Highsec Rising: The Danger of a Safe Zone in EVE

Carebears Have Never Had It So Good

Every recent expansion has nerfed highsec risk in one way or another. Multiple nerfs to suicide ganking, especially the ganking of miners, have almost eliminated it from highsec. According to the most recent CSM minutes, exhumer explosions are occurring at "historically low rates". Can-flipping, a practice that has flowered in highsec for EVE's entire history, finally met its end in the past few months, with the addition of oversized ore bays and a "safety" button. Wardecs, despite withering under nerfs of their own, still occur. But as the CSM minutes also revealed, CCP and the CSM have been feverishly discussing the total elimination of non-consensual wardecs, too.

Once upon a time, I warned the EVE community about a dangerous trend toward making highsec safer and more attractive. According to my theory, CCP coveted the subscription revenue of mainstream, theme park MMOs, and desired to bring about a risk-free highsec--as quickly as it could be done without triggering a revolt of EVE's preexisting playerbase.

When I first voiced my concerns, many readers agreed with me. Though the transformation of EVE was in its very early stages, they could already see the writing on the wall. Others disagreed, dismissing my claims as unwarranted alarmism. They were confident that CCP was fully committed to its vision of a "cold, dark universe" and that they would never abandon the spirit of EVE in favor of chasing new subscribers. Such confidence, if voiced today, would seem quaint. I miss having skeptics.

As predicted, the unprecedented safety of highsec has not stopped the pro-carebear forces from demanding further nerfs to aggression. Despite the low rates of suicide ganking, CSM candidates such as Ripard Teg and Mike Azariah have expressed a desire to nerf suicide ganking much further. Often, the "need" for such nerfs is couched in terms of protecting newbies. In a recent Crossing Zebras interview, Ripard Teg explained that even exhumers worth hundreds of millions of ISK fall into the realm of the newbie, because a new player could easily use PLEX to start the game with a billion ISK. The idea that expensive ships need more protection from suicide ganking because a new player could fly one is one of the finest examples I've ever seen of Malcanis' Law:

Whenever a mechanics change is proposed on behalf of 'new players', that change is always to the overwhelming advantage of richer, older players.

With the extinction of can-flipping and the new rarity of suicide ganking, advocates of a safer highsec have intensified their focus on wardecs. Once again, Ripard Teg led the charge, writing of the fundamental "unfairness" of wardecs and how they cost CCP subscription revenue by driving people away from EVE. Ripard's favorite CSM member, Trebor Daehdoow, used the Winter Summit as an opportunity to lobby CCP to completely remove non-consensual wardecs (i.e. every war other than Red vs. Blue) from the game.

James 315 has a distinguished history of combat in nullsec, mostly fighting against the Band of Brothers alliance, which was a bad alliance. Recently he has moved to highsec, where he currently serves as Father of the New Order and Saviour of Highsec