With the stroke of a pen, developer CCP has changed the world of Eve Online forever. Proposed changes to the game’s license agreement will make gambling illegal, and proactive bans have already banished those in charge of one of the game’s largest and most influential in-fiction casinos.
In August, CCP announced that Eve Online would be going free-to-play. That will require, among other things, a change to the game’s end user license agreement, or EULA. In a post issued on Oct. 12, CCP gave fans a preview of that EULA which adds a single line to the section covering player conduct warning that "you may not use, transfer or assign any game assets for games of chance operated by third parties."
When that EULA takes effect on Nov. 8, gambling in Eve will immediately become illegal, and could potentially result in the permanent ban of a player’s account. For a game as time consuming as Eve, it’s a virtual death sentence.
What’s important about this news is that, even as the growth of gambling in the Eve has mirrored the growth of gambling in games like CSGO, it’s had much more far-reaching in-game effects.
Earlier this year, the gambling consortium I Want Isk, which operates both inside and outside of the virtual world of Eve, funded a massive effort to unseat the most powerful player-led faction in the game. The conflict became known as World War Bee, and effectively rolled back the sphere of influence long held by The Imperium, run by the infamous Alex "The Mittani" Gianturco.
When we talked to Gianturco in June, he had strong words for IWI and CCP alike. He went so far as to claim that since some percentage of CCP’s customer base were minors, the Icelandic company was facilitating gambling by children who would otherwise never be allowed to sit at a craps table in Las Vegas.
But he went further, saying that allowing gambling very nearly broke the balance of the game.
More troubling, Gianturco said, are the strategic implications. How do you bring the guns of a virtual warfleet to bear on a website? Put simply, you can't.
"A casino is something that exists completely outside of the game," Gianturco said. "The vast pool of its funding comes from people who are addicts. So the only counter to this process is to create your own casino. ... In terms of play and counter-play, you essentially have an arms race of entities within Eve, and within other games that have potentially similar issues, to find and exploit as many people who suffer from gambling addiction as possible in order to counteract this unattackable source of funding."
It seems that CCP thought long and hard about Gianturco and other player’s resentments. Proposed changes to the EULA were just the beginning.
After what CCP calls an "exhaustive investigation" it threw the book at the owners of IWI and another gambling site. After uncovering evidence of "large-scale Real Money Trading," or selling in-game currency and items for real-world cash, it confiscated all of the assets of every player involved.
Gianturco was among the first to run to Twitter in celebration.
Meanwhile, IWI has posted a forceful statement across its front page.
"Look at [The Imperium] taking credit," it reads. "We are working hard to recover our accounts as well as your ISK. You might also want to try asking CCP for your ISK back to see how quickly they deny you. ... We are ... being falsely accused of [real-money trading] and if we cannot recover your ISK for you, we will pursue this legally as we have already found grounds."
What this all means for the balance of power inside the game world of Eve is anyone’s guess. We’ve reached out to Gianturco as well as members of IWI for comment, and will update this article as we’re able.