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There Ain’t No Drama Like Spaceship Drama Cause Spaceship Drama Don’t Stop (Now With 200% More Cats)

This week in Eve:

Incarna shipped! You can now walk in your spaceship. No one else can see you walk in your spaceship but yep you’re walking. So there you go.

The in-game clothing store also shipped. You can now spend $60 on a monocle. To be fair, it’s a really nice monocle and I think monocles cost about $60 in real life. Oh wait, sorry, I meant $6. So there you go.

Most players responded with “What was CCP thinking?” This being Eve, someone promptly leaked exactly what CCP was thinking. (hint: pretty much exactly what you think they were thinking)

The Eve player base responded with the calm demeanor you’d expect by, um, literally rioting. The devs responded with, uh, yeah.

People have been shocked by the price range in the NeX store, but you should remember that we are talking about clothes. Look at the clothes you are currently wearing in real life. Do you have any specific brands? Did you choose it because it was better quality than a no-name brand? Assume for a short while that you are wearing a pair of $1,000 jeans from some exclusive Japanese boutique shop. Why would you want to wear a pair of $1,000 jeans when you can get perfectly similar jeans for under $50? What do other people think about you when they see you wearing them? For some you will look like the sad culmination of vainness while others will admire you and think you are the coolest thing since sliced bread. Whichever it is, it is clear that by wearing clothes you are expressing yourself and that the price is one of the many dimensions that clothes possess to do that in addition to style and fit. You don’t need to buy expensive clothes. In fact you don’t need to buy any clothes. Whatever you choose to do reflects what you are and what you want others to think you are.

If you do not buy a $60 monocle A LOSER IS YOU. So there you go.

BREAKING BAD CEO EDIT: Apparently EveNews got their hands on an internal email sent out by CEO Hilmar Petturson to CCP employees regarding the rioting in the streets, er, spaceways? about Eve’s newfound love for macrotransactions (when microtransactions just aren’t big enough!). It’s important to note that there’s no confirmation Petturson actually wrote this. Because…

Naturally, we have caught the attention of the world. Only a few weeks ago we revealed more information about DUST 514 and now we have done it again by committing to our core purpose as a company by redefining assumptions. After 40 hours we have already sold 52 monocles, generating more revenue than any of the other items in the store.

That’s right, biyotches, CCP made THREE. THOUSAND. DOLLARS. Truly, this amount of money from vanity store items is unprecedented in the MMO industry.

Currently we are seeing _very predictable feedback_ on what we are doing. Having the perspective of having done this for a decade, I can tell you that this is one of the moments where we look at what our players do and less of what they say.

Or, as Hilmar The Very Savvy Business Cat says…

But the best/worst part, that makes me really hope for Petturson’s sake that this is some clever troll of a forgery or possibly the work of a very drunk Icelandic summer pub crawl, is this line:

But we have done more, not only have we redefined the production quality one can apply to virtual worlds with the beautiful Incarna but we have also defined what it really means to make virtual reality more meaningful than real life when it comes to launching our new virtual goods currency, Aurum.

I…. what was that, Hilmar The Cat That Leverages Synergy?

So there you go. You go.

  • VPellen

    Technically you walk around in a small box located outside your spaceship.

  • Aufero

    I don’t get all the rage, (Who cares about avatar cosmetics in a ship-based PvP game where your avatar is normally displayed as a tiny icon?) but I also don’t understand why CCP thinks anyone is crazy enough to shell out what they’re charging.  Just about every item in the new shop would be overpriced at a tenth of its present cost.

    Still, who cares? Their insanity hasn’t affected my ability to blow up internet spaceships. (Yet.)

    • Mist

      It will.

  • Oddly enough you cannot walk around in your spaceship, only in stations, so that means that if you own one of the spaceships that cannot dock in stations, the new patch adds content you will never actually see. Kind of clever.

  • JuJutsu

    I blame The Mittani.

  • Now ex-Eve Player

    That $60 monocle costs the equivalent of a fully faction-fitted battleship.  WTF were they thinking?

  • dartwick

    The monocle just started the fire. The huge can of gasoline was the internal memo suggestion they sell stuff that gives you  a copetative advanatge in game – while still charging you a subscription.

    Then when CCP_ZULU refused to back off from the idea of selling competitive advantages in his blog everyone became furious.

