Updated Mon, Jul 26, 2010 by Space Junkie
An outpost is a player-constructed station that can be constructed in the lawless regions of null-sec space. These outposts then serve as the base for the corporations and alliances that build them, acting as forts, marketplaces, and home, all rolled into one. Any corporation that controls an outpost is considered to be heads and shoulders above those that do not.
This guide is the first of a two-part series dealing with constructing an outpost. This portion deals with an overview of outpost types and the strategic concerns of when and where to build them, while the second part will contain an in-depth look at the particulars of outpost construction.
Why Build An Outpost
Outposts should only be built after careful consideration.
Building an outpost is expensive, usually costing somewhere in the vicinity of 25 billion ISK. The risks are immense: the outpost might get blown up before it is fully built, or stolen by a more powerful alliance at any point after construction is finished. They can attract pirates seeking to prey on the players making use of the facilities. They can be regarded as trespassing in areas of space that, though unclaimed via game mechanics, are nevertheless considered the territory of one or more alliances.
Why, then, would anyone ever bother going through the hassle of building one? There are many reasons:
Outpost Profit Models
The most important consideration, barring some kind of larger strategy or unusual motive, is "will this outpost pay for itself?" The usual answer is that if the outpost is left in relative peace and the inhabitants are able to go about their business without too much harassment, then it will eventually pay for itself. Depending on how clever you are about leveraging control of that solar system and the station's facilities, and especially how many people are making use of your station, it may turn around a profit faster or slower.
Maintaining sovereignty in a single solar system costs at least 6mil ISK per day in maintenance fees, and probably a great deal more if you want to make use of any of the bells and whistles like jump bridges or cynosural arrays. In order to pay for this, it is imperative that any ISK-generating activities that take place in your solar system contribute toward that bill. Usually, this occurs by having a corporation tax that applies to NPC kill bounties, a refinery tax in the station (if applicable), and/or charging players ISK to remain in your corporation.
Alternative profit models are not currently incentivized by EVE Online's game mechanics. Supercapital construction is like painting a big target on your solar system.
Allowing some kind of open access to your upgraded solar system will increase population pressure without improving your profit by very much, if at all. Basically, if there is a better way to run a station system, nobody has thought of it, and CCP has not expended a lot of resources to make alternative corporate models feasible.