EVE: The highsec player does not exist

I like this post by Jester about highsec refining and production, and it brings up an aspect of the game that I think many misunderstand: the highsec player. Or rather, that “the highsec player” does not exist as a single entity. In my opinion there are two distinct groups of players who occupy high-sec space in EVE: those who enjoy highsec life itself, and those who are in highsec because it’s the best place to be for their needs.

The first group can’t (at least through pure game mechanics changes) be moved out of highsec into low/null/WH space. The only place they will move is to another game if forced, and much if not all anti-highsec arguments fail to recognize this. Simply put, if you make highsec too undesirable, these players will not make the move to other areas, they will simply leave. They enjoy highsec for what it is, a mostly non-PvP space devoid of the troubles that plague other areas, be it random PvP roams, sov-loss, WH invasions, whatever. They like the game CCP has created in highsec.

How large this group is I’m not sure, but I’d be willing to bet it’s substantial. Furthermore, while this group has no interest in other areas of EVE, this does not mean they simply take up space and don’t influence low/null/WH space. They do, and in many ways. Be it filling up markets, producing goods, buying PvE-based goods, or any number of smaller impacts, highsec players ‘count’ just as much as the average Goon or AHARM member in the grant scheme of EVE. They also need content updates like everyone else, and I hope CCP is aware of this (I’d argue that the CSM is not, just based on what I’ve read from them).

The second group in highsec are those who would be or are interesting in other aspects of EVE, but live or operate in highsec because it’s the best location for what they want to accomplish. As Jester accurately points out, in many ways, highsec is better than all other spaces for certain activities, and so those who intend to take the path of least resistance find themselves in highsec. This is where the design flaw exists.

When Incursions where overpaying (or were perceived to be overpaying, depending on who you believe), those who wanted to generate ISK with the least resistance ran highsec Incursions, even if they were nullsec alliance members or lowsec pirates. Yet even at this point, Incursion income still did not top C6 WH income, which is why for those willing to take the risks and deal with the troubles (not the path of least resistance) the space was still worthwhile. Had Incursions been as imbalanced as highsec production, few if any pilots would be running C6 sleeper sites, and everyone interested in making ISK would own a specifically fit Nightmare.

The key to moving this second group out of highsec is not to crush highsec itself, but to make the other spaces offer rewards equal to their risks. If production is harder in lowsec because of pirates, it should also be better when done successful, much like C6 WH sites are compared to lvl4 highsec missions or, to a lesser degree, Incursions. Nullsec ores vs highsec ores is an attempt at this, but due to mineral values and the risk/reward ratio, things are not working as well as they should. The same goes for nullsec PvE content, or lowsec PI.

If the areas of the game that are deemed not worthwhile get a boost, the players who currently operate in highsec would move, much like they have with the current imbalance around Faction Warfare sites. At the same times, those with no interest in non-highsec would continue to play and enjoy the game they currently have. The key to any solution is to influence the second group, without crushing the first.

(And as I’ve personally experienced, with the right social structure, motivation, and incentive, even some of those “highsec-only” players can learn to expand their horizons, which I think long-term is why EVE has been so successful.)

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in crafting, EVE Online, MMO design, PvP. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to EVE: The highsec player does not exist

  1. Jester says:

    My instinct is that the first group comprises about 50% of EVE’s total population, but of course I don’t have any way of knowing for sure. I agree with you, though: it’s a substantial group.

    • Adam says:

      Stupid wolves never learn to let the sheep grow.

      We griefed our sheep to death in Darkfall and it emptied the game.

    • Latrodanes says:

      Concur with your impression and I think most of those folks keep a very low profile, just going about their casual business in the game, enjoying the gathering, building and running missions. Most of them understand and accept existence in a PvP game as they are competing on the markets, in the belts and everyplace else other than in ship-to-ship combat.

    • Random Idiot says:

      Do you not consider there are some players who use all three HISEC, LOWSEC & NULSEC regularly for what each area supplies?

      I would have thought the only group that are different from the norm are WH residents, as they ‘usually’ stick to just the one area…

  2. Adam says:

    Good post.

    I think Eve players deserve their sov and POS overhauls but without a major PVE overhaul Eve is not going to get the player base it deserves.

    Eve pve is pretty bad overall. There was talk of expanding the incursion type content into other factions/smaller scale etc. I think this could bring the pve up a lot in the game.

    I think lots of people quit Eve from not just the learning curve but from sheer lack of stimulation in the early game.

    Imagine new players spawning into a system under a mini-incursion…

    P.S. Dust514 is getting pretty good for us Darkfall players out there.

    • SynCaine says:

      I’ve heard some real positive stuff about Dust514 as well. If it was on the PC I’d give it a spin.

      • Adam says:

        Mouse and keyboard are in game and pretty decent.

        I just moved the ps3 into the office and put it on the desk with a monitor. PS3 are like $100 on ebay.

        It’s a solid game now headed for greatness, so ps3 vs PC stuff just wasn’t going to hold me back.

      • kalex716 says:

        Its an Unreal shooter, therefore if it works on PS3, it works on PC already.

