Greedy Goblin

Friday, March 15, 2013

Nerfing highsec income doesn't hurt highsec casuals

There is a common theme against the CSM platform of James 315 and the balancing of EVE economy at large: many people are highsec casual players, a new player will very likely start as a highsec casual and nerfing highsec would make them quit, ruining CCP.

At first let's define the "highsec casual":
  1. Self-definition: he calls himself a highsec casual, and not a lowsec or nullsec player. Those who claim "I'm a nullsec PvP-er, just farming ISK" are not highsec casuals.
  2. Pays for the game via subscription. If you farm enough ISK to PLEX your account, you aren't a casual player. "farming" and "casual" are mutually exclusive.
  3. He lives in highsec. Doesn't farm in highsec and spend it on lowsec PvP roams. Those who do are lowsec players, since they... [intense drumming] play in lowsec.
  4. He doesn't really care about metagame or in-game "success", just plays as he wishes. Caring about the game and doing things in it that you don't like, just to reach an in-game goal defines the hardcore.
Now, there is a clear difference between the platform of James and me: I do not support the increasing of risks of highsec. Actually I could accept decreasing of risks, by removing non-consensual warfare or making suicide ganking harder. Being ganked (politically correct term is "unconsentual PvP") directly conflicts with point 4 of the casual player list. It is possible that a player says "after a hard days night I logged in to chill in the world of spaceships but some jerk ganked me, so I quit". It is rather likely and it can cause CCP to lose revenues.

However I fully agree with him that the risk/reward ratio is completely out of balance. It can be fixed by decreasing rewards too, not just increasing risk. My point today is that even huge nerf to highsec income would remain unnoticed by highsec casuals and would only hurt two kind of players: one is the low/null players who don't farm in low/null but in high via alts. This player should be hurt as he is a faker and liar. He kills others in low/null while he can't be killed there (as he is in high, farming), and also he brags about him being a PvP-er while in 90% of his time he is the cliche highsec carebear that he bemoans.

The other kind of player being hurt by highsec income nerfs is the "carebear publord", the one who just counts his ISK and gathers pimped ships without taking any risks or providing content to anyone. Before you'd comment, I am fully aware that I am one of them. These players can be hurt because they don't pay for the game anyway and no one would miss them if they'd quit.

Now to the point: since the true highsec casual enjoys his activity, he can't care less about getting 10M or 10K ISK, doing 100 or 1000 DPS. These are meaningless numbers for him. The newbie casual starts with his Merlin, Cormorant or Venture gained from the newbie missions. He can do lvl1 missions or mine veldspar and he enjoys these activities. If he doesn't enjoy it he either quits, or he is farming for some other goal, which makes him a hardcore by definition. So he had fun with his spaceship. Mission accomplished. To have fun in a frigate you need a couple hundred K ISK. Due to the ship rebalances and the levels of missions in highsec, you can fully experience PvE killing cruiser sized rats with a T1 cruiser. You can easily complete lvl 2 missions in a T1 cruiser and can do lvl 3 missions with care. This needs a couple 10M ISK.

So a highsec casual can fully play his chosen game if he has a couple ten million ISK income per month. Even if his level of income doesn't allow him to buy a battleship or T3 in a year, it doesn't hurt his fun, just like it doesn't hurt the fun of lvl4 missioners that he can't earn for a titan or even fly it in highsec if he PLEX-es one.

Even if we mix PvP into the picture, it doesn't change. My critics always spam "frigate PvP is lot of fun". Let's turn it back: if the highsec income allows you to regularly replace lost PvP frigs, you can have PvP fun casually, so again: mission accomplished. Being able to replace battlecruisers is just as unnecessary for casual highsec PvP-ers as it is to be able to replace hotdropping dreads.

In my vision highsec is a place for newbies and casuals where they can play the way they wish, without being forced by anyone, but also being unprofitable and generally irrelevant in the EVE story.

