Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Carebear Empires

"When beggars die there are no comets seen;
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes."

             - Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Over at Jester's Trek, Ripard has been looking at the post-Odyssey Technetium market findings written up in Lockfox's recent TMC article.   The long and short of Ripard's post is that, owing to Odyssey changes, the price of Technetium has crashed. Thus, he writes, Goonswarm is in dire financial straits straits that mere R64 moons cannot remedy, which in turn means that Goonswarm's existence is threatened; their current dominance of nullsec being utterly dependent on an unbroken flood of Technetium-based ISK. This, Ripard says, has driven Goonswarm to announce they will be renting nullsec systems to pubbie scrublords; an act of apostasy in Goon culture that has turned its leadership into philosophical contortionists as they attempt to reconcile their present financial plans with past moral preaching. 

For reasons beyond my understanding, Ripard has gotten the impression that I am given to gloating and that this news will provide an occasion for me to indulge.  While I'm not above the odd victory dance when the occasion warrants it, schadenfreude is not my drug of choice.  Gloating is a leading indicator of sloppy thinking. Further, gloating tends to pre-suppose that all the chips have fallen where they may; that all the shoes have dropped.

In this case nothing could be further from the truth.

Ripard may be referring to a post I wrote in July of 2011 called The Wealth of Nullec, in which I pointed out evident flaws in the reasoning behind what I call CCP's "One Percent Solution" (1%) design paradigm for nullsec and called for the elimination of nullsecs large-bore ISK faucets. 

Assuming the Technetium numbers are correct, CCP has taken an important first step in turning nullsec toward their long-held vision of a larger number of entities in possession of smaller patches of nullsec real estate. This would mark the defeat within CCP of the 1% paradigm, which assumed the presence of a limited number of exceedingly high value resources would provoke running sov wars as nullsec alliances battled for ownership of them. In fact, as many bloggers and members of the player base predicted at the time, what happened was quite the opposite.

It turned out that the large-bore ISK faucets, Technetium in particular, merely bestowed upon their posessors an overwhelming strategic advantage which they then leveraged to ensure their hold on those income streams was unbreakable except through internal upheaval. Entities incapable of internal stability or prone to sov aggression were quickly weeded out of the Technetium-holding population. The result was the Technetium cartel and the so-called Blue Doughnut that actively suppressed sov warfare in the majority of nullsec.

At the end of the day, the cascade of ISK pouring down on selected bits of nullsec real estate proved so valuable they provided a strong incentive against the very sov warfare and power diffusion CCP's designers expected them to promote.

Unlike Ripard, I don't believe the Technetium nerf or its impact caught Goonswarm's leadership flat footed. Nor do I find the idea that The Mittani® was completely in the dark as to the income generating potential of system renting remotely credible. 

The Technetium nerf has been in the works for some time as evidenced by last December's CSM minutes. The Mittani® has long been an advocate of the Farms and Fields (F&F) paradigm for nullsec and, last Autumn, Goonswarm's financial team published a series of articles in support of that paradigm on TMC. Nullsec's CSM7 reps lobbied aggressively for industrial buffs to nullsec infrastructure and minerals as a replacement for the anticipated loss of Technetium income, which CCP largely obliged in the Odyssey release.

Now, in order to develop a robust industrial economy capable of replacing a substantial portion of the income lost through the Technetium nerf, nullsec must have a key asset that is beyond CCP's power to bestow: F&F requires that a large industrial workforce migrate to nullsec and ply their trade in that space.

While Goonswarm's membership includes a healthy number of industrialists relative to its peer nullsec alliances, they are in no wise sufficient to generate the industrial activity needed to jump-start F&F to the degree needed to offset lost Technetium income. Further, in order to sell the presence of a large industrial population in nullsec to its rank and file, the Goonswarm financial team is on record as casting this population primarily as a nullsec underclass: peasants or cattle to be used for financial gain and slaughtered for the amusement of the PvP elite. For obvious reasons, standing members of Goonswarm cannot be asked to lower themselves to fill that role. Thus, this underclass must be recruited and, in the minds of Goonswarm's leadership, the role of renter could have been tailor made for that purpose. Renters are being hawked to the Goonswarm's membership as a lower life form whose presence, while undesirable, is financially necessary.

