What are Customs Offices (commonly known as POCO's) good for?
Poco's are a method of claiming a planet. If I have a customs office up, that planet is mine, and you may do PI on it at my pleasure. Foo's pleasure is easy to come by, but when <that other mob> have it, it can be difficult. You can export without a customs office, but only in small volumes and with generally much higher taxes.
Poco's are a source of taxation for corporations. The Foo corps generally charge 4-5% tax depending on standing. Other organsations may charge 15% tax.
Poco's put ships into space to remove. When someone wants to grind out a customs office, 500 DPS is required to keep up with the shield regeneration, and need to do an additional 14M damage on top of that (link). This is within the realm of a patient small corp (2 AFK laser Myrmidons can do it slowly), and fairly easy for a large corp. Both the grinding of POCO and the ganking of the small fleet are content.
They are a PI and ISK sink to manufacture. When we want to claim a system, and have ground out the old customs offices, it requires both concord LP (for the egg) and a fair amount of PI. When the next 'would be' owner turns up, the process is repeated.
The hunter can use these as a place to gank the unwary PI farmer. They are not so good to catch the paranoid PI farmer (link). Mind you, it is very easy to stop being paranoid and become the hunted.
What are customs offices bad at?
Customs offices are full of old bad legacy code. Apparently when we get citadels, we get nice new shiny toys, and the customs office interface will be old, tired and cranky.
OpportunitiesThere is an appetite for changing structures at CCP at the moment. Some CCP representatives in the tweetfleet Structures and CSM rooms
Should one Citadel be able to access one planet, some or all planets in a system for PI?
Can customs offices be removed from the game, with Citadels replacing this functionality?
Should Citadels be able to interact with the customs offices via NPCs?
PI could additionally be improved in a citadel via rigs or service modules.
ThreatsIf the customs office functionality is removed from game, will it make it too simple, boring or otherwise prevent pilots from going to space? This includes the PI ecosystem, farmers, manufacturers, haulers, gankers and even the occasional real PVP fight .
In my (not so) humble opinion
Keep the customs office in some formI like the flag planting that comes from having a customs office. The ability to say "This is mine", whether it be in highsec or in nullsec is relevant, to control the space around us. Marmite offered (by threat of wardec) to relieve me of a highsec customs office. I declined and set up in a 'one wardec - one tiny corp - one customs office' situation. Marmite have the ability to take it away, but if they want that customs office, they will have to be try hards.
I had previously bought then lost a lowsec customs office empire. I have fought for customs offices in other areas of space.
Opportunity for disruption.At the moment PI can be interrupted. As the hunted, PI collection makes for compelling gameplay, and is far more interesting than clicking the buttons to reset factories, or even the original layout.
As a moderately competent PI farmer, I want my skills and knowledge to mean something.
I would prefer the hunters speak form themselves, but can well imagine the WH solo hunter community outcry if the PI farmers become even safer.
If PI can be collected in the citadel directly from the planet or customs office, then there should be some method of blockading a planet. Some form of interdiction or siphon unit , say one that takes time to deploy, has a reinforcement timer and requires 1 unit of strontium clathrates per day. Say this unit can be avoided by flying directly to the planet, or give by using existing launchpad facility with a larger volume (the current volume is too small to be usable).
I do not mind a griefer blockading a system providing they commit resources. I do not mind a 2 bit industry corp defending themselves against a lone wolf, or hiring mercs to defend them. I run a 2 bit industry corp.
I don't really mind what form disruption takes, but there should be the real chance of disruption.
How many planets should a Citadel service?0? 1? Some? A system? A constellation? A Region?
I don't want to have to place 1 citadel per planet. A customs office is well priced to be an achievable challenge for the new industry corporation (at about 100M). A system of customs offices is a stretch goal for that same corporation but fairly easy for a large corp.
A few of medium citadels per system would be OK. Maybe a large serving twice the area of a medium? Or to stop unnecessary replication, maybe a medium citadel could server a system. These are all options.
Add your two ISK worth as a comment. One thing some readers of this blog can do is PI.