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Everything You Need To Know About That Insane Online Space Battle That Cost $300,000

Two days in the wild and wonky world of EVE Online.

Posted on January 31, 2014, at 10:11 a.m. ET

EVE Online is a massively multiplayer online science fiction role-playing game.

It's been around since 2003, and boasts more than 500,000 subscribers.

Even within the complicated world of MMORPGs, EVE is known as incredibly wonkish.

The game boasts a real, shockingly complicated economy and trading system, and is well known for its highly-evolved grand-scale political strategy, complete with diplomacy and espionage. One of the American diplomats killed in Benghazi, Sean Smith, was an avid EVE player and diplomat.

Basically, the game revolves around garnering enough currency (ISK) to build bigger and better spaceships.

Dirk Loechel / Via

This is a comparison of ship sizes from many different sci-fi worlds. The two I've marked are from EVE.

You can earn ISK through time-consuming missions and resource-gathering.

Or you can buy it with real money. Right now a "PLEX" of 600 million ISK costs about $18 USD.

Those really big ships? They can cost 100 billion ISK. if you paid cash, that'd be $3000!

Keep that in mind.

Okay, so, EVE subscribers come together to join corporations of several dozen players. Corporations come together to form alliances, which can number in the hundreds or thousands.

That's a lot of players, representing a lot of ships, representing a lot of time and money.

And sometimes those alliances join in coalition. And those coalitions fight for prominence in the world of EVE.

N3 is one such coalition. And it owned a part of the EVE world called B-R5RB, which it used as a staging location for a ton of valuable ships.

Here, it gets a bit complex. One of the constituent members of N3 paid a monthly fee to an extremely powerful computer-controlled police force to help it enforce its rule of the area.

On Monday, someone in the N3 coalition missed a bill payment. And all hell broke loose.

A massive opposing coalition—Russians and something called the CFC Alliance—pounced.

Thousands and thousands of ships, among them dozens and dozens of those really big ones, joined the two-day long battle. It looked like this:

View this video on YouTube

This is what the battle looked like in-game. Every dot represents an actual spacecraft.

There was massive virtual—and financial—devastation. Writes EVE blogger Jester:

And by the time it was over, nearly 100 "super-capital" ships worth about 100 billion ISK each had been destroyed, as well as nearly 500 capital ships worth anywhere from two to five billion ISK each. Total cost of the ships destroyed in this battle? 10 trillion (with a T!) ISK.

With a "good" in-game income source, you could pay that cost in something over 11 years of continuous EVE play, assuming you were able to play the game 24 hours per day for that 11 years. Or if you tried to pay that cost buying CCP's in-game currency, that would set you back some $300,000 U.S. It will take EVE's ship-builders months or years to build replacements.

In other words, if every destroyed ship had been purchased with player-purchased currency, it would have cost more than $300,000.

All that's left now is a monument.

EVE players insisted on it.

It's built out of wrecked ships.

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