Dark Bankers in Shady Rooms

So Rixx Javix posted a piece on the threat that the gambling houses of EvE present to the community.  I think he has some points.  I also think he’s wide of the mark.  The wealth being accumulated by the “Bankers” who should be more accurately called financiers.  But that’s just a quibble.  We’ll go with bankers.

For a long time it appeared that inflation was the biggest problem facing EvE.  Now that problem seems to be less prevalent.  Prices might fluctuate, but it isn’t an endless steep climb.  Rixx is contending that these bankers consolidation of wealth, that their focused power in the hands of a shadowy few presents an immense threat to EvE.  He also presents Plex as part of the problem.  I’m going to deal with the second part very quickly, and very simply.  He writes the sentence “Much like paying for game time with real world money” without realizing that… we all do that.  Whether you pay with a Plex or your credit card, you pay for game time with real world money.  The big difference is EvE allows you to pay for my game time (and please… feel free) I get what he’s saying, that that transference of payment, and the reciprocal transfer of wealth to the wallet-warrior is unabalancing, my main counterpoint is that people buy gold in every game with gold in it.  EvE has a fantastic control in place, because there’s a very hard in-game cap on what people will buy, as a “carrot” and the righteous wrath of the banhammer as the “stick” to discourage people from the black market isk.  Yes it’s the lesser of two evils argument.  This is EvE, it’s all evil.

Now let’s talk about these bankers.  Bankers.  Financiers.  Whatever you want to call them they can do a few things.  They can invest their money to drive further profits.  Somer markets like madmen.  Seriously.  Think about the prizes they give out.  Bonus blinks, Bonks.  Mega-blinks.  All that stuff.  That’s a lot of isk.  What else do businesses do?  They invest in their infrastructure.  Umm… Think they need a lot more freighters?  Think that’s what’s limiting their profits?  Nope.  They try to influence events in their favor.  Ok, I could see them throwing some bribes around to destabilize things, foment a war or two to drive demand, but arguably bored people making isk and spinning in station would be better customers, so what influence do they pursue in their own interest?

Wealth itself is not inherently evil.  The accumulation of wealth isn’t necessarily evil either.  It’s not inherently good of course, but in an economy like EvE, where everyone truly does have the opportunity to pursue wealth, it is certainly not evil to see how many digits you can tack on to your wallet.  The use of that wealth can be “evil” within the confines of the game, but again who really gets harmed?  Even if you grief the ever living hell out of highsec, you’ve ruined a couple evenings for a couple people, and probably driven others to try something more fun than mining.  Like watching paint dry.  Or spreadsheet warrioring.  Or blogging.  Or PvP.

To me these bankers are content creators first and foremost.  They add shade and nuance to a game that can always use more.  I imagine anyone on their staff can plex their accounts as much as they want, for providing an in-game service to players which they literally line up for.  I do admit that they probably have the isk to influence alliance activities.  Probably to a scary degree.  But how scary is it?  No one is being coerced, and if people get duped and their pixels get blowed up… It’s pixels, we’ll be laughing about it when RANE takes over the north or whatever craziness happens in 6 months.

The ultimate power in this game is the ability to vote with your feet.  The richest man in EvE can’t win a single fight against 5 guys that know what they are doing.  I’m reminded of Stalin talking about the Pope, and wondering how many divisions he has.  If Somer calls a holy war against the Goons… who rallies to their support?  They can hire mercenaries, but the mercs are going to look long and hard at consequences.  The days of Mercenary Coalition letting BoB bleed them out are so long gone and buried I doubt half the readers of this blog know what the hell I’m talking about.  Sure Somer can finance whatever they want.  They can buy a fleet of faction fit T3 cruisers, supercaps, AT ships, whatever.  Who’s gonna fly them?  Who’s gonna FC them?  Better yet, if they come out of the shadows and piss people off, how long will it be before their source of isk dries up as people move to less controversial sources of entertainment in-game?

That’s not to say that it isn’t a concern.  But the only people being hurt right now are the people who gamble too much of their isk.  Who gamble what they can’t afford to lose, which should be an even bigger rule than not flying what you can’t afford to lose.  Somer is making isk.  Somer’s managers want to keep making isk so they will stay in the shadows where they are safe from the consequences of their own actions.  If they come out, they expose themselves to the millstone that is EvE’s politics.  The millstone that has ground away at the likes of BRUCE, BoB, RA, -A-. AAA, RA. and -A- again… NC, and many others.  Why would they do that when they can keep doing what they are doing and count the trillions?

I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can

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About Corelin

An Eve playing Fool who occasionally writes about the shenanigans he and his minions get up to.

Posted on October 9, 2013, in Meta, Politics, Things I think I think. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Your ignorance is surprising. “The richest man in EvE can’t win a single fight against 5 guys that know what they are doing.” The richest man in EVE won’t ever be in a position to fight 5 guys. The battle is beyond PvP in the traditional sense. More likely, those 5 guys will be working for the richest man in EVE. It is quite likely that they won’t even realize that’s the case. Your little scenario also presumes that the richest people in EVE don’t possess mulitple identities and skillsets. I’ve got news for you, some of the most dangerous PvPers live lives as haulers, investors, industrialists, and the like. Red Frog is an excellent example. The majority of directors participated in the Alliance Tournament. They fly supercaps and the mineral market revolves around their activities.

  2. Both you and Rixx Javix miss the issue of gambling being a social problem too.

    How many people playing Somer.BLINK have bought extra ISK to pay off gambling debts, or to get further into gambling debt?

    What bad habits are people learning from playing Somer.BLINK in game?

    Sure, you are fine. You don’t develop bad habits. Organisations like Lifeline and the various gambling support services in my country wouldn’t exist if everyone was as fiscally sound and sensible as yourself.

  3. Excellent post and well thought-out, but you miss some of the more obvious connections.

    The introduction of real world money/GTC into Eve isn’t on its own a bad thing. The ability of players to convert in-game earned isk into buying game time was a good decision when first introduced. (Although, from a financial standpoint CCP is still struggling with this and the proliferation of the practice might very well be the exact thing that kills Eve someday.) The problem comes from out-of-game monetization, people that use RL currency to purchase ISK directly, avoiding the in-game toil of generating ISK. I’ve done it myself.

    Granted, that is more of a problem for CCP than it is a direct problem for players.

    You are being a tad naive when you consider the power that wealth creates within Eve. I have to say, given my own desires, what I could accomplish if I had a treasure chest of trillions of isk in my own bank. Wealth is influence. And while I would never suggest these “Bankers” have anything as petty as conquering a region in mind. It would also be pretty silly to suggest they couldn’t easily manipulate an entire market if they so desired. Or eliminate competition purely thru manipulating market forces. Wealth is power, in Eve just as it is out here in the mud.

    My post was intended as a warning. The 1% exist in Eve.

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