Let me make one thing clear right off the bat, though: long term, I think the changes discussed in today's "Carebear 2.0" dev-blog are pretty much all net positives for the game.
But make no mistake: the short term prospects of a substantially higher cost of goods combined with a substantially reduced income for EVE players generally is going to make for a very scary few months. I think we're facing three different situations, which are going to combine and reinforce each other like an evil Voltron.
First, I suspect that the loot tables for mission drops currently look something like this for any given drop:
Meta 0: 52% chanceThat means for any given dropped mod, you've got about an 80% chance of a meta 0 or meta 1 drop. These two types of drops are currently only useful to players for their mineral values and are priced on the market as such. For about 50% of the modules in the game, the meta 2 through meta 4 are also not particularly valuable. There just isn't all that much call for meta Sensor Backup Arrays or Cargo Scanners. Other than the ultra-rares (meta Shield Boost Amplifiers, meta Mining Upgrades), the real money has been in meta guns and missile launchers. Most everything else eventually ends up getting refined, and the bulk of the ISK for missioners from loot has been from the meta 0s.
Meta 1: 26% chance
Meta 2: 13% chance
Meta 3: 6% chance
Meta 4: 3% chance
When it was announced that meta 0s will no longer drop from rats, I naturally assumed that the loot tables would be adjusted and meta 1 through 4 would become more common, similar to what was done with some meta mods in 2010. Not so, says CCP Greyscale:
If we just removed the Meta 0 stuff, we'd end up dropping WAY more Meta 1-4, which isn't desirable, and the only way to resolve this is to alter the table pick rates, which are authored on a per-NPC basis, which would mean recalculating and adjusting every NPC in the game.So instead, in the same posts he says all meta 0 loot drops are becoming metal scraps. Wow.
That means we're being denied even the half-strength nerf on non-Tritanium minerals. We're going to get the full effect of both this and the drone regions nerf in the same patch.
With the changes to rogue drones going in, we're already committing to a mineral supply "shock" in this patch, so we decided when planning this release to roll in the Meta 0 removal at the same time so we only have to go through this process once.So that's shock number one.
At nearly the exact same moment, Helicity Boson and The Mittani are launching Hulkageddon V, which they have promised is going to last for the entire month of May. Goonswarm has also promised that for every 10 Hulks or Mackinaws ganked by a given character, they will pay that character a bonus of 100 million ISK. That's in addition to the regular prizes that are already part and parcel of this event. That's enough money that I suspect even people who've never ganked a soul in their lives are going to get in on it just to try it out. Even with higher mineral prices, that means there's likely to be more hunters than prey during that month.
So, immediately after CCP dries up the two of the biggest sources of high-sec minerals in the game, Hulkageddon will dry up the third. That's shock number two.
Kirith Kodachi is putting his hopes on large scale mining ops. And again in the long term, I think that's a viable strategy. Shorter term, I don't think it's going to happen that way. The inflation of the average EVE player's skill-point count means that there are a surplus of cloaky and Black Ops pilots out there just dying to drop in on a large mining op. And the low- and null-sec miners know this. Most will refuse to start a mining op if there's even a single neutral in Local because they realize that neutral is likely to be a stealth bomber with a Covert Cynosural Field Generator fitted. That one in Local could nearly-instantly become 20 or 30 in Local, each capable of pointing up a Hulk and ruining a mining op's day.
So initially, I don't think we're going to see a lot more low- or null-sec mining either. That's shock number three.
So where's the ore going to come from? Over the next few months, I think the bulk of the high-ends are going to come out of wormhole space. You can't covert drop on a wormhole mining op. And the more-controlled nature of the warp-ins means that I think we'll see a lot of bubbled-up grav sites in w-space. Sure, Hulks will get caught there, but not nearly as many or nearly as successfully as could be easily caught by a Black Ops drop. Like I said the other day, expect certain members of the CSM to again make a stink about this. Two step might or might not be able to contain the rage.
Meanwhile in high-sec, even after Hulkageddon ends, any corp that starts running large scale mining ops in high sec is going to find itself war-dec'ed faster than they can say "Hey, don't war-dec me, bro."
Over time, I suspect we'll see a greatly-increased number of bubbled gates in null-sec, followed by more mining ops there. This happens in null-sec already to protect mining ops from this sort of drop. But I think it will become common-place to see whole pipes and constellations bubbled. Black Ops ships have a very short bridge range and as such, I think we'll see more wholesale gate-bubbling to make the job for these ships much harder. Catching a mining op will be possible, but it's going to take a lot of teamwork and patience. You'll have to get the Black Ops ship into range, then log it out for a couple of days. Over that time, you'll have to trickle in bombers and Recons a few at a time so as not to arouse suspicion, and then log those characters out as well. Few PvP alliances will have that kind of patience, so as whole constellation's gates are bubbled and the miners feel safe coming out, we'll start to see null-sec mining ops.
But it won't happen right away, and in the mean time, those three shocks are going to be working on increasing mineral prices.
And with them, the price of almost every item in the game.
I've been accused of being a bit too negative on this issue, but if anything, I feel like I'm underestimating the impact a little. I think it's going to be very expensive in New Eden probably until late summer...