More than 6,000 gamers logged on to play Eve Online Tuesday for a “million-dollar battle” in which gamers risked real-world money for the chance to gain virtual mastery within the in-game universe.
The interstellar-fighting game, which pitted spaceships worth an estimated $1 million on each side of the two main alliances, ended in victory for the Moneybadger Coalition, who defended their Keepstar space station, defeating for the Imperium alliance, also known as the Clusterfuck Corporation.
The previous sentence might not make much sense to you, so here’s some context.
Eve Online is not Mario Kart. It's not a game you can pick up and play for an hour or two. It requires a huge amount of time to master. Icelandic developer CCP Games has built a loyal subscriber base that not only spend hundreds of hours playing the game but also spend a lot of money building their fleets.
Players can convert real-world currency for ISK, the in-game currency used to upgrade ships and characters. According to one prominent player, Tuesday’s battle of 9-4R saw competing sides risk the destruction of ships costing an estimated $1 million to build.
One supporter of the Chinese player group Fraternity Coalition spent $70,000 in the last two months to build up the group’s fleet.
The game’s previous largest battle, known as the Bloodbath of B-R5RB, took place in 2014 and saw 2,000 players participate in a fight that destroyed ships worth around $300,000.
Unlike other massively multiplayer online video games with multiple instances of the game universe, Eve Online players log on to a single server. While this creates a unique gameplay experience, it also causes problems at peak times and the server was unable to handle the huge influx of players during Tuesday’s showdown.
It meant that many gamers were unable to gain access to the New Eden universe.
Ultimately, 9-4R proved a damp squib, with neither side suffering major losses. One estimate suggested the damage caused was as little as $3,300.
One of the winning Moneybadger Coalition players complained afterwards that the game’s mechanics make it almost impossible for an attacking side to win.
Yet the gamers will return, part of their fanatical devotion to Eve Online.
Every year in Reykjavik they gather for FanFest to celebrate everything that happens in New Eden. Players typically dress like characters from the game, sit for hours to have their fleet’s logo tattooed, watch the game’s developers fight a UFC champion, or even get married.
Cover image: A visitor looks at a demonstration of the video game EVE Online during an exhibition preview featuring 14 video games acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, March 1, 2013. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)