  • VPellen

    Shit just escalated: An internal e-mail by Eve’s Producer was leaked, and, well…

    http://www.evenews24.com/2011/06/25/ccp-hilmar-global-email-shows-the-reasoning-behind-ccp-zulu-devblog/

  • flagonwiththedragon

    So what?  Eve is already designed to let players spend money for a competitive advantage.    You buy another account, and have a competitive advantage.  You spend money to buy PLEX so you can go to war with an endless supply of ships.  You’ve been able to spend money in Eve to get a competitive advantage for some time.  I’d even go so far as to say it’s designed that way from the start.  The game design appeals to a particular kind of player and they pretty much attracted all the players they were ever going to, they were able to look like they were growing still by players having mutiple accounts but even that is maxed out.  Where else do they have to go but find a way to get more out of the players they have.  Incursion wasn’t going to bring in a PvE crowd, Incarna isn’t going to bring in an RP crowd.  CCP wants to be unabashedly proud of the gameplay in Eve but also unhappy with the limitations on player appeal that brings.   Welcome to business guys.  You created your niche, now play there.

    • JuJutsu

      So what? You really think this is no big deal? Are you Smedly posting under another handle?

      • flagonwiththedragon

        I think the “deal” happened a long time ago in Eve and this isn’t all that different from multiple accounts or buying ISK.  I also think there were internal memos talking about how to design things to get people to buy multiple accounts and so forth.    

        Every game is the designers to ruin or build, CCP made its choices, it has the players it has and the game probably can’t grow a lot more.  They don’t want to live with that so they’re onto how to squeeze more out of players.  Many businesses do this and for most it’s the beginning of a death-spiral.  

        They can’t attract more customers and alienating the existing base is the beginning of the end for many MMOs.  CCP would do well to keep that in mind and govern themselves accordingly.  If they choose not to, the business will take it’s course.As to it being a big deal?  No I don’t think it is.  Taxes, the Recession and War are big deals.  This is nothing… it’s a game. If it’s pointless or not fun to play I wont, and many other people wont either.  If it’s fun and worth my time I will.  If Eve shuts down my life will go on, I’ll enjoy other games, rant about practices of other developers in the future but no, I don’t think this is a big deal.

        • Guest

          flagonwiththedragon, so what? People already spend money on PLEX right? But plex doesn’t work they way you think it does. PLEX isn’t instantly generating money similar to the Federal Reserve. Any ISK used to buy a PLEX was made by engaging in the in game economy. So in order to gain that ISK, I need to salvage, engage in the market with other players, cultivate resources and manage production efforts… or at the very least pay someone else who is using bots doing the same for that ISK which at the very least is time limited. The core of EVE is a virtual sandbox world where corporations are dedicated to being suppliers in a supply chain for war efforts in other parts of space.

          When CCP starts selling ships (which was in the newsletter), they are undermining the gameplay of anyone (which is a large portion of players) who works within the supply chain for that ship in game. When that ship is produced out of thin air to support a war effort, it similar to the Federal Reserve printing money, and distorts the economy, undermines my role in the game, by CCP becoming a direct competitor to players. It undermines strategies like resource drain in war, where variables were dependent on the state of the sandbox, etc. It basically erodes what made EVE unique as a virtual space sandbox.

          In short, when someone buys a PLEX to sell for in game cash, they are engaging the in game economy and stimulating it. When someone buys a ship from a microtransaction store, they are bypassing the entire economy, which is a huge part of EVE and all the other players who work to manage, support, and build that economy (again, a very large number of players).

          • flagonwiththedragon

            I’ve been playing Eve since launch so I definitely understand PLEX.  What you’re saying is true in that it doesn’t unbalance the economy.  That isn’t the same as weather spending money can unbalance gameplay.   To be clear, I’m on the benefiting end of PLEX.  I have a great job, I make good money. So if I ever get to a point where I care enough to buy PLEX for something I do.  But I also understand that the poor schlep who wardec’ed me that, unless they are in the same spot as I am, I can replace ships at will and it means almost nothing to me.  Like it or not, me and someone else are playing entirely different games and it’s entirely because of money.  

            I can buy faction battleships at will, I can hire Merc Corps if I want to.  All this is a game balance issue even if it doesn’t unbalance the economy.

            Now other than the wardec I don’t really do this because I don’t care enough about the game, but I could.  

            CCP selling ships will unbalance the game and the economy so this is an escalation, perhaps even a significant one but I don’t think it’s entirely new as a concept in Eve.  Their toe has been in the water on this for some time.

          • Guest

            Fair point about a similar influence on 0.0, but the economy is a huge part of EVE and is what a lot of players mostly due. It’s no small thing or small escalation to cut their role out of the game with micro transactions in addition to still having an effect on 0.0.

            And BTW, players may only have a direct impact on CCPs bottom line through their own subscription, I think messaging is an important part of influencing developers and making people aware of problems (or potential problems) so telling people to stop talking about, making a big deal about it, is undermining communication, spreading of information which is still important in shifting other related costs on to CCP (bad PR, etc) in order to influence their decisions.

            Encouraging people to reduce their involvement to a binary isolated choice because you don’t like the way they are expressing their opinions (or whatever), is pretty anti-consumer.