Of course I would not be the first to point out that calling your intended clientele cattle, sheep and pubbie scrublords while talking enthusiastically about the vast swarms of enemies that will come and try to blow up that intended clientele's stuff once they arrive is, quite possibly, the worst rental ad campaign ever devised. Switching gears from the virulent pubbie hatred Goonswarm's leadership has cultivated over the years to promoting and providing competitive services for said pubbies will not be an easy cultural transition. It will, however, be a necessary one if  Goonswarm expects to command the rents it needs to maintain its present life-style and develop itself as an industrial power-house.

For F&F to be successful, Goonswarm will need to attract the industrial subset of the carebear community. While ratting renters' money spends as well as an industrial renters' money, the former do not generate the secondary income streams and market activity that the latter do. Further, Goonswarm's desire to become independent of highsec markets cannot be accomplished without a critical mass of industrial players.

Industrialists tend to be a pragmatic lot and don't place a high value on their landlord's affections. They do, however, expect efficient management, services at favorable prices, limited restrictions on their activities and a reasonably safe environment in which to ply their trades in exchange for their coin. And they will respond positively to targeted production incentives should Goonswarm choose to offer them. But, that pragmatism swings both ways. Unlike technetium moons, industrialists are mobile. If Goonswarm cannot provide these essentials the industrialists will go elsewhere. 

Goonswarm has foreseen this, of course, and will game CCP, the renter community and competing landlords aggressively in order to make alternatives to renting from Goonswarm less desirable. The next war in Nullsec has already begin and will have a heavy economic component, whether Goonswarm's competition realizes it or not. Those competing renter alliances unschooled in business, lacking accomplished spreadsheet warriors and without skilled diplomats would do well to shore up those skill gaps in a hurry. This war will be fought as much from the boardroom as on the battlefield. 

Many large-bore ISK faucets remain in nullsec, and the loss of Technetium should have no-one crying poverty.  However, in order to maintain spending habits acquired during the Technetium bubble, renters have become a necessity. Now Goonswarm intends to build their empire into an economic powerhouse independent of New Eden's empire markets. And for that, the industrialization of nullsec is a prerequisite. In such a game, well organized and efficient lords of industry are no beggars, but princes in their own right.

And their fortunes shall be writ 'pon nullsec's very heavens.


  1. While I agree with what you have stated, you have not taken it far enough. Let's ignore the RMT component for the moment.

    1. While the value of tech may be heavily nerfed, the overall demand for moon goo has not gone down significantly, if at all. As long as players want T2 ships and modules, the overall demand for moon goo will do nothing but increase over time. The moon goo output is a finite flow (unless CCP adds another 227 moons), and if the player base grows, the demand for that finite product will increase. Goons have been screaming poverty while they have scooped up a larger piece of the moon goo pie. Yes, moon goo income is limited to some extent by alchemy, but it is still a massive source of income for the null sec cartels, and that value will only increase over time, and the cartels are not going to let that information go public.

    2. The pirated internal CSM comments made mention of Fozzie explaining to the CSM that the new null ice belts are far richer than many many moons put together. goons don't mention that inconvenient fact when they scream how poor they are, since they can now bot those in quiet obscurity. By the way, read the goon comments. Somewhere one of them stated, and I paraphrase, "don't worry, the renters won't be competing with you in a rich ice belt" .

    3.The theme of the winter iteration will announced at Gamescom in the next 24-72 hours. I would bet an awful lot that it will be another huge nerf of high sec industry, coupled with huge buff for null sec industry. That, just co-incidentally, will dovetail nicely with the plans for the null sec cartels to increase their income streams. The goons need a lot more industrialists willing to come to null sec and pay tithes. Only way that demand for null sec space is created is by destroying high sec profitability.

    You know, if I did not know better, it would almost look like a CSM member, say someone who is a key member of the goon business group, told goons weeks ago blow by blow what was changing, or even more crazily, the goons told the ex-goon lead game designer what they needed changed in the game to establish goon's power even more strongly in the game.

  2. Interesting analysis. The missing element here, though, is a free port or trade hub in null sec. But I'm not sure how any PvP Alliance is going to make that happen (I've heard rumors that it happened once, long ago.)

    Dinsdale, MoonGoo was a very large passive ISK faucet, like PI and Research Agents but much greater. It's the loss of passive income that hurts, because it works for their play style.

    Ice, Rocks, and Rats can only earn ISK while a player is actually on-line. Your average Goon isn't going to want to spend hours on end watching an ore hold fill. Or spend their time bouncing from belt to belt shooting red-crosses.

    1. Actually, no freeport is needed. The CFC is so large, all they need do is designate one of their own systems as the trade hub and the rest of the coalition will flock to it.

