Evolving EVE: A Universal Income

Not entirely sure why this was locked, with no warning, and with a “The purpose of the EVE Online forums is to provide a platform for exchange of ideas, and a venue for the discussion of EVE Online.” explanation provided, but okay.

Since I’ve renounced the evil-doing ways of my past, I’ve been doing some thinking. And as I popped another oxy pill to deal with the discomfort that caused, I realized that we, in large part, are able to function as a society by virtue of the various safety nets that it provides, such as social security, the health care that paid for my delicious strawberry-flavored opioid, et cetera.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t some socialist manifesto (that will come later). Nor is this a feature proposal. This is really just a “what if” thought exercise, in which I’m considering the concept of universal income, and what kind of effects it could have on EVE.

It’s no secret that EVE has its own version of the 1% (or maybe even more like .01%) problem. That could possibly be the topic of another discussion. The point here isn’t to consider what to do with the privileged, but to explore methods of giving a fair chance to all of the humble players on the lower rungs of EVE’s economic ladder.

See, the thing about the rich is that not only are they able to buy lots of/expensive stuff, but they’re able to replace it easily as well. A rich player can fill a freighter with assets, lose that freighter, and while they’ll feel terrible, they can turn to the stockpiles in their wallets and hangars, and continue playing. Someone poor, like a high-sec miner plinking away at Veldspar, or a Caldari loyalist running level 3 missions in a Drake, might not be able to recover from a sociopath-induced loss, or at the very least, they might not be able to recover with a reasonable amount of effort. Yes, it’s possible to start from scratch in a rookie ship and work your way up again, but that’s not a practical solution for a video game that’s supposed to be entertaining even when you’re not necessarily “winning” in it.

So what would happen if we gave everyone, say, 10 million ISK per day? For the sake of this exercise, let’s limit this remittance to Omega accounts only (I’m not ignorant, and understand that if free accounts were afforded this privilege, we’d see massive farms set up to take advantage of it).

One immediate effect that comes mind is that it would lead to increased currency inflation. But would that be significant enough to have a tangible negative impact? If EVE has about 100,000 paying accounts at any given time (just an assumption, feel free to correct it if you have more concrete info), then the daily handout will amount to one trillion ISK, or roughly what is generated per day from PvE in the Delve region. This means that the remittance would amount to just a tiny fraction of daily generated ISK in the entire EVE universe. However, if inflation is still a concern, one possible way of dealing with it would be to fund the universal income from an automatic, universal tax on all PvE income, which might amount to a rate of 1-2%, meaning that anyone making less than 500 million to 1 billion ISK per day would still benefit from the universal income.

And yet, for a poor player, 10 million is not an insignificant amount. A player who just lost their barge to some drooling reprobate’s Catalyst would be able to combine it with the insurance payout for an immediate replacement. The honorable Caldari loyalist who bravely opened fire on the salvage thief in his Angel Extravaganza mission site, and was destroyed when the thief came back in a Proteus, would be able to instantly ship down to a Caracal and continue playing.

And isn’t that the whole point? To keep players invested in the game? History has shown that when players take losses they can’t recover from, they stop playing. We have multiple threads on the front page of GD where players quit for that very reason. So wouldn’t providing a safety net help mitigate this issue?

A universal income would also help bridge the gap between the mega-wealthy and the poor. The paltry amount of ten million ISK would do absolutely nothing for those already earning hundreds of millions or billions every day, even on a collective level. But those making up the majority of the income curve would benefit considerably, either by virtue of having a baseline safety net, or by being able to save up funds in order to break into the lower end of EVE’s “luxury” market segment (e.g. navy/T2 ships).

That’s about it, for now. Feel free to comment. I hope that we can have a nice, troll-free discussion about the theoretical effects a universal income would have on the EVE universe. Remember, this is not a proposal; I’m not for or against this (yet), but merely wondering if EVE would change for better or for worse.

Be sure to join me next time for a discussion on creating safe spaces in sovereign 0.0 to give oppressed majorities a chance at experiencing null-sec content!

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Reading this and knowing that the OP is from a place where anything that smacks of socialism is likely to get you lynched made me smile.

Anyways…

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im not a fan of universal income. money is the problem, creating more of it does nothing
removing it entirely is the cure
i remember back when games didnt have money
they had to be fun, or nobody played

now we have a mass of wage slaves so indoctrinated that they choose the same wage slave rut in their video game experiences, and pay for the privilege

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No. Go away.

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Found the bourgie.

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Why stop at 10M? Why not a 100m or 1B? Why not just make everything free? It really doesn’t take much brain power to see why this is so wrong both here and in real life.

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Space communism online ran by CCP? :wink:

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The answer is mathematical.

While the 10M figure is an arbitrary placeholder, the real value would be somewhere in that vicinity. It would be calculated by normalizing income across the spectrum, and plotting it against expenditures and losses. The goal would be to give the players who are struggling a boost to bring them up to a level of relative sustainability, without affecting the economy at large in any significant capacity.

