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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

We Need Better than Double Taxes and no Chance of Profit

My last post on POCO economic concerns got a tweeted response from CCP Fozzie. Here's what he had to say.

Don't worry we never ignore isk sinks. And blowing stuff up doesn't sink isk from the economy, it generally adds it. :)

The response puzzled me to be honest. Not ignoring sinks is a good thing. The blowing stuff up was the part that I found confusing as I was discussing taxes, which is most certainly an ISK sink. Blowing stuff up... was not really my point. My reply back was simply this.

Sweet deal. I'm like that old song: "It takes a worried man to sing a worried song." It'll all be good... I think. :)

Was I ever so wrong with that "it'll all be good" comment. Today CCP published their first dev blog on high-sec POCO changes. True to CCP Fozzie's word, CCP has not ignored the sink. It's still there. The NPC tax rate will remain 10% even if the customs office is player owned. There will be a new skill to train that could reduce that by 50%, but never fear, the sink remains intact.

The income the POCO owner gets is IN ADDITION to the the NPC tax rate. Yeah, I'm completely at a loss for appropriate verbiage here too. This is supposed to be made more palatable by a reduction in commodity tax rates. I don't think the reduction in commodity rates will do anyone who doesn't own a POCO any favors. The increased cost of the double taxation the rest of us will see will more than overwhelm the small gains we make on commodity rates. You know, I've long suspected that CCP regretted ever implementing Planetary Interaction, but now I know for a fact they do. Why else change the entire dynamic of a game element designed for carebears into one that only profits PvPers? I am not impressed.

You know, paying the potential extra ISK isn't what bothers me most about this. Taxes are a part of life and as inevitable as traffic jams in New York City. You can business plan around taxes. What bothers me most about this is the unprecedented nature of this new mechanism.  When CCP nerfed datacore mining, the extra charge for claiming the datacores went into the sink, not other player's pockets. When they nerfed Incursion running, they simply reduced the payouts, they didn't give them to other players. With LP farming, they modified the mechanism, but they did not reward other players directly by doing it. And these three things remained PvE in essence. They were not converted to a PvP mechanic - except LP farming which was one previously. Why is PI being handled so differently? Why not control the faucet by means used before, rather than creating a new source of income for those too lazy to earn it the hard way?

Once upon a time I made the statement carebears don't exist to facilitate other play styles. I think I was mistaken. Evidently that's exactly why carebears exist in CCP's mind. Why else would they take the money from carebear pockets and put it into PvP pockets? And to make matters worse, they have tied the ownership of POCOs directly to the war declaration system. The only way you can take out a player owned POCO is to declare war against the owner - the entire damned alliance.
"Once a POCO is in place, players can make a legal attack only if they’re at war with the owning corporation. Attacking without an active war on the owner will bring CONCORD intervention."
Okay folks, that really plays favorites there. No single person or small industrial corporation could ever profit from declaring war against an alliance of several hundred let alone several thousand. That's a half billion ISK per declaration. Forget it, I could never afford that just to do PI at a reduced tax rate. There is no ROI in it. Players like me will stop doing PI and independant new bros will be excluded with this plan.

No, the only players winning anything here are the large PvP alliances and those few large industrial alliances with enough care-badgers to defend their property - and even that might not be profitable. It's not enough the large PvP alliances have the richest asteroid fields, the best ice, the second most profitable PvE and all the damn moons. They now get a piece of the high-sec PI (pun intended, because at this point my sense of humor is the only thing stopping me from retching.) If you're not part of one of those large alliances, you're screwed. This really does shit on the small time industrialist and those who like to go it alone. I am most certainly NOT in favor of this change as outlined. It isn't even an industry expansion. It's an industry killer. It not only discriminates against my favorite play-style, but it shows me a side of CCP I really hoped wasn't there.