Hell, maybe the best idea is not nerfing highsec income but nerfing highsec ships. Ban battleships, strategic cruisers and exhumers from highsec, just like capitals are banned. In a similar step, ban titans and supercarriers from lowsec. They are banned from WH space already. This would place a natural limit on income in highsec (how much you can earn with a battlecruiser?) and would create a niche for lowsec too (no supers).


Anonymous said...

Great post. The highsec income should be just enough to cover the daily cost of highsec life. Maybe a little bit more so players can save some emergency fund.

I do feel that some of problems are actually in null sec. Right now there is no way for a player or a small corp to establish in null sec even if they want to. So, to them, the reward in null sec is always zero. Null should be made more like WH space: anyone can access to it and no one has full control of it.

Tone-Lone said...

Following the logic of your post you would also like to ban the t1 mining barges. Currently, I can earn enough ISK for a PLEX with 2 hours of mining scordite in my Retriever per day. Alternatively 7 loads of ice, which takes 5 min per load to set up ship at belt/unload at station.

Rather than ship restrictions I believe it would be more efficient to remove lvl 3 and 4 missions from high-sec, remove ice fields from high-sec(yes, all of them), and nerf all the high-sec ores to the level of Gneiss(which ironically is a null-sec ore)

Nerfing high-sec income won't hurt anyone. If it does at first, market laws will come to our rescue.

Anonymous said...

I'm a high-sec casual. (About 50m SP)
I would gladly trade my BS for not having to be afraid to undock on weekends. I also prefer lvl 3 to lvl 4 missions. And (currently due to risk) I use a barge instead of an exhumer.

This is the first post in a long time where I actually agree with the GG.

Zuschauer said...

I'd rather sell my beloved Kronos then flying it in low/null.
In fact none of my BS ever left HiSec.

I agree with your posting on everything but the suggested BS-ban.

(carebearing ofc)

Von Keigai said...

the low/null players who don't farm in low/null but in high via alts. This player should be hurt as he is a faker and liar

Oh come on. It is neither fake nor false to respond rationally to market incentives. This is ridiculous, especially coming from Gevlon Gekko.

It is not that this player "should" be hurt. It's that (a) he has already shown a taste for risk, (b) knows lowsec, and (c) requires isk to fund his fun. So, he is exploitable. We can use him for our game-design goals. If we make it financially rational to mine in lowsec, this player will do so. And having miners in lowsec is a big win for all of lowsec, because it seeds the foodchain. But nobody will ever mine in lowsec unless and until it is rational to do so, which currently, it is not.

the "carebear publord"... These players can be hurt because they don't pay for the game anyway and no one would miss them if they'd quit.

Sigh. Each and every post, I am telling you that these guys do affect the game. There is a market. It touches everyone who buys or sells anything. (Again, it is ironic to have to explain markets to a Goblin.) And I am also telling you that these guys provide content. They are out in the belts or in level 4 missions, or exploring. They are moving valuable stuff in transports. These activities do provide content to players. They are gank targets. They are ninjable. The explorers are racing other explorers, making an interesting minigame.

None of which says they would not accept a nerf. They mostly would, because they already know how to earn -- and they can PLEX easily already. Some would quit, though, and we should not pretend this is no loss to EVE. It is. The point is that the loss of content is more than made up by the huge gain in content elsewhere, as low and null are revived. Thus making EVE a more fun game for just about everyone else.

Knug Lidi said...

Hisec casuals.

hmmm. Am I one? How do I tell ? I have 3 accounts, the mains of which spend 95% of their time in hisec, either mining or doing L4 missions to ensure I can PLEX 2 accounts. I used to do Hisec incursions, before I soured on it. I guess it feels more like milking a game mechanic than L4 missions or mining. I dunno.

I am involved in a corp made up of similar players.

However, if you nerf hisec in the way described (no exhumers, no BS, no T3 cruisers), hisec incursions will become virtually impossible. The quick income for hisec alts for null and low PVPers will disappear. That won't be easily made up.

I still feel the beginning of all discussions should not be "Why are these folks doing things that aren't fun and multiplayery in hisec instead of moving on to null?" Perhaps the issue isn't what is bringing them to hisec, but what is keeping them from null.

