EVE Online is a serious business. You can tell this by the fact that developer CCP has an internal affairs division. Also by the way the uncovering of an exploit leads to calls for "transparency", concerns for the economy, and a summit between developers and elected player leaders, rather than just whining on forums.
All of this happened last week, after it came to light that a bug relating to a combination of several player-owned starbases with a moon mining operation was yielding materials used in the game's crafting system out of all proportion. Seven player corporations were found to be gaining "unfair advantages" from the exploit, virtual assets have been frozen, and over 70 game accounts have been banned as a result, the developer said last week.
"Working with the Research & Statistics team we have established that the effects on the markets have been considerable and far reaching," read the announcement. Just how far reaching came to light at a meeting between CCP and the elected Council of Stellar Management that represents the interests of players at the weekend.
In even briefer form, the exploit was said to have generated "a few trillion" ISK - the game's currency. This is a lot of virtual money, although according to CCP's in-house economist, it's only equivalent to a day's trading in EVE - serious, but not catastrophic. Still, the overall impact in terms of distortion to the game's pricing and commodity markets is hard to gauge.
Claims that the exploit had first been reported four years ago are still being investigated by CCP, but the developer reckons the exploit wasn't being used on a significant scale until March this year at the earliest. CCP won't name the players and corporations involved, and is still trying to determine how far to take recriminations, since many players and some corporations may have profited unknowingly from the exploit.
Thought videogames were an escapist retreat from the financial misdeeds of the few affecting the prosperity of the many? Think again.