EVE Online Rocked by Mining Bug Scandal

Posted by | December 13, 2008

Not that scandals are anything new to EVE Online, but this one is a big sucker that is sure to impact every major player in the game. Short version; about four years ago, some folks figured out a bug that would cough up mining materials from thin air. They reported it, the company that runs EVE, CCP, ignored the report. So these fine folks continued their activities. And expanded them. Since everything built in the EVE Online universe is made from material mined by other players, pretty much anything that flies has some of these magical exploit materials in it.

There is some evidence CCP knew about the bug, but kept quiet for reasons of their own. The only reason we’re hearing about it is because someone CCP can’t banhammer into silence released a report that suggests the bug exists, while other people who have quit the game have stepped forward to confirm the report’s findings.

Forced to respond, CCP performed the only sort of damage control they know how to do, and banned 70 accounts at last check. Along the way, they also deleted a slew of in-game ships, equipment, and space stations that may or may not be linked to the exploit. Although one of the largest guilds in the game, Band of Brothers, has been confirmed to control over twenty space stations set up in configurations that match the details of the exploit, none of the known bannings or deletions have struck BoB holdings. One can only speculate why.

Early numbers on the amount of exploited material floating around in the EVE Online economy suggests that the exploit more or less was the EVE economy. Given the present carnage, a total collapse of the construction business in EVE isn’t out of the question.

Now, the long version.

One of the most profitable things you can get up to in EVE is called moon mining. You set up a space station near a moon, suck raw ore and minerals out of the moon, and process the stuff through your station. This is both expensive to set up, and terribly vulnerable to attack, so only the most powerful guilds can pull it off. A bug was discovered that allowed people to siphon off ores that didn’t exist in the moon, and turn them into building material without all that expensive processing. This material is then sold on the open market. Phat happy spacebux from nowhere.

Spacebux in EVE Online have real-world value because you can trade them in for game time cards. CCP provides legal and protected means of doing this. In general, about 150-million spacebux are worth about $15 in real money.

The exploit has been carried on for four years, if reports are to be believed, over hundreds of moon mining stations owned by at least two of the major guilds in the game. One of the people who admitted to exploiting the bug put his profits in the thousands of billions of spacebux, which translates into enough real-world money to buy a private island and a small army of hookers to populate it. If other, larger guilds have been exploiting the bug on this scale, the potential in both spacebux and dollars is staggering.

Either way, EVE Online has come a long way from those simpler days of covering up for devs duping items for their favourite guilds. Once again, CCP has done a noble job of proving EVE drama is the best drama.


17 Comments so far
  1. Conrad Nolan Klug
    December 17, 2008 3:08 pm

    Well, the only problem is, that some of the terminology for the game is horribly off. But I understand why. But, I also understand why I lost my Megathron battleship. Disappointing.

  2. Helvetica
    December 17, 2008 3:13 pm

    I for one welcome our EVE drama. I remember when I used to take glances at the EvE Online forums just to get the drama.

    Any more news on why BoB seems to be getting off scott free? (Or has that changed…?)

  3. wow bob is a eve pet
    December 17, 2008 4:23 pm

    bob is eves pet alway have been always will be

  4. bob
    December 17, 2008 5:54 pm

    I like how the long version is like 10 words longer than the short version.

  5. Anon
    December 17, 2008 6:00 pm

    “One of the people who admitted to exploiting the bug put his profits in the thousands of billions of spacebux, which translates into enough real-world money to buy a private island and a small army of hookers to populate it.”

    If 150mil = $15, then 1,500bil = $150000… Not sure what sure what Islands you can buy for that price.

  6. EggnogAdam
    December 17, 2008 6:15 pm

    That is AWESOME! I played EVE for about 2 weeks and I just couldn’t control the shit. Ships. Money. The Chat System. Just too much for me. I can’t believe that this was going on! It’s Awesome! Kudos to the groups that pulled it off!

  7. Nelson Williams
    December 17, 2008 7:23 pm

    Nelson Williams here, thanks for reading our site. If you’re hungry for more delicious drama, why not check out our articles on Age of Conan? Lots of tasty comments on these, too. Here’s part one, wherein the problem is explained; http://www.voxexmachina.com/news/age-of-conan-how-an-mmorpg-dies/ and here you’ll find part two, wherein the author expresses his personal opinion; http://www.voxexmachina.com/news/age-of-conan-what-is-best-in-gaming/

    Enjoy!

  8. Helvetica
    December 17, 2008 7:38 pm

    @Anon, there were actually several small islands clustered around PEI, Canada selling for less than that recently. Not that I’d want to live there — but the idea of buying and owning my own island sounded like a fun Christmas present.

  9. Thomas
    December 18, 2008 9:29 am

    Also to “Anon”. It says thousands of billions, not necessarily 1.5 thousand. It could well be 9 or more thousand. Then then $150,000 USD become $900,000. Also, if like Helvetica said, you can get an island for the $150k you mentioned, you should be able to get some really nice hookers with the rest. ;p

  10. Anarchy8
    December 18, 2008 5:35 pm

    Look up the correct terminology next time–Eve isn’t World of Warcraft, they’re not “guilds” but corporations.

  11. Nit
    December 18, 2008 7:59 pm

    I find it funny how the exploiters claim it’s been going on for 4 years, yet moon mining has not been in the game for 4 years.

  12. Helvetica
    December 18, 2008 8:30 pm

    @Nit, wasn’t Moon Mining added in Exodus, expansion #2, back in November of 2004?

  13. Brian
    December 23, 2008 4:50 pm

    $150,000 for exploiting a bug. The awesome thing about MMO’s is that ingame items and money usually translate to real world money, so lots of players are busting their ass to try to game the system and make actual cash.

  14. benthedorklord
    January 17, 2009 8:21 pm

    okay i don’t think he could quite buy a private island. at most he’d make a few hundred thousand bucks, which certainly isn’t bad.

  15. Kevo
    January 21, 2009 4:10 am

    I’m glad I quit playing that corrupt game! It had such great potential too.

  16. Joe
    March 24, 2009 10:36 pm

    BTW: In recent news, BOB was destroyed from the inside out. The Goonfleet are the undisputed big dogs now.

  17. Joe
    March 24, 2009 10:39 pm

    BTW: there is no legal system to turn EVE ISK (spacebucks) into real-world money. Many have tried and been prosecuted. All you can get is timecards and better characters.

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