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Eve Online’s ‘million dollar’ battle came up a little short last night (update)

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About $996,000 short, give or take

Capital ships clustered around a contested keepstar-class citadel at 9-4R. Citadels are the largest player-made structures in Eve Online and are used to lock down territory for the game’s larger player-run factions.
Nick ‘Weasel’ Frymet/Twitter

Last night’s massive engagement in Eve Online was billed as the game’s first “million dollar” battle. But, when the smoke cleared, it came up a little bit short. About $996,000 short, actually, give or take a few hundred bucks.

One tracking website put the total lost in the battle at around 560 billion ISK which, when converted into U.S. dollars, comes to something like $4,000. So what went wrong? The major culprit seems to have been server instability.

Something that makes Eve unique among massively multiplayer games is that all of its players share the same universe. There are no shards or mirrored realms, and when big battles are fought, developer CCP actually has to slow down the universe, dilating time back to a snail’s pace so that its infrastructure can keep up.

As the fleets were forming up, a representative from CCP went to Twitter to announce that they had broken the record for the most players in a single system. By the end of the night, there were nearly 6,000 players in-system and participating. Many reported that their clients were crashing or that they could not maintain a connection.

Andrew Groen, a journalist and author of Empires of Eve: A History of the Great Wars of Eve Online, was watching the action live on Twitch. His account of the battle says that server instability actually prevented the attackers from executing their plans.

For fans of Eve, however, it was quite a spectacle. Many high-level players brought their best ships into the fray, something that Groen likened to riding a “jeweled white stallion” into battle.

CCP says that it’s committed to improving performance, both in the short term and for the long haul.

“We’ll keep working on hardware and software to enable larger and larger fights over time,” the CCP game designer who goes by the name CCP_Fozzie on Twitter said. “We know that Eve players will always step up to the plate and keep us on our toes.”

Update: Most of the time, battles in Eve Online look like a bunch of dots with a side of spreadsheets. This time around, CCP has created a gorgeous video with up-close shots of the combatants.