Perspective is a good thing. In order to gain some, we are pleased to present this opinion piece from former Goonswarm Director of Recon and veteran Schwa, concerning the recent casino debate. Schwa is well acknowledged in the community, known for his own brand of – sometimes unpopular, but always honest – opinions on matters. Agree or disagree with his viewpoints, let it be known in the comments section.
Initially I was simply going to reply to Ashterothi’s reddit post where he announces his departure from Talking In Stations as a result of his displeasure with the tone of the most recent Meta Show. I went back and re-watched the show, as well as listening to TiS episode where the casino issue gets discussed, reading CZ’s editorial comment, and several reddit posts on the matter. I find that I don’t really fully agree with anybody. It seems clear to me that everybody involved is letting their bias and agenda shape their opinion. I suppose the mistake is expecting people to ignore their biases.
Ashterothi’s post explicitly says that The Mittani said that Eve-Bet was tainted by RMT. This is factually incorrect, as he states many times that as Eve-Bet escaped CCP’s ban hammer, there’s no reason to believe that they were involved in RMT. The message I took from the Meta Show was that IWantIsk, their associated bankers, and specifically 1ronbank, Lenny and Bobmon were the “liars and criminals”, and not people who were sponsored by them. (I can hear the reddit screams already. I know Lenny insists that he is not banned, just suspended pending investigation. Place me squarely in the skeptical-as-fuck column.) I also fully agree with The Mittani’s assertion that Bobmon is quite transparent in his operation of EN24 and lobbying efforts in support of IWI. EN24 is effectively the Fox News of New Eden, and he is its Sean Hannity. But maybe that’s just my own bias making me interpret his statements differently than Ashterothi did.
However, that is not to say I agree with everything The Mittani said on that Meta Show episode. He stated that Crossing Zebras has been funded by IWI. My understanding was that CZ’s only sponsor has been Eve-Bet, and Niden confirmed that to me in a private chat. I also don’t agree that CZ has an inherently anti-Goon/anti-Imperium bias. I find The Mittani’s complaints about CZ very similar to that of a conservative American politician complaining that CNN has a liberal bias. The truth is that CNN of course does not have a liberal bias, they have a ratings bias. They’ll put anything on that will get them more viewers, and as a result more money.
political balance on an Eve news site isn’t necessarily a virtue
I feel that CZ has a very similar self-interest. CZ is willing to publish stories from writers who have pro-Imperium leanings. I know this, because not only are they publishing this story where I am critical of them, but they published a previous story I wrote about the Eve community on reddit. They were also willing to publish two other stories I had begun to write. In the end, I decided to pull the plug on both of those pieces, because I was not happy with my own writing. But they were still willing to run them. CZ was definitely happy to publish many stories that were very critical of The Imperium and its leadership, but I believe it was out of a desire to push content to their site that would attract readers. Despite CZ Founder Xander Phoena’s very public spats with former Imperium Chief of Staff Sion Kumitomo, I honestly feel like CZ does not have a bias against The Imperium. I wouldn’t say they have been balanced, but political balance on an Eve news site isn’t necessarily a virtue. They don’t owe equal column inches to each “side”.
This leads me to CZ Editor-in-Chief Niden. He’s worked very hard to make CZ a quality site, and has done a very admirable job. However, when I read his editorial on the gambling ban, and listened to him on TIS, it’s quite clear to me that his own self interest in managing CZ has blinded him on the gambling issue. I’m not interested in digging into the moral issue of gambling, the legal issues related to CS:GO skins, or IWI’s laughable threats of suing CCP, but rather its effect on Eve Online: The Actual Video Game.
As Elise Randolph said in his reddit post, Eve casinos are as massive source of ISK that is uncounterable by game play. This was also repeated by The Mittani, and is of course objectively true. My understanding is that the amount of liquid ISK removed by CCP’s recent RMT ban was north of 30T. That is a staggering sum of ISK. For comparison, the entirety of the famous B-R5RB battle was 11T.
When you collect that much ISK, you’re really only left with a couple of viable options. Yes, you can sponsor all the fan sites, streamers, and meetups you want. But that isn’t going to come close to using all your ISK. As stated by Nashh Kadavr on TIS, they’ve given away 2T in prizes through Eve NT over the years. So after doing all the sponsorships you want, that still leaves you with a massive sum of ISK.
the damage done to the actual game itself by casinos is far more harmful
You can then either try to RMT it, like IWI and SomerBlink before them, or you can use it to meddle in the sandbox, like was done earlier this year. Given that there is no way to counteract the effects of nearly unlimited casino ISK with in-game strategies, I feel most objective observers would say that it is not healthy for the game. And of course RMT is universally despised. When Niden laments the loss of casino ISK to fund sites like CZ, it seems clear to me that he is ignoring the fact that the damage done to the actual game itself by casinos is far more harmful.
I haven’t really seen anyone running to the defense of IWI or its bankers. Nearly everyone accepts CCP’s ruling that they were guilty of large scale RMT, and is just fine with them being banned. This has even had a run-on effect of tainting the public perception of the Care4Kids alliance in Eve, and its associated charity citadel project. Given Lenny’s heavy involvement in it, and a ratting fit Nyx killmail that paints it as a Russian renter/botter money laundering racket, the comments on social media have turned sour.
But I have seen significant wailing and gnashing of teeth about the loss of Eve-Bet. I myself am a long time customer of Eve-Bet. It’s PR frontman is Eve community legend and all around super-rad dude Bam Stroker. I have every reason to believe they were not at all involved with RMT, and they quite clearly sponsored about every single community activity they could. But still, they are a big and uncounterable source of ISK that can potentially have a dramatic impact on the outcome of the game.
As Eve players, our priority should be making sure that the actual game itself is as good as it can be. Casino ISK has a very detrimental effect on that. And while this has some collateral damage to sites like CZ, those sites will find other sources of funding, and even people willing to contribute content without ISK compensation. In my opinion, the collateral damage is a sad necessity.
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