Let’s see how many war pigs I set off with this.
EVE Online is among the most complex games available today and a major problem this game has when it comes to conversations to bring the game forward has to do with PVP. I believe the biggest obstacle that stands in front of reasonable debates about pvp is how people define player-versus-player. A very vocal group has been insisting that absolutely everything in EVE is PVP, even though a number of activities can be done with zero player interaction, zero player contact, or involves player cooperation against a non-player entity. Without a commonly agreed definition to the term PVP between combat-oriented and industrial-oriented players, any debates about pvp often get nowhere, and have been going nowhere for years. The problem is that players can’t seem to understand that while PVP is by far the most important element in this game, EVE is so complex that PVP is not the only element to this game.
For this essay, we’ll start with the definition of PVP according to Wikipedia, which is “a type of multiplayer interactive conflict within a game between two or more live participants.” The problem begins when this broad definition runs into the generic perception of what PVP stands for. When you mention pvp to Non-Eve players, they’ll think of games like Fortnite, Team Fortress 2, Warcraft, CSGO, Overwatch, Starcraft, and other games where direct mortal combat against another player is the key focus or in pretty much all the ones mentioned above, the only focus to the game. Normally this wouldn’t be a huge problem since one can reasonably argue many of EVE’s activities involve or will involve combat against other players. The problem I see comes from the players who insist that absolutely everything in EVE is PVP. The generic term for PVP can describe EVE Online as a whole but it completely misses the bigger picture.
The big picture in EVE Online is that EVE is the largest and most complex economy game in existence. Tens of thousands of players participate in EVE’s economy every day, from the collection of resources to the sale of completed ships, ammo, and modules. There’s hardly any part of the game that isn’t affected by the market. EVE also directly or indirectly provides the tools to make the game’s economy a reality. Buy and sell orders, price speculation, contracts, player-created trade hubs, and other elements have produced a system that no other game’s replicated. Real world economists have even studied EVE’s economy to get a better understanding of how people will act in the real world. Both PVE and PVP both tie into this economy and PVP has the more important role in play.
The problem with many PVP arguments for EVE online are the people who fail to understand that EVE has an economic core and then tries to pin the PVP label on absolutely everything. Please for the sake of Bob, stop arguing like this! Moving goods from station to station? PVP. Blasting ore in a belt? (with absolutely nobody else even in the same system as you?) PVP. Selling goods that nobody else is selling in some backwater system? PVP. Buying or selling anything? PVP! (I’ve seen people argue these things as pvp multiple times.) Arguing that everything in a game is PVP is not only ignorant, it’s idiotic. In no eve gameplay ever has it become a requirement that you have to fight another player in mortal combat order to mine some veldspar in a backwater system. Hell, you don’t even have to have another player in the system to undock and go do stuff. Trading isn’t pvp either, unless you’re attacking somebody’s station or shipping (directly or through proxy) in an effort to stop them from buying or selling their goods (hisec ganking and wardec mercenaries are excellent examples of this in action). The marketplace isn’t PVP because the players participating in this activity are coming to an agreement on the sale or purchase of goods. Sellers are basically saying “I’m selling X goods at A price” and the buyers either say “I agree to this price.” or “I don’t agree to this A, I’ll buy X goods at B price instead.” Competition then arises as player C says “Pffft, you’re selling at A? I’ll sell at C!” This isn’t players attacking each other over something, its players negotiating, re-negotiating, and then agreeing to the price of a certain item for sale. The creation of these marketplace interactions where two players agree to the sale of something is not PVP because the marketplace relies on both parties agreeing to a certain set of terms, in this case, the value of goods. There’s no aforementioned combat involved unlike the ganker killing the freighter in order to steal the ship’s cargo.
PVP, while not the main mover in EVE, is by far the biggest contributor to the economy as an isk sink. The constant loss of ships in conflicts between players creates the demand for more ships, modules, drones and ammo far more than those lost in PVE activities. Economy-wise that is just about the extent that PVP contributes to it. It’s neither glamorous nor complex, but its importance cannot be overstated. PVP has other benefits to the game that are frequently addressed. It creates content through conflicts. It livens up otherwise boring nights. It gives players a reason to stay in the game.
Please stop arguing that PVP is all that matters in this game. It isn’t. The economy of EVE is the most important element of this game. If it dies, then the game will die. Stop saying that everything in EVE is PVP. It makes you sound like an idiot. Only some things are pvp. It is better to argue that pvp is far more important than pve and a lack of pvp will consign this game to a slow and painful death.