If we gave everyone a billion ISK instead, that would likely exceed the total income generation of the entire EVE economy, and the effect would be that the entire market would adjust via universal price increases. The goal of a universal income is to help the lowest earners while affecting the economy as a whole as little as possible. Think of it this way: if everyone is given a free $5,000 per year (once again, arbitrary), that doesn’t mean that people will be going out or buying cars, or expensive clothing, or cruise vacations. The bulk of the economy would remain unaffected, with only certain basic goods and services (e.g. non-luxury food and clothing items) increasing in price, but not to the extent that those increases would consume the entire universal income, thereby raising the overall standard of living by virtue of creating value for the lowest earners.

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Seriously, making money in this game is so ludicrously easy that if you’re struggling to “make ends meet” so to speak, you’re definitely doing it wrong.

Very wrong.

Honestly, that’s the whole problem. Making money in Eve is TOO easy and losing it is harder than it should be. That’s why you have people sitting on unobtainium amounts of money. (in simple terms - the problem is far more complex, but the central reason is that making money is far easier than losing it.)

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Knowing full well that 1. universal income is a phenomenally good idea IRL (when implemented properly, that is) 2. OP actually has a degree in mathematics or a related field by which to make a sound argument (I don’t remember which degree specifically) and 3. OP is actually an EVE vet and isn’t pitching this as a crybear asking for more ISK, I think it’s worth discussing. I don’t think inflation would be a concern whether or not measures were in place to mitigate the impact. At worst the contributory rate of inflation is relatively static and bounded, and at best it’s going to end up being burned in non-recoverable ways anyway (in contrast to real currency).

On a related note, Corvettes could use some love to both improve the NPE (something that raw ISK doesn’t necessarily address even for Omega players) and also improve their utility as a bootstrapping mechanism for players who need to rebuild their wealth but retain their knowledge and experience.

Recent Corvette Commentary

Don’t want to derail this thread so I just collapsed the commentary above.

There is no need for a slippery slope argument here. EVE has no shortage of static ISK fountains (eg. rat bounties, payouts for blue/red loot, etc), and the static nature of these payouts play a major role in keeping item prices relatively stable not just over the span of a few months but even over the span of a few years. It takes massive eco patches - which haven’t even touched these specific fountains/sinks, by the way - to rattle the economy, but the economy stablizes after a short while each and every single time such a patch is released. Let’s be perfectly clear here: OP has not proposed a variable payout like the way insurance works. Could it be implemented that way? It could, though I personally think, and OP implies, that a static payout would keep the economy more stable and would be less likely to lead to high or superlinear inflation than if a dynamic payout were used. In real life, UBI would need to be calibrated every now and then to keep up with cost of living and inflation; that would not happen in EVE as it would be both unnecessary and harmful to the economy.

Ignorant players are going to benefit from this more than non-ignorant-but-still-poor players. Classic example: the forums have no shortage of threads of players who think that HS mining in a Venture is a sensible way to make ISK even as Alpha or even Omega. (I am excluding from consideration players who actually think that’s fun - that’s their business if they do.) I even remember one poster asking something along the lines of “don’t you remember mining for an hour to make your first million?” on a rage post about his losses and how he was going to have to mine for hours on end in a Venture to recoup them. Even if the universal income were closer to, say, 1m-3m a day, that saves ignorant newbies like these several hours doing mindlessly boring stuff like HS Venture mining so they can actually buy a frig or destroyer, learn the game, and have some degree of fun while doing it and not end up dropping EVE because they thought HS Venture mining was part of climbing the ladder. And I cannot stress enough that unlike real life, currency in EVE gets burned, and that’s one of the reasons why inflation is not as big of concern in game as it is IRL.

Indeed. And giving newbies the ISK to buy a frigate/destroyer instead of spending hours Venture mining in HS gives them the opportunity to learn the game, which ultimately leads them to learn proper ways of making money (most of which are simultaneously fun).

1m/day isn’t much to us, though it is many hours for them, if we scale back OP’s proposal by an order of magnitude

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This would imply that there isn’t a have/have not problem in EVE, when there unquestionably is.

If resources were unlimited for everyone, as you make it seem, then there would be no market. There would just be things laying around for people to take and use. No one would feel afraid going anywhere dangerous. Three-quarters of the population wouldn’t be deathly afraid of anything PvP-related. And you’d have to exchange sexual favors for PLEX, because no one would be willing to trade it for worthless, unlimited money and items. I’ve played plenty of games like that, where the economy consisted of a small selection of ultra-rare items used as currency, and all other items, materials, and actual currency were totally worthless.

But clearly that’s not the case, because in EVE, consumption has a cost. We can even extrapolate that cost to the real-life economy by comparing the real-world cost of PLEX to its in-game price, and the average income per player.

So when you say that making money is ludicrously easy, that obviously doesn’t apply to everyone, either because they’re new, or have little time to play, or are unable to for a number of other reasons. To claim otherwise would be to claim that there aren’t poor players in EVE, which is a ridiculous notion - of course there are.