        Its just a matter of time before it comes out. Maybe 1 year, maybe 6 months, but rest assured it will be on PC eventually.

        Pipelining the necessary patches content updates and balance changes through sony’s development network is a very slow and painful process. Even if you consider the types of leeway they’ve probably been granted due to exclusivity, I would say that CCP still won’t be able to fully realize Dust until they can release on PC as well.

  3. The Walking Man says:

    I’d agree that the first group is large – as I said in the comment to your previous post, they provide markets, trade items and local colour. They make trade hubs feel like trade hubs in galactic empires – some of them eventually go to null or WHs. If they don’t – it’s no biggie – as long as they have fun they continue to pay subscriptions to CCP and provide all the intangible benefits that CCP seem to discount.

    That is because CCP appear en masse to have bought into their own propaganda of what EVE is, and so therefore have an extremely negative energy view of the gaming world. Long term, calling 50% of your customers wusses isn’t a great marketing strategy.

    There are plenty of people who log in to relax, rather than wanting to play Somalia in Space. Completely satisfying the short term desires of a bunch of null sec players who want to turn Jita into Mogadishu isn’t the best way to make your business grow outside the sandbox.

    • Shadow says:

      This just in: 9 years of strong market presence and population growth, now considered short term success!

      • The Walking Man says:

        • Xyloxan says:

          Ok, show me another game that has been growing for 9 years. It can be a niche game but needs to be commercially viable. Name it please.

        • Shadow says:

          I think you missed the entire point of that comic even. Which just makes your post that much more sad.

        • Xyloxan says:

          @Shadow: The point of this comic event is that it’s easy to grow by big numbers percentage-wise when your starting number is very low. Ergo, that comparing growth using only percentages can be misleading. If the point of this comic event is entirely different please enlighten me.

        • Shadow says:

          The point of the comic is highlighting how easy it is to be manipulative of statistics without proper analysis. How the fact that the religions claim to fame was true by a statistical reality of compressed time-lines and (as you sort-of said) small sample sizes.

          Hell, even the correct jibe doesn’t apply considering my statement never made any claim to dominance or superiority over other games and I was looking at a larger sample size. I was expressly addressing your ridiculous claim that 9 years in the MMO industry is short-term, and that EVE isn’t successful despite its consistently increased population (by little or a lot).

          But hey, if it doesn’t meet YOUR definition of “success” or “long term”, it doesn’t matter. But it does beg the question, what MMOs are successful?

          “Never measure another man’s wheat with your own bushel.”

        • Xyloxan says:

          Ok, now I get it. You simply took someone else’s comment as mine. It happens. I’ve never anywhere said anything about 9 years in MMO world being short-term.

        • The Walking Man says:

          What consistently increasing population?

  4. Steel H. says:

    You are all wrong about hisec players (and PvP). Here’s the actual truth, ye heathens:

    “Highsec is “spaceship MMO”. The “carebears” do what every single MMO player out there does: progress their character, gaining more ISK and better ships. But the PvP-ers give up character progression in every single way! The linked TEST video is not true for most PvP-ers: today’s battecruisers are tomorrows battlecruisers and they will fly Drakes until CCP decides to switch off the servers. Also, the constant podding combined with poverty stop them from using implants, making them get less skillpoints (so they whine to remove it from the game).

    EVE is not considered freakshow at all. The typical EVE PvP-ers are considered freaks. If we’d try to find a WoW analogue, the best would be twinks. These characters are locked at lvl 19 or 29, stopped in progression and be much-much weaker than a top-level character. Twinks are created for the sole purpose of inconveniencing newbies by massacring them on low level battlefields. Twinks are considered griefers and freaks. So the average MMO player who tries out EVE (and then writes a review in the mainstream gaming media) will find that EVE is a standard MMO with a bit lame quests, boring material gathering, repetitive but fun NPC grinding and legions of childish griefers, lot more than in other MMOs. No, they would not see “hypercompetitive 30something college-educated professionals” since competition needs some goal and prize. Killing each other over breadcrumbs or even less: lolz is not something that a college-educated professional would do. It’s what homeless junkies do in the ghetto.”

  5. Minorfreak says:

    got to remember that this mythical 50% carebear population that talks with their wallet is also most likely casual players who aren’t hardcore PROFIT! oriented folk and are quite happy to pay CCP a pittance each month in order to be a pixel astronaut. period.

    therefore, any appeal to profit nerfage targets solely your second group.

  6. Borgles RifterHammer says:

    WHat will shake hi-sec up is when Dust begins for real — Dust affects PI, and hi-sec carebears have been milking the risk-free PI cow since it weas introduced.
    With Dust, their PI will be vulnerable — more, because they are not alliances, they will be unable to afford the mercenaries to defend their planets. So hi-sec will become the killing ground of the PvP alliances. Many carebearts will rage-quit. Most of the rest will go back to mining (except during Hulkageddon), which will, in turn, reduce mineral prices back to where they should be, which will make ti cheaper for PvP alliances to run Dust teams, equip ganbking ships and turn EvE into the free for all it was meant to be

    • The Walking Man says:

      The amount you can make with high-sec PI post tax rises is negligible compared to other sources of highsec isk.