If a casual player want to drop into to eve for a handful of hours over a week, and has enough SP to survive in null, why isn't he ? Could it be that the way null is setup that it doesn't work for casual players? Is there sufficient NPC null space? Is their sufficient opportunity for like minded casual players to exist in a pocket of null and earn sufficient ISK without massive alliance support, blueing, or a larger investment in time ?

Anonymous said...

What about trading? I guess just putting up hisec taxes would nerf that pretty effectively.

Thinking about it, I'd actually be fascinated to see what would happen if hisec sales tax was increased by a factor of 10 to 20.

Would losec trade hubs spring up, and where? How much would traders just suck it up and set their margins higher to compensate?

Anonymous said...

This very same debate is going on since years. The standard answer to this: if you nerf hisec, people will not move to low/null, they will quit.

This is not a new argument, but this post doesn't answer this very fundamental issue.

Gevlon, you tend to forget that there is a myriad of excellent computer games out there. EVE online is competing against these every day. Casual players are the most likely to leave for another game, as they do not associate themselves strongly with EVE. So if you try to force something such drastic on these players, they will simply quit, and play something else, and a month later they won't even remember playing that stupid space spreadsheet game.

Forcing anything on players very rarely works. Casuals could fly a BS in lowsec today just as well if they wanted to, but they don't. Nerfing hisec won't make low and null any better, it will just lessen the hisec player base.

So you cannot force players to do what you think is right, but you might encourage them. Leave hisec as it is. Add new and interesting features to low. Like what if they made a new fps game on lowsec planets which you could influence from your spaceship? Oh wait...

Anonymous said...

Well, considering that you can pay for your PLEX with PI on 3 chars alone, spending about 5 hours a month (5min a day + gathering)...

Considering I have a friend who pays his PLEX by L4 missioning (in a 200m ISK ship) for 15 hours a months...

... I have a hard time with your "definition" of casual exluding people who subscribe by PLEX.

Or is missioning for half an hour a day now hardcore?

whatever said...

So, gonna stop low sec and null sec being, effectively, one tiny room because of the cyno-ing idiocy, or just going to force anyone who wants to play to deal with PL cyno-ing 40 titans on their heads?

This has been tried.

It did not end well, nor should it.

Anything before cyno tardism is fixed will fix nothing.

Anonymous said...

Would someone please quote for me where Goblin suggested banning BS's in hi-sec or any of those other bans you commenters have mentioned? I don't see it. What I read was Goblin using funding BS's or T3's as a comparison for isk/hr. Not banning.

Aside from some of your initial comments, Goblin, I completely agree with your post. CCP should bring down the earning capacity of hi-sec, that should be their primary concern, not how safe it is or isn't.

Anti said...

"Ban battleships, strategic cruisers and exhumers from highsec, just like capitals are banned"

20% tax in highsec is a great idea.

i reckon increasing the 4 hour limit on refusing a agent mission might be a good idea too. 400 hours might make things interesting. pretty soon you will have annoyed many of the agents in your little corner of highsec and at the very least have to move to another mission hub. or stop refusing empire faction kill missions which will eventually ban you from half of highsec.

Anonymous said...

To pixelshipmistakes:

You can find it in the last paragraph. Or here:

"Hell, maybe the best idea is not nerfing highsec income but nerfing highsec ships. Ban battleships, strategic cruisers and exhumers from highsec, just like capitals are banned."

Mr. Ben said...

To be honest the best way to fix null and low sec is to encourage industry and trade. There's no reason to do anything out there if you need to fly 20 jumps to the nearest trade hub to sell your loot.

What I'd like to see:

Stronger trade lanes in low sec. Let the gate and stations guns actually prevent casual ganking. Reduce the time it takes to do a low sec mission, so you have less time to get scanned down whilst popping red crosses. This would also increase the isk/hour of farming missions. Reduce the production costs in low sec for industry.

