EVE Online Has Added A Raffle System To The Game With HyperNet Relay, EVE Online Ventures Into The Dangerous World Of Video Game Gambling

EVE Online Has Added A Raffle System To The Game With HyperNet Relay, EVE Online Ventures Into The Dangerous World Of Video Game Gambling
Credit: CCP Games

During the last year, the conversation revolving around gambling and video games only continued to grow. This hot topic has had lawmakers in the United States, making moves to try and end the trend of loot boxes. EVE Online is no stranger to gambling, but many fans had a sigh of relief back in 2016 when CCP banned all forms of gambling.

Third-party sites that opened up gambling with EVE Online were shut down, and the players who were running the sites permanently banned. It is this history that made the recent announcement of the HyperNet Relay, a gambling option built into the EVE Online client, shocking to fans.

The first announcement for the HyperNet Relay was at the end of November. The same day as fans were told about it, the update was pushed into the test servers for the fans to play with. Based on first looks, the HyperNet Relay works similarly to one of the more popular features found on the previously banned gambling sites: raffles.

The process is simple. HyperNet Relay works as a trade network, which allows players to see how many tickets are available for a posted item. The tickets are then sold for ISK, in-game currency, and then once all the tickets are purchased, the HyperNet chooses one ticket as a winner and awards the item to the player.

At first glance, the system seems relatively fine. Players use the in-game currency for a chance to win an in-game item at a fraction of the full cost. It is kinda like bargain hunting. This puts everything in the game, and although it is gambling, it has no risk for the real world as there is no value in the real world.

The issue is that this is the same game with hundreds of thousands of dollar space battles. Although the money is digital, there is an inherent price tag associated with the game already.

The purest way to view this is the in-game currency known as PLEX. This premium currency is bought from the in-game store with real-world money. Players use PLEX for subscription time, or they sell it on the open market for the in-game money ISK. Adding PLEX into the equation brings real money into the ISK transaction.

Players can turn real-world money into ISK, use the ISK to buy tickets on the HyperNet Relay, and in turn, gamble away large amounts of real money for in-game items. This is the problem that all the anti-gambling lawmakers are hoping to avoid. Aside from the fact that all players are auto opted into the feature, even those under 18, this entire process in itself is gambling. The only difference between this system and the third party casinos is who profits off of the purchases, CCP.

The developers have stated that players can disable the feature as a way to prevent temptation for those who have problems with gambling. Putting aside the gambling concern, the goal of the HyperNet is to increase the “trade velocity” of the more rare or high-value items. These items go for hundreds of billions of ISK, or hundreds of thousands of USD, and often sit in inventories or the public market waiting to be purchased. By adding a low-cost raffle system, the game lets these items re-enter circulation for the in-game economy.

HyperNet Relay has received mixed reactions from fans. Many players don’t appreciate that EVE was reversing their decision about gambling in the game. Others are happy to see some of the rare items being available for lower cost ISK. It is to early to see what the effects of the system will be on EVE Online , but one thing is known for sure, the developers are entering some dangerous territory.