The common wisdom in EVE Online is that, beyond the odd high-value moon or Faction Warfare scam, there's little in low sec or NPC null sec to the attract ongoing attention of the big-dogs of null sec, with their large fleets and super cap doctrines. It's assumed that NPC space simply isn't worth the bother of controlling even if one could control it.The first rule of blog banters is that shorter questions are better than longer ones. The second rule of blog banters is that philosophical questions are better than practical ones. This question is both long and practical and as a result in my opinion is one of the less interesting blog banters in quite a while. But you go to war with the army you have, et cetera et cetera. ;-) So let's deal with what we have.
Is this about to change?
The shift in industrial inefficiencies from high sec to NPC low sec/null sec has begun, adding value to NPC space outside of high sec. In the recent B0TLRD accords CFC claimed two NPC null sec regions, Venal and Syndicate, as part of the CFC sphere of influence.
What is the future of low sec and NPC null sec as the economic center of gravity shifts from high sec toward null sec?
That said, my answer to this one is going to be fairly short: I expect the summer's industry changes to have very little impact on NPC null-sec and no impact or a generally slightly negative impact on low-sec industry.
Low-sec first: even with the changes to jump fuel prices and use for jump freighters, it's still going to be far easier to stock low-sec markets from high-sec than try to build up a native industry in low-sec. There are, by and large, not enough people living in low-sec to support a low-sec cottage industry. These days, things are built in low-sec because they have to be (capital ships), not because the builder has any particular desire to do so.
CCP can (and might) change this dynamic slightly with lower production costs in low-sec. That said, even the increased production costs are not going to be that costly. In a game of risk averse players, industry players are some of the most risk averse of all. They're not going to move blueprints, materials, and a logistics chain into low-sec unless there's an overwhelming advantage to them to do so. I may have missed it, but I haven't seen such an overwhelming advantage.
This very same answer carries over to NPC null-sec, and for the same reasons, only magnified by about three.
Kirith gently raises the specter of null-sec blocs taking control of NPC null for the purpose of turning the regions into manufacturing power-houses. I could be wrong (and if I am, we'll know by Christmas) but I just can't see it. Yes, I continue to think that null-sec manufacturing is going to take over in some niche manufacturing areas. But I also think the bulk of those niche areas are going to be for the blocs to supply their own needs, whether consciously or unconsciously. A lot of the isotopes being used to move stuff around null is being used to bring in ships, ammo, rigs, specific modules, et cetera.
But that fuel is being used to bring them to home stations. Unless a null-sec bloc is going to live in a NPC null station for an extended period of time, there just isn't much percentage in building stuff in Syndicate only to have to ship it to Delve or Deklein. There will likely be enough native manufacturing capability for these niche markets and if there isn't, a few more stations will go up to ensure that there is.
But Kirith specifically implies that "the economic center of gravity" is going to "shift from high sec toward null sec". While this is technically true -- even a few percent would be a "shift" -- I don't see it becoming a major factor.
So... yeah. Swing and a miss on this one. I hope the next blog banter question is more philosophical!