    • John says:

      Your opinion of high sec PI is laughable. Even more laughable is the idea that the introduction of Dust will turn high sec into a PvP free-for-all through a feedback mechanism where high sec PI is the key barrier.

  7. Bosstiger says:

    Reblogged this on Gigable – Tech Blog.

  8. Alex says:

    The problem I see with moving players out of high sec is the problem inherent in any game without a level cap. Namely that the veteran players with skills, in game experience, and reserves of isk will be able to take advantage of any game changes much more easily than the players the changes were originally targeted for. If ccp wants me to explore in low sec instead of high sec (for instance) then the rewards HAVE to outweigh the risks. Low sec exploration requires me to invest much more time. I have to spend a few evenings scouting around my desired area in a cov ops. Evenings where i’m now not earning isk. I then have to outfit a suitable ship, which to be even slightly efficient will cost as much or more than my level 4 mission running BS. I then have to risk said ship for a variable payout. I’ve run low sec exploration. I never recouped the cost of the ship that I eventually lost doing them. When that happens what’s the end result? I run back to high sec to build my wallet back up. So if you increase the payout for going to low sec I’d change, right? Most likely not. If they change it to be financially viable to me with my assets and skill level, they’ll instantly become an isk fountain for a more experienced, more well off player that will result in the income getting nerfed. The other possible change, nerfing high sec just results in what others have stated. The players who have no desire to go to low/null will just quit.

  9. Red says:

    You’ve nailed the problem on the head. Buffing production and adding things that can only be found is low sec and in general make it more profitable would go very far towards making the game more interesting.

    Here’s the other thing that made faction warfare work well: You had 3 factions: Friendly, War Target, and pirates. Your friendlies might very well help you, the war targets would be sure to attack you and pirates might or might not want to engage you. If CCP could do the same faction setup for the rest of low sec I think high sec players would be more than willing to live in low. Having every random stranger as a possible enemy creates a bit too much tension to enjoy all the time for a lot of players.

  10. ttgb2 says:

    I fall into the % of people that don’t leave highsec. Why? Because I’m a min maxer. I have been in every game I’ve ever played, and I’m a perfectionist about my efficiency in real life to the point of minor psychological disorder.

    I played for about two months three years ago, tried out different characters and methods of play, joined Eve University to scale the cliff that was the difficulty curve at the time (New Tutorial is so much better!) and decided I would wait until I truly understood everything about low and nullsec to go there. So I picked up mining, went on corp organized mining ops, it was pretty fun all-in-all.

    I came back about 2 weeks ago because I finally found a friend willing to play EVE with me, and now I’ve worked on maxing out my mining efficiency, and am finally flying a covetor with T2 mining crystals, 100% refining efficiency on every highsec ore, and earning roughly 22m isk/hr mining because I’ve got my buddy hauling for me.

    We took a break from training hauling/mining to train some minor PVP skills to defend from can flippers (I have a small frigate in some kind of bizarre hybrid tackler/ECM ship, he has a Thrasher with T2 fittings, so when somebody flips in their little frigate we can deal with them.

    I also got sidetracked into learning cloaking so that I can use Cloak+MWD on my Industrial ship when carrying minerals to market.

    I’ve made some ventures into lowsec and have even snuck through some poorly run gatecamps in my Sigil thanks to that, mainly to pick up goods for trade.

    I’ve found that for doing what I want to do– trading, hauling, etc. I have to make tiny dips into lowsec, and it’s slowly being drip fed to me.

    As is, I mine in highsec as efficiently as I can, plan my long-term skills and learn them, and while I’m afk mining read guides about other parts of the EVE gameplay.

    I want to be able to start lowsec PVP and other “hardcore” styles of play when I have enough money to have it mean next to nothing for me to lose my PVP ship. I want to minimize risk and maximize reward.

    I am very happy with highsec being the way it is because it allows new players like myself to get used to the basic mechanics of the game, study the details of PVP, lowsec trading, etc. at their own pace, so that when they do take that jump into low sec, they aren’t just food.

    I read another commenter suggest that CCP shouldn’t worry about these highsec players because as less hardcore players, they make more money off of the people willing to subscribe to 5 accounts. While this does have elements of logic to it, I would posit that the highsec carebear with 1 account is just as important because:

    A) He may well evolve into one of those hardcore players with dozens of paying accounts. Keep him happy and learning about the game at his own pace and he may well reward you with a lot of cash down the road (I will probably fall into this category, when I play a game, I play it hard)

    B) He keeps the economy going with steady streams of Tritanium and a willingness to be the 9-5 Construction worker of New Eden

    C) The highsec carebear is likely paying for more accounts than he realizes. All the ultra-hardcore players who haven’t paid for their subscription fees in dollars or euros for years have to have someone foot that bill, and highsec roaming casuals are the most likely to say “I just learned how to fly an Exhumer, but those are 200 million isk! I’ll just buy a plex and sell it for some isk, a little bump would be great, plus I’d have some money left over for that ship I’ll be able to fly next week…”

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