The 0.0 or 'null security' area of EVE Online's universe has always been where the game's action has been and where most of the intriguing stories of the game come from. Most of the corporate intrigue and large tactical battles have been set in the game's so-called 'outlaw space' area.
In Eve Online, different star systems have different security statuses. 'High sec' is the most secure, where the game's NPC police force will respond and destroy any outlaws quickly. In the 'low sec' systems, only stargates and stations in-game are protected by weak NPC turret systems, and in the 'null sec' systems, there is nothing between you and that pirate gate camp. Null sec systems are not owned by the game's NPC empires, and instead, player alliances are allowed to claim them through a sovereignty system.
When a player alliance controls a system's sovereignty, it allows them to control it. There are several large player alliances that fight wars against each other to control these star systems, but EVE developer CCP is introducing some changes that will drastically shake up the status quo of EVE Online's null sec space.
The most obvious change is in the way that null sec space is claimed by player alliances. Previously, the ability to claim a null sec system for your own alliance revolved around the use of player-owned starbases (or POS). The more POS's you held in a system, the higher 'sov level' was on that system, showing the level of control on that system. Higher sov levels allowed you to add more useful things to that system, such as jump bridges that allowed you and your allies to travel large distances easily.
This old style of sovereignty based claiming sov. on POS warfare. 'POS bashing' as the EVE userbase called it, was the main way of capturing a system, and involved large fleets, and capital ships called dreadnaughts. Capturing even a loosely-held system from your enemies took a large amount of man hours and time of watching your ship fire at a starbase's shields. Under this system, only the largest alliances could take large swaths of space.
Developer CCP has announced that an upcoming (free) expansion will seriously change this sovereignty system of EVE Online. This isn't just an overhaul, CCP is blowing up the sov. system and completely rebuilding it from the ground up. Sovereignty will no longer be connected in any way to the number of Starbases you have in that system.
Instead, the new sov system will be similar to EVE Online's Faction Warfare system (where players fight each other in the name of EVE's NPC empires, which is considered sort of a training mode to ease mission runners into null sec). Starting with an unclaimed system, an alliance who wishes to capture it has to drop a 'claim marker' in the system. This anchor will take 24 hours to be activated, and if the 24 hours pass without being destroyed, that area will be the property of the alliance who dropped the marker. Once the market finishes this day-long 'securing' process, it becomes invulnerable to attack.
Attacking alliances who want to capture a secured system now have to drop a 'disruptor field' which, after a 12-hour null period, will open up the original alliance's claim mark for attack. Once the original alliance's claim marker is destroyed, anybody is free to place their own sov marker. As previously said, the old sov system was dependent on POS basing, which would take capital ships, and large fleets of battleships that would shoot at POS's for hours. This new system encourages more small and medium-ships to engage in battles over these markers.
Mostly, the EVE community has received these changes well, with the most noticeable complaints coming from the game's large 0.0 alliances. The current null sec power houses are afraid that they will be unable to keep some of their more remote systems secure and that small gangs of players will be able to easily and quickly take remote systems from large alliances. CCP has promised that the system will be well balanced and that small frigates will be unable to capture and hold systems.
Other changes to the game's sov. system come in the form of nerfs and boosts to the game's capital ship class. The Titan is EVE's biggest ship class. It is a large, slow, expensive capital ship that takes years of training to fly and build. They are often built in secret (lest an enemy alliance discover where you are building your titan, and attempt to destroy the ship while it's being built). The only direct weapon of the Titan is the Doomsday device, which fires a large energy sphere that does intense damage to any ship caught in its wake. During a large fleet battle, a well timed Titan doomsday can turn the battle by easily destroying large numbers of the enemy fleet.
CCP has announced that the titan's doomsday will change from an 'area of effect' weapon to a single-target weapon, which the game's community has assumed will be a 'Death Star'-style blast. This single change, which may seem slight for those not involved in the game, will completely change the usefulness of Titans. Instead of taking out large numbers of smaller fleet ships, the Titan will now be used to take a single high-priority target. So far, the game's community has speculated that these will be used to take out other ships in the capital class, such as dreadnaughts or carriers.
Balance is the key to keeping an online MMOG community happy, and CCP is balancing the Titan nerf (or boost, depending on how you look at it) by introducing a new class of fighters that are equipped on the capital-class carrier ships. Carriers are large capital ships that have no primary weapons, but instead carry fighters. Fighters are similar to the smaller drones that some ships in the game can equip, except fighters are the size (and cost) of player-flown cruisers, with increased firepower.
CCP has announced that a new class of fighters, called 'fighter bombers' will be introduced, which will fire smartbombs, which are area-of-effect weapons that damage any ship in their wake. It is presumed that these bomber fighters and their smartbomb attacks will be able to attack large numbers of ships, balancing the changes in the Titan's role.
The final, and most yet unknown change to the sov. system is the upcoming FPS game called 'Dust 514', which is set in the EVE universe and console FPS players will fight for the player alliances in the PC MMORPG. Again, CCP is withholding information about Dust 514 until their Fanfest, being held in Iceland later this year. How Dust will tie into the newly changed sov system has the entire game's community on pins and needles.
The 0.0 null sec sov system has long been in favor of the game's current alliance power houses, like the Goonswarm. Many have complained that the previous system made it almost impossible for inspiring alliances to break into their own slice of 0.0 without a larger ally. The sov capturing system changes and the titan/carrier changes will be added in an upcoming expansion, entitled 'Dominion' that will be released in November of this year. No release date for Dust 514 has been released, ostensibly more information will be released at CCP's EVE Fanfest later this year.