Game economy credit-crunch: mismanaged bank freezes player accounts

The in-game economy in EVE Online is teetering after the mismanaged, embezzlement-plagued player bank froze user-accounts, tying up much of the game's capital so that players can't buy stuff.
Early this summer, it came to light that a veteran EVE player (known only as "Ricdic") had embezzled --and then sold in the real world-- over 200 billion ISK from Ebank, causing a run on the virtual financial institution. However, this was just the beginning of the problems for the player-owned bank. Recently installed Ebank Chairman Ray McCormack admitted that the bank had been mismanaged, and rules, safeguards, and controls were not enforced. As a result, it's been revealed that Ebank is 380 billion ISK poorer thanks to a number of defaulted loans. Because of the aforementioned mismanagement, it apparently took the bank's new officers a while to figure out just how far in the red their institution is.

At the moment, customer accounts will remain frozen until the bank manages to stabilize. According to McCormack, "withdrawals will be allowed once the bank achieves a maintainable equity status of 90% (1.8t currently); they will be stopped again should that fall below 80%."

Virtual bank in EVE freezes accounts due to deficit


  1. EVE’s economy is not in any way “teetering”. 200 billion ISK is a miniscule amount compared to the size of the EVE economy.

    I am at best a middle-class player by EVE standards, and yet even I have several billion ISK in assets. The loss of a single titan-class ship (which happens regularly) sets the owning alliance back something like 80 billion ISK, and some of the larger capital-class battles have resulted in combined losses totalling hundreds of billions of ISK.

    The combined work of many hundreds of players, members of one of the most powerful and arrogant alliances in the game, and the infrastructure created by their work over several years, was sabotaged and destroyed earlier this year as a direct result of the treachery of one disgruntled member. That’s multiple trillions of ISK down the drain.

    Any EVE player who puts their money in a player-run bank knows their money could evaporate. In EVE, lying, cheating, stealing and scamming — even griefing newbies — is explicitly permitted. That’s what makes it such a hard-core (and intriguing) game.

  2. Someone will have to explain to me what the benefit was of depositing money in a player-run bank, when a player’s in-game cash is unstealable, and usable anywhere.

    Was it an extra security measure against corporate theft? (And if so, what’s the point, given that the bank itself is vulnerable to corporate theft, as was shown.)

  3. @#3

    Interest, I imagine. If a “bank” is making loans, as the article suggests, then it’s more than just a repository.

  4. I assume that the bank was FDIC-insured? Or at least too-big-to-fail? Is it getting a bail-out?

    Joking aside though, I’d love to find out more about this to see exactly how it was mismanaged, how it was embezzled from, etc. I find it really interesting when a game’s rules are open enough to allow all these real-word economical situations. The game’s designers must have known this kind of thing would be possible when they designed it (after all, games where you CAN’T embezzle have been around for as long as there have been games, practically. You can’t embezzle in, say, SimCity.)

  5. Well, Eve was designed to be as open ended as possible, which is why I play it over other, strictly-scripted MMOs.

    And yeah, I guess interest must be it. I wonder how many of the high-rollers in the Eve economy use mechanisms like that, and how many just get on without them.

  6. Oh, and on the topic of embezzlement, there is a group of players called the Guiding Hand Social Club, whose primary purpose is to infiltrate high-powered PvP alliances and steal huge amounts of their stuff. Search around the Eve forums and the web in general for some of their exploits.

    Heists in Eve are part of the fun – they work pretty much the same as in real life, through good old social engineering. Infiltrate enough people, schmooze your targets just the right way to get the access privileges you need, move a few accomplices into place, then make of with billions of Isk worth of stuff.

    Spies are also an integral part of the politics between space-holding alliances…

  7. As a daily EVE player, I would very strongly suggest that no, the economy in EVE is not at all near teetering. In fact since the rather elegant implementation of of the PLEX system I would say the economy is healthier right now than it has been in the past.

    The struggling involved is limited solely to the bank in question, and I presume the personal in-game finances of its customers. The nature of how wealth is held and earned in EVE does a lot to make individuals’ finances fairly secure even at the worst of times, which seems to help a lot in preventing economic slumps.

    A minor correction of wording would make the text entirely factual :)

  8. I’m reading Charles Stross’ “Halting State” right now and this story is very reminiscent of the plot of the book. Quite interesting to think that in the future we may have outside consulting companies to manage in-game economies. Nice article.

  9. ok, so this is a hard core MMO, so what stops some griefers from targeting the officers of the bank and then robbing the bank? Do the officers roll around with dozens of mercenaries with phat epics (or the equivalent) to prevent this or do they spend all their time in a safe place managing the bank instead of you know, actually playing (not that there’s anything wrong with that, sitting in stormwind on your bank toon and manipulating the auction house is a lot of fun)?

  10. @10 – death in EVE means the loss of whatever ship you were flying, and some minor inconvenience as your clone is activated in a station. In other words, killing officers of the bank will irritate them, but that’s about it. Your in game currency is never at risk unless you turn it in to a ship and fly it around and get it blown up.
    Or, you know, give it to a bank.

  11. @3 Players put money into a player run bank, because these entities provide interest on the deposit. Smaller banks that are seen as risky will usually offer interest in the 3%-5% range, while larger banks such as Ebank have 1.5% interest rate.

  12. A thought: AFAICT, the Eve economy lacks inflation – growth usually comes from new content/game mechanics, but the same item tends to cost the same price over time (apart from market fluctuations).

    So, where is this interest coming from?

    @10: The bank’s money is completely safe from outlaws, although valuable cargo being transported for trade is not. Yarr!

    However, it is still quite possible to join the bank, get into its good graces, work your way up to the top, then embezzle large amounts of its money.

  13. “…tying up much of the game’s capital so that players can’t buy stuff.”

    This description is totally incorrect. The 380 billion is no where near “much of the game’s capital” nor are the vast majority of players even remotely affected by this.

  14. A thought: AFAICT, the Eve economy lacks inflation – growth usually comes from new content/game mechanics, but the same item tends to cost the same price over time (apart from market fluctuations). So, where is this interest coming from?

    I’m guessing the bank lends money as well?

    Banks don’t need inflation to give interest on deposits. They just need to charge more interests on their loans than they give on their deposits.

  15. … and yeah, 380 billion ISK is… well, it’s a drop in the bucket of the EVE economy. There are no doubt people with more than that much money in their account balances, and several large corporations in the game could absorb losing that much money without reeling too badly.

    When writing about a game you’ve not played (or are not very familiar with) yourself, please feel free to ask for info in the comments. There’s likely to always be players among the readers who will gladly clarify things… assuming you’re not too busy to take this more involved approach, of course.

    Cheerful, well-meaning pedants are in abundance here. =P

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