After giving this some considerable thought, as well as browsing through the forums to read what others have had to say as well, I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps this mechanic is better suited being completely removed from the game instead of modified or enhanced.
The general consensus among players is that this system no longer has a meaningful purpose, neither adding nor subtracting to the overall gameplay mechanics, other than mildly irritating some players while mildly entertaining others. In fact, because of this, the solution everyone has posted in response to this meaningless bounty system is to simply ignore it entirely.
Considering this nearly unanimous mentality, I’m curious as to why this function still remains in the game at all. CCP has decided to remove numerous features this game once had on the basis that it either no longer serves its original function or is simply underutilized entirely, such as the Captain’s Quarters, or the eventual removal of in-game voice comms. In fact, most game developers (as well as any other entertainment industry out there) would later remove valueless, exploitable mechanics that do not contribute to the overall theme or functionality to their product, as this is a standard practice.
I dare say that the bounty system is actually currently undermining the otherwise successfully executed theme of being in control of your character’s destiny and consequences therein. For example, if I were to jump into a low security system right after being warned by the game’s UI that I’m am no longer protected by Concord, and this action results in my ship immediately getting blown up by a gate camp, then this is a consequence of my own actions. I wouldn’t blame the lack of any security forces, nor would I blame the gate campers that blew my ship up. My decision. My consequence.
Same could be said if I were to fly into Jita solo with an industrial ship carrying cargo worth billions of ISK without any protection or support and my ship gets suicide ganked. Once again, this would be a consequence of my own actions, as 1) I turned myself into a rather lucrative and easy target and 2) couldn’t be bothered to have with me a proper escort (not that this would have guaranteed my safety in the first place). I could have flown something less obvious, or carried less loot per trip, or could have avoided purchasing such expensive modules/ships in the first place. My decision. My consequence.
The same can even be said of Jita local. It would be my fault and my fault alone if I fell victim to one of the many scams spammed there on a regular basis. I am not required at all to give my ISK away to a “doubler”, nor am I required to accept any contracts, especially without inspecting them thoroughly. It would be my decision to participate in that, and the resulting consequence is of my own volition.
This is where I feel that the bounty system does not reflect the theme of these examples. Anyone at anytime can give anyone else as many bounties as they wish, for whatever total of ISK they wish to “invest” in, for whatever reason they so deem. Not necessarily because they were wrong some how by the one receiving the bounty. Not necessarily because they were frustrated or pestered. More often than not, simply because they are capable of doing so.
Getting a bounty placed on oneself is no longer a matter of that individual’s decision making (save for those who wish to exploit the system), and thus, no longer a consequence of their own actions. There are no warnings issued to anyone saying that by merely playing the game in and of itself, one is subjected to random and inconsequential bounties (other than the general “no one is truly safe in Eve” mentality that is readily advertised by the gaming community). One can even go out of one’s way to avoid receiving any attention at all and can still be targeted, sometimes merely because they have yet to receive a bounty in the first place.
So, with the majority of this rant out of the way (or TL:DR), I wish to bring myself back to my original question: Why is the bounty system still even in this game, when it no longer adds any meaningful contributions to gameplay and is nearly unanimously ignored all together (or is at the very least heavily requested to be changed)?