As I explained last October, CCP's inability to meets its business targets for Pearl Abyss would inevitably result in CCP going into a frenzied "turn the dials and see what happens" mode. I also pointed out that nullsec--which often sees itself as above such things--was likely to gets its own dials turned in new and interesting ways.
At this point, it's safe to say that my prediction has become a reality. For new readers, I can tell you that this is one of the reasons why people read MinerBumping: I tell you the truth, and I tell it to you several months (at least!) in advance.
A few weeks ago, the Imperium announced that it would be "glassing" northern nullsec territories under the control of Pandemic Legion and its allies. For many years, nullsec has been dominated by two coalitions, one led by PL and the other led by the Goons. In 2016, the Casino War saw PL and its fellow casino-funded friends chase the Goons out of the north. When the Goons moved south, the anti-Goon coalition decided not to bother chasing them--at least, not for the indefinite future. They lost their opportunity forever when CCP banned all EVE gambling websites, shutting off the source of funds behind the anti-Goon coalition.
A period of unprecedented peace and stagnation took place in nullsec. For three years, nullsec failed to produce the kind of headline-grabbing wars that had fueled EVE's publicity and growth during the pre-FozzieSov days. Nullsec territories did change hands, of course, and alliances did make war against other alliances. But no "Great Wars" occurred.
(Nullsec folk sometimes get huffy when I make an observation like this. But it's easy to distinguish between a local conflict that you think is important and a Great War that draws a large amount of interest to EVE. Coverage of an event like the Casino War is inescapable; by contrast, nobody noticed that your alliance chased some renters out of a constellation a year and a half ago.)
It was obvious that FozzieSov and the rest of the nullsec mechanics introduced in recent years added up to a bad system that discouraged risk-taking and conflict. In a game where so many players are risk-averse to begin with, it's unsurprising that stagnation would result. The energy and dynamism of nullsec withered away, but CCP was as stubborn as CCP Fozzie himself. They merely grumbled, hoping that the nullsec powers would do something worth paying attention to.
Then, finally, the Imperium announced its plans to attack the PL-led "PanFam". Was this finally the war that everyone had been waiting for? Alas, it soon became clear that the rot in nullsec had rotted away PanFam more than anyone else. PL once boasted a peerless supercap fleet--now it was powerless. The "elite" FCs who made PL famous were nowhere to be seen. In the years that followed the Casino War, the Goon-led Imperium had busily stockpiled titans; PL had seemingly done nothing but lose its best and most colorful leaders.
In short, PanFam chose not to fight. The Imperium glassed the PanFam regions, torching all of its expensive infrastructure without seeing anything more than token resistance. Is it still a Great War if only one side shows up?
As it became clear that the Imperium would go unopposed, calls of "EVE is dying" were heard far and wide. After all, what was left of nullsec if its greatest superpower couldn't even be slowed down by its traditional rival? In other words, now what?
It is said that Imperium leader The Mittani wanted his armies to press further into the east and burn down all of the PanFam renter regions. Supposedly the Imperium's FCs balked because they were too burned out from weeks of unopposed structure grinding--a situation evoking the history of Alexander the Great. Regardless, it is in this context that CCP unleashed the Drifters upon nullsec.
Reddit's howling mobs were displeased by the Imperium's effortless victories over PanFam. If EVE players couldn't hope for a Goon defeat, they at least wanted to see some action. As for PanFam's pilots, their long-cherished pretensions of being elite PvP'ers were vaporized when they couldn't even fire a shot in their own defense. But as depressed as much of the EVE playerbase was, the mood was probably more mournful in the halls of CCP headquarters.
Everything had gone wrong in Q1 of 2019: Wardec immunity failed to boost player numbers, EVE players revolted against skillpoint selling, and even the shining promise of a new Great War fizzled into an embarrassing steamroll. Worse yet, it appeared that nullsec was about to enter a new era of Pax Mittania, with an unchallenged Imperium krabbing away, further extending its lead in supercap ownership.
How was CCP supposed to hit its business targets in an environment like that?
In years past, it was sometimes speculated that CCP had a contingency plan in case a single alliance took over all of nullsec. One theory held that the mysterious Jove space would be opened up, allowing invincible NPCs to invade nullsec and wipe the slate clean. As unlikely as it sounds, one can hardly doubt that if $200 million was on the line, CCP would be willing to press the Jove button--if one existed.
CCP may not have Jove fleets, but they have plenty of other resources at their disposal. As I said before, after wardec immunity failed to boost player numbers, CCP would be willing to try anything they could think of. They thought of Drifters.
For the first time, CCP unleashed armies of NPCs to attack structures all over nullsec (though the Drifters initially showed a special hostility toward Delve, the Imperium's home region). Never before had nullsec empires been forced to defend their sov structures against NPCs. The Mittani and the other nullsec leaders responded negatively. CCP replied by dialing up the Drifter activity.
Those living outside of nullsec were delighted simply to see something happen. However, it was obvious to those in nullsec that Drifters were not content; they were anti-content. If we imagine the powers of nullsec as chemicals that can react violently with one another, the Drifters are a compound that absorbs and neutralizes the chemicals. Actual content--that is, player versus player content--cannot occur so long as nullsec players are preoccupied with NPCs. The Drifters are not instruments of chaos; they're instruments of stagnation.
The Drifters were a howl of frustration by CCP, a manifestation of their anger at the nullsec players for failing to generate the kind of conflict that would make headlines, draw in new players, and help CCP hit its business targets.
Most revealing of all was CCP's silence with respect to the Drifters. They didn't make an announcement about the "event", not even after the initial surprise had been achieved. CCP didn't make an announcement because they had no idea what they were doing. They had no plan. They simply turned the dials and hoped something good would happen.
When that failed, community team
The duration of this blackout is undetermined, and we'll be monitoring what effect this has on the cluster.The plan? Spin another dial and see what happens.
Can we be honest? This is MinerBumping, so yes we can. All of this is the fault of the highsec carebears and their theme parkist fellow travelers. For years, they did their best to brainwash CCP into believing that they could make lots of money by nerfing highsec PvP, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. They discouraged CCP from listening to the sage wisdom of the Saviour of Highsec, even though I've been right about absolutely everything for as long as anyone can remember.
I told CCP how to save itself and EVE Online. To be frank, it wasn't difficult. Figuring out how to fix EVE is one of the easiest things I've done, and I've bumped stationary Retrievers.
You want a dial to spin, CCP? Turn up the Code all the way. I won't even charge you $200 million. Just send me 10 million isk from each of your characters and obey the Code.