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Ok, from that perspective (which I admit, I wasn’t considering) you have a point. Thank you for explaining.

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Your OP has serious merit, although more because it raises the issue of “what does income inequality in a near-2-decades old game mean, and what could be done to enhance the appeal of and interaction with the game for those who haven’t created a substantial income flow for themselves”.

Of course you already got the few knee-jerk ‘all changes that don’t involve “moar destrukshun!” are bad’ responses but that’s to be expected.

When considering changes to basic game mechanics, it’s best to pin down “what problem is actually being solved here?”. “Rich players have more ISK than poor/casual/inexperienced players” isn’t actually a problem that needs solving. The economy isn’t even as broken as CCP suggests, nor is anything CCP’s doing “fixing” the economy.

A useful question to address would be “Is the income/wealth differential between non-wealthy players and established players a problem in the markets and activities that new/casual/uninformed players partake in?”. I’d say the answer is clearly yes, and has been for years now.

New players, for instance, go directly from the tutorial to mining, fighting, missioning, and trading right beside people who’ve been in the game 10 years. Some of those people love nothing more than to ruin someone else’s day and have no problem throwing away assets/resources to do so (since they can replace in 10 minutes what a newer/casual players might take hours to earn).

I’m not a fan of universal income in a game though, because it encourages a more entitled, passive approach to the game. For instance, if I can play the game for an hour and earn 4 million, but just by waiting another day I’ll earn 5 million, it encourages me to sign up, buy a sub, wait 20 days til I have a bunch of money, slap myself in a cruiser (badly) fitted out with expensive gear and go do something noobish in it, and lose it all in 10 minutes. So I waited 20 days and lost it all in 10 minutes. Not a huge enticement to further play.

I prefer an approach that gets pilots to participate, to take risks, to join up with others, and to put in some time learning on smaller steps/ships. Payouts should come in graduated steps so they’re encouraged to learn (and earn) by stages, and tackle different activities.

I’ll check back in later with some more directed notions at how to tackle issues like that, which would help with the wealth inequality, help guide players into taking on more risk and more active roles, and increase participation.

If you tied it to daily login requirement I think CCP would go for something like this.

Here, have some Banana bread…

image

I think that the main purpose of a universal income would be to aid in player retention by preventing catastrophic losses from overshadowing players’ investment/commitment to the game. A secondary goal is to aid in helping players “outgrow” the lowest of the low-end activities (e.g. Venture mining), which often keep players stuck in a cycle they can’t break. Bridging the wealth gap between the rich and the poor is a tertiary goal at best, and at that point, considerations are no longer made at the individual but at the collective level, so the calculus changes (which is to say, there might be other, more favorable solutions for accomplishing this goal, if this goal is even necessary, which is a debate in itself).

A universal income would somewhat bridge that power gap by virtue of the victims significantly outnumbering the aggressors. Besides, scumbag griefers need to eat too, and this would allow them to have plenty of targets, while affording their prey much faster recovery. It seems like a win-win, on paper at least.

If you’re going to pay a sub to collect 150 million in one month (at your figure of 5 million per day), you’re much better off selling a PLEX instead. The token (but tangible) figure of the universal income should/would not be able to compete with higher-end methods of making money, which include any form of allowed RMT.

I forgot to mention this in my OP though it was one of the things I thought about, but yes, the gains would be gradual. A day-old player wouldn’t be getting the entire amount of ten million (or whatever), but within maybe around two weeks would get up to that level.

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Absolutely not. This would be completely automated for all subscribed accounts.

My stance on login campaigns is firm: they’re soul-crushing, OCD-fueling poison, and need to be eliminated from the game immediately. The person or people responsible for their existence need to be tarred and feathered, and given pay cuts.

I hate login campaigns with a fiery passion. So much so that I’m willing to fist-fight in a pit of snakes whoever decided to add them. I don’t care if it’s some 300-pound viking or a Taekwondo black-belt from PA either, or even if it’s multiple people; you put them next to me, and I bite their faces off like I’m on bath salts.

Just because I’m now an anti-griefer paladin of virtue doesn’t mean I suddenly forgot how to ■■■■ ■■■■ up.

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So you pay me 3.65B per year and I don’t even have to log in?
:thinking:

I mean, sure, but you’d still be paying for the subscription.

It would effectively be so minor as to not be farmable. It might change the SP farming industry ever so slightly (SP would become cheaper, because more players would attempt it due to the additional incentive).

At an annual PLEX-to-Omega cost of over 16B ISK? Yup. Even if all three character slots on an account received this income, the account isn’t breaking even via UBI grants alone.

Universal Income is bad for character development …
… and I am talking about personality**, not your in-game character …
… and inevitably leads to inflation.

You can have Universal Income only …
… and I mean only
… when no one gets to own anything …
… and everything is being rented only.

And even then it’s going to go to shits.

**(I am fully aware that most people’s personalities already aren’t worth mentioning anymore)

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