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EVE Online gamers destroy $1000+ in game time

EVE Online has always been an interesting beast. To get around gamers purchasing in-game currency (ISK) with real-world cash, developers CCP created PLEX - in-game Pilots License Extensions. Gamers buy a 60-day time code with real money, and then convert that into two 30-day PLEX, which can then be freely traded or sold in-game. It's a handy little way for gamers to trade in ISK without risking being banned - and as PLEX can be bought using ISK anyway, nobody loses. And - until recently - it was a safe way of doing so.

Nice lens flare.

Nice lens flare.

Last month, CCP made a small but significant change to their in-game structure, allowing PLEX to be transported in a ship's cargo - like any other item. In EVE, if a cargo-carrying ship is destroyed, some of that cargo can be recovered by the destroyers, as loot. PLEX behave in exactly the same way.

But it doesn't always go as planned. This week, it was proven - catastrophically - how risky it is to carry PLEX in your ship's cargo hold.

Characters "Viktor Vegas" and "slickdog" were on the prowl in Jita, where they scanned a Kestrel travelling alone. Reports came back that the ship was loaded: 74 PLEX onboard - jackpot! - so the duo blew up the ship, destroying every single PLEX in the process.

Looking at the current "exchange rate", 74 PLEX would sell for more than 22 billion ISK - approximately US$1,295 worth of game time (that's six years and two months, btw). Someone's going to be quite cranky... but I'm betting it won't be CCP - someone paid for all of those PLEX, and they're never going to be redeemed. Score indeed.

It's just like playing with spreadsheets.

It's just like playing with spreadsheets.

Even before Viktor Vegas and slickdog's little endeavour, EVE gamers recognised that this was a potential outcome (although I doubt anyone expected it quite to go to this extreme). People have already suggested to the devs that it would be lovely if the value of any destroyed PLEX was donated to a charity - a precedent set by this year's PLEX for Haiti drive, which saw gamers donate more than US$40,000 to the earthquake-devastated country. Wouldn't it be a nice gesture?

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I like video games and music and cups of tea and noodles and beagles and colour-cycling LEDs.
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