Originally, CCP planned to totally remove legal friendly fire within corps. This would've had some unintended consequences, because corp members often shoot each other for reasons other than awoxing, e.g. practicing fights, thunderdomes, testing tanks, etc.
MinerBumping-endorsed CSM member DJ FunkyBacon saw these issues right away and filled the summit meeting with arguments against a blanket awox removal. If CCP was going to do away with awoxing, FunkyBacon proposed that they add a toggle switch to allow or disallow legal friendly fire. CCP was reluctant. CCP Fozzie argued that the duel mechanic was a suitable replacement. Multiple players wanting to battle could simply "open up a series of duels". Which would be much more intuitive than the old system, he felt.
As I argued in my MinerBumping post, there was another big problem with the plan to make friendly fire illegal: Hundreds of thousands of current EVE players are accustomed to legal friendly fire, and most of them don't read devblogs. Once the patch went live, CONCORD would run amok. There were additional problems due to lowsec penalties (sec status, faction standing, sentry guns) being triggered by illegal friendly fire.
Despite the passionate arguments of the carebear crowd, the day was won by the critics, led by DJ FunkyBacon and the New Order. After postponing the awox removal for a few months, CCP ultimately had to make two major concessions:
* FunkyBacon's toggle switch. Corp CEOs will have the option to set friendly fire to "legal" or "illegal". A change in status will have a 24-hour delay and notify all corp members. Reverse-awoxing will remain possible, as will the traditional uses of shooting corpmates for practice, etc.
* All currently existing corporations will default to making friendly fire "legal". This will prevent players from being blindsided by the change. It also means it's still possible to awox any corporation that hasn't yet set friendly fire to illegal.
Both of these concessions represent a resounding victory for the New Order (and common sense) in the face of One More Nerf™ syndrome.
As a side note, it will be interesting to see how EVE culture responds to this change. Will there be a stigma against corporations that disallow friendly fire, on the grounds that they're too carebearish or paranoid? Will they be viewed as untrusting of their members--or simply weak?
One other observation about the devblog: CCP was surprisingly defensive when announcing this change. They've never spent so many paragraphs in a devblog trying to justify the reason for a nerf to highsec PvP. Explaining a mechanic, sure, but not making excuses.
Although this subject has been debated for months, the opponents of awoxing haven't come up with any new arguments in their favor. It boiled down to this, from the devblog:
"The only ‘choice’ is the binary option of either joining a corp where other players can shoot you, or simply not joining a corp with others at all. For many players, their optimal choice is therefore to avoid signing up to a corp altogether, and so they inevitably miss out on many of the meaningful social interactions that make EVE unique.The justification for eliminating awoxing always went beyond the usual line of "Highsec isn't safe enough, but with One More Nerf™ everything will be fine." According to CCP (and the CSM members who agreed), the ever-present threat of awoxing prevents new players from joining corps. This causes newbies to choose to stay in NPC corps, which is bad for player retention. (Ironically enough, NPC corps were designed to be safer precisely to protect new players.)
"Similarly, as a player interested in running a corp for others, you have no ability to choose the level of aggression-related risk that you want for your members. Again the optimal ‘choice’ for some becomes running a corp containing only alts, or just staying in an NPC corp."
According to the proponents of awox removal, once friendly fire becomes illegal, NPC corps will become empty as countless newbies flood into newly welcoming player corporations. Beginning on February 17th, player retention will be greatly improved and CCP's subscription revenues from this 11-year-old game will skyrocket.
To those who were unfamiliar with highsec life, all this sounded great. There's only one little problem: Carebears stay in NPC corps to avoid wardecs, not awoxers. Whoops! It's safe to say this line of reasoning will return when subscriptions fail to skyrocket and CCP goes back to nerfing wardecs again.
On the recruitment side, there are already plenty of corps that will take anyone who applies. New players have never had any difficulty finding some corp to join; it's just a matter of finding a good one. But the only corps genuinely afraid of being awoxed by a new player are the purely industrial corps of highsec. In other words, the kind of corp that drives people to quit EVE out of boredom in the first place. Decent corps don't decline newbies out of fear of a 10-hour hero. (Remember, a single combat ship or even a decent flight of drones is enough to thwart a newly minted awox alt.)
According to the anti-awox crowd, beginning on February 17th, good corporations will have their ranks swollen by a flood of new members. No longer will their highly disciplined roaming Ishtar fleets be threatened by a t1-fit Catalyst alt. The newbie will be free to join, because he can't awox them.
On the other hand, it's noteworthy that during the months this awoxing thing has been discussed, we haven't seen the promised multitude of good corps--even if you stretch the definition of "good" to include almost everybody--talking about how they're looking forward to recruiting new players after the change goes live. No one seems to be excited about the opportunity to improve retention rates.
On the bright side: The New Order is always recruiting!