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Massive EVE Online war destroys over $300,000 worth of virtual goods

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Eve Online (Credit: CCP)

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EVE Online has seen some epic events in its 10-year history, but nothing quite like this.

A huge battle took place in CCP's massively-multiplayer online space game Monday night, resulting in damages estimated at 11 trillion ISK (Interstellar Kredits, EVE’s in-game currency), according to a CCP representative. Because of the unique nature of EVE's economy, however, those in-game losses carry a real-world value of up to $331,000. That figure could go even higher, as the developer says it's still crunching numbers on the battle.

The war -- dubbed "The Battle of System B-R5RB" -- saw the destruction of 75 Titan megaships and involved roughly 2,200 players.

And it all started because someone neglected to pay a bill.

EVE's dense mythology and complex gameplay can be a bit hard to follow, but here's what happened.

An alliance in the game's N3 coalition missed a bill payment for the system where Pandemic Legion (arguably the most powerful player alliance in the game) was staging and storing their fleets. That left the station vulnerable to capture, which is just what happened.

N3, Pandemic Legion and other allies deployed a fleet of carriers to retake the station, but because of the lack of advance notice, it was a smaller fleet than usual. Sensing an opportunity, rival alliances hit back with all they had. In other words, it turned into chaos.
And that led to severe ship losses, which, in EVE, translates to equally severe cash losses, too.
The economy in EVE Online is a living thing. CCP, the game's developer, actually has an economist in-house who monitors the virtual world, working to curb inflation or introducing new types of technology to absorb currency. In real-world terms, that economist and his team are a virtual Federal Reserve, selling bonds to shrink the money supply.

Technically, players cannot exchange in-game currency for real-world cash, but CCP does let them use ISK to buy real-world objects (like nVidia graphics cards) and 30-day game time codes (rather than paying a monthly subscription fee).

While the scope of the losses in this battle was unprecedented, this isn't the first time the game has seen big money disappear.

Last July, an ambush led to the destruction of one of the game's biggest ships, valued at $9,000. And in October 2012, a ship carrying blueprints worth $6,000 in real world money was destroyed by other players.

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