After a lot of hints and marketing hype, Netease officially announced the release date for Echoes yesterday. During the livestream, they also showed gameplay footage, trailers and answered questions concerning core gameplay features ready at launch, monetization and what is planned for future updates.
I’m not really sure how familiar people here are with EVE, but aside from the usual concerns of this turning into a mobile pay-to-win fiasco, I am actually having ethical concerns, and would appreciate other perspectives.
Background: One of the setting’s defining features is the struggle between the four major (NPC) Empires. And while we do tend to have pretty strong convictions concerning things like slavery, nowadays, the original writing takes great care to avoid entirely black and white scenarios.
The Gallenteans may be touting democracy and personal freedom - but at closer inspection that facade rapidly breaks down and gives way to politics and public opinion controlled by lobby groups.
The Minmatar Republic is proud of returning to some semblance of its tribal roots, but those traditions are often unforgiving, cruel and prone to ostracise those who do not fit the norm.
You get the picture. There’s moral ambiguity under a veneer of idealism, which allows people with very different outlooks on life to join one side or another and feel at home. Yet as they familiarize themselves with their surroundings, they’re forced to recognize that just about all forms of social structure have their own limits and dark recesses, and no promise should ever be taken at face value.
EVE is brilliant, in that regard. It forces you to think.
Enter Echoes: Netease have decided to dive into the lore, and introduce one of the ancient and forgotten races. With all that usually entails in a Sci-Fi setting - completely OP technology, supposed mystery, yadda yadda yadda.
Stated reason being that they wanted to work on something with a far eastern touch… and I guess all the existing races rooted in different traditions from vaguely thereabouts somehow didn’t fit the bill.
Now, I’m not opposed to adding to EVE lore. It’s understandable, even, that Devs would want to iterate on something they have experience with, and Chinese Devs may just want to contribute Chinese culture to a project.
Here’s the issue: While all the other factions -modelled on different economic and social ideals- are decidedly human, constantly fighting each other and their own shortcomings and worst impulses… the “Chinese” are above and beyond all that. They have come to civilise the unwashed masses… and just like that, a battleground of ideas where no one’s completely right or wrong has turned into a propaganda vehicle for the Party.
We’re talking about a nation that has made it a policy to replace entire populations with people of Han Chinese descent, in some grotesque form of slow-motion genocide. Politicians so insecure of their own propaganda shit-show that they can’t allow their populace to talk to foreigners on MMOs, and have gone full-tilt Orwellian in general.
Let’s just say that there are a few gaps to bridge from that reality to the oh-so-enlightened Space-Chinese.
Now, here’s the question: Is it ethically feasible to financially support a project that is obviously pushing a false narrative, in accordance with Party lines?