And since people shouldn't bitch if they have no solutions themselves, here's what I suggest CCP do instead of this PI catastrophe.
  • Have a one tax only system: either the tax goes to an NPC corporation (ISK sink) or it goes to the POCO owner; not both.
  • To offset the ISK transfer POCOs create, require a CONCORD contract for POCOs in high-sec. These are won from CONCORD via a blind bidding system (substitute ISK sink.) Make players bid for the right to run POCOs - high bid wins. Some systems are inherently more valuable and will elicit more and higher bids. Less valuable systems will be left to smaller organizations to exploit. Everyone gets a niche. The ISK paid for the contract can be replaced with enough dedicated PI done on the planets so owned - but they will have to be worked to ensure this happens.
  • Replace the war dec mechanic with this contract system. Set a limit on how often POCO owners can rotate. Give the new owner three months to recoup the bid cost before CONCORD opens bids for that system again. To keep the POCOs, the current owner must participate in the next bid cycle or fight for it as outlined next.
  • Once a contract is awarded, the winner has a week to take down the existing POCOs (unless the winner is the previous owner.) If they do not, ownership remains with the current owner (for free!) The winning bid is forfeit regardless of this outcome. If a current owner loses the bid, they can still keep the POCOs if they successfully defend them. Combat WILL ensue.
  • Rinse, lather and repeat every three months: boom, BOOM and KA-BOOM without any play style blatantly discriminated against.
This would be far more fun, and involve much more devious planning, than the current proposal where the 900 pound gorilla wins every time. It retains the spaceship combat element by requiring the new contract awardee to replace the POCOs within a week. Hell, I'll wager it'll make them even more hotly contested. If the current owner can prevent their destruction, they keep them for free! Corporations or alliances that are not huge PvPers but are rich could bid high to win and hire mercenaries to destroy the old POCOs if they like. Then don't bid to keep them and hire the same mercenaries to defend them three months later. It's a win-win!

Regardless of who fights and who pays,  ISK will be sunk every quarter and ships will blow up every quarter. With over 10,000 plus systems, there'll be constant combat in high-sec. But lots of combat is only likely for very valuable systems like Sobaseki. The less valuable systems could be quiet backwaters for the smaller corporations and alliances to exploit. They wouldn't automatically be excluded by the mechanic as would be the case if CCP continues on their current misguided course.

The war-dec oriented system only helps those with large numbers and vast fleets. Those aren't the people who really want to do PI now are they? I believe my idea is far more equitable in that regard. I also feel it is more in line with past game mechanic change precedents. To me it also expresses the spirit of Eve Online better. It provides several approaches to participating in the PI game and allows greater sandbox play. Thinking outside the box could really pay off for those with bidding savvy. If CCP stays their current course for high-sec PI, the game will become nothing more than who can blob the best. We deserve better than that.

Watch Out

23 comments:

  1. Yep. I've been saying this since COCOs (CORPORATION-owned, players don't own these) were invented. This is the inevitable progression of screwing the independent.

    Happy to be in a wormhole corp - that was my answer to finding a corp where I could ignore stupid PI changes. Now I guess I'll just sit back and wait for the commodity prices to go up.

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  2. Excellent post!

    Read my take on it here: http://merchantmonarchy.blogspot.ca/2013/10/hi-sec-pocos-dead-on-arrival.html?showComment=1380698017165#c7474782764068184249

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  3. Solo PI in a wormhole remains eminently do-able. I've twice set up in w-space. First time solo in a C1 with a null static, second time I shared the hole with (after a few initial hostilities) an amicable corp - C1 with low sec static.

    I never have sympathy with objection to a change where there is a do-able workaround. Anyone CAN do PI. Solo, After Rubicon launches. Many people will have to adapt but that's what a sandbox game is about.

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    1. Agreed. Lower-level wspace, in particular C1, is a fine place to farm PI. C2 and C3 get a fair amount of traffic -- you'll be hunted from time to time doing PI there. But C1 does not interconnect often to the rest of wspace. You can farm there in, if not peace, at least fair safety. And that was true even before the effect of the triple-stabbed Epithal on PI.

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  4. I'm still for POCOs in high sec even with those "big grefing alliances/colition" issue.

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  5. You WAY overestimate the highsec power of Goons and other null entities. They are built on the 1 FC + 1000 F1 drones model. That doesn't work well in a place where the rules of engagement are complicated and a bad move gets you concorded.

    Noir is more likely to get a serious POCO empire.

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  6. As a "new" player I trained the skills, scanned dozens of planets, grinded missions to get the ISK and finally get all up and running. And now? Double taxation and even more pointless HiSec wars. By no means I'm getting space-rich doing HS-PI, why cut my already low income down even further?

    I will not join a big corp to get back what I already build. I'd rather burn the bridge then pay the toll.

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  7. We can always hope Goon Inc will see this as a new broken mechanic and exploit it. Imagine a PI intervention where they take over about 3000 hisec POCOs and raise the tax to 90%. And unlike ice interdictions that require people to hang out in ice fields, the POCOs stay and the number of them can accumulate until they strangle almost all hisec PI...and make a ton of ISK on the resulting price increase. Although Jester alluded to a CSM member saying "relax," everyone should see this coming.

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  8. I dint even read this all the way through... and my take is threefold...