          • Guest

            Ugh, “a lot of players mostly do.” I’m sure there’s more, but sorry about my shitty typing/grammar.

          • flagonwiththedragon

            @77a9967ee7437769d6b26d7c24ce0cbe:disqus  Fair enough, and I’ll believe it if at the end of 30 days Eve is suddenly empty or half the players have left.  I don’t think the history of “Oh my god I’m gonna quit” posts supports that this is going to happen.  I could be wrong, but we’ll find out soon enough.

            @bfd3abcd84696f6099e1d9d68ebd1d98:disqus  I don’t consider it anti-consumer, I consider it anti-meaningless-rant.    If people want to express how they feel then go ahead.  If they want to disagree then go ahead.  Above all if they want to discuss the actual impact then go ahead.   PLEASE GOD go ahead and actually discuss it instead of making blanket statements that this will actually ruin the game.  
            The past in Eve has clearly shown that players will continue to play, that changes to the game may be changes to the game but nothing has destroyed the game as of yet. I doubt this change will either.   So we’ve entered into a new change and a new series of speculations about how this will destroy the game.  The evidence is clearly not with this argument.

            But if it does destroy the game then so be it.  People have spoken their mind about this, tantrums aren’t going to raise the visibility of the issue.  CCP is in the drivers seat on it and can choose to listen or not as they wish. 

          • Random Poster

            Except a lot of people don’t buy monthly they buy multiple months or even yearly. The fallout from this could take a while for IN GAME players to see, CCP however will have direct access to all the “cancel subscription notices” even while the account is active.

            The memo + Devblog + email is what has prompted me to not come back. All three of them show a contempt for their customers.I’m not even a hardcore player, I don’t run multiple accounts and I have been in lowsec a bare handful of times, so the shop even if they DID sell advantages would not affect me. But that attitude towards their customer…no thank you.

          • Guest

            “The past in Eve has clearly shown that players will continue to play….”

            Sony thought the past in SWG had clearly shown that players would continue to play, too, so they could do whatever they felt like to SWG. They just announced they’re shutting down SWG, and it has to be assumed that the inability to recover player numbers after those changes had something to do with it.

  • JuJutsu

    “As to it being a big deal?  No I don’t think it is.  Taxes, the Recession and War are big deals.  This is nothing… it’s a game.”

    Point taken.

  • This issue will become interesting when the Goons protest the store by declaring everyone with a monocle on their avatar KOS.

  • Can you even SEE that an avatar has a monocle?

  • VPellen

    Yes, it’s a sort of robot eye monocle. It’s actually quite nice. Not 80 dollars nice, but nice. If you want to see a picture of it:

    http://cdn1.eveonline.com/community/devblog/2011/EVE_Online_Incarna_Monocle_WiP.jpgAlso, the e-mail, when posted on the forums, was deleted by a CM guy to the tune of “internal correspondence is not allowed to be posted on the forums”, which supposedly lends legitimacy to it.

  • dartwick

    Is it a big deal?

    With respect to EVE its a huge deal, probably the biggest moment in 8 years,  Is it a big deal with respect to war famine and genocide – well obviously no, but then this this is a blog about gaming so lets I think we get that.
    CCP is highly leveraged business playing a game of chicken with its angry customer base, seeing who blinks first. This doesnt happen often.

    As for Goons last nigh Mittanni suggested if CCP doesnt back down they are probably going to leave EVE in mass.

    • flagonwiththedragon

      @381e753c943f9b1106d66c1a544ddf2b:disqus This is about gaming and I still don’t think it’s a huge deal. They haven’t locked you into a year long subscrption and then changed the game.  They haven’t tricked you into buying a false product.  A “big deal” in gaming is fraud, say Hellgate London selling lifelong subscrptions and shutting down within a year.  That’s a big deal.
      This is just a change in a very long standing game.  It may be a big shift in the game but at the end of the day it’s your choice to play or not.  If someone is so effected by this that they can’t get over the emotion of it then that is a big deal, but it’s a big deal about them not the game.

      At the end of the day CCP chooses how to run it’s game and you choose to play or not.  I think it’s unfortunate to see a overall good game to go this way but after the big pile of “meh” that was Incursion and Incarna I don’t know that I care anymore.

    • Mordur

      The Goons leaving might be the best thing for EVE. It would totally change the playing field and make it attractive to new players.

  • Aufero

    Breaking news: CEOs can occasionally be pompous, clueless assholes.  (cf. Donald Trump’s political career.)

  • Sinij

    This is a very predictable future of micro-transactions, next step is making “60$ monocles” pre-requisite for new in-game content.

  • Sinij

    Next step after that is intentionally making your game suck unless you purchase every single “monocle” they are offering.

  • dartwick

    If someone changes there game in such a way that I and several 1000 others(maybe more) decide to cancel with in days I consider it a big deal.

