Maybe they should just rename EVE to Con Artists Online?

90% of the time I hear news stories about EVE Online doing the rounds, it’s because of some intricate con or scam which one player/ corps has inflicted on others. The other 10% is when CCP do something players don’t like. In regular MMOs it’s more like the other way around (ie. 90% of the stories are about devs doing something players dislike, 10% is about players doing something interesting/ awful.) I do note that in non-EVE games I’m more likely to hear about players doing something awesome in a good way. EVE seems to only generate interest when players act like dicks. That’s the power of player generated content in a nutshell.

This week’s con-du-jour is a fully fledged Ponzi scheme. A couple of players set up an investment company in the game and accepted deposits, promising investors a stupidly high return (which they presumably said they’d get by investing the money in EVEs auction house or something.) You can follow the link to read the rest, but it did involve a truly vast amount of EVE money so either there are a lot of suckers around or a lot of EVE players have excess cash to burn.

The only things stopping people running these types of scam in other MMOs is devs policing the trades (not sure how often that happens, but Blizzard for example do monitor large gold transfers so that’s probably not unusual, they’re also not keen on player-run lotteries), and players not thinking it’s worth the effort. (The most unusual thing about EVE is how much effort the hardcore players are prepared to put into it.)

I think the issue with EVE is not that players have too much power but that players have too little power to act in these situations. That game would be ripe for trialling player policing – maybe some players would be interested in forming the equivalent of an in game fraud squad with powers to trace dodgy trades and shut these operations down. I’d be curious to know whether many players would take on this role in the interests of cleaning up the game, given that it likely pays a lot less than being a successful con artist or trader. Or would no one care because they like their wild west unpoliced game space just the way it is?

I’d like to think that at least a few people either playing EVE or reading about the scam might go away more informed and able to not get conned by rogue investment schemes in real life. Sadly I think more of them might be attracted by the idea of scamming money out of naive (read: M&S) investors.

The times we live in. Clearly running a successful con makes you a winner in games, not a loser.