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Did one of Eve Online's biggest names start an in-game war for personal profit?

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We reached out to The Mittani about claims of the tail wagging the dog ... in space.

Every once in a while the great and impenetrable online space opera that is Eve Online breaks into the mainstream — just for an instant — before submerging itself once more into the depths of the internet. Today is one of those days, with a curious bit of conspiracy-laden hearsay that wafted atop the popular r/games subreddit.

In short, one Admiral Goberius is being credited with pulling a fast one on Goonswarm, the game's largest player-led coalition, which recently rebranded itself as The Imperium. Specifically, it's claimed by redditor Ohh_Yeah that Goberius tricked Alex "The Mittani" Gianturco, leader of The Imperium, into launching an attack into an empty sector.

The post says that 40,000 "bored coalition members" were duped into a massive assault on a vacant lot on the edge of space in the middle of the night.

"There was no war," writes the brave chronicler, "and when Goons kicked the door in at HORDE's house, nobody was home. There were no assets, no resistance, no coalition to fight the Goons. There was only one crazy Italian sitting behind his keyboard making stuff up to rile up 40,000 pilots only to give them tremendous disappointment. They deployed a large force and found nothing."

Where it gets interesting for those of us outside of nullsec is that this gigantic bait-and-switch is reportedly in retaliation for Gianturco's war-mongering during the run of his Kickstarter campaign.

Yes, one of Eve's most notable warlords is in the middle of a $150,000 campaign to produce a novelization of his greatest triumph, known as the Fountain War. And, with just days to go and more than $100,000 left to raise, prospects are not looking good. So his little expedition into contested space was seen by many on Reddit as a way to raise the profile of Eve Online and thereby the prospects of his book.

That, The Mittani says, is a bunch of bull.

"I started a war more than a week ago," Gianturco told Polygon this morning via Facebook. "But the leader of the group we nuked [evacuated his forces] on day one and has been posting fanfic on Reddit ever since."

So, rather than an elaborate ruse as the Reddit post claims, Goberius' cunning withdrawal in the face of a concentrated enemy force is just really good public relations spin.

We asked Gianturco point-blank if his in-game warmongering was designed to increase the amount of money going towards his Kickstarter, and he said no. While the timing feels funny, remember that creating wars is basically his full-time job in this game.

"We thrive on having our enemies be completely unhinged and hating us."

"There's zero truth," he said to claims this was all planned to line his pockets. "The r/eve subreddit has become radicalized since Goonswarm started openly antagonizing them during this war. They claim there was a 'secret plan' to go to war to promote the Kickstarter, but this 'secret' was openly discussed on our weekly Twitch streams.

"Since then Goberius been telling the redditors that it was all a plan to have his guys panic-evacuate and that he totally tricked us into invading him, and that things which were stated in public were somehow secrets and thus scandals. ... It's kind of like when Reddit goes after the Boston Bombers and convinces their mob of absolute untruths."

But isn't part of war waged in the court of public opinion? Isn't a top-ranking post on Reddit a win for the opposition, and just another opportunity to tell their side of the story? And doesn't that cause a bit of concern for Gianturco, who has so much more to lose should The Imperium be damaged in all this?

"We thrive on having our enemies be completely unhinged and hating us," he said.

Gianturco says the real reason why Redditors have grown to hate The Imperium so much is because it's actively begun to court smaller fringe groups in-game by implementing the same kind of tithing systems first used by the ancient Persians.

"We figured out a scalable way to conquer the galaxy without taking any territory," Gianturco said. "Which is why our enemies, who have all congregated on r/eve, have completely lost the plot and are trying to manufacture something, anything to stop us — but the antagonism just makes our guys more aggressive.

"Yep, you'd be surprised how much our Corps Diplomatique pulls from ancient history to learn how to manage situations in Eve. From a certain perspective, our enemies are playing Counter-Strike in space, while we're playing Crusader Kings 2."