    Maybe the changes in game arent a big deal to you. But the situation as a whole is a big deal to EVE.

    • flagonwiththedragon

      @dartwick Then cancel.  As of right now though there has been no mass exodus from Eve.  The game is still operating and will be for the near future.  I doubt this is going to have much of a particular effect on Eve in terms of subscriptions. People will complain and keep right on playing.  For this to be a “big deal” something actually has to happen and as of right now, nothing has other than abuse of the submit button.

      • Ghoest9

        Actually I did cancel this week. A great many people did.
        Many of them are hoping CCP backs down then they will resub. I was hoping that up until Hilmars email was released.

        This is big deal to EVE. I think you being the guy with his fingers in his ears and his eyes closed saying “This isnt happening! This isnt happening!”

  • VPellen

    A lot of people are playing on cancelled accounts right now. Cancelling your account doesn’t make you stop playing, it lets you run out the time you have remaining.

  • Dave

    I cancelled my account today.

    It’s paid through mid-September, but it will no longer renew. I’m downloading Perpetuum now.

    As was pointed out above, the existing system of RMT in EVE was beautifully elegant. Players buy codes that can be turned into two PLEX. Each PLEX can be turned into a month’s gameplay. They then trade these with other players for an arranged upon price in in-game currency. They then use that in-game currency as they wish.
    The model doesn’t break the sandbox, because all the money and all the items are generated by actual game-play and subject to the same sandbox rules. All that changes is which person pays for the subscription.

    CCP is currently running three studios off of one income stream. Now, I have no inside knowledge of their finances, but I’d be very surprised if they were rolling in funds (especially as reports on Glassdoor are that their salaries are not competitive with the industry as a whole).

    I’m not sure how much of a hit in their revenue stream they can afford to take without it being permanently damaging — especially since their Community Management response over the last few days has ranged from inept to incompetent. Past a certain point, people become angry enough that even if they were to back down from their current position, it may be too late to get some of those customers back. Worse, there are some customers who have a disproportionate impact on the community. Tools like EFT, EveMon, and EveCentral are used almost universally by the player base, and are frankly necessary. If those tool owners decide to pull them, that itself is a big hit to CCP.

  • gx1080

    Ok, let’s go in order:

    Is perfectly OK for them to charge whatever they want for the stupid monocles. They are VANITY items, who cares. I also didn’t gave a fuck when the sparkle pony came out.

    That said, this is typical CCP lol-bad PR handling. Acting like they are shitting gold and players should be kissing their asses for it kinda pissed the players off. Wonder why *eyerolls*

    They really, really don’t want to back off of going pay-to-win, despite that they will probably have to, if they don’t want a riot worse than the current one. I’m talking about an NGE-game-killing riot.

    Is NOT OK to charge third-pàrty programs for the privilege of being useful for your game. They will also have to back off from that.

    The silence about the latter two points shows that they are being fought over on CCP at the moment of this writing.

  • UnknownSubject

    “That said, this is typical CCP lol-bad PR handling. Acting like they are
    shitting gold and players should be kissing their asses for it kinda
    pissed the players off. Wonder why *eyerolls*”

    The one-eyed mindset that takes a flop and turns it into a successful game over the course of years is the same one-eyed mindset that can drive players away in other situations.

  • dartwick

    On a related not In the middle of the this firestorm CCPs PR professional left  for a family medical emergency. At least this is what CCP says and I may believe them.

    Its was after she apologized to everyone and said CCP wanted to “parley.”

    Then with in hours she disappeared and the CCP released a statement just saying  “deal with it – nothing is changing.”

  • Enough players have gone to Perpetuum (at least to try), that they’ve had to implement a user limit…

    “First of all we’d like to welcome the influx of new players to
    Perpetuum. The sheer number of new players caught us by surprise, and
    we’re working around the clock to accommodate each and every one of you.

    However
    the number of players connected to our server has highlighted a
    previously unknown issue in the relay server to which every player is
    connected. The server team is working on fixing the issue as we speak,
    but for the time being a temporary limit on the user count has been set
    up. Once the current issue has been fixed we expect to be able to run
    without a user count limitation as this is not a hardware but a
    previously unknown software problem. (In fact most of the servers are
    running at 1-5% capacity except for the relay)”

    (http://forums.perpetuum-online.com/topic/2683/server-load-issues-in-the-last-48-hours/)

  • Sinij

    1…2…3… until “open PvP” killed EVE. Somehow its always PvP, and not monocles, server stability, bad design decisions and so for that kills these games.

    • Guest

      Yeah, like Shadowbane. They say PvP killed Shadowbane … and never think about how “play to crush” ended up being “pay to crash”. It was PvP, not servers that couldn’t be kept up with scaffolding. It was PvP, not an utter lack of content (and, worse, mind-numbingly dull mobs you HAD to farm to pay for your PvP). It was PvP, not abysmally terrible game design that ensured that churn was a one-way street. Etc., etc. No, even though Wolfpack did everything wrong that you could do in a game, and the only reason people even played it at all was the PvP … it was still PvP that killed Shadowbane.

