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The Almighty Buck Entertainment Games

The Deadly Dollar of Eve Online 64

Posted by Zonk
from the taking-it-in-the-wallet dept.
The Escapist this week talks griefing and griefers. One of their features delves into the down and dirty economic wars in Eve Online. From the article: "Having transferred the money and placed their trust in these virtual business proposals, the investors realized that they had been duped, but could do nothing to rescue their lost capital. The scam tolled 480 million ISK (EVE's currency), which is almost $1,000 in meatspace money."
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The Deadly Dollar of Eve Online

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  • "meatspace money"

    That's just fabulous.
  • you with this gun here, does it mean I should? Many games have rules against scamming and generally misleading people. Apparently this is not the case in Eve... if there are no rules against it, does it make it right to do? How is it right to mislead somebody for your own gain? I don't see the point in this article. To me, it simply tells about a bunch of corrupt people in a corrupt game. Yes, it's just a game, but there are real people behind it, real money, real feelings. No matter how smart the scammer
    • by brkello (642429) on Friday November 18, 2005 @06:30PM (#14067048)
      That's the whole freaking point of Eve. It's a sandbox where you can do whatever you want to do. It's a different game than other MMORPG where ripping people off is frowned upon. In this game people are famous for pulling off these sort of things. People put bounties on other people's heads. They try to gain the trust of a corporation just to rob everything that they own. That's the point of the game. It's like complaining that WoW can't be played without an Internet connection. I can understand if some people would not find this type of game fun...but you have to see why some people would be drawn to a game where anything goes.
    • by C0rinthian (770164) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:44PM (#14067610)
      Eve is very unique in this sense. The rules of the game are set up where this kind of espionage is possible, and the players know it. That is what makes the game interesting. A rival corporation trying to squeeze into your marketspace? You can try and beat them in the market by undercutting them until they can no longer keep up, you can declare war on them and hope to disrupt their production via physical might, you can attack them politically with a smear campaign, or you can hire someone shady to destroy them from within.

      This is what really sets the game apart. You have so many choices in how you want to accomplish your goal, and so many of the possible avenues require player skill instead of character skill. The game is brutal, it is ruthless, it is unforgiving. But when you truly succeed at something in this game, you are deserving of respect.

      As much as I would hate to be on the recieving end of what they did, I have to respect GHSC for pulling off what they did. How many times do you hear of MMO players dedicating over a year of prep work to one goal? That is a LOT more patience than your verage gamer demonstrates.
  • Same Old Story (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Reapy (688651) on Friday November 18, 2005 @06:05PM (#14066749)
    Does anybody know any publications, online or off, that focuses on gamer's experiences?

    I mean, I see stuff like this article, and they always tro to comment on the "bigger issues" behind the actions. But I've read 5 million "why do griefers do it" articles, and really, it is boring. There aren't very many shockingly great conclusions. When someone cause trouble it's because they are having fun doing it and there are no concequences, end of story.

    But what I would really like to see, would be a publication that had articles like the mentioned "the great scam" or whatever it was called.

    That was a great read for me, and it is often why when I am interested in a game I will lurk in forums looking for player experiences.

    So I'd like to read about the particulars of certain games. I want to hear about how a group stole a dreadnaught in eve online. I want to read about the plague in wow. I want to read about a newbies perhaps unusual playing experience. Perhaps I could hear in detail how a group of battlefield 2 players swept around a map and were cleaing up at every angle.

    I really just like hearing about what people are doing in games, and doing well at. Not just a factual breakdown, but with a little embelsihment to make it more personal then a list of events. Really that one linked article is the perfect example of how I'd like to see lots of gaming situations narrated.

    Most every gaming article I see has to be some persons attempt at the sociology of gamers, or how gamers make money (but never give too many details), or a thousand other things that would relate to a "mainstream" audience.

    I really would like to see some writing about games that does a great job describing the emotions we all feel as players when we are sitting around accomplishing things in our games. I want it to drag me in to make me feel like I'm actually accomplishing those objectives with the player.

    Wishful thinking perhaps, but I just thought I'd get that out there.
    • Google on the guiding hand social club. The heist was fascinating and there have been a number of articles about it, although mostly from the perspective of EVE players.
  • i'm white on black blind

  • by BobBobBobBobBob (861762) on Friday November 18, 2005 @06:29PM (#14067040)
    It seems to me that the players in the Guiding Hand Social Club were really just very dedicated roleplayers (as is suggested, then rejected, in the article).