    (1) WORMHOLES DAMMIT
    (2) This is the FIRST really intelligent post I have ever seen that totally backs up Dimsdale...
    (3) WORMHOLES DAMMIT (Somebody please tell me WHY it was a "good" idea to leave Anoikis?) (keeping in mind I haven't...) ('course I haven't logged on in weeks either...) (wonder how much my nullversion has to do with THAT...) (why am I writing like this...?)

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  9. Aren't High Sec COs currently 17%? Or is that the base Interbus rate for Low/Null/WH CO's that haven't been replaced by POCOs yet? I know I have seen 17% on some NPC CO, but I don't do PI in high sec, so I could just be confused.

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    1. nope they are 10% for export and 5% for import

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  10. Guess all my tinfoil hattery about how CCP is run by the null sec cartels is turning out to be accurate. If you look at what Noizy_Gamer said on his blogs about the value of RMT in the game, and compare it to other games, it all starts coming together.

    goons leadership makes a LOT of real money off of Eve, and this PI thing is just the latest gambit. Wait until NPC stations are able to be conquered by the in-game cartels. It is very clear that Seagull's vision of a completely player driven economy meshes perfectly with the RMT cartels' desires.

    What is happening in null will eventually be brought to low sec, and then high sec.

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  11. Yeah, all this does is give yet another boost to null and low. I'm completely against it, and I live in a wormhole.

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  12. "The war-dec oriented system only helps those with large numbers and vast fleets. Those aren't the people who really want to do PI now are they?"

    Isn't this really the point. Large alliances don't *do* PI. PI is done by the individuals and those individuals don't belong to those organizations in high-sec for the most part. So what would be the point of investing *billions* of ISK in building massive numbers of high-sec POCOs only to set their taxes so high that it drives PI industrialists out of the area? There can't possible be enough members of these organizations to get all the ISK out of those planets. Alternatively, if they price their taxes equivalent to what they are now (after the new NPC tax is taken into account), the actual PI industrialist won't even notice the change but the alliance is enjoying a new stream of income.

    I think you'll see two things happen. First, yes, some large alliances are going to snatch up the really really good planets in high-sec and they're probably going to defend them very well. Second, large numbers of smaller alliances/corps are going to snatch up many other POCOs to reduce their tax and either makes some additional tax income or tax others off their planets. The conflict will likely happen far more between the little guys for exactly the reasons you put forward, but really, what's the loss if a large organization does take over a % of the POCOs? It isn't going to drive people out of PI and if it does, it should drive them into different areas to do PI which, perhaps, is what CCP wants all along.

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  13. Honestly this would be a great argument to lower war dec costs. Since war decing an alliance is likely going to cost more than holding the poco for a month or so, how are any smaller entities supposed to actually participate in this.

    Sure there are several small corps and such with stockpiles of isk and whatnot but for the average hisec corp I wouldn't expect them to actually participate in this. They would pay several times what the poco would give them just for a chance to what? Change the tax rate for a short time until the larger group evicts them again?

    I do approve of that though, it means wars are actually fought over something now. But the cost needs to be massively reduced so people will but able to profit from a war or holding a poco. Having to war dec someone like E Uni, Goonswarm, BNI, etc costs far too much if you can't even make that isk back via cranking up the tax to 100% for a week.

    The silent biding system is a waste imo, it doesn't increase the amount of activity in hisec at all.

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  14. You are way overreacting here.

    First, the idea that "carebears" are being screwed here is wrong. Carebear PIers are getting their taxes chopped dramatically, to less than half the current level, just for learning a skill. Then the new COCO owners (actually will be AOCO in effect), will tax whatever they tax. I expect one alliance to dominate highsec; that alliance will thus have the incentive to keep taxes low enough to maximize their income. Do recall that there is plenty of competition not just in highsec but in other places. But perhaps I am wrong, and there will be lots of owners of COCOs; there, again, there is competition. Direct competition this time: get a 15% rate from Goon-owned Sobaseki or 10% in RvB-owned Poinen.

    So I think carebears will see lower rates, not higher. But even if the effective tax rates do increase somewhat, do recall there is a market here. Highsec will become less marginally less competitive with other areas. To the extent that any PI good is currently created mostly in highsec, it probably still will be; the difference is its price will be higher.

    Second, even assuming I am correct that there will be one, large owner of all COCOs, the fact that ISK are being gained by this group has practically no effect on highsec carebears. This ISK is doing two things: (1) paying for the massed battleship fleet that fights in highsec for ownership of COCOs, and (2) maybe being siphoned out to null. Item (2) may well be bad for everyone not Goon in the coming blue donut. But it affects highsec carebears not at all. Item (1) is a boon to highsec industry.

