Monday, February 22, 2016

The Beginning Of The End For Gambling Sites In EVE?

When we last left Pandemic Horde and SpaceMonkey's Alliance back at the end of November, the Horde had fled to Querious and SMA was battling Brave Collective for control of the south-east quadrant of Cloud Ring.

Cloud Ring Sovereignty Holdings, 30 November 2015
How times change. Here is the situation in Cloud Ring early this morning:

Cloud Ring Sovereignty Holdings, 22 February 2016
Apparently Psychotic Tendencies. [TISHU], Suddenly Spaceships. [CYN0], Exodus. [LOLGF], and Snuffed Out [B B C] have driven SpaceMonkey's Alliance out of Cloud Ring. The former Imperium alliance I Whip My Slaves Back and Forth [J4LP] is about to lose its last two systems not only in Cloud Ring, but in null sec as a whole. In addition, Pandemic Horde announced a new deployment to Fade against SMA featuring cloaky AFK alts designed to limit SMA's income stream.
"If done right this kind of ratting and mining shut down leads to the collapse of ADM indexes which then means extremely easy to entosis ihubs, which leads to breakdown of logistics and upgrades, eventually leading to worthless adm 1 station systems and easily taken sov. It also has a very significant impact on the morale of residents who are suddenly unable to use their own space at all. This tactic is particularly vicious because it cannot be countered by a few weekly blobs or spamming supercaps. This is the vietname-esque crawl that Fozzie envisioned. Failure or success will really come down to sustained activity throughout all timezones and whichever faction gives up first. We foresee three possible outcomes:

"A) Goons send patrols of light doctrines to keep SMA ratters safe. Many skirmishes and dessie brawls ensue.

"B) Goons abandon fortress Saranen and redeploy near Fade to prop up SMA using heavier doctrines backed up by supers.

"C) Fade rots, SMA loses their sov and their income streams.

"All of these outcomes are favorable so let’s go for it."
As a bit of irony, Pandemic Horde's staging system is Okagaiken, the same system the Imperium staged out of to begin the Kickstarter War.

So what, you may ask, does all of this sovereignty fighting have to do with gambling in EVE Online? Remarkably, all the drama and fighting is over a dispute between SpaceMonkey's Alliance and the owner of IWANTISK, a gambling site with a pretty sketchy history. Matterall gave a pretty good account of the events leading up to the war back in January.

The whole situation reminds me of a conversation I had with DNSBlack in the aftermath of the first SOMERblink RMT scandal in November 2013. During the conversation, he gave as one of the reasons for pursuing SOMERblink the gambling site's support for RvB and TEST Alliance, two player entities that Dirt Nap Squad often fought. With the financial backing of SOMERblink, DNSBlack could not turn off the ISK flow to his enemies inside the game world, so he had to resort to the meta game. What he found wound up embarrassing CCP, as the loophole he found allowed a player to actually sell ISK on the official EVE Online forums. That led to the loophole closing down and the ISK flow ending.

The situation involving Dirt Nap Squad, RvB, and TEST really only concerned skirmishing and smack talk in local about how RvB and TEST's losses didn't matter because they were already covered by SOMERblink money. Let's escalate the situation a bit. What if the gambling site paid mercenaries hundreds of billions of ISK every month to try and destroy the second-largest alliance in the game? That is the situation right now, except SpaceMonkey's Alliance has shrunk in size and is now the fifth largest alliance in EVE.

I really wonder if allowing an entity to raise trillions of ISK outside of the game world and use the funds to punish political enemies is really in the spirit of the sandbox. Don't think for a minute that this is not going on in this situation. As the Pandemic Horde message stated:
"It is worth noting that there are some very rich people who have a beef with SMA at the moment. If our plan works and we can impress them with our work, chances are they can be persuaded to significantly boost the rewards and make it rain on newbeans."
I find the whole situation akin to off-grid boosting. On-grid boosting is acceptable, as each side can take counter-measures against the other's boosting ships. Off-grid boosting, on the other hand, is pretty difficult to counter. The situation with out-of-game income generation is worse, as the opponent has no counter inside the game to the immense ISK flow that a major gambling site can generate.

If SMA continues to lose systems and members, I wonder how CCP will view the situation. Up until now I don't think gambling sites have ever really played a major role in null sec sovereignty warfare. If a vindictive gambling site operator makes CCP take a second look the in-game effects of such sites, then IWANTISK's thirst for vengeance could wind up ending the devs tolerance for gambling. Military analysts call that a Pyrric victory.

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