All’s fair in love and war, including the shameless love of war, which looks to be the motivation behind a staggering kill in the popular science-fiction MMORPG EVE Online.
The game allows players, numbering about half a million at present, to explore a galaxy containing thousands of separate star systems connected by portals. They’re free to cooperate toward many ends: mining, trading, exploration, and the manufacture of starships.
They’re also free to become pirates, wage battle, or, in this case, pull off extraordinary feats of espionage. A supply-and-demand economy and loosely shifting network of alliances—with players settling comfortably into noble federations and roving mischievous gangs alike—means that deception and defection are baked into EVE Online’s gameplay.
On Sunday, the fleet of one such group, Pandemic Legion, was lured into a Black Legion ambush by a player and apparent spy named Bandwidthh. Black Legion was supported by motley crew of smaller groups like Shadow Cartel, Verge of Collapse, and Confederation of xXPIZZAXx. When the dust had settled, a Revenant ship (one of only three in the entire game) and nine other “supercarriers” had been destroyed.
The Revenant, however, was the unprecedented kill—the thing was the first of its kind destroyed and the biggest ship to ever bite the dust. It was worth 309 billion Interstellar Kredits. ISK is EVE Online’s in-game currency, which can be traded for U.S. dollars through a complex system of buying subscription time for the game and selling it to other players. If the Revenant had been purchased this way, it would have cost between $8,000 and $9,000 in real American currency.
And ships in EVE Online don’t simply respawn. Once they’re destroyed, they’re gone for good, which makes this a devastating loss.
That much is obvious when listening to the comms at Pandemic Legion just before and after they realize what’s happened—which happens around minute sixteen. Tensions were running high even among allies here, as one player later remarks: “Please don’t tell me about my mic anymore or I will drive the twelve blocks to your house and shove it up your ass.”
You can also watch the epic battle itself, set to a techno remix of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This).
Somewhat conflicting reports on Bandwithh’s mindset emerged in the wake of the bloodbath. One website characterizes him both as the architect of a cunning trap and an impulsive anarchist:
Several months ago, Verge of Collapse placed a spy, Bandwidthh, with an Aeon into Pandemic Legion. Pandemic Legion often 'fishes' for capital kills using small groups of 10-15 supercarriers, and the spy began leading successful fishing operations to build up a reputation of competence.
On the other hand, a source called Surinea interviewed him and claimed:
Bandwidthh didn't originally join PL as a spy, never wanted it to start with … From all the contact I had with him over his time in PL, he was having fun, but it wasn't until the last couple of weeks that he even got this idea in his head at all … Bandwidthh said he didn't even realize it until the end that there was a Revenant that had even been in the fight, as he had been in the HABIT tower, and not with the pilot of the Revenant.
One of the first things that Bandwidthh said [during the interview], that was reiterated at this point was that "I joined this game on the story of the BoB collapse, and I always wanted to be known for something."
Whether for glory, fame, or fun, it was a surefire way to ruin someone’s day.