      Suck is suck, and suck with PvP glued on it is still made of suck.

  • gx1080

    Update, from CCP Zulu:

    http://www.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&bid=934

    ” However I let my frustration take charge of me…..”

    Son. I am dissapoint.

    “…. there are no and never have been plans to sell “gold ammo” for Aurum.”

    And there’s that. From here, is damage control.

    • JuJutsu

      Now that my tinfoil hat is firmly ensconced…from a post by a CSM member elaborating on the latest deblog from CCP Zulu

      “When CSM was asked for input on the devblog, I was concerned about this wording. Here is the alternate wording that I suggested, which I believe expresses the essence of CCP Zulu’s intent:However, I want to make one thing absolutely clear. Despite the impression given by the “point-counterpoint” debate that appeared in the Fearless newsletter, there have never at any time been any plans to sell “gold ammo” or any other game-affecting goods for Aurum.”

      Why was the ‘or any other game-affecting goods’ not included? Are they incapable of simple unambiguous language? What’s going on with their community management?

  • Dave

    So, two interesting things happened this weekend as the story unfolded.

    One was a rumor that Sony was about to buy CCP. Given that Dust is a PS3 exclusive, and given that Smed was talking about exciting news in sandbox gameplay in a recent interview, that was certainly credible.

    The second was that CCP decided to fly the members of the CSM from all over the world to Iceland on nearly no notice.

    And then the pieces came together when a third thing happened. CCP immediately and absolutely denied the Sony rumor, in their forums, within hours. Possibly within minutes.

    Now, clearly CCP can deny false rumors in a forthright manner. They just did. And their previous public stance on any kind of micro-transactions (as of 2010) was that they would be vanity items only in EVE, they would not affect gameplay.

    Well, if the primary thing that has your customer base up in arms (yeah, there are other bits, but the “Pay-to-Win” issue was the one causing the real uproar) is not true,  why were there no clear denials? Why the careful, almost Clintonian weasel wording? And most interestingly, why are you spending a not inconsiderable amount of money flying people from all over the world to talk to you, if you aren’t actually reversing policy and selling game-affecting goods directly?

    It may be a tinfoil hat, but the only answer that makes sense to me is, “CCP fully intends to sell game-play affecting items for cash”. Which to me means they either don’t understand their customer base (and why they are drawn to the game), or they are desperate for money. And, on reflection, that isn’t really necessarily an “or” question.

  • I do hope that Eve-Online and CCP lose most of their customers, and keep their 53 monocles.

    As usual in this industry no one understand long-term effects.

  • flagonwiththedragon

    @Guest You should read the sentence,  Eve has shown players will continue to play, not SWG.   Eve’s player base has been incredibly stable and the evidence just doesn’t show players leave the game under controversy.  Players (and Massively) can hold up the uptick in trials over at Perpetuum all you want but this doesn’t prove anything.  It’ll take months to prove this has an effect on Eve and I expect it wont have a big one on actual subscription unless players see a change in their gameplay.  Right now this is a problem in theory and not in reality and I doubt we’ll be seeing any real change in subscription at all but if we do it wont be until something actually impacts gameplay.

    The tantrum over this will continue for a bit, then folks will get a juice and nap and this will just recede to snarky comments in corp chat but I think that’s probably about it.

  • Sinij

    ” AT” flagonwiththedragonLet us know how sticking head into the sand works out for you in the end.

    • flagonwiththedragon

      @7f6c741288ee30a2abe382bea20869c8:disqus  Head in the sand about what?  That people threaten to quit Eve all the time and they don’t?  That fact being true makes this less likely to me that people will actually quit?  That we’ll need a few months and actual data before I believe people are actually leaving the game en-mass?

      I get that  you’re emotionally stirred up, I get that a lot of people are but those are the facts.  It could be that this is the beginning of a decline for Eve.  Nothing lasts forever and this could be but game population trends just don’t put the odds on the side of the i-will-rage-quit-but-not-really forum trolls. 

      If people spent more time actually discussing game impact rather than making rage-quit threats, there might actually be a dialog.

      • Jenks

        I don’t understand your position.  Is it as a casual observer, or what you believe CCP should do?  Your posts hint that you believe no matter how big the shit CCP takes on its customers, they’ll continue to buy in. 

        Your “Hey, let’s wait and see if 50% of our player base actually leave;  I think they’re bluffing” does not seem like an acceptable stance for CCP to take.