And for null-sec, neutral islands of high-sec scattered around for trade hubs. The big alliances only really only have one thing to do with each other, and that's fight. Give them somewhere for traders to come in and mediate other interactions for them. Not to mention the strategic value of these places... they'll actually have some things to fight over.

Trade and industry needs to be shifted out of high-sec, if you ever want people to leave there.

Unknown said...

There is a tempo of new content, which is appropriate for highsec players (comparable to the tempo of new content in wow or other mmos).

If you simply reduce the ISK gain rate, and do not add new missions or ships or factions or something then you make Eve unacceptably "grindy".

I think the problem is in coupling the highsec "economy" with the nullsec economy. Ferocious tariffs on goods or ISK transferred between those two systems would allow highsec and nullsec to be tuned for their target audiences, without unduly affecting each other.

Anonymous said...

@pixel - the last paragraph of today's post

@gevlon "How much can you earn with a battlecruiser" You can actually make quite a bit in a BC, t3 BCs outdps most(all?) non-pirate battleships, and are much faster, if a lot squishier. For mission blitzing they're better than BSs. Out in Null they, and strat cruisers, are the standard ratting ships.

whatever said...

I see a bunch of social here.

They want "their group" to make more money than the "other group".

Discussions about fixing totally idiotic mechanics like being able to cyno across the entire map with 100 titans in less than an hour are ignored.

EVE deserves to go down in flames.

Anonymous said...

Highsec astroid belts regen a small percentage of their astroids each downtime. Too much mining in a system and the belts will run dry!

Agents that have lots of pilots doing missions for them start reducing their mission rewards.

Markets that have a lot of transactions going through them start increasing their market taxes.

There is still money to be made in highsec but you need to be aware of the other players, you need to find your quiet corner and farm it, move along, follow other successful corps, mine out their systems. Try and hide where you are making your money.

Eaten by a Grue said...

To those of you guys who say that lowering highsec income will just cause players to leave rather than transfer to lowsec, how do you know? You make this statement, but there is plenty of evidence that it is not true. If you take WoW for example, there is plenty of history of nerfs and balance changes and people are not leaving in droves, but rather they adapt and do something else in the game. For example, Blizzard reduced the amount of gold old raid bosses drop, so that running old raids for gold is not so attractive. Players who were doing this for easy gold stopped doing this, but there was no mass exodus. That is just one example, and you know there probably have been thousands of nerfs in WoW, and the game still lives.

Under this logic, it is almost impossible to make any change to the game, as it might drive someone away.

I think this is nonsense. Anything should be on the table, if it can make the game better overall.

Cathfaern said...

@Eaten by a Grue
Farming old raids for money was a niche. A few player did it. Let's take another example, which was more widespread: people runned heroic 5mans for gear in WotLK. It was facerolling, didn't need any skill or communication between the group members. In cataclysm they "nerfed" it: made it harder, needed to know tactics, when to use crowd control, etc. Results? Many-many casual left the game because of it (at least 1 million, 10% of the player base).

derp said...

The error is the assumption that highsec income is actually high.

Nullsec had periods of extreme income potential, from static plexes, dominion "sanctum every system", to almost absurd tracking titan ratting and carriers smartbombing densely clustered drones in anoms that reaches up to hundreds of mil per account per hour.

They were widely considered a bad thing and got hit by the nerf stick.

What those outsized nullsec income and efficient high cost ships did is not promote highsec players to move out and/or generate targets, but consolidate power within nullsec and reduce fighting. Risk exists only if you don't have the bigger blob while being allied with everyone, and those without the downside can only win in the long run.

Under the same logic, why would you be shooting at peers inefficiently if your other rivals (not the one you are shooting at) is building the invincible doom fleet?

War is usually stupid in a FFA where the pieces are actually expensive. As a result, relevant pieces are made cheap and accessible so fighting can actually happen.

The "pseudo-parity" between high sec and lower sec income is not there for high sec players, but giving "aspiring" groups and players a means of challenging the established powers.

War is still kind of stupid under that kind situation, but at least it doesn't bankrupt you immediately.