    For them to spend a year planning and executing the infiltration, assassination, and thefts shows that they were in it for more than just "getting" the target and her corporation. In my experience in other games, griefers tend to use the power/influence they've accumulated working alone or with random strangers to kill/loot/annoy other random strangers for that moment of glee they get from their target's anguish. It's more about showing their power than it is about personal gain, since they usually target much weaker opponents.

    The Guiding Hand was hired to do a job, in game, and they did it, in game. Yes, they also found a way to make it easier for themselves (the article mentions that it's much harder to assassinate a character through purely military means), but it took a year of their time. What they did proved that they are talented in-game manipulators and assassins, and ensures that they'll not lack for lucrative contracts in the future. They spent their time on acquiring in-game resources for themselves by the best means possible, taking them from others who had spent their time gaining them.

    For the players of the members of the target corporation (Ubiqua Seraph), this was probably a very upsetting experience. Characters (people) they thought they knew had betrayed them. Would the Guiding Hand members act like that in real life? Most likely not. Would they act like that if real life were like EVE Online's universe? Likely. The Ubiqua Seraph players will probably have real trust issues, if they made that all too common mistake of assuming that your online opponents' characters are your online opponents.

    • Also possibly useful to discussing this issue, from Gamasutra's interview [gamasutra.com] with Nathan Richardsson of CCP, the company behind EVE Online:

      We feel that the emotions involved with losing something of value is just as important as gaining something of value, it makes a very immersive experience. There have to be lows to make the highs more enjoyable. PvP allows us to achieve that.

      The Guiding Hand players (and even the scammers from the earlier escapade aka "The Great Scam"--the long write-up by one of the pa

  • Original (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Friday November 18, 2005 @06:36PM (#14067091) Homepage
    Having read the original story/writeup of the guy who executed the scam, I have to say it was one of the best pieces of writing I've seen in a long time. The way he describes the personalities of the other parties involved added a lot of depth to the story.

    As to the scam itself? Bloody brilliant. But in an age where suddenly there's a SERIOUS time commitment to make that amount of cash, and theft causes SERIOUS anger in people, it makes me wonder how long it will be before the government tries to get involved. I mean, how is cash in a game different from any other nonphysical thing which you can be busted for stealing?

    The funny thing is that after he got it all, he gave it to some noob and deleted his character, since this was this guy's way of "beating" the game. Which I guess makes sense in a game that places so much importance on the all mighty credit.

    • Re:Original (Score:4, Interesting)

      by aafiske (243836) on Friday November 18, 2005 @06:55PM (#14067266)
      "The funny thing is that after he got it all, he gave it to some noob and deleted his character, since this was this guy's way of "beating" the game."

      That's interesting, but I can see it seeming a little unfair. Essentially he performed a huge corporate theft/assassination, and then ... committed suicide. Which, on some level, might be just because he is now denied the pleasures of the game. But what if he had just deleted that character, then started anew? Dodging retribution by killing yourself isn't such a smooth move in the real world, but in a virtual one...

      It seems like these games (esp Eve, which is more realistic and cruel than most games) are simulating a reality where reincarnation and an afterlife are guaranteed. You're not really role-playing a character just like in this world, you're role-playing one in a world where if it dies, the motivating force behind the character can be put into a new character. Or at least has a heaven to hang around in and do more fun things.

      How would people behave differently if they knew for a fact reincarnation was real, and unrelated to past behavior? It'd be fascinating to see a game that directly worked with these concepts of what happens when your character dies, assuming you In Real Life represent the soul.

      • Te Grandparent is talking about the 500 million scam perpetrated by NightFreeze (he's mentionned in the article) whereas you are thinking of the 30 Billion heist / murder by the assassin guild which is the main topic of the Escapist article.

          They are two completely separate things.
    • Re:Original (Score:4, Informative)

      by C0rinthian (770164) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:07PM (#14067358)
      Okay, I can't read the article because of a work firewall. However, as a long time Eve player, I know a lot of the major stories that have come out of the game. It sounds like there are two different stories mixed in here. The first, is the long and complicated infiltration/theft/assassination job done by the Guiding Hand Social club. IIRC this is fairly recent. The other story is from way back when the game was new, and a guy conned people into giving him isk to joint buy a battleship blueprint. Once he had finished his scam, the guy transferred all the isk to a noob, and quit the game.

