Why EVE Online Doesn’t Have Spaceships for In-Game Reporters

EVE Online Tiamat release, February 2015

We’re here from CNN. Really. (Image: CCP Games)

EVE Online is an online universe where players don’t have a specific mission or goal; that’s what it means to be a sandbox game. They can amass power. Amass in game money. Spy on other players and wreak havoc on carefully thought out plans. They can even run cons. Plus, EVE is has loads of people, which is why a whole new sector of journalism covering the game has opened up. We recently explored that sector and interviewed the editor of EveNews24 a top site covering the game universe.

If sites covering the events inside EVE Online—such as EveNews24, The Mittani and Crossing Zebras—are enhancing players’ enjoyment of its game and increasing its reach, then why hasn’t CCP, the company that owns and runs EVE, made it easier for the sites covering it to go in and get the story?

Ned Coker, a CCP spokesperson, walked us through some of the reasons why the company hasn’t, for example, created news ships (like an EVE version of a local TV stations traffic helicopter) that could get close to the action but, theoretically, not get shot at.

“We have thought about this sort of thing and we use some ‘news ships’ occasionally to capture video footage on our end—special impervious ships that can neither target other ships or be killed,” Mr. Coker wrote in an email to the Observer. “However, those ships, even if they aren’t outfitted with guns, are tremendously powerful as an intel tool.” In other words, what if a player had access to a news ship but didn’t use it to report a story, but, rather, to spy on a rival alliance?

“The other funny thing about EVE is that unless there were consequences we put in place for shooting a news ship, players would hunt them down just for fun to be honest,” he added.

Also, in EVE, it’s one pilot per ship. If you want to go into space, you have to go in your own ship. A journalist can’t embed with an alliance by riding along inside one of the ships at the center of the fight. Allowing writers to do that would present much of the same problem.

CCP seems to like the fact that people covering the stories in EVE have a little (virtual) skin in the game. “Part of the impressiveness of journalism within EVE is in fact built into the danger of covering fights. Knowing where they are going to occur, getting there through dangerous gatecamps etc,” he wrote.

Some fast, small ships that cloak well get pretty close to impervious news ships, in terms of being hard to kill but also not particularly offensively powerful, Coker told us. He said writers tend to use those fast, cloaking ships on the beat.

Journalism in virtual worlds is not for the faint of heart, as Mr. Coker concluded:

Several of our popular livestreamers sort of specialize in getting intel on when and where big fights are going to happen and making sure they have a cloaked ship parked hundreds of kilometers away from danger. Of course, looking at camera angles, people still will try to fly out to them to decloak them, just as you would an enemy sniper who is broadcasting a video feed of your troop movements.

Here’s an example of some footage that CCP has been able to gather about its own game:

Why EVE Online Doesn’t Have Spaceships for In-Game Reporters