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The Almighty Buck Games

Virtual Bank Woes 127

bobmorning writes "EVE Online's largest player-controlled virtual bank, Ebank, just can't seem to catch a break these days. A few months after it was revealed that the company had been defrauded of a staggering amount of virtual cash, it turns out that the institution's digital vaults are far more barren than many realized, leading to an in-game freezing of accounts for any individual or organization that happened to have invested any InterStellar Kredits (ISK) with the bank. Early this summer, it came to light that a veteran EVE player (known only as 'Ricdic') had embezzled — and then sold in the real world — over 200 billion ISK from Ebank, causing a run on the virtual financial institution. However, this was just the beginning of the problems for the player-owned bank. Recently-installed Ebank Chairman Ray McCormack admitted that the bank had been mismanaged, and rules, safeguards, and controls were not enforced. As a result, it's been revealed that Ebank is 380 billion ISK poorer thanks to a number of defaulted loans. Because of the aforementioned mismanagement, it apparently took the bank's new officers a while to figure out just how far in the red their institution is."
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Virtual Bank Woes

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  • Don't trust anyone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Useful Wheat ( 1488675 ) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @03:43AM (#29240595)

    I used to play Eve-Online, and the only rule that was absolute, was that you should NEVER trust people that you are not in real life friends with. Almost every person in the game would rob you at a moment's notice with no remorse, and brag about it afterwards. There's stories where people joined companies and rose to the ranks of massive alliances, just so they could close the alliance and screw everyone ever. To top it off, there's not a single thing you could do about it. That's why the banks have always baffled me. I've never been able to understand how giving your isk to somebody else could ever possibly turn out to be good. One other major example of this was the lotteries they used to run, somebody ran a lottery giving out massive prizes for weeks, until he was trusted enough to get a few billion isk in lottery ticket purchases. Then he ran off with the entire thing and vanished.

    This seems very cynical, and I'm sure many of you are members of successful corporations where you trust the random people you meet on the Internet. However, I was in the Phoenix Alliance, and I remember the first Dreadnought stolen because somebody has the password to the damn space station and gave it out.

    So yeah. In summary, trust nobody that you can't go beat up in person.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 29, 2009 @04:08AM (#29240685)

    The irony here is that this is like a microcosm of everything that happened with the real "financial institutions". If more people thought critically and didn't so easily give in to simple temptations then most crap like this wouldn't happen (in the real world that is, asshattery will always persist on pseudo-anonymous media)

  • Get a life? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <> on Saturday August 29, 2009 @04:10AM (#29240697) Homepage Journal

    Every time someone posts a story about an MMO, people always make comments about players needing a life. It sounds a lot like there is real drama with real people happening in Eve, and the players get a chance to do things they would never do in real life (such as run a bank).

    It doesn't seem that bad. It's real human interaction, real relationships and drama. It's not the sort of thing I'd want to do, but I can see why people get a lot out of it.

  • by religious freak ( 1005821 ) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @04:12AM (#29240705)
    ... I find these stories interesting. How is the online world coping with the new institutions it must create with the added complexities of fast growing virtual worlds? Will it find a new way of doing things, or just repeat the same mistakes (this looks like repeating the same mistakes that were made a few hundred years ago). I have no idea how much a billion ISK is, but this is pretty big news to those that had their "money" in these institutions, even if it was just for play.

    In a world of massive real world bailouts and ~10% unemployment, this may not "matter" much, but it's definitely news for nerds.
  • Re:jeez (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Majik Sheff ( 930627 ) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @04:16AM (#29240721) Journal

    No, it's a giant economic sandbox with spaceship fights. Eve's economy is almost entirely player-driven, so the layers of complexity are almost impossible to measure.

    That things like this don't happen more often is the real surprise. The most successful organizations in the game are either pathologically paranoid, real-life friends, or sociopaths like goonfleet.

  • by Barny ( 103770 ) <> on Saturday August 29, 2009 @04:32AM (#29240765) Journal

    What they need is this in the game.

    Have an enforcement division of the bank that is there to make an example of players wishing to steal from them or people who default on loans, grief them over and over.

