“But in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Death is certain in Faction War. Why, then, do we not also have meaningful taxation? I would like to address an idea that is slowly gaining popularity in my militia: a corporation-level LP tax.
Life in Faction Warfare can present some fairly unique challenges to its pilots. Most of these challenges, like station-lockouts, are welcomed by militia membership as they add to the excitement and flavor of our game. There is, however, one ever-present problem facing militia corps that no one welcomes. It’s name? Player Retention. Those two words are in the back of every recruiter’s and CEO’s mind, and with good reason.
Since its inception, Faction Warfare has been a split community made up of three distinct camps. The first being the much-maligned farmer. We know them, we hate them, they are the pest-like alts we all see flying around in stabbed/cloaked ships causing the war-zone to swing in that now too familiar pendulum pattern. They join and leave NPC FW corps as the LP markets change and aren’t really a concern when talking about player retention. The second camp are the dedicated militia members. These are the players that, for whatever reason, have decided to make a life in the warzone. Their loyalty is often more centered on the militia itself rather than a single corp or alliance and these are also the players you often see on central comms, lurking in intel channels, and in combined corp fleets. Player retention for this group, although inherently high, is of major concern. The third and final camp, and the one that is most in need of our attention, is what I’ll call the “learning players” group or, more commonly, “noobs”. These players are in militia to…well, learn! Chances are they’re brand new to EVE or just they’re trying PVP for the first time. They’ve been told Faction Warfare is a great ISK maker, that it can teach them how to PVP in a controlled environment, and that they will have an easy time making friends and feeling useful. These players often join whatever militia faction they are geographically close to or the one that matches their own racial trait and therefore tend to build their identity around the corp they join over the militia as a whole.
Now what does all this about player retention have to do with taxation? Quite a lot. The two are linked and until the issue of taxation in Faction Warfare is addressed, the problem of player retention will persist. As I mentioned above, the two groups we are looking at in relation to this problem are the “learning players” and old vets. Each require different things to keep them interested and enrolled in the militia, but one concrete and universal issue is the Ship Replacement Program (SRP). A new player who can learn with free hulls is going to be more dedicated and loyal than one who has to pay their own way. The chance then presents itself to turn that learning player into a dedicated member who, instead of moving on after a few months of basic training, wants to stay enrolled. In the same vein, a high-SP pilot who can undock their capital ship without fear of its replacement cost is going to stay engaged and happy. Conversely, offer a cap pilot no SRP and watch them seek greener pastures in null-sec or with out-of-faction low-sec pirate groups. How can your average militia corp build up enough ISK to cover a cap SRP when taxing your membership isn’t an option? And so every month, more and more high skill point pilots say farewell to the warzone and find other groups that can provide what they need. This is all rather ironic considering how wealthy we as individual militia pilots tend to be. That’s why an LP-tax is so important. We have the ISK, we just need an in-game mechanic to funnel it in the right directions.
While both learning players and vets will benefit from a formal SRP, the opinions on how to fund it will vary wildly. For the “learning player” an LP tax might sound like an unwelcome proposition. They joined Faction Warfare in part to make ISK and any dent in their personal LP stream will certainly be seen as an uncomfortable hit to their lifestyle. The old vet has a different outlook, though. Chances are they’ve branched out over the years and no longer rely on just simply plex LP to fund their lifestyle. Maybe their corps already offer some form of SRP or perhaps have a profit sharing program from moons or POCOs. These dedicated militia members will more freely give up some percentage of LP to fund corp level activities because they know they will, in turn, benefit from those activities they’ve funded. The key to getting the newer militia members on board with an LP tax is simple. Expose them to what a corporate budget can do. Offer some form of SRP, stock basic hangers with ammo and drones, start a tournament team, or fund weekly events. Show your membership what can be accomplished with a little collective effort and then think about how much more you could do with even a low-rate LP tax. As with normal ISK tax now, each corporation would be free to select whatever rate they choose and then each pilot can make a choice on what style of corp they would like to join. It’s also quite easy to see how much more control a corporation could have over its local i-HUB if given the choice to donate LP from the corp wallet. And that’s really what it comes down to, choice. Whether or not you support an LP tax personally, I can’t see why anyone would oppose the idea of giving corporations the choice. Now it’s just up to CCP and our stalwart CSM to give us those options.