Twenty-one Hours Later, EVE Online's Most Destructive Battle Ends with Approximately $300K USD in Damages
It's not often that video games make the national news, except when some idiot politician tries to link video games to real-world violence. However, EVE Online is no ordinary video game and what took place earlier this week was no ordinary event. Even The Associated Press reported on what transpired.
For those not familiar with the game, EVE Online is a futuristic, space-based MMORPG in truest sense of the MMO moniker – a massively multiplayer game set in a huge, single-server, persistent universe with thousands upon thousands of star systems. EVE Online has been running since 2003 and while it may not have the sheer numbers of World of Warcraft (only about 500,000 subscribers at last count), it has a cult following unlike arguably any video game in history. EVE Online is very much a niche game with an extremely high barrier to entry, unlike World of Warcraft – there's certainly no catering to noobs. Part of the hardcore nature of the game is because of its player-driven economy that mimics real world economies – supply and demand, market manipulation, etc. Players can convert real money into in-game currency based on an ever-changing exchange rate, but the reverse is not allowed.
It's important to understand all this because it's at the core of what occurred this week. Just as in real life, there are bills to be paid in EVE Online. On January 27th, the NPC "police force" known as CONCORD sought to collect the monthly "sovereignty bill" for a star system called B-R5RB. Unfortunately, the corporation that controlled the system, H A V O C, accidentally left automatic payment unchecked, which meant the system was now up for grabs. Things like this aren't uncommon in the game, but what made this instance unique was that B-R5RB had been a staging system in an ongoing war for the alliance known as Pandemic Legion. Sensing a moment of weakness at such a strategic location, the opposing Coalition comprised of CFC Alliance and Russian-heavy coalition forces set out to capture the system, quickly setting off what would turn out to be the most destructive battle in EVE Online history.
According to the numbers released by developer and publisher CCP Games, there was around 21 hours of fighting that centered around B-R5RB, with 7,548 unique characters participating either directly in the B-R5RB system or trying to cut off reinforcements in other systems. At peak, there were 2,670 unique characters battling it out at one time in the B-R5RB system, which is a testament to the server technology CCP employs. Part of CCP's ability to handle such a load is because of a system it calls Time Dilation, which basically allows the server to slow down time until the numbers are manageable. At one point, Time Dilation was running the system at just 10% of normal time (its limit).
When all was said and done, the economic toll was enormous, coming in at 11 trillion ISK (the in-game currency), which equates to approximately $300,000-$330,000 USD. A large reason for that is because of ships called Titans, the largest ship class in EVE Online. Titans "take thousands of man hours to produce, take months to train to fly, and are capable of fitting massive doomsday weapons that obliterate lesser ships with a single volley." Before the battle of B-R5RB, no more than twelve Titans had ever been destroyed in a single battle. In what CCP is referring to as "The Bloodbath of B-R5RB," a whopping 75 Titans were destroyed. The N3/PL side wound up losing 59 Titans, while the CFC/DTF side lost 16. As you may have guessed from those numbers, the CFC/DTF side came out victorious; so yes, the N3/PL alliance lost a high-value strategic location all because of a missed payment. Ouch!
Due to the intense scale of the battle and the massive destruction it caused, CCP will be erecting a permanent monument to commemorate the fight, called "Titanomachy". Titanomachy is a "graveyard of Titans" that players can visit in B-R5RB, featuring models of wrecked Titans. It should go live on January 31st, with CCP currently "hard at work placing the wrecks in a hauntingly beautiful arrangement."
CCP also shared a video by "a neutral third party witness" that shows off just a portion of what transpired, providing some spectacular visuals.
So if you are an EVE Online player, did you participate in the battle? We'd love to hear your account of the action.
Source: EVE Dev Blog