A conversation sometime in the last week got me thinking. About EVE and it's small/large player base. Posts by Tobold and others added food for thought. This is leavened by my own experiences and thoughts about the issues.
First some points of reference.
EVE has a large-ish PvP population. This is true it seems to be hitting the top end of the PvP population scale. When you figure with 330k players, if you take the populations of low sec and 0.0 you get 20-25% of the server population in those two zones. You can argue that the high sec PvP'res are balanced by the low/0.0 sec industrialists. So about 66k+ players could be considered PvPers. It's more complex than this since there are quite a few who do both carebear and pvp activities but as a rule of thumb it should do. If you compare to other PvP centric MMOs you'll find this is more than respectable.
EVE has a small overall population. Well yes compared to WoW. Also compared to the aspirations of the triple-A titles. On the other hand it's beaten the crap out of quite a few triple-A titles.
In conversations with other pilots and when talking to potential EVE players the one thing that sticks out is that even though that can handle the fact that 0.0 and low sec are no holds barred pvp "zones", the biggest problem and the one that leads them to quit the game before it's even started is the ganking of newbies in high sec. Even when they have no problem with low sec or 0.0, they quit because of the legalized griefing that goes on in high sec and the lack of any ability to protect industrial assets short of towers (due to the isk barrier to entry newbies can't usually afford towers).
To me (and I know some will disagree and that's fine) this means that EVE is filtering out many more potential players in order to please a relative few. Thus lowering potential long term income for CCP. You can argue it anyway you like, but the truth is EVE allows griefing. Different people will have a different definition of where it's at but except for the griefers themselves everyone else agrees that there IS griefing in high sec.
Now for the of two minds part.
Then I have to consider the impact on the game of having even more players join EVE. We've reached the point where EVE is butting up against the edge of the technically possible. Full marks to CCP for staying the course with their one shard design, but the sad truth is that there's only so much population the server can handle without the larger fights lagging out horribly. There are some fundamental design issues and technology issues CCP has to overcome to push the bar higher at this point. So a large population increase would actually make things worse from the lag point of view, Jita and Fleet fights specifically.
This is why I'm of two minds. Not because I think that CCP sticking to their argument that EVE is supposed to be Dark and Dangerous is valid (you can do dark and dangerous without pandering to the griefers). But because it's a Darwinian way of keeping the population growth in check so that it matches the hardware growth of the server (or vaguely within spitting distance).
So in the end I'm ambivalent about the high sec griefers. One one hand they are legalized school yard bullies (and thus scum of the galaxy). On they other they keep the server population in control and keep the ratio of PvP players to carebears withing reason (which is needed for a non-deflationary economy). Incidentally I'm drawing a very big difference between Pirates in low sec and Griefers in high sec (not that there aren't pirates that also grief in high sec). Most of us really don't have much of an issue with low sec piracy as such.
So, what are your opinions on the subject?