Two posts in a row, also unlikely!
Eve Online just can’t seem to catch a break. It seems every few months another big scandal breaks. It is interesting because the actions of one or a few people can literally affect the entire game population. This is due to the entire universe running on one “server” (actually a giant cluster) or shard in a UO term. So if for example, and this is a complete impossibility, lets say someone was to amass minerals trillions and trillions of isk (the Eve currency) for free. This would be bad.
Oh wait, it did happen. Not only did it happen but it has been going on for 4 years. Not only was it going on for 4 years but it was reported multiple times but apparently those reports were closed without being investigated. Opps!
Some are claiming this is the largest exploitative operation in the history of any MMO. It is probably the most successful, but definitely not the largest seeing how UO developers removed 15 trillion duped gold a couple years ago. UO gold is worth more than Eve isk. Today I see Eve isk selling for 550 million per $35. That would only buy you about 35 million UO gold. And UO gold was worth at least double when the trillions was removed.
Let me give people who don’t play Eve Online a better idea of the impact. Lets say every automobile manufacturer had to raise their prices by several thousand dollars per car because the price of raw materials to make steel skyrocketed. Now apply that to every other item that needs the same materials. The people who mine these minerals suddenly found out that instead of a lot left, there was nothing. The rug was pulled out from under them. That is the breadth of this exploit. A huge majority of the minerals on the market were from this exploit because it is so difficult to make them through normal game play. I would not be surprised if the Eve developers had to make changes to make these minerals easier to make because the entire game economy currently depends on it.
Isn’t it rather ironic? Here we are in the midst of wall street scandals and a recession. Suddenly the same type of thing breaks out in a MMO. The market of space ship parts is going to get a lot more expensive, in the short term at least.
For this reason, it can be a good idea to split a MMO into several isolated servers. If something like this happens on one then it will only affect a small portion of your player base. UO used to be immune to this type of thing until they implemented character transfers. And what a headache those have been, being a major source of duping since their introduction. World of Warcraft also has character transfers but Blizzard restricts the amount of gold that can be moved. It is almost not even worth the cost. UO lets you transfer over 875 items each time which can translate into 875 million gold checks. Blizzard restricted you to 10,000 gold and I think they just raised the limit to 20,000. Plus you can only transfer a character once per month while UO let you do it without restriction until rather recently.
Putting aside everything said so far, there is even more to talk about. As I mentioned the person who initially discovered this bug actually reported it. That report was closed with a thanks, but nothing was ever done. For whatever reason, this player went on for the next 4 years to benefit from this. Other people have come forward claiming they also reported it over the years but nothing was ever done. In the past, Eve has suffered from some rather corrupt employees. It is possible that they were also trying to benefit from this new found exploit. It took the report getting to the right person this time for something to be done.
The results of this exploit are still coming out. The Eve team has yet to really explain the scope and impact. Going by the number of outraged players on their own official game forum, it is not something they will be able to keep under wraps as I bet they wish to.