    This could be simply a money fund that pays corps/individuals to do their dirty work (lots of work, as they would need to be monitored for performance levels and paid accordingly) or you could actually put the thugs on retainer and they log in each day, look up their list of targets to shake down and clock in like it was a job.

  • Sounds like ... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 29, 2009 @06:51AM (#29241339)

    the Icelandic bank meltdown. They turned out to be a Ponzi scheme [], with the bank's major shareholders taking out loans into the billions of dollars, investing that in other companies, which in turn went bankrupt, taking Iceland's money with them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 29, 2009 @07:27AM (#29241467)

    That EVE world adopt a virtual gold standard.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @09:01AM (#29241925)

    I used to play Eve-Online, and the only rule that was absolute, was that you should NEVER trust people that you are not in real life friends with.

    As I see it, it's more subtle than that. Even in a hardcore minimal rules environment like Eve, you can trust enough some people to a profitable extent. For example, I managed to find a group of people that I'd trust with assets in the hundreds of millions to few billion range. Certain people (particularly Chribba and most EBank directors, past and present) have pretty good reputations and are trusted with tens of billions of isk routinely. That allows for certain types of business opportunities that you can't get in a true zero trust environment (suppose for example, you can't tell other players apart).

    Everyone starts with no trust, but you can build on that (say by visiting each other in real life).

    As has been mentioned before, what makes games like Eve remarkable is that you get large successful organizations even though trust is so hard to come by.

  • Re:jeez (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Saturday August 29, 2009 @09:06AM (#29241943) Homepage Journal

    The most successful organizations in the game are either pathologically paranoid, real-life friends, or sociopaths like goonfleet.

    What a shock; the most successful organizations in the real world are the same way(s). Sadly, our government is all three - pathologically paranoid cronies bent on controlling society to their own ends. Thank goodness there are competing factions within! (Just like Eve)

  • by ArtemaOne ( 1300025 ) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @12:31PM (#29243911)
    Griefing is against the Terms of Service and you can be banned for it. Scamming and taking things to which you were given access is not.
  • by bmorton ( 170477 ) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @12:48PM (#29244075)

    It's been a while since I played, but I believe players can place a bounty on players that's visible to all players.

    I'm not really sure why the bank wouldn't do this.

  • by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @01:02PM (#29244227)

    How is griefing defined though? Is repeated hunting included or does it only account for out-of-gameplay stuff like DoSing someone?

  • by mrlibertarian ( 1150979 ) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @01:46PM (#29244661)
    We clearly need a virtual federal reserve and a bernanke-borg.

    Actually, what they need to do is get rid of fractional reserve banking.

    You want to put your money somewhere safe? Put it in a full reserve bank (a bank that is NOT allowed to loan out your money) in exchange for a small storage fee.

    You want to make money by loaning it out? Buy bonds. You can always sell your bonds if you need the money immediately. Sure, there is a risk that you'll lose some money, but investments always involve risks. Risk can never be eliminated; it can only be transferred (e.g. the FDIC transfers risk to innocent tax payers, which creates moral hazards).

    Under the above system, there will be no more bank runs. But, hey, if the admins want to try a virtual federal reserve, then I wish them the best of luck. When they start having virtual business cycles and virtual bailouts, maybe they'll reflect on their mistakes. Or, if they act like their real world counter-parts, I guess they'll try using more regulation. Because regulation is like violence (and XML): If it doesn't solve your problem, you're not using enough of it.
  • by ArtemaOne ( 1300025 ) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @01:51PM (#29244717)
    I don't have the definition, but out-of-gameplay stuff is illegal in most countries, I wouldn't worry about only CCP if you were doing a denial of service attack.
  • Re:Get a life? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iYk6 ( 1425255 ) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @03:52PM (#29245893)
    To be fair, people say the same thing about any hobby. Stamp collectors, model airplane builders, open source developers are all told to get a life by people who don't particularly like their hobby. Enlightenment such as yours, where you say something along the lines of, "I don't particularly like that hobby, but I have no disrespect for those who do" is unusual.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak