Disinterest about tournament play in EVE takes many forms. Most commonly, this is associated with simple apathy or lack of interest in the topic. Many EVE players aren't PvPers or don't have much interest in EVE PvP and as a result they do not watch EVE tournament play that focuses on PvP. After apathy or disinterest usually comes lack of knowledge of tournament play and/or an inability or unwillingness to commit the time needed to watch and learn about it. But all of these reasons associated with disinterest are pretty passive, all in all.
That said, from time to time, I run into EVE players that are actively disinterested or actively against tournament play in EVE. And these objections usually come in two forms:
- Tournaments are "not EVE" because EVE should not include fair, pre-scheduled battles with "rules."
- Tournaments are against the spirit of EVE because CCP violates the sandbox by running them.
For the first, I think it will be fun to drag in a little history to explain my perspective.
I'm an American, and patriotic. That means from time to time I enjoy pointing at activities that Americans are good at. ;-) One of the things that America is good at that bears on this conversation is war. My country was founded in war and has involved itself in a major war every 15 years or so of its existence. One of the innovations that America has brought to this field is the concept of the full-size military exercise between two powers, usually referred to as "war games."
Military exercises and military simulations have been a part of war since the Napoleonic era. Prussia and their innovation of the career General Staff is generally credited with creating the first modern military simulations and exercises. They were playing war-games in the early 1800s, and military exercises quickly followed in every major country thereafter. This later expanded to the creation and use of "war plans." These were, quite frankly, plans that could be put into place at a moment's notice were it necessary to invade or conquer a neighbor and were updated frequently based on simulations carried out in the "war colleges" of various countries. America had a whole series of these built around the same time.
For instance, the U.S. Naval War College (NWC) conducted military simulations which culminated in various war plans developed prior to and used in World War II. Prior to that war, the U.S. had held a number of NWC simulations fighting the Pacific war or aspects thereof with "blue" (the U.S.) fighting against "orange" (the Japanese)... and usually losing. These were large table-top exercises with two sides, dice to introduce random chance (usually referred to as "friction"), and umpires to judge results. The simulations were remarkably accurate and correctly predicted a lot of the challenges the U.S. would face in WWII and as a result, war plans were made to address these challenges.
In a few cases, the models were so accurate that their information was -- amusingly enough -- not believed. Persistent rumor surrounds a NWC exercise one year that simulated what for all intents and purposes was the Battle of Midway, years before it took place. In the exercise, "blue" carriers managed a series of lucky circumstances that resulted in heavy damage to and sinking of "orange" aircraft carriers. Rumor has it (the exercises were classified) that the umpires judged this result unlikely and one or more of the "sunk" aircraft carriers were "resurrected" and allowed to fight on. Except that when the real Battle of Midway was fought, luck did indeed play a major role!
But these cases did show the dice as a means of introducing less-than-ideal circumstances into the simulation -- weather, morale, supply problems, communication problems, et cetera -- were themselves often less-than-ideal.
So the innovation America brought to the table was reducing the roles of dice and umpires... and running military simulations with real military troops and hardware, often as full scale military exercises with one group of soldiers facing off against other in simulated warfare. This started en masse during World War II and by the post-war years had developed into a number of large scale joint exercises between the U.S. and allied nations. The most famous of these periodic exercises are probably RIMPAC, held every other year in the waters off Hawaii.
To use one example: one of the jobs of escort destroyers around U.S. carriers is to prevent a missile-carrying ship or boat from penetrating the screen and getting line-of-sight on the carrier to launch a missile. One RIMPAC exercise centers on destroyer captains actually using their ships to simulate this play of attack and defense. An allied destroyer or smaller ship "plays" a missile-firing ship. A U.S. destroyer tries to block. Sure, an umpire can decide whether a red missile is successfully launched against a blue carrier in a smoky room on a sand table somewhere. Dice can decide whether a theoretical destroyer does the job. But isn't it more fun and worthwhile for everyone involved to see if the actual destroyer captains involved can actually carry out these missions under simulated wartime conditions with the actual hardware and crews?
Anyway, I think you can see where I'm going with all this: if tournament play didn't exist in EVE, it would be necessary to invent it... and someone would. ;-) There's nothing wrong with simulated military exercises taking place in the sandbox.
Which brings me to the second objection, that tournament play involves CCP violating the sandbox. And here we're on somewhat shakier ground, I must admit. I myself have been known to complain about this aspect of the tournament. For instance, the introduction of prizes impacts the sandbox. For the AT in particular, there are only two winning teams, often out of dozens of competing teams. Given EVE player's tendency to balance investment, risk, and reward, this has created a situation where it is in the best interests of EVE players to join winning teams rather than to try to create winning teams themselves. That, combined with the scarcity of the prizes and the increasing influence of ISK on the process, has resulted in those winnings being concentrated on a small number of teams.
This raises various types of conscientious objectors to CCP's involvement in tournament play:
- purists who feel that CCP shouldn't be involved at all in the internal workings of the sandbox;(1)
- people who are concerned that CCP's marketing of tournament play sells a game that isn't EVE to new players; and,
- people who like tournaments but are concerned about smaller impacts, like distribution of prize ships and movement of players or corps to tournament success teams.
The idea that tournaments and CCP's marketing of tournaments sells a game that has no relation to EVE is a valid concern. Various people including myself have been raising the idea of "arena EVE" for years and years; I don't think it will ever happen. Unironically marketing EVE to tournament viewers is something CCP Soundwave did seamlessly but I noted with interest that CCP Bro only brought up the subject once during the second New Eden Open. And this topic came up in spades at the eSports Round Table at Fanfest. You could try to start playing EVE with the intent of being a tournament player... but the lack of guideposts will soon frustrate you. The overall argument is that since tournaments don't exist by and large inside New Eden, CCP is doing itself a disservice by marketing them "as EVE" or vice versa.
The third point is a lot more fluid, subtle, and harder to argue, but there's no question that every tournament has an impact on the sandbox, with players and corps changing hands, as well as billions of ISK in PLEXes and tournament ships. The ultimate argument here is that changes to the sandbox are happening because of CCP-initiated actions instead of player-initiated ones. That drives the argument back to the central core: does CCP have the right to interfere in how the sandbox operates? Again, there's no such thing as a pure sandbox, but where are the borders when it comes to this issue?
Start arguing too strenuously that CCP has the right to play in their own sandbox and pretty soon you have to contend with the specter of favoritism. I've been slightly concerned about that once or twice myself when it came to CCP devs...
All that said, I don't consider myself a sandbox "purist" and while I've been concerned with the more minor issues tournament play has on player movement within the game, I'm not sure these objections qualify as major issues sufficient to stop tournament play. So overall, I haven't shared the concern that CCP is somehow violating the sandbox by running tournaments.
What say you, Dear Readers? Is tournament play EVE? Does it violate the sandbox?
(1) This group also objects to CCP giving prize ships to community fan sites, CCP dev roams, and usually to live events as well. See this quite good article from Brendan Drain.