        • flagonwiththedragon

          @d76f58fc4b3ae38d717328f1793af5c3:disqus 

          My position is pretty simple.  I think this is a terrible idea on CCPs part.  I think they’ve gotten drawn into the thinking that profit isn’t enough and unless you’re growing your constantly growing your profit then you’re doing something wrong.  Moreover CCP has lost sight of what it is they do, they’re not a game company, they’re a service company.   Their money is based on providing entertainment for people through a game and to keep them satisfied enough to keep coming back.  It’s not much different than dry cleaners really, they aren’t in the business of cleaning clothes, they’re in the business of providing regular cleaning service.  Anyway, something has gotten into the corporate mentality of CCP and they’ve stumbled in the way a lot of businesses stumble.

          The fact that this is part of CCPs corporate mentality now is the origin of my “So What” statement that kicked this all off.  It’s not that this isn’t a big shift in the game, it’s that I think once businesses start to think along these lines it’s too late.  I think we got a glimpse of a business tone that’s been building in CCP for some time.  They’ve been on a trac to to further monetize the player base for some time, starting with two tactics.  For the players with a lot of time they gouge them by designing gameplay that encourages multiple accounts, for players who wont buy additional accounts they came up with PLEX to get a bit more out of them.  While there’s some offset between extra accounts and PLEX the net is more money for CCP.

          I think this practice in MMOs is just a terrible idea.  Nominally it seems like they are giving options for players but in the end the designers now have a conflict of interest in really balancing the game.  Why bother with real game balance whey you can throw it over to the fence by saying “Well you can buy some PLEX or something in our online store!”

          I’m not a casual observer here.  I’ve played Eve for 4+ years at varying levels of intensity and interest through just about every type of content the game offers and players can generate.  I’m massively disappointed.

          What I *THINK* should happen is unreasonable. What I think CCP should do is be a different company.  That isn’t going to happen.  So like everyone else I’m stuck either waiting to see how it turns out and keep laying in the meantime or  just cut my losses and cancel my subscription.  I’m still mulling it over but I expect I’ll cancel my subscription and if it turns out later on it wasn’t so bad I may come back.

          Now, that’s what I think of CCP and the issue.    This is entirely separate from my views of what is and isn’t a ‘big deal’ in the world, how odd I find people who try to paint this as an ethical issues or my general take on the near constant stream of rage-quitters who never really do. 

          Did you have any thoughts on what I said related to CCP?

  • Vetarnias

    A bit late to this party, but I have to say: how ironic that the libertarian apologists playing EVE should find themselves hoisted by their own petard.

    I think any cash shop in a subscription game is unethical, even if it just includes cosmetic items (though a $60 monocle is an unabashed ripoff); this kind of stunt will just fuel further mistrust of subscription games in general, and accelerate their decline against the wonderful “free to play” model. If CCP starts adding game-breaking items to the cash shop, it will just get worse.

    Just saying: I was playing Uncharted Waters Online these past few months, when the publisher made the changes to the cash shop that ruined the economic endgame. All the old-timers left. Finally, the publisher (Netmarble/CJ Internet) backtracked somewhat, and removed one of the most egregiously abusive items (which was a billion ducats in investment bonds, handed out as a prize for their cash shop lottery tickets). But the harm was done already, and I don’t think any of the old players who left returned to the game after the change.  Why should they? The server was wrecked because of all this, and it did away with most of the players’ accomplishment in the first six months.  Since then, the publisher made some deal with gPotato to add UWO to its roster of games, which, given the latter’s stellar track record with Allods Online, was like Bonnie meeting Clyde.

    If cash shop excesses were enough to put “free-to-play” games like UWO and Allods on life support, what does that say about EVE, which charges a subscription on top? It’s already a good indication of where things might be going for EVE if the Goons have already hinted at leaving the game.

    But there is something else: if you can indeed start buying game-breaking items from the CCP cash shop, and that you can be scammed out of those items by other players, with the blessing of CCP (don’t they market the game with all those hijinks?), could that be construed as real-life fraud? Couldn’t CCP, under such circumstances, be accused of (at least) criminal negligence?  If you can prosecute the ex-PM of Iceland over the 2008 banking crisis, why shouldn’t you prosecute a company turning a blind eye to its players’ in-game scamming if real money is now involved?

    • flagonwiththedragon

      @04699bf8eabf84a5dfb0ddaff9561c77:disqus  Wow.  You need to cut back on the hyperbolic statements before the sun explodes and we all die!  Unethical? What a strange thing to say.
      It might be bad business practice, it might be bad game design, it might break the social contract between players and CCP but unethical?   There are some great books on ethics that may make good reads and help inform your analysis of ethics in the future.  You’re local library has a few I’m sure (http://www.worldcat.org/) and if not they can do Inter-library Loan.

  • Dave

    CCP has three studios, and on the order of 600 employees. They have one real income stream (and a trickle from the paper games).

