Picking fights is a lark and all in Elite: Dangerous [official site], but you're all a bunch of kids playing slapsies and shovefight in the park, really. No, grown-ups pick fights because someone else told them to. Elite will wander down this path with its next update, introducing factions which players can choose to ally with as they vie for control of the galaxy.
The 'Powerplay' system, announced last week, will let players join factions to compete and cooperate with each other in whichever way their faction prefers, whether it's economic power, military might, or goodness knows what else. There are, of course, rewards.
Factions are trying to build their own little empires, with their own goals, ethos, and figureheads. Senator Denton Patreus of the Empire looks like a right dick. Serving your faction will net you better deals and, interestingly, a bigger say in what they'll tackle next. Each week brings new objectives, see, and players vote on what their faction will get up to next week.
"One of my favourite parts of Powerplay is how the objectives match the faction's ethos," lead designer Sandro Sammarc said in the announcement. "For example, if a major economic Power sends in their traders for a financial takeover against a military powerhouse, the other side may be tasked with piracy missions to destroy or loot their cargo. You can always be a trader or a miner or a pirate for your own ends, but by joining a Power you'll be afforded special rights and be rewarded for playing the way you already like to play."
Also, obviously, you get to pick fights with penalties if folks from enemy factions come round your manor. The blog post also talks of interesting stuff like minor groups and splinters graduating to full faction status if enough people support them, and factions may be wiped out.
Along with Powerplay, the update will bring new drones, new ships, and other odds and ends. Do read the post for the full run-down.