A single missed micropayment sparked off an epic interstellar battle on EVE Online that was so costly the developers have decided to erect a permanent monument to the conflict.
CCP Games, the Icelandic firm behind the massively multiplayer online role-playing game that has over 500,000 subscribers, said the battle in the B-R5RB sector of the Immensea game-space region had dwarfed anything seen in the game's 11-year history. Ships valued at $330,000 have been destroyed in a 21-hour battle in which 7,548 gamers destroyed assets that had taken years to accumulate.
EVE Online players are a special breed. Players pony up $15 a month to enter an online universe as characters who earn Interstellar Kredits (ISK) by mining asteroids, salvaging ships or attacking other players. Getting the credits and learning the skills needed to become a contender can take months of real-time play and the game is designed so it's almost impossible to buy your way to a serious position.
"Game characters form coalitions of dozens of people, which then link into alliances with other groups. Multiple alliances will form coalitions with other alliances, and the size of this conflict saw two or three coalitions on each side," CCP spokesman Ned Cooker told The Register. "To give a sense of scale the battle involved 717 corporations with 55 unique player alliances."
The largest spacecraft in the game, the Titan-class warship, takes many alliances to build and operate, and each one is worth an estimated $3,000 in real money. During the battle 75 Titans were destroyed, along with 13 Supercarriers, 370 Dreadnoughts, 123 Carrier-class vessels, and huge numbers of smaller craft in an orgy of violence that cost 11 trillion ISK of hardware.
The trouble started when a single player forgot to pay the bill for protection from the in-game security team. The sector in question was being used as a supply conduit for an ongoing war between the CFC Alliance and Russian-heavy coalition and the forces of Pandemic Legion and the N3 coalition, and once security was deactivated everyone piled and players around the world received alerts to form up.
The Pandemic/N3 group held the sector and in the first few hours of battle appeared to be holding its own. But more and more CFC/Russian forces logged on and joined the fight and after some miscalculations on tactics by the home team, were able to prevail.
The battle caused CCP's servers to slow play down to a tenth of normal speed in order to allow the order of turns to be completed in the correct order. The result was some amazing slow-mo footage from the front lines.
In the wake of the conflict CCP gathers some of the wreckage of the 75 Titans to build a permanent, non-salvageable Titanomachy monument to the fight. A new patch to the game will also distribute the remains of some of the ships that were destroyed around the game universe for others to harvest. ®