Periodically, the EVE community experiences a spell of anti-bot fever. On these occasions, the unofficial EVE forums (i.e., the EVE subreddit) will feature many highly upvoted threads complaining about bots. The community attempts to prod CCP into taking action against the bots. Sometimes CCP acts, and sometimes it doesn't. To our great credit, the New Order of Highsec is the only organization that can be counted upon to consistently take action against the bot menace.
When CCP does institute anti-bot measures, it's usually the result of public outcry that swells until it can no longer be ignored. For this reason, the community's periodic anti-bot protests can be counted as a good thing.
And yet... There's the hypocrisy. Anti-Code carebears who demand total safety in highsec and who justify a theme park agenda based on (feigned) concern for player retention should, by their own terms, love bots. After all, aren't bots EVE subscribers too? And, from a business standpoint, aren't they even superior to human players?
To entertain this argument, of course, we must dispense with certain facts. For one thing, we know that non-consensual PvP in highsec (including the elite PvP practiced by our Agents) has been scientifically proven to be good for player retention. More recently, in the wake of CCP's decision to essentially phase wardecs out of the game, there was a lot of talk about CCP gathering new statistics showing the opposite. However, that claim has been thoroughly debunked.
Yes, ganking and wardecs and fun in general are, in fact, good for player retention, and total safety and boredom in highsec are bad for player retention. But remember, we're coming at this from the carebear's point of view. According to the pro-theme park crowd, spaceship combat in highsec is bad and drives people away from EVE, despite EVE being a spaceship combat game. And what really matters, according to these carebears, is that CCP is able to maximize its subscription revenues. Emergent gameplay--indeed, gameplay period--must take a back seat to CCP's financial interests.
CCP's financial metrics are especially important today. The company's contract with Pearl Abyss calls for CCP meeting certain "business goals". If they don't hit their targets, CCP will only get a fraction of the big payout reported in the news.
Could it be that bots help CCP achieve these business goals? Let us consider the ways.
Neither CCP nor Pearl Abyss have publicized the specifics of their agreed-upon business goals. We can reasonably speculate that the targets are related to things like revenue, subscription numbers, logged-in player numbers, and so on. These are the kinds of stats that usually come up when the health of CCP and EVE are discussed.
If bots could be programmed to defend themselves, they'd claim to be CCP's most loyal customers. It's estimated that EVE players, on average, have somewhere between two and three accounts. Botters surely have many times that number; it's easy to control a large number of bots when they're automated, and the "business" easily scales up. Botters are even more faithful when you look at the logged-in player stats. Cloaky campers and AFK miners may remain logged in most of the day, but the bots are online 23/7, without fail.
Then there's the matter of revenue. "But James 315," you say. "Botters don't pay for their subscriptions in cash. They buy PLEX with isk." True, but as we're always reminded when this subject comes up, that PLEX has to come from somewhere, and it comes from players who buy PLEX from CCP for cash. For the purposes of this discussion, a bot's subscription is just as valuable as a legitimate player's subscription. The effect of botters is to drive up the cost of PLEX (in isk). This serves the dual function of making PLEX more enticing (i.e., if you buy PLEX with cash, you get more isk in exchange), and forcing more players to pay for their subscriptions in cash (since it's harder to earn enough isk for a subscription's worth of PLEX). Some PLEX-only players will drop out and unsubscribe, but hey, there's always more bots and cash-for-PLEX players.
It's clear, then, that bots are good for CCP's finances. They're the ideal customers. They don't even bother GMs by filing a bunch of frivolous petitions about dead freighters. And if CCP no longer needed to detect and ban bots, they could save money by firing the employees who were previously being paid to detect and ban bots.
All in all, the carebears should love bots, just like they love "newbros". The pro-theme park carebears say we shouldn't do anything to scare away new players, because CCP can't afford to lose their subscriptions. By that logic, we should also leave the bots in peace. CCP needs their subscriptions, too. Keep highsec totally safe for the AFK and keep botting legal for the bots.
Never mind the fact that bots are poison, and that their mere presence corrodes the game from the inside out. Because if we admitted that fact, then we'd also have to admit that the same is true of bot-aspirants. As I have long said, the only difference between a bot and a bot-aspirant is a few mouse-clicks per hour.
So why do the carebears hate bots, if bots are good for CCP's bottom line? Because the theme parkers don't actually care about subscription revenue, player retention, and all of that jazz. They only care about themselves. The carebears are concerned about CCP's financial state only when it's convenient--when they can use it as a cover for their own pro-carebear, pro-theme park, pro-AFK agenda. They are hypocrites and bot-aspirants.
The true heroes of EVE are those who cannot be charged with hypocrisy or bot-aspirancy. Their position is consistent and always has been: They're for the Code. All of the Code, all of the time.