EVE Online political betrayal results in record-breaking theft

The EVE Online twitterverse exploded late last night with the news of a political twist so enormous that it’s become the largest recorded theft of in-game assets in the game’s history. In the middle of the night and without warning, major EVE military alliance Circle of Two (or CO2 for short) was betrayed by its diplomatic officer, a player with the ominous name of The Judge. In addition to cleaning out the alliance war funds and assets to the tune of over a trillion ISK, The Judge also transferred ownership of CO2’s 300 billion ISK keepstar citadel in its capital star system of 68FT-6 to a holding corporation, effectively stealing the alliance’s home space station.

News of The Judge’s betrayal trickled out of EVE all through the night, and it wasn’t long before the full extent of the incident was known. The 68FT-6 keepstar was sold to enemy alliance Goonswarm Federation, while CO2’s smaller citadels throughout Impass are now in the hands of TEST Alliance. The theft combined with the value of the citadels is estimated at over 1.5 trillion ISK, easily beating the 2011 trillion ISK Phaser Inc scam to become the highest-value theft in EVE‘s history. The actual damage done is even more extensive, injecting a huge dose of chaos into CO2 alliance and throwing fuel on the fire of the southern war.

Read on for a detailed breakdown of last night’s record-breaking theft, the reasons behind the betrayal, and the political situation that led us here.

A tale of two villains

In an open letter to Circle of Two on Reddit last night, The Judge attempted to justify his betrayal to the EVE community. He claimed that his counterpart gigX had grown to hate the development direction CCP was taking EVE in, and thinks that “gigX needs to let CO2 die and move on with his life.” He also admitted that the theft was partly done because he’d put so much into CO2 over the years and wanted “to leave with something to show for it.”

The Judge claims that he plans to use his ill-gotten gains to now help CO2 line members directly harmed by his theft, but that will be of little comfort to the thousands of players who have logged in to find their home stations in the hands of the enemy.

On the other side of the incident, gigX himself went into something of a rage when he logged in to find the theft had taken place. He was permanently banned today for trying to find The Judge’s real life home address and threatening to seriously harm him in real life. Before being banned, gigX removed the Balkan Mafia corp that both he and The Judge were members of from the CO2 alliance. This was probably a response to The Judge streaming the alliance chat live to twitch, but some of the threats made against him had already been seen by hundreds of players and reported to CCP.

The politics of theft

This betrayal came as a surprise to most of EVE, but it may actually have had its roots in the massive World War Bee conflict we reported on last year. Circle of Two severed ties with The Imperium quite early in the war with accusations that ally Goonswarm Federation was just using CO2 as a meatshield. The Judge claims that several key leadership members left after the war and others went inactive, but also admits that he himself has been spending more time on CSM duties lately.

It’s quite messy then that this theft was reportedly planned with assistance from Goonswarm. Goonswarm has now joined forces with TEST Alliance, who severed diplomatic ties with CO2 last month, to take advantage of the situation. The group has set up a hell camp with warp disruption bubbles around the 68FT-6 keepstar and is killing any members of CO2 who undock.

While stories of political intrigue are a big part of what makes EVE special, many nullsec players are actually furious with this situation. The war in the south was shaping up to be some great PvP content and a real conclusive test of citadel warfare in the absence of serious metagaming, and the fight over the 68FT-6 keepstar could have been amazing.

What does this mean for CO2?

Circle of Two is still currently one of the largest military alliances in the game, with just under 4,000 members and sizeable territory in the Impass region in the south of EVE. Membership dropped a little this morning when several corporations left following the theft and could fall further as individual corporations react. This betrayal could be either the start of a death spiral for the alliance or the rallying cry that gets the remaining line members to pull together, but it certainly spells disaster for the alliance’s immediate war ambitions.

It now seems certain that CO2 will lose its territory in Impass and Catch and will have to rebuild even if it survives as an alliance. Not only is the alliance’s war fund gone, but alliance members’ own assets are now locked down in stations they can’t access any more. Their choices are to conduct a firesale of their assets to the station’s new owners or manually activate the citadel’s Asset Safety system to automatically evacuate their stuff.