    Just ballparking based on the published subscriber numbers, they aren’t rolling in money. Additionally, lost customers are basically “all profit” — the hardware is already there, the dev costs are already there, when you start losing customers, it comes right off whatever profit you have.

  • Maninblack3125

    What’s with the concern troll? If this is a bad idea and someone say’s it’s a very bad idea, don’t waste everyone’s time nitpicking whether they should have used “very” or not.

    • JuJutsu

      You have to admit that flagonwiththedragon is a very polite troll. Moreover he doesn’t use illiterate mobile phone speak so I think you should cut him some slack.

  • Vetarnias

    @flagonwiththedragon

    If Jonathan Blow can say that WoW is unethical because it’s a carrot-dangling treadmill/Skinner box that keeps players doing the same routine actions over and over again — even if they don’t like it — in the hope of getting that missing Left Bracer of Iridescent Purple which will complete their Armor of Uberleetness, I can say that EVE is unethical because, having initially charged for its service, it now seeks to make its players pay again for upgrades à la carte.  

    If not unethical, what would you call it? It’s not illegal. And unethical does not necessarily mean bad design — the cynic’s view would be that the more a game persuades its players to pay for it, the better its design is.  Extended to film, you would have to live with the corollary that this makes Avatar one of the best films of all time. But what I have in mind here is something that would be qualitatively good but morally rotten to the core; “Birth of a Nation”, a technical masterpiece in its day, and Leni Riefenstahl come to mind.

    There is no social contract between CCP and its players, not in the traditional political sense, though maybe those who gravitate towards the Council of Stellar Management think otherwise.  I used to play EVE very briefly, in the summer of 2009, and I was doing what I suspect most newbies do in EVE: mine asteroids in full sec.  Boring as hell.  At no time did I feel the CSM was representing me or people like me; rather, it felt like some pre-Reform Bill sham democracy, where the interests of large factions in 0.0 were over-represented, or, worse, all that mattered, because they had a greater vested interest in the game than transient full-sec dwellers (who nonetheless made up the bulk of EVE players). That CCP could have persuaded at least part of its players that a social contract existed between them is one of EVE’s inexplicable peculiarities; but I can’t say I’m surprised.  At least I think this impression is over now.

    I was reading a few threads at MMORPG.com, and it’s not pretty.  Yeah, I know, talk is cheap, but in this case I suspect action might be cheaper, unless you have such an emotional attachment to this game that you can’t shake it off. Those cash shop prices are extortion, even for cosmetic stuff; and what if the worse were yet to come, as that ominous leaked note seems to suggest?

    I’ve been reading about that Aurum currency, and I’m reminded of Puzzle Pirates and its dual Pieces of Eight/Doubloon currency model, where pieces of eight are the equivalent of ISK, and where you can buy doubloons with real cash, and exchange them with players who don’t spend money for pieces of eight (because most items in the game require a delivery cost in doubloons). It’s quite an elegant model, and it works; it allows players who don’t spend to have access to everything (they just have to earn more pieces of eight). And spending players can get more in-game money from the doubloon exchange.  But there is one key difference with EVE: the dual-currency servers are free to play. Puzzle Pirates does have subscription servers, but doubloons do not apply there.

    That is what I like about subscription games: they are egalitarian. Your real-life financial situation does not matter once you have paid the $15/month.  Everything you have in the game reflects everything you have done in the game.  I see that the monocle can also be bought with 1.4 billion ISK; I like that.  It reflects your in-game status, because it implies that your character is rich if you have it.  Offering it for purchase with real-life money negates all this; every newbie with money to burn could get it. It cheapens its standing.

    • flagonwiththedragon

      @04699bf8eabf84a5dfb0ddaff9561c77:disqus 

      I don’t get your WOW argument as justification.  People CAN say whatever they want, the internet proves that, but that doesn’t make it any more reasonable.

      I just disagree with you.  I think trying to make this into an ethical argument is unreasonable and provides little besides some amusing banter.

      I disagree with your statement that there is not social contract between CCP and players, but I don’t want to insult anyone by linking a catalog on this again.  However there are a few good books on social contracts both concrete and implied.  This might be where our disconnect is.  Social contracts between States and citizens ARE ethical at their heart.  Social contracts between businesses and consumers are not (usually) ethical but implied.  

      So I dump the term ethical and what would I use?  I don’t know.  Crappy, douchy, jerks and more is how I would describe CCP execs over this.  I am kind of moved at the bravery of the CCP employee(s) who leaked the documents though.  I think that was awesome and I hope they never catch them.  Overall though  I don’t feel the need to amp it up by insisting this is an ethical question.    I’m good with leaving it at calling CCP execs involved in this a bunch of A-holes.  Sounds like we have an area there we can agree, yes?

