It's Time: Nerf Highsec

A Pie in the Sky Vision

"We want POS to be something everyone wants to own."

No, I'm not providing a source. It's something CCP Greyscale said when talking about his 'vision' for the POS revamp during the tenth Alliance Tournament. If you really care enough you can go dig up the video.

Or, instead, you can take my word for it and think about that statement. In particular, think about how godawful stupid it sounds in the current environment of EVE Online. We'll give Greyscale the benefit of the doubt here and at least assume that they successfully implement a new system in which they're cool and neat and the process of setting one up is not godawful horrible. And even then, why should you want one?

Oh sure, there's plenty of potential for them to be instrumental in any nullsec revamp, and any improvements to them no matter how small are a welcome change for wormhole dwellers. Give them the ability to build and refine and genuinely live out of them and they'd probably think they'd died and gone to heaven.

But most people don't live in nullsec, or w-space. Yes yes, "a nullsec pilot may have several highsec alts." I've heard the argument before, and even made it myself. Nevertheless, I have a hard time imagining that at least a significant plurality of unique players are not highsec dwellers. So I ask again: why should any of them want to own a POS?

All this has happened before...

So, get this. You may want to sit down for this one.


Once upon a time CCP actually nerfed highsec.

Crazy, right?

The particular nerf was bumping the tax rate in NPC corps to 11%, across the board, from the 0% it had been at. The wailing and gnashing of teeth was fairly extensive — eighteen pages in response to the devblog itself, another 14 spawned prior to the devblog when people noticed on SiSi, and what were probably countless smaller threads though I can't be bothered to go verify that assumption.

Now, there were a few reasons for that, and very good ones. Wardec immunity plus zero taxes was too good, plus CCP wanted to encourage players in a massively multiplayer online role playing game to... you know, actually interact with other players. Shocking. But the most relevant here was actually their first bullet point.

It seems like an unrealistic scenario that the empires in EVE provide infrastructure, security and a host of other financially demanding services at no cost. I sometimes read people complaining about how EVE's physics are unrealistic, but on the realism scale, that still pales compared to a government that refuses to tax its citizens.

No cost... or what might as well be no cost, perhaps?

Who needs wants a POS, anyway?

So, lets think back to that question I posed. Why should a highsec player want a POS? In a station, they can dock and store as many ships and modules and items as they please, all for free. They can use manufacturing bays for a trivial amount of ISK — monopolizing an entire 50 slot station for a month straight costs just a few million ISK. They can turn around and sell what they just built to the market, in the same station, again for a trivial fee — just 1.5% sales tax and 1% broker fee (which drops down to as low as .75% and .185% with skills and standings). Refining, nominally an expensive activity (50% base yield, plus taxes on top of that), costs nothing in practice. Just about the only thing you can't do in a station is research, and that's a matter of availability rather than cost. Queues for research slots are often measured in months rather than days, yet actually using them costs the very same "almost nothing" that manufacturing does.

Compare that to a POS. The only real advantage is research slots and the availability thereof, and for that privilege a player pays a considerable premium. Manufacturing is faster as well, but in most cases the hassle and extra cost do not outweigh the additional yield. In all other regards the services of the POS are inferior, if they exist at all. They can't compete with the — to borrow a phrase — "whole lot of infrastructure, security, and a host of other financially demanding services" that stations provide, all at next to no cost.

The Tax Man Cometh

It's probably obvious where I'm going here. Tax it all. Jack up the costs. Bump the cost to research and manufacture. Make a certain amount of refining loss unavoidable, and so on and so forth. Some fees can additionally scale the way offices do. Manufacturing and research, for example, should scale up far more significantly than they do now based on demand, the way offices do.

While we're at it, perhaps some infrastructure should be removed as well. An oft-quoted statistic is the fact that Sobaseki has more manufacturing capacity than many entire nullsec regions. While it's usually cited as evidence that nullsec lacks capacity, it can go the other way as well. So get rid of some of it. Stations with medical bays are not quite everywhere, so why should the landscape be dotted with so many stations that can build and refine and do research?

Your own little Isle of Man

At last, the point. Now that we've gutted the extent of services available, and made what remains much more expensive, people have reason to want a POS. Or, rather, will have a reason to when (if?) the revamp eventually comes. Are you a newbie, or a small time producer who doesn't make much use of the services, never stores too many ships and other belongings? Great! You pay next to nothing and it's no big deal. On the other hand, if you're a big time producer, do a lot of research, or refine tens of billions of ISK in material a month, perhaps it's time to get a POS.

Now, we're not trying to be punitive here, so there's a simple requirement: every function whose taxes are increased needs to be feasible on a POS. Some, such as manufacturing, refining and research, are practically a given — they exist, though they need refinement. The same can be said for storage, both of ships and other items. And things that don't exist? Cloning bays and office modules ought to be trivial to implement. Less trivial would be something such as a market module, enabling you and others to buy and sell at your POS. Perhaps the ability to run your own self contained station would not be ideal, but it would be really cool.

Of course, POS will have to be limited, somehow. Right now it's by moons, but CCP wants to unlink POS from moons. And, thousands of POS littering every corner of a system just won't do. So perhaps in the future, you'll pay the Jita Starbase Authority for a POS license, which is of course limited, and cost of which scales up with demand.

Because in the end, the tax man always gets his.

Seven year veteran & economics guru of EVE Online as well as CSM 8 representative. On the side I play PS2, WOT and Hearthstone.