      Chribba did have a freeport once, a couple of years ago, owning a single system, but eventually he was attacked and driven out, though he asked for help and got several hundred pilots of all stipes to come and fight for him. Unfortunately, once his ad-hoc fleet left, that was that.

    2. VFK is in volume of trade value already bigger then several high sec secondary hubs.

      There's no need for a freeport as long as you have local demand and local supply, mercantilism has historically worked fine for empires in the real world no reason it wouldn't work in EVE. In fact if gives you a way to artificially control profit margins which could be a major selling point to an industrial 'class'.

      Goonmetrics (the goonswarm market thinghy) is already a pretty decent piece of equipment too if the new industry class got access to it that would be another big selling point.

  3. Technetium (and other moon minerals) are NOT ISK faucets. They are ISK transfers. Examples of ISK faucets would be bounties (from incursions, belt ratting, anoms, missions, whatever), mission ISK rewards, any anything that places ISK directly in your wallet (including insurance payouts!)

    1. True. but this doesn't bear on this discussions at hand.

      Receiving piles of goods on a daily basis doesn't generate ISK. However, the sale of those goods do. While it is not an ISK faucet, it still represents substantial wealth. Additionally, such an ISK transfer does two things: It places ISK in your wallet and it removes ISK from the wallets of your enemies. So you get double the bang for the buck, as opposed to simply getting the ISK from a faucet.

  4. Goons industry is anemic for sure. As for getting an injection from external sources?

    I am an industrialist in hi-sec. A leading figure in a underground movement of mining fleets. The operation structure like terrorist cells to limit damage by axowing or wardecs. We have co-ordinated fleet boosts and logistics through the 23hr game clock. Our miners are happy and aware.

    Why the flying fornicate would I ever trust a goon FULL STOP. Why would I support their organisation - which I regard with complete disdain? If by snubbing their offers of space and blue, they are suffering; then I am content with a passive victory. For a group which prides itself on inflicting vitriol and spite; prepare to be ignored in silence. I only hope is that many an industrialist share my sentiment.

  5. Fiddler's Note:

    Knug Lidi submitted the following comment on August 21. For reasons known only to the blog gods, it did not post upon approval and so I've taken the liberty of reproducing it below:

    Knug Lidi August 21, 2013 at 6:48 AM

    If I understand all of this, then what you are indicating is that the Goons are going after a new resource to manipulate for the ISK they need to support their lavish lifestyle. Its not moon goo, not PI, not noxium, or ice: players.

    So in effect, the large null-sec alliances are set to compete for renters. They will be competing to rent us land/space/opportunities. We are the new technetium, the new gold. It won’t be a gold rush for the best moons, the best ratting space, the best asteroids. It will be a gold rush to attract the stable renter. The self-motivated, low-maintenance, non-trouble making renter.

    Images spring to mind. Condo developers in a housing downturn, trying to get their costs covered. Transatlantic shipping companies trying to get their ocean going liners filled with passengers by stuffing lower classes into conditions unfit for cattle. European empires offering land dead cheap/free in the New World trying to get people out there to push out the locals and develop the infrastructure to expand their influence and to increase security. Absentee land owners hiring local management firms to fill their empty houses and apartment buildings. Land development companies building entire remote towns, complete with housing, schools, hospitals, shopping malls, and community centres.

    All of these scenarios have a few things in common: utter disregard and downright contempt for the human beings who’s lives they end up toying with; a long history of failure to follow through with promises with the only successes arising out of the tenant’s incredible will to survive; the bearers of best of intentions side by side with hucksters waiting for their next victim.

    Sound like EVE, all right.

  6. For a number of reasons the low esteem in which Goons are held means that they offer space at a disadvantage compared to their rivals: Darkness of Despair and the N3/PL bloc.

    They will seek to even that advantage.

    Expect a wave of cloaky camping, awoxing, corp thefts and other dirty tricks targeted at the renters of their opponents. Paired with a propaganda campaign on TMC and elsewhere selling the many advantages of renting from the CFC's vast tracts of untroubled space.

    As you say the Great Renter War has begun.

  7. The renter camping has alreaddy begu, rzr an bl are both heavely camping systems in N3 an PL renting space.
    There has already been a hefty amount of awoxing going on in the last 3 weeks aswell, atleast every other day there is another mail about it.
    However what the cffc can do everyoe else can do, so expect a lot of cloaky campers and even more awoxing to happen in the new cfc renter groups.
    I already know of several peeps preparing corps for that specific reason.
    I am looking forward to how tmc will bring this stuff and when the bad mouthing to the other reting campaighs will start.