Eve: CCP Strikes Back

In an astoundingly detailed (with many screenshots of internal tools and emails), vehement and visceral news posting, CCP’s internal affairs posts a detailed journal of their investigation, which concluded: Goonfleet deliberately attacked Eve Online.

Since last Friday, an unnamed corporation posted over 4000 times on EVE’s message boards concerning these allegations. In addition, 1046 posts were made on Digg.com; 235 comments were added on Slashdot; and made multiple EVE-related edits on Wikipedia. Each of these sites was hit within a few hours of each other, at the start of the three-day Memorial Day weekend in the US and a three-day weekend in Iceland, all referencing unfounded allegations — now proven to be false — that occurred three weeks ago or longer.

The volume and timing of these near-simultaneous references is no coincidence: we were the target of a carefully constructed and well-timed social engineering effort by one of the largest player groups in our community. The intention? To undermine EVE Online and the credibility of CCP Games.

More specifically, the objective of this scheme was to permanently paint CCP as a biased and corrupt company that favors a select group of players over the rest of our community. In this particular case, instead of receiving notification of a possible problem and sufficient time to examine and address it, we faced a coordinated and hostile attack executed on our forums, Digg, Wikipedia, Slashdot, and other outlets at the beginning of a three-day weekend. We believe this speaks volumes of the intention of the person(s) responsible for orchestrating this scheme. Verification of this can be readily found on the forums of the people responsible—or at least could, the last time we looked.

Claims that the goal of this effort was to expose corruption within the company cannot be taken seriously. They are simply a smokescreen intended to mobilize and use the EVE community against CCP. There is no evidence to support the claim of information sent to CCP concerning internal corruption and wrongdoings on the part of our employees is being systematically suppressed.

The fact that this attack took place over a holiday weekend was especially revealing of motive, which we believe was specifically by design to ensure that CCP would not be able to react as fast and efficiently as we would under normal circumstances. The allegations investigated above by this internal affairs department will also be examined by our legal resources, as we do not intend to sit idly by while our servers, community and reputation are under attack.

It’s not every day an MMO declares war on a huge segment of their own community. Then again, Eve is pretty damn hardcore.

Note that prior to this, public sentiment was pretty strongly against CCP’s handling of the matter. It’ll be interesting to see what the fallout from this is.

So. My opinions (and they are just that: opinions):

* The snapshots of dev tools looked genuine. (Although why they’d use web-based CS front ends makes me cry.) It either proves that the Goon guild in question did in fact request CS help weeks ago (the main element of their complaint was that they didn’t), or that CCP has sunk to fabricating evidence (and if you believe that, there’s nothing that will convince you otherwise). That debunks the most damning of the allegations, that a CCP dev was spying on Goonfleet for BoB.

* The volunteer canned for locking horns with BoB was briefly addressed, but not as conclusively as the above. It also wasn’t as damning. When you have volunteers, you have drama. It comes with the territory. It’s why most games that have volunteer programs have them very limited, and on a very tight leash.

* The BoB member bragging about having CCP devs on his IM list wasn’t addressed at all. Let me look at my IM list real quick… I still have about 20 DAOC players on mine from when I worked there. It’s not unusual at all, and certainly not evidence of wrongdoing. It’s a very quick way to gain feedback, from the hardcore players who know more about the game than you do. Just because I would talk to DAOC TLs and the like doesn’t mean I’d flip relics for them. Presumably CCP has online metrics to measure that sort of foolishness anyway… especially after being burned once already.

* Goons have a long and storied history of stirring things up. As a poster on somethingawful.com said,

To be quite honest I don’t really put it past the Mittani (Goonfleet leader), moral scruples are not in his job description.

(Disclaimer: I played with a Goonguild on DAOC earlier this year for a few weeks. No one seemed to have horns or flaming hooves.)

* CCP to date has done a spectacularly bad job of community management. I haven’t addressed this much publically, because it goes against my wish to never speak ill of competitors. But this could have been handled better. Much better. In particular, CCP has a habit of making posts they dislike not locked, but disappear. That makes it appear as though they have something to hide… even if they don’t. And it gives credence to those who allege that they do.

PvP games are serious business. You have the hardest of the hardest core, looking for every advantage possible. And Eve is the hardest of the hardcore PvP game out there. If you’re working on a game with a PvP component, there’s a lot to learn from all this in how to run your own game – and how not to.

And as players, about the best advice you can get came from the normally tongue-tied CM Kieron:

If you think CCP is in the wrong, we welcome constructive dialogue and criticism. If you feel we as an entity are corrupt and abhorrent, we bid you good luck in finding a game and company that suits your interests. If you agree with our assessment, we thank you for sharing our opinion and ask that you continue playing EVE in your normal manner.