, and it's now suffering the fate of all victors... having burned down all of its enemies, it sits on a throne of charred timbers, choking on the ash.
Where does it go from here? What does it do if, as is happening, folks simply decide to leave the north as a no-fly zone and have fun in the rest of null-sec?
I said years ago that no one could defeat the CFC; that when it falls, it'll be because of leadership burnout or a decision to retire. I hold to that; it'll last as long as it provides satisfying content for its membership. That process is long, though, and I believe it began with AegisSov, perhaps earlier.
I find it all fascinating. I always used to wonder why large empires seemed to suddenly collapse. Now I know. It's not weakness,but an excess of strength, that tears them apart.