If Real Money Trading (RMT) is a song often sung in New Eden, the refrain to that song is "CCP can't do anything about it.". Fleet Commanders on the take, or RMT brokers whose wallets get fatter every time a Supercap is sold in-game, sing it gleefully. Residents of New Eden getting raped by the aforementioned glee club, or those concerned that these tossers are in the process of driving EVE off the edge of a cliff, sing it with an air of resignation.
One very disturbing reason given for this fatalism are the persistent rumors that there are CCP employees taking RMT money in return for inside information.
If true, this would provide RMT organizations with a an unfair advantage in terms of intelligence - up to and including the ability to intercept in-game communications. More ominous than the developer side of the house is the admin side of the house. If RMT can buy someone in CCP who has access to user account data, one can get real world leverage. I've heard both scenarios are true.
Further, insider information could help RMT organizations avoid detection, providing critical knowledge as to how to cover their tracks and disguise RMT transactions as legitimate. It could even provide them tip-offs of RMT detection methods and ongoing CCP sting operations. Given the amount of money involved, gaining access to this knowledge would be a reasonable course of action for RMT elements.
To some extent, this is a problem of CCP's own making as the internal CCP environment makes it vulnerable to people willing to throw money around in order to gain insider knowledge.
Game developers tend not to make much money. As the dream job of a lot of high-school and college kids there's a constant supply of low-cost talent banging at the doors. It's one of those professions long on prestige and short of income. It's the sort of life that's great when you're young and willing to live three or four to a flat with your fellow developers. However, when you get a bit older, tired of living like a college student, and start thinking about grown-up goals like a spouse, family, a home of one's own, et al; you find prestige doesn't spend too well.
CCP pay is reputedly low even in the gaming industry. That makes their employees vulnerable to temptation when "a friend" in-game starts waving a few thousand euros of RMT money under their noses.
Making the situation worse, I understand CCP developers work on year-long contracts. This is good for CCP in that they avoid the structural costs associated with actually hiring their developers. However, it's bad for CCP in that their developers have limited buy-in to EVE or the CCP brand. When the relationship between employer and employee is clearly defined as a short-term business transaction, employee loyalty is unlikely to follow. By holding them at financial arm's length, CCP constantly reinforces the message to these employees that they are hired help and not part of the CCP family. Subsidized lunches, employee cookouts and memos about team spirit from HR are not going to change that equation.
Under those circumstances CCP employees may well have greater loyalty to their "friends" in the player community than to CCP.
There is, as yet, no smoking gun that points to CCP staff being on the take from the EVE mafia. However, given the money at stake, the incentives involved, the persistence of rumors, and their modestly paid employees, it would be foolish of CCP to not consider this a reasonable possibility.
There are actions that can be taken to ensure the integrity of the game and those who have their hands of the game's levers. Some of them involve careful oversight and honest reporting on the outcomes of that oversight. Some of them involve giving CCP staff an honest stake in the future of this game in particular and CCP at large. RMT remediation actions, such as detection via data analysis, RMT organization infiltration and sting operations should be undertaken by agents outside of CCP so RMT entities cannot be tipped off by CCP insiders on the take.
It is critical to EVE's future that the citizens of New Eden have complete confidence in the integrity of the men and women behind the scenes and in ultimate control the game. For that to happen, CCP has to ensure that those who watch over EVE are, themselves, watched and above reproach.
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