      IIRC, The Guiding Hand Social Club did no such thing after they completed that contract. I could be wrong though.
    • You might be interested to known that Jim Rossingol is a journalist for Future Publishing in the UK (home of PC Gamer, Edge, Gamesmaster and others). He may have gone freelance, I stopped reading the last publication he was publically credited with a long time ago :)
  • by triptogn (932201)
    I find it exciting that this kind of social interaction is going on between players in an MMO. I feel for the players that got hit by this "scam" but it is really amazing that they would go through this kind of effort to pull something like this off.
  • Retribution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vertinox (846076) on Friday November 18, 2005 @06:53PM (#14067250)
    The problems with scams is that they leave the victims with no course of retribution.

    I personally believe sams have their place in PvP, but not so much PvE games.

    In Ultima Online (back when everything was "unconsensual" as the article states Lord British saying) if someone scammed you and you knew who they were you had a chance of taking revenge on them at least by killing them.

    I knew a guy that scammed my coworker back in 2000 (or was it 1999) and he took it personally. My coworker had a house and somehow this guy actually hacked his account with a trojan that he sent him on ICQ since he was supposedly a friend online and cleaned out his house and since it was obvious that it was the file that he had sent him he knew what the other names he played with.

    We spent many a night just showing up and following him around. Out of the blue when he stepped out of the town we would kill him. We turned him in for macroing several times and even had someone make a character just to join his guild that he was in to mess with him.

    When he was in town we'd have throw away death robe theives to steal from him and even run up to him naked with DP (deadly posion) daggers and hit him to make him die in town (even though the guards would halberd us at the same time)

    After a while, we might have made it over excessive given the retaliation harrasment we gave him, but with player justice we took things into our own hands rather than letting the GMs handle it.

    In a PvE environment this is really impossible since players do not have any other ways of retribution other than reporting the offending player.

    However, the down side of player justice is that if you weren't in a guild or were just a poor player compared to the rest you don't have much chance of retribution. Secondly, I think often times player justice would often kill the wrong player or people that were supsect of scamming or being pks.

    In a simulated world scams are just an extension of the theiving and player killing and perhaps is a legitimate strategy (although I would disdain anyone who would scam anyone in a game). However, you still have to balance that out with what the player base will tolerate in the terms of 'greifing'.
    • Eve-Online is a free far all PvP game with some PvE elements.
    • A keylogging trojan IMed to somebody is automatically out of line because it doesn't involve in-game mechanics. You probably had more serious retribution thna some PKing available given what he did.
    • You're wrong about people having no way of retribution in EVE, if Ubiqua Seraph had cared about their losses they could've declared war on the Guiding Hand Social Club and hounded us until we quit. They chose to cut their losses and move on, if they wanted to they could hire other people like us to punish us for them, believe me they could afford to cause us plenty of difficulties. That's the nice thing about how we went about it, we did not hide behind alts, we took credit for what we did, we gave everyon
  • by CyberVenom (697959) on Friday November 18, 2005 @06:59PM (#14067292)
    480 million ISK goes for $1000 real money? What the hell am I doing reading Slashdot at work? I should be reading Slashdot while playing EVE online!
    Seriously, thats a lot more lucrative than I thought the market in EVE was - 480M ISK is not THAT hard to come by.
    • Maybe that's an old number because current price is $224.99 / 500M according to one infamous site.
    • They understood something wrong, 480M Isk is worth closer of 100$ than 1000$, 3 months gamecard (ie 50$ worth) goes for 300M Isk, it's probably not the same ratio on ebay, but still that should give a rough idea. A decent player will get something in the range of 10-20M Isk / hour with a single account.
    • About a year ago.

      RTFM. Although the article references this old tale in comparison, the bulk of the article is about a recent scam.
  • I'm not sure if this is significant or not; it's related to the article. When I hit Alt+Home in Firefox to go back to my home page, it takes me to this link [escapistmagazine.com] instead. The home button still works properly, however. Bug in FF, or is the article set up to capture this shortcut?