    I agree with you that large alliances will get an undeserved boost from the linkage to the wardec system. Personally, I'd prefer that attacking COCOs give a criminal flag. (Ditto for attacking POSes.) But in any case, your argument here is not with the COCO system as such but the wardec system. And wardecs are indeed ridiculous. The wardec system is a failure because it has no evident purpose beyond "war is cool".

    I find your argument that CCP should never convert farming mechanics into PVP mechanics to be laughable. Farming does not keep people in the game. People get tired of mining eventually (with me it took about 1 day). PVP is good. It is fun; it is why most people play EVE; it is the profit center for CCP. Why shouldn't they convert any and all farm mechanics into PVP if it is reasonable? Certainly the idea that corps are now allowed private property in highsec is not unreasonable.

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  15. Its not a case of 'screwing the independent'. I am an independent - I run a player corp with a few other independent folks. We're setup in a way that the only point of the corp is to avoid NPC taxes. Honestly, it ain't that hard.

    Its a case of trying to get experienced folks out of NPC corporations into player owned corporations.

    This entire ENTIRE argument is made by someone who doesn't want to play a MMO game with other players. Yes, small corps get wardecced. Deal with it. Join an alliance, you're harder to wardec.

    There is no reason for anyone to stay in an NPC coproration once they have their feet under them. These taxes were INTENDED by CCP to encourage experienced folks out of NPC corps.

    The sooner some folks put on their big boy pants and quit whining that their parents (npc corp) have decided to charge them rent (taxes) for staying too long in their basement (npc corp).

    Move out already. There is this thing called sunshine. And if you're going to make the point that 'all game play styles are equally valid' just remember, these taxes are the price you pay for your isolationist play style.

    In regards to POCOs in hisec - I agree that there will be corporations and players that will revel in their ability to run around wardeccing corps that have invested in POCOs. Good.

    Good? If I do PI in high sec, does this mean I will need to negotiate with the player that currently has a POCO on my planet? Yup. What if he says no? They either put on your big boy pants and force the issue, collect your PI via launches, or pull your PI and run to another system.

    Just like your mining can be affected by war decs. Why should PI be immune to war ?

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    1. You need to catch up on my profile a bit. I actually live in null now and am a member of a 700 person alliance. Before that I lived in wormholes. I haven't been a lone-wolf high-sec dweller in over a year. But when I did dwell in high-sec, I had a single person corporation. Yet, I still had TONS of contacts and friends in Eve Online. I started this blog while I was supposedly "someone who doesn't want to play a MMO game with other players." Just because I like to see a corporate wallet that I am completely responsible for doesn't mean I'm not playing with other people. I am, all the time, and I mostly like it. Let's not confuse a lone-wolf play style with anti-MMO behavior. They are not synonymous.

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    2. "Yes, small corps get wardecced. Deal with it. Join an alliance, you're harder to wardec."
      Small depends on your POV and being in a small alliance increases your chances of getting a DoW without even being involved.

      I'm fine with getting suicide ganked by a dozen tornados or even wardecced by some goliath as it involves taking risks. But feeding on my work this way seems not very balanced(almost wrote "fair" in a comment about eve *g*)

      New Order of COCOS anyone?

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  16. I am not even in a corp. So now it looks like I won't even be able to do PI in high sec like I am today. Thanks for nothing CCP.

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  17. with wry amusement, I realised that there will be the space graffiti types who just blow the CO's for the follow NOT reasons:

    - to put up their own.
    - gank someone attempting to replace with poco
    - because they PI elsewhere and put pressure on competition

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surplus_killing

    someone should edit to for a reference to Eve.

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  18. Before we get too scared, has anyone looked at the economics? Extractive Hi-Sec PI doesn't exactly leaving you rolling in ISK, POCOs can be avoided by can-launching and each POCO will cost (my guestimate) ~100 million -- what will the ROI be? And they-who-should-not-be-named rarely do anything unless there's profit in it.

    What it will hurt are the high-tech and factory setups, where the POCO must be used to import and items can be taxed both in and out. So I can see a situation where the "independents" concentrate on P1/P2 production, and sell to the "corp" factories for further processing.

    And a suggestion for what would make things more interesting -- player-taken taxes are in kind, not ISK. Export 100 units of Toxic Metals @ 10% tax and you get 90 units while the POCO keeps 10. Then the POCO owner will have to collect and market the materials, having to put some time and effort into their income, and we open up another source of conflict -- wouldn't we all like to "Robin Hood" the taxman as he passed?

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Be civil, be responsible and most of all be kind. I will not tolerate poor form. There will be no James Hooks here. We are all better than that.