What is a Pirate in Eve?


Havoc deployed yesterday and it promises to allow players to join pirate NPC militias and become pirates in Eve Online. Lolz. No it doesn't. At best you'll be a Ratpet (Thanks Ninouh for inventing that new word on Discord yesterday) and subservient to a group of NPCs. Which is fine, more power to you. I love Havoc and I love what it is bringing to the game. I hope it is awesome. And I hope tons of people enjoy playing in the new universe it has created. But these are not pirates.

People are confused when it comes to piracy inside of Eve Online. They often conflate real world definitions with the realities of in-game play-style choices. Heck, so have I over the years. Few topics have consumed more words on this blog than the topic of what is and what isn't piracy inside of Eve Online. But the truth is pretty simple and I'm going to try and explain what I mean here today. So bear with me.

Any player in Eve can engage in "Acts of Piracy" during the course of playing Eve. These Acts of Piracy are actions that might be considered piracy on their own - acts like ganking in High Sec, or gate camping, or a hundred other examples. A player might do these acts once, or dozens of times depending on their own inclinations. But acts of piracy do not make you a pirate. They make you a ganker, or a gate camper, or a thief, or a sec-status baiter, or whatever. And yet, when I do these things I am doing them as a Pirate. Because I am an actual Pirate in Eve Online.

What's the difference? Now, let us remember we are talking about a video game now and the realities of what happens inside of that game. Try to remove your learned real world historical context from this equation, because it mostly just gets in your way. A Pirate in Eve is a player who engages in non-consensual PvP while also being a criminal in the eyes of the Empires. A negative security status in other words. Think about this for a second. If you maintain a positive or neutral sec status that means the Empires endorse your activities - they have granted you access to their services. A negative sec status means the Empires consider you a criminal and they do not endorse you and they have banned you from their space. You must have this in order to be considered a Pirate with a capital P inside of Eve Online.

This does not mean a positive or neutral sec status player cannot engage in Acts of Piracy from time to time, but their goal is to maintain that status in a way that benefits them. A Pirate maintains a negative sec status in a way that is detrimental to them. On purpose. They do so for a wide variety of reasons. I do it because I am anti-Empire and I want Low Sec to be free of Empire control. Plus I am the Pirate Lord. And I also happen to run Stay Frosty. Insert random role-playing excuses here.

These NPC groups like the Guristas and Angels are more like terror organizations than they are pirates. The Deathless is essentially a terrorist running his schemes from a terrorist base using stolen technology. And while they often use Acts of Piracy in their pursuits, they aren't actual Pirates. They are a criminal organization to the Empires however, which is good. Which is also how we can align ourselves with them for mutual benefit. Although, strangely, they will still shoot us if we try to help. Which remains a huge problem inside of Eve.

A positive sec status pirate is a PvPer. A ganker who attacks ships in High Security space is a PvPer who is committing an act of piracy. Same with gate campers. These are all valid play-style choices but they are play-style choices that do not make you a Pirate.

Us actual Pirates work hard to maintain our titles. And we'd appreciate it if the rest of you would stop throwing the word pirate around like it means nothing. Because it happens to mean a lot to those of us who are trying to keep the pirate spirit alive inside of New Eden. There are less and less of us every day.