In 6 years of playing EVE Online I've only ever seen people fight for one reason: because they want to. You can poke someone's space, their structures, their sov. You can do this with a coalition level invasion, you can do it with a single alliance, a single corp, with a massive capital fleet or 5 dudes in frigates. It doesn't matter, the only variables in this equation are whether there's an FC willing to set up a fleet and some members willing to join it. This piece isn't about that though.
What I'm interested in is your options to generate fights with the people who want to, and to punish the people who don't. To that end I don't think the game has ever had an objective better than money moons. Without getting into specific debates about citadels vs POSes the owner could invest varying amounts into the POS itself to make it harder to attack, the attacker needed to make a real but not unreasonable commitment to attack it, both sides had options available to control the exit timer, and even in the event of a blueball on the exit timer a level of work was still required by the defender to secure it. The result of this is that while attacking structures well within the sphere of influence of a powerful group might not been practical, persistence nearly always beat strength when it came to things on the edge of that sphere. A classic example of this would be the valuable moons of Syndicate. They forever swayed between the control of the CFC, a coalition numbering in the thousands and a hodgepodge of disparate local groups constantly under attack from each other. Groups with names such as Rote Kapelle, TISHU, Cynsural Field Theory, CAS, Tempest Legion, Ninja Unicorns and Rooks and Kings who numbered in only the dozens. Few know how much content and fun was generated squabling over a couple dozen moons whos yearly net income would not be incomparable to that of today's average Rorqual multiboxer.
I describe that era not to tell you the future of EVE is to roll back to 2012, but to draw attention to a grossly untrue narrative I have watched become accepted wisdom. That of money moons as a treasured resource controlled by an elite few and defended by a wave of supers manufactured from their dividends. Those in sov nullsec were simply owned by whoever lived there while those in lowsec and NPC nullsec were constantly fought over by residents of neighbouring sov null, residents of neighbouring lowsec, and nomadic alliances like Black Legion and PL.
Active moon mining was long campaigned for and sold as the great emancipation of wealth from a few privileged groups to everyone else, a chance for smaller groups to get their piece. What we've seen is instead quite the opposite. Lacking the infrastructure, capital and defensive capabilities to meaningfully utilise these resources such groups have coalesced into larger and larger blocs. Be that as informal agreements between neighbours, formally as coalitions, or worse still membership bleed to larger more established entities. Far from the ISK being more evenly distributed we've simply seen it move from a model of nationalisation within an immediate sphere of influence to taxation of a natural resource across a larger memberbase.
Most of all though it's a net loss in content. From the perspective of the miner it's no different from anomaly or belt mining beyond the value of a full ore hold and the air of safety provided by the structure itself. While a few enjoy the full industrial process, some enjoy the company of space friends in a chill activity and many more enjoy the green popup of a positive wallet transaction I doubt anyone would dare hold up mining as an example of EVE Online at its best. Even if you do enjoy the activity beyond a means to an end, this sameness negates a lot of the loss when attacked. If a mining group were to lose all of their moons, they could simply revert back to the same kind of mining that's been available for the previous 14 years of EVE Online's life. If we seek proof of the lack of engagement in this mechanic with the players it was specifically targetted at, I need only point at the dramatic price increases across the board on T2 products. Many nearly doubled in price in the months following the patch and none have recovered.
Hardest hit of course are squarely PVP-focused groups as lack an income of any kind. Members are fine, folks joining groups like BL, Snuff, C2 PVP corps and so on know what they're signing up for and usually have something on the side. The problem is for the alliance. Campaigns even for smaller groups are more expensive than I think almost anyone but the folks running them know. You need infrastructure, you need market stocking, you need handout ships for certain comps, and of course this is assuming you have no SRP of any kind. Most such groups simply get by on a combination of "you must be this high to ride" expectations on members and wealthy leadership bank rolling the rest but every group lacking those is now gone.
And on that I come back to my earlier point about Syndicate. Despite dramatic variance in price over the years through OTEC, Alchemy and Odyssey the total value of the region was never a fantastical figure. Huge for an individual no doubt, large for a corp for sure, but on the scale of alliances it wasn't oligarchical. In a past time when most of Syndicate's moons were owned by a much earlier iteration of TISHU, it was around 50B/month. For comparison 5 rorqual pilots putting in 3 hours of mining 3 days a week is making about 20B/month. Regions like Fountain post-Odyssey and Deklein/Venal at the height of Technetium pricing were far greater than that of course but they were the exception to the rule.
To wrap this up I have a fairly simple solution with plenty of dials to tweak. By simply by adding a module, mode or rig for Refineries, we could allow that structure to passively collect some minor percentage at the cost of the rest being lost, perhaps something around 15%, the goal in my mind would be 6-8B for the most valuable moons. For large groups with lots of miners this could be happily ignored at no cost. For PVP focused groups however this would reintroduce a healthy income stream and a well needed meaningful objective for conflict. It's often said that all things are healthy in moderation and I see no reason why this wouldn't apply to top-down passive income.