Saving faction warfare:
The save came in the form of the previously mentioned unique items limited to the faction warfare loyalty point store. Faction capacitor booster charges, armour plates, drones and shield modules were all made available, with the promise of tier 1 faction battleships in Dominion. LP was given out for kills against the enemy militia and completion of missions. The hope was to get more people back into the war and give them some incentive to do faction missions that put pilots at risk of PvP. With luck, faction warfare would be revitalised and closer to the original vision of PvP encounters for small ships. Unfortunately, the result was almost the exact opposite.
The assumption that making the missions popular would translate to vastly increased PvP turned out to be false. Without a system to show where missions were about to be undertaken, the chances of coming across someone doing one and getting a gang there in time to stop them were very low. The second and most pressing issue was that fights rarely ever happened in FW missions. There was simply no reason for pilots to put themselves at risk by attempting to complete a mission with hostiles looming.
Without players being trapped inside by warp disruption fields or something similar, it was impossible to force them into PvP scenarios. When presented with the zero-risk option to simply run away if disturbed, that's exactly what people did. Faction warfare went from a game where fleets of a hundred or more fought tactical battles at stargates to one where people were speed-running missions in stealth bombers. In adding unique rewards for the missions but not ensuring those missions would actually put the pilots at risk of PvP, CCP had inadvertantly turned faction warfare into a farmer's dream. Although harassment gangs could still interrupt someone running missions, there were no kills to be had.
With unique items in the militia LP stores and the promise of unique faction battleships on the way, the race was on to gather loyalty points. While some LP was given for PvP kills, the fastest way to gain it was with faction warfare missions. People estimated the value of faction LP at over double the value of standard points but quibbled over the ISK-per hour rate. The rate depended a lot on the average travel time to the mission and whether it's safe to run the mission there. This is where a few secretive corps stepped in and blew all value estimations out of the water. They came up with a secret strategy to eliminate those two tenuous variables - the travel time to the mission and the safety factor. In doing so, they could farm four times faster than anyone else and racked up millions of LP by the time the Dominion expansion hit.
Read on to page 3, where I expose some of the tactics being used to farm FW missions, how one corp made over 50 billion ISK from it and how new rewards may have put the final nail in faction warfare's coffin.