Over the last 8 or so months CCP has been working hard to bring balance to many of the games space ships, and it seems that will also mean barges and exhumers. This is a good thing, but of course nothing good comes without a price, and this has caused a bit of controversy over at the official forums.
Here is the list of up coming changes. >> Barge and Exhumer Rebalancing << Click on the link to see the changes and what CCP Tallest has to say regarding them.
This is a very heated topic and many of the players have voiced their concerns regarding it recently. To some it is a much needed and overdue change to mining. To others, it seems, this will make it more difficult to attack unsuspecting miners(there is more to ganking than many people assume and it isn't always about griefing - though some do gank others strictly to produce gaming tears it isn't always the case).
In my opinion, I can see why some people are upset, and I can also understand where the miners are coming from, however, I think the below post(Barge Fairy Tale) by one of the people against these changes puts forth a very good argument. As a miner and a player that runs a mining corp, the game gave me a choice, either play it safe and run my barges and exhumers with an armor tank, and be somewhat less of a target of potential gankers, or run my ships with modifications and fittings that lowered the armor but would allow me to pull more yield. I personally chose to play it safe and run with armor - exhumers cost over a 1/4 billion ISK apiece. So I and the others in my corp all rig our ships to have good tanks. I'd rather get less yield and not lose all the ISK I poured into the mods, rigs, and ships.
Ganking ships in high sec space does serve a purpose and it does have its place. By CCP mucking around and making it less likely to succeed and making it a more costly endeavor - this will definitely play favorably into the hands of the miners. This can also be an issue. Less ganking means, more ore and minerals on the market - and that means they'll be making less through their mining endeavors. As a person that runs a mining corp I have enjoyed the recent higher prices of the ores and minerals. It has allowed me the freedom to expand my corps operations. With these coming changes I can see prices will be back down in the gutter again.
I do agree that the ships CCP gave us all ready are set up fine for armor and tanking. It just seems that CCP is kowtowing to a certain type of player and is dumbing the game down further by making these ships(mining barges and exhumers), as a few players on the official forums have said: idiot proof. CCP seems to believe that certain players are not capable of learning how to play their game so they are going to make it easier on them and just give them ships that going to need less skill and knowledge to use. It use to be that players of EVE had a choice on how they would fit and rig their ships. You always needed to make a choice. In PvP, do you rig a ship for more damage output or rig it to take more damage? Do you fit a ship for damage, ECM, ECCM, and or shield and armor? You can't do it all...you as a player must make a choice. That is the beauty of EVE.
With the changes CCP is making to the barges and exhumers it seems CCP has sent a pretty clear message and it seems EVE will be losing some of her beauty.
If you are interested here are a few of those ongoing heated forum threads from the official forums regarding this issue.