Asset safety would deliver everything to the nearest station in low-security space risk-free, but it takes five days to complete and costs 15% of the value of the assets being transported. That’s a hell of a financial hit for those in CO2 who have been using the citadel as their main home in EVE, and those with assets in legacy outposts don’t even have an asset safety system to fall back on.

For more information, be sure to check out Jin’taan’s expert analysis of the incident, which includes details of how it affects the ongoing war in the south of EVE and interviews with both The Judge and CO2 fleet commander Beppe:

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douglas Carroll

This is the reason why will never play EVE. Way too many ways to screw people over blowing up 10’s if not hundreds of thousands of hours of cumulative play.

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Jacobin GW

How is this a tale of politics and intrigue? A guy with bank permissions stole from his guild and skerwed over his fellow members who spent many hours farming. Hardly unique to eve and is just a d move, not something to be proud of.

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Castagere Shaikura

Its strange how every scam that happens in this game gets posted on every game site. Its like they are celebrating players getting screwed over. All it is is free publicity for the game. Gaming culture really is screwed up,

Valen Sinclair
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Valen Sinclair

I love the backstabbing drama surrounding this game. Every time I’ve tried it (4 now) I’ve either fallen asleep, gotten hopelessly lost in a menu until I alt-F4’d or been chain ganked. Hate the game, love the drama.

April-Rain
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April-Rain

Brilliant, but I prefer to read about the Goons getting stuffed.

Andrew Groen’s Empires of EVE book is amazing by the way and well worth a read!

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Reginald Atkins

I could never play this game, but it’s seriously fun to read about… hope someone is doing a book on all this amazing player-generated intrigue.

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Loopy

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Kevin McCaughey

I would love to be playing EvE, but it just is so much of a full-time job. It took over my life and I had to walk away.

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netsky999

I hope one day playing an mmo could be worthy as a regular job for the user, not just the company

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Kala Mona

I know that feel bro. I realized I need to stop this when I had to wake up at dawn to defend some kind of an invasion and I fell asleep on the keyboard.

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Roger Melly

I don’t play EVE but can I ask is there a way for ISK to have a real life money value ?

This is an interesting one because it brings up the theft of virtual goods . At present as far as I can tell after a quick search on google it seems this is a bit of a legal grey area but that could change soon .

Some people would argue this is just part of EVE’s gameplay but I would disagree with that because it is not like fighting a player in pvp and losing whatever you are carrying to him or her . That is part of the game’s mechanics this is not .

Obviously not every theft could prosecuted but especially in cases where virtual goods = real life money then legally speaking it could be argued that a crime has been committed and a prosecution be made .

In 2009 Dutch judges convicted several minors for theft of virtual items in the virtual worlds of online multiplayer computer games. From a legal point of view these convictions gave rise to the question whether virtual items should count as “objects” that can be “stolen” under criminal law.

Personally I would love to see this player “the Judge” actually have to face a real judge sometime in the near future for his actions but I doubt that will happen but you can be sure it will happen to many like him in the near future as the theft of virtual good becomes enshrined in law as a criminal act in many countries . ( after all it has already happened in the Netherlands )

possum440 .
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possum440 .

Don’t believe it for one second. Just more pre-planned BS by a couple folks that were tired of the game and left.

The hissy fit, all planned out, the guy was leaving, he doesn’t care about a ban, his accomplice, the judge, same thing. Just more eve propaganda to try and make the game sound better than it is. This was all planned hype. Simply typical.

No sale. The simple explanations are the most reliable.

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nobleeinherjar

My initial reaction to this was, “Wow, what kind of sociopath does it take to do this to people they call friends?”

But after reading The Judge’s message and doing a little research into the matter, I can’t say I entirely blame him. I’m not going to say who is right and who is wrong, but this was a good reminder for me that most things don’t exist in a vacuum.