Most recent events have given me an opportunity to clarify CCP’s official position on the subject of unethical behavior by persons in the service of CCP.
Throughout our history, there have been a handful of cases where our employees or members of our various volunteer and partner programs have taken advantage of the proprietary powers they are granted through access and knowledge. These cases have been investigated, prosecuted and judgment rendered. Usually the punishment has been quite simple: termination of employment.
A pivotal case was uncovered last summer during a routine investigation of developer accounts. Unfortunately CCP did not act with the same decisive consistency we have used on previous occasions. Those left at the helm chose to react cautiously, as sometimes is appropriate under these circumstances, leading to more leniency and understanding than we are used to in these matters. Upon review I personally would have chosen to act differently, but what's done is done. Difficult decisions always have to be made, and we cannot always second guess how these would appear if, in part, they are revealed to outside parties who do not have the same information to base their choices on.
This particular case, involving a single developer, underlined where improvements needed to be made and we have since focused our efforts on reinforcing rules and processes so that consistent ruling is assured. As of the beginning of January this year, we have been building up a special institution within our company similar to the Internal Affairs divisions of law enforcement agencies. For this team, we have assembled the most ardent hardliners in our ranks. They all fully understand the enormity of what they have accepted to do and we are certain that they will be able to shoulder this responsibility.
It is no trivial thing when corruption takes place. In our case it's no different than the injustice of public servants in the real world feathering their own nests rather than ensuring the prosperity of the many. Living in a country of a comparable population as the world of EVE (Iceland only has 300,000 inhabitants), I sure know how it can feel when governance is not balanced and feeling powerless to stop it. I am certain that members of the EVE community are now going through similar emotions.
I am sure that we all appreciate that it is no coincidence that Dante reserved the lowest level of Hell for "the worst of those who betrayed their benefactors." In our case, I would regard the EVE community as our benefactors. We are not the "gods" or "the masters" of EVE Online or the EVE community. We serve the community. You have entrusted us to safeguard your hard work.
When the recent allegations came to light, our Internal Affairs department immediately went to work, reexamining logs for all the developers involved in great detail over the course of several days. They have concluded that none of the other developers abused their positions to gain any advantage for themselves or others. In accordance with our rules however, those characters must be removed from the game. Developers have had, and continue to have, characters in many alliances in the game, and it is wrong to assume that the presence of several characters in any one particular alliance is either uncommon, or automatically indicative of cheating.
This incident has raised the question of whether developers should be allowed to play the game they work on. There is simply no way to develop a world like this without experiencing it first hand. You cannot develop it by proxy, evaluate fun through statistics, or make judgments without fully understanding how it is growing and evolving, when nearly every tool can be used by players in ways that were never anticipated. In order to do justice to the game, we must share your frustrations, joys, successes and failures. You cannot fully appreciate the investment of time and effort that players make without doing it yourself, and every employee at CCP is aware of what it is like to work yourself to exhaustion for something you believe in and love.
As we look to the future, we will endeavor to improve our handling of these matters by acting in a manner that is both swift and consistent with company policy. It is regrettable that such instances reveal flaws in our governance, but by the same token, addressing them decisively is what makes our company stronger. We now have resources dedicated to performing audits of dev activity on Tranquility with much more frequency than before. This, combined with additional layers of security, and the non-negotiable penalty of employment termination upon conviction of such acts, represents the full extent that we will go to deter dev misconduct.
The developers of this company will always play the games that they build here. Without being fully immersed in the player experience, perspective, and community, it is impossible to build, maintain, and expand online worlds with any degree of competency. And while that does expose us to some degree of risk, the rewards are incalculably higher. EVE has grown stronger every year since its inception; these bumps in the road are an inevitable part of the journey we must endure as a growing company; and we would not be here today if we opted to isolate ourselves from the player experience of EVE Online.
It is thus that we look forward to putting this matter firmly behind us, and move forward with our continued mission to improve and expand a world that we hold close to our hearts.
Hilmar Veigar Petursson, CEO