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EVE Online Catastrophe

The balance of power in EVE Online shifted suddenly late last week, in a move dubbed the "Grand Theft Alliance Drama." The nearest real world equivalent is a little like the fall of the Berlin Wall, and a little like the collapse of Enron, but mostly like neither of those things. Part of the reason the story is so engrossing is that it really has no real world equivalent - although you can see how it some day might. In a nutshell: for ages and ages, most of the gamespace in the EVE Online MMORPG has been controlled by one of two alliances: Band of Brothers (BoB) and GoonSwarm (spawned from the Something Awful forums). This situation could legitimately be called a stalemate, although many EVE players dispute the term and prefer "balance of power" instead. (See the Slashdot comments for this and many other disputes on the situation.) EVE Online runs with a structure not unlike Corporate America. Think of BoB and GoonSwarm as Coke and Pepsi. The EVE equivalent of a high-ranking executive officer with BoB essentially defected to the opposition, gutting BoB in the process. Imagine if Coke's COO were to defect to Pepsi, in the process transferring all of Coke's earnings and holdings into Pepsi's name, transferring ownership of the "Coke" name and trademark to Pepsi so that Coke can't use it anymore, and unlocking all of the Coke machines across the country in the process. The fallout from this move has been immense, as you might imagine. Popular reaction seems to fall into two basic camps. The first camp is focused on how to proceed going forward. A lot of smaller corporations which used to fall under the BoB umbrella (like Coca-Cola subsidiary companies such as Nestea and Snapple) are scrambling to form new alliances, now that they lack the protection which BoB used to provide for them. The second camp is focusing its attention on snapping up all of the now-undefended territory which used to be held by BoB. The course of events seems to hinge entirely on one player, Haargoth Agamar, a director of Black Nova Corp. It isn't entirely true to say that Agamar defected to GoonSwarm, or that he was recruited. The truth is somewhat more complicated. GoonSwarm is known for running recruitment schemes wherein BoB players are encouraged to defect, at which point GoonSwarm seizes all of their holdings and kicks them out. In this case, Agamar decided that he liked GoonSwarm better than BoB, and asked to stay. Many non-EVE players are horrified that the entire balance of the game could shift so dramatically with one fell swoop. EVE players on the other hand feel that this is the game's greatest strength. As horrifying as it may be to watch BoB being dismantled (sometimes violently), this is also a boon for players who have felt that they have been stuck on the fringes for too long. Massively has been covering the story with updates from the beginning. Their coverage can be found here.