    I'm not sure which is worse: My confusion, or admitting to having read the article.
  • Clarification (Score:3, Informative)

    by Silver Night (932333) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @02:00AM (#14069197)
    There are some things that are incorrect. The actual amount stolen was some 30 billion in assets. This has an aprox. 'ebay' worth of $16,000, thats with 3 0s. The character was not deleted. It ws that players main character, and they continue to use it, as a member of GHSC to this day. Other points of intrest: The CEO of UQS was killed in a ship that is rare and wirth a couple billion by someone in one of 2 exsisting Imperial Apocalypse class battleships, worth at least 10 billion. To those commenting on the Game, its jsut a game. Ther are ways to make sure this doesn't happen, UQS didn't use them,a nd they paid the price. They do still exsist and have mostly recovered. You can check out peoples backgrounds. If they are new characters, you don't trust them, tahts all. I've been playing for 2.5 years, and I haven't seen many people complain. Its jsut not a fuzzy 0 risk for your reward game like WoW or something is all. Players deal with it. And there are reprocussions to people who do things to you. Merc corps, assassins, bounties, war declarations. All sorts of things.
    • Re:Clarification (Score:3, Informative)

      by Silver Night (932333)
      Sorry, slight error, UQS did you the methods, tehre is jsut no way to deal with that commited an infiltrator. But people that commited are not the norm. There are ways to prevent theft though, usually. The UQS thing had a high ranking member of the alliance pulling it off, and they manipulated the entire bunch into doing what they wanted so tehy could strike.
  • Here's a topic about the article on the EVE-Online forums; http://myeve.eve-online.com/ingameboard.asp?a=topi c&threadID=248136 [eve-online.com]

    The "Great Scam" was pretty much entirely fictional, an entertaining story written and inspired by a much more simple scam where someone got investments, paid 50% on top back for a while and then ran off with all the money once he got some publicity and massive investments.

    Quote from thread: "Haha, oh Nightfreeze. You wonderful "goon", people still think your piece is real."

  • 480M ISK is worth about $240, not $1000 - and I seem to remember there was about 20 or 30 people who got scammed in the battleship rip; so...that's what? $8-12 a person?

    Frank Abignale they ain't.
  • by the_raptor (652941) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @12:38PM (#14070825)
    Guiding Hand Social Club are great roleplayers (particularly Istvaan Shogaatsu), but the story is always blown out of all proportion. Ubiqua Seraph (UQS) was not a particularly rich corp before the robbery, in fact it was quite poor compared to my former corp (Jericho Fraction, one of the most famous corps in EVE) who were well of by EVE standards but not rich. And the robbery only got corporate assets, the wealth of the players in most corps far out strips that of the corp itself. The worst thing was the loss of limited edition items (such as Mirials battleship) and some Tech 2 blue prints originals (Which are generally lots free money through building T2 ships).

    And in reality it only set the corp back a few months. We are happily functioning now just as well as before the robbery. And as Guiding Hand's original statements indicated that they believed it would be a mortal blow (they specialise in griefing corps out of existence), we are quite happy to flaunt our recovery to them. I would also note that the amount lost was high for a theft, but was about average for the amount of ISK damage a good merc corp can cause through combat.

    Guiding Hand are great roleplayers, and good at what they do. But they are terrible braggarts.
  • by Daikiki (227620) <daikiki@wanad3.14159oo.nl minus pi> on Saturday November 19, 2005 @01:40PM (#14071117) Homepage Journal
    This scam was fairly elaborate, true, but it's not the biggest heist ever pulled off en eve, not by a long shot. The guiding hand social club once infiltrated one of the most powerful corporations in the game, Ubiqua Seraph, in order to carry out a 1 billion ISK assasination contract. It took them a year to gain access to almost all of the corp's resources. When all was said and done, they took off with resources valued at 30 billion isk, at the time nearly $15,000 dollars worth. The entire writeup can be found here:

    http://www.mmodig.com/?p=155 [mmodig.com]
    • by lazyl (619939)
      Moderators too.
    • Heh, thanks for the compliments to the Guiding Hand, but UQS is not a powerful corporation, never has been, never will be, they're a small corporation focused on roleplaying and Amarr (the game's slaver race) supremacy.

      "The Great Scam" Was entirely fictional, the article goes on to talk about the GH-SC Heist, thread starter focused on the wrong part of the story.

  • Eve is a game and if you view your game time as the act of playing i.e. What you do as opposed to what you have then this is all part of the rich experience.

    I'm an alliance leader and CEO of a corporation and one of our war enemies was the controller of a corp thief who struck. As we were set up to effectivly handle losses from our general access low level modules and ammo hangers the impact wasn't so high and it invites the possibility of striking revenge against the enemy in question. Awesome way to spend
  • I'm an EvE player and the worse scam took a year to pull off. The Guiding Hand members who devastated Ubiqua Seraph took some 30 billion ISK in game money and assets, an amount that, if taken at current eBay exchange rates for EVE's virtual currency to real cash, comes in at a staggering $16,500.

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