EVE Online's big battle proves players are the content in a sandbox MMO
"Today marked a major victory in taking the strategically important staging system of one of the super-coalition's player groups which caused that group to flip sides to the attackers."
- Reddit poster ShadowPhynix, as quoted by CCP
There's a great blog post over at CCP's official EVE Online blog rounding up the conflict arising in the game-world right now -- a war is being waged by a group of smaller interests against the Imperium Coalition, which had invaded their territory.
It's a fascinating reminder that this 13-year-old game remains vibrant and compelling because its players are the content: the game is "about player-created stories," and developers at CCP are "relatively hands-off janitors of the virtual world" EVE's former senior producer Jon Lander told Gamasutra in 2012.
"We build a social engine that people actually love, hate, despise each other, love each other, backstab each other, and play the good Samaritan. People know each other, and there is this history," Lander said, and the story you can read at the CCP blog -- featuring the underdog becoming the victor in the second-biggest battle in the game's history -- is testament to that.
In content-driven MMOs, players burn through handcrafted content and then abandon the game; in EVE Online, they're driven to keep playing for years.
If you want to learn more about the principles that lead to this kind of success, you can watch this free 2012 talk from former CCP design Matthew Woodward on sandbox MMO design.