A few times every year, EVE Online makes headlines with its gigantic and costly space battles and virtual scams, which can take years of planning and cost victims thousands of dollars’ worth of real-world money. Just last month, a player named Non Erata made off with $13,000 worth of in-game currency after he infiltrated Vanguard Frontiers, a player-run corporation. In 2011, two players pulled off a Bernie Madoff-style Ponzi scheme, cheating investors out of over a trillion ISK, EVE Online’s form of money. At the time, that translated to roughly $51,600 in real-life dough. Then there’s the Battle of Asakai, a 2011 event in which 3,000 players caused over $20,000 worth of damage to Goonswarm, one of the game’s biggest factions.
These events are fun to read about, even for people who don’t play Eve Online. Unfortunately, they’re often reported after the fact. Not this time. Right now, there’s a massive battle happening in EVE Online’s Delve region, as a faction called the CFC is mounting an attack on N3, a rival group. Roughly 1,300 players have participated in the battle, which has cost N3 over $2500 – and that’s just so far.
Even better, however? One player, Daopa, is streaming the whole event live on Twitch, the video game-centric broadcasting service. For gamers who aren’t familiar with EVE, the stream offers a fascinating glimpse into how the game’s massive battles play out in real-time; for hardcore fans, it’s a chance to watch potential history in the making. Be warned, however; as of this writing, the main battle seems to be winding down.
For non-players, one of the biggest draws of these EVE Online stories – and certainly the reason that they make the news regularly – is how in-game actions “cost” real money. In practice, however, that’s a little bit misleading. In addition to in-game items, like ships and upgrades, ISK can be used to purchase PLEX, which can be redeemed for 30 days’ worth of subscription time.
However, PLEX also sells for real money. Hence, PLEX (and, by association, ISK) have a real-life value; however, aside from PLEX, there’s no way to cash out onan in-game investment (selling PLEX redeemed with ISK for real money isn’t technically illegal, but it does violate CCP Games’ user agreement).
Blizzard recently implemented a similar system in World of Warcraft, allowing players to buy subscription tokens with gold earned in-game. However, World of Warcraft doesn’t have the player-run economies, governments, and corporations that EVE Online does. While it’s exciting to think about, don’t expect to hear news about devastating Orc raids that cost players thousands of dollars any time soon.