I struggle with writing anything coherent about things I don’t care about much, or have little stake in. However, there are a couple niche areas of the game that I value very highly. For the past year that now includes all things boosters (combat drugs, not the off grid kind). The harvesting, production and black market sales of these in game items, and the fact that a game has mechanics to allow for virtual “dealing” has increased my immersion and enjoyment of Eve Online. It’s a career path in Eve that is deceptively easy to get into, but has great depth once you progress through it. Backroom chats, covert mining, complex (unintuitive) lowsec production, PvE and diplomacy all play a role. It also makes use of the contract system beyond alliance pre-fit ships and firesales. Harvesting materials even gives a tangible reason for pilots to venture out into nullsec for something other than a sov grind (#contentcreation).
In my last post before letting this blog fade away, Fanfest had just occurred. I noticed in a lowsec roundtable recap that booster contraband status was mentioned as being something that should be changed, specifically removing contraband status outright. At the time a few corp mates and I approached Sugar Kyle to point out that there would be collateral damage if contraband status is removed and boosters are easily moved around. A dialogue was briefly opened and discussion occurred before fading away during the summer lull. Bigger things such as Aegis sov were still being hammered out.
As seen in this post it appears removing contraband status for boosters is still on Sugar Kyle’s to-do list. I’d like to publicly reopen the discussion on changing these mechanics and voice my opposition to the removal of contraband status.
I want to preemptively state that any readers thinking that I’m arguing from a position of self preservation and fighting change are absolutely correct. However, boosters aren’t exactly big business when factoring in overhead and removing contraband status would mean more sales and more money to current sellers. Anyone in booster production knows that selling product is the big bottleneck in the business. This post by Charlinda Akheteru, a newcomer to booster production, illustrates the struggles of finding customers for a new producer on the market.
While I’m arguing against removing contraband status, I do welcome a change of mechanics. Many ideas have been floated around in the past: the ability for players to act as customs agents, more complex AI on customs NPCs (addition of Drifter chasing AI), cargo bay scan strength mechanic to add fitting decisions for ships wanting to move contraband (and the removal of complete scan immunity on blockade runners), a more dynamic and complex fining mechanic that doesn’t pull from the regional market and allows the use of force to escape customs officers. Anything that’s a change to the system is preferable to gutting the contraband mechanic with no replacement.
The current system as it stands is not very sexy, but it does one thing correctly. It has spurred the creation of a black market of items that are often, but not exclusively, bought and sold through face to face interaction between buyers and sellers without the buffer of market orders in NPC stations. I simply cannot support the homogenization of boosters into the general market simply so players can buy and use them as easily as ammunition, no matter how lucrative it could make boosters.
The argument that the current mechanics are broken or unusable doesn’t hold water. There are whole corps that have made a living selling boosters black market style. The biggest crime of the mechanics is that they are opaque, vaguely defined and hard to understand. That pretty much explains the vast majority of Eve, and is something that can be changed without scrapping the mechanics.
Sugar Kyle is one of my favorite personalities within the community and has been a great CSM. I’m not thrilled to be so vehemently opposed to a cause that she has championed but I truly believe she is missing the mark here. The short term gain of ‘boosters for everyone!’ is negated by the dispersing of niche communities and markets that are healthy for the game. Communities that I have been a part of for a year and have vested interest in keeping healthy.
PS- Any reader that has a comment about this please feel free to evemail the character Zenshift in game. If you’re interested in purchasing boosters, join Narcotics channel in game.