Players have suggested that moon minerals should deplete and rotate between moons. This is an idea that is often rehashed on the official EVE forums and sometimes even on more nullsec-slanted forums such as Kugutsumen. The premise of this idea is that moon mining is widely considered a “safe” source of income, an assumption that makes little sense in an age when almost every nullsec organization can field enough dreadnoughts and titans to reinforce a large hardened tower in a single siege cycle. Moons have also been a primary conflict driver throughout the history of the game; it should not be necessary to point out every war that has been waged over Technetium moons since 2010.
The premise behind this idea is simple: moon minerals would “deplete” as they are mined until a point where the moon is entirely void of the mineral being mined and it respawns elsewhere. Ideally, somebody would discover that some other moon can be mined for that mineral and the moon would then be towered and mined. This would not actually encourage conflict over moons - in fact, this would discourage it.
I’ll paint a hypothetical scenario where moon depletion is implemented on Tranquility. Any given moon can now only put out 432,000 units (that is six months’ worth) of a given moon mineral as long as it exists on that moon. Once that deposit is entirely depleted, it respawns on one of the other 162,226 mineable moons in the game.
In this hypothetical scenario, Alliance A has been mining one of their moons for three months, and Alliance B would love to have that moon. Of course, by that point, they would only get three months of mileage out of that moon. Attacking a moon requires plenty of expensive hardware and even modest losses incurred by Alliance B would rapidly outstrip any financial gain from even the most valuable of moons. Likewise, Alliance A may be loathe to defend the moon, as the loss of the subcaps and triage carriers to do so may exceed the remaining value of the moon. It would be more convenient for them to scan their space and find a moon with a “fresh” or full spawn of that mineral instead of trying to hold on to a contested moon with only half of its remaining resources.
A common argument proponents of depletion make is that this would diminish the power of large blocs. Nothing could be further from the truth. Large blocs, with deeper manpower pools, would be able to rapidly scan entire regions, while smaller entities such as Pandemic Legion or Nulli Secunda would be at a disadvantage.
In this specific scenario, all currently mined moons would have a lifetime of six months after downtime on patch day. This means that moon minerals will have a significant increase in price as that time approaches. Patch speculation starts the moment that the devblog is posted, if not sooner. A significant and permanent increase in T2 prices would be very likely. Post patch, the constantly shifting supply means that the new market never matures. Bottlenecks appear and vanish as moons respawn in more or less trafficked places, and CCP, unable to count on a predictable rate of production, loses any ability to regulate the market whatsoever.
Scanning is a tedious process; with the exception of the Prowler, blockade runners are not suitable for this task. It is not possible to scan moons on Singularity and use that data on Tranquility as the mineral compositions of moons are shuffled. The data is not made available through the data dump - sites such as DOTLAN depend on user-submitted data, which is inherently unreliable. The player must fire a probe into each moon and wait as the results return after anywhere from 5 minutes (with Gaze probes, which require Survey V and Astrometrics V) to 40 minutes with Quest probes. The player must stay in that system and in space until the results are returned.
Scanning is not an exciting activity, and this scenario would force players to conduct large-scale moon scanning every six months. This is also the only time that there would be a chance of anything resembling fights over moons, as moons will be less desirable until the next mass-respawn period.
Moongoo depletion would not do anything to encourage conflict over moons. Contrary to claims made by its proponents, this would do nothing to unseat power blocs as opposed to further empowering them by virtue of their manpower advantage. The economic effects would not be isolated and would ultimately be detrimental to the player base as a whole.