      I’m running out of time right now so I’ll leave it by saying.  I admire your desire to see subscription based MMOs as egalitarian.  I wish that they were and I think they can be at times, but I don’t think they often are and are not necessarily that way by design.

  • dartwick

    Dave stop with the defensive insulting responses in lieu of real argument.

    Vetarnias   was correct in his usage of “ethical” with reference to his opinion. Youre welcome to disagree, but his position wasnt unreasonable.

    Linking to a library catalog in response – that was unreasonable.If someone is making a mistake and you arent smart enough to rattle of a correct at least link to a definition or particular passage.

    Then later you said this gem ”
    If people spent more time actually discussing game impact rather
    than making rage-quit threats, there might actually be a dialog.”
    Umm the other side said in an internal email to watch what players do not what they say – Common sense says that voting with youre wallet(and getting other people to vote with their wallet) is going to say the most in such a case.

    You are basically just trying to over talk everyone.

    • dartwick

       Sorry DAVE.

      My comments were aimed at Flaggon.

    • flagonwiththedragon

      @381e753c943f9b1106d66c1a544ddf2b:disqus 

      It’s fair to defend the use of “ethical” as an opinion, but in turn I think it’s just as fair to defend my opinion that  trying to turn this into an ethical argument is unreasonable.    I thought we were all here giving our opinions?  

      As a librarian I have to take issue with your opinion that linking to a library catalog is unreasonable.  Snarky for sure, but not unreasonable.

      • dartwick

        “As a librarian I have to take issue with your opinion that linking to a
        library catalog is unreasonable.  Snarky for sure, but not unreasonable.

        Just go away.

        Linking a library catalog is lame just like linking to the from page of dictionary orencyclopedia is lame. It doesnt make your case it doesnt add pertinate info it just annoys.

        Go away troll..
         

        • flagonwiththedragon

          @dartwick I’m the whole issue with Eve was so small to you that I’m your biggest problem now.  Other than that though learn to live with disappointment.

          • dartwick

             But I cant really understand your post. But some how you managed to fit “I” into it twice.

          • flagonwiththedragon

            @381e753c943f9b1106d66c1a544ddf2b:disqus 

            My fault,  I changed my reply at mid writing and didn’t edit it.  I apologize.

            I should have just left it at thanking you for the irony of calling me a troll.  Enjoy.

  • I like to think that what CCP is doing here is not so much shameless shafting their loyal customer base for things that cost virtually nothing to make and instead that CCP is pioneering new ways to close the gap between the upper and lower class. Perhaps CCP should buy out Mindark and SEE Virtual Worlds so they can have the top minds in the field there.

    (But I’m still mighty glad not to be an EVE Online player right now.)

  • gx1080

    Ok, maybe is me, who isn’t invested on Internet Spaceships, but this is already waaaaay out of proportion.

    First, people who actually quit are those who were on the fence of quitting anyways. I know, I have been there.

    Second, like it or not, all games have to cater BOTH to the hardcore and casual players. CCP, uh, failed on the former. Which is funny, given their track of failing on the latter.

    Third, people are upset that CCP revealed a culture of contempt against their players. They would LOOOOVE to squeeze all the player’s money to pay for the WoD MMO and have their chance of being the WoW slayer instead of the weird Iceland MMO. While *I* don’t expect a company to have any loyalty except to profit, apparently EVE players did.

    Fourth, having to travel to Iceland, on a weekday, with almost no previous notice, to talk about Internet Spaceships because the company that provides said Internet Spaceships fucked up is a big level of abuse of volunteers. That IS unethical. Unfortunately, having the CSM quit simply won’t fix anything.

    Finally, dunno. Most of us simply can’t do much besides waiting to see how the CSM meeting goes.

  • Geldonyetich

    Honestly, this being EVE Online, I can’t help but wonder why the players aren’t so used to being bent over and penetrated that this whole $60 monocle fiasco isn’t just par for the course. I mean, isn’t 98% of the appeal of the game supposed to be the players metagaming how to screw eachother over? If the Mittanani is is supposed to be an example of doing it *very right* then the answer is, “yes, definately.” Along comes CCP doing a bit of a metagame screwing over and, oh shit, things just got real.

    • Geldonyetich

      Actually, I think I figured it out. See the overwhelming majory of EVE Online players are there for the drama of being part of big goings on in the EVE universe. Day to day play in the game is about as fun as doing your taxes, at least of your tax form was a painstakingly realized 3D model of a ship. However, when the player can look over at some major clusterfuck and say proudy, “I was THERE in that clusterfuck” then it all pays off.

      Player 1: Hey, man, What’s the big major clusterfuckdrama of the month?

      Player 2: Well, today we thought we’d mix things up a bit. We’re going to make getting really upset about high prices on RMT goods, have us a big ass riot, and rafe quit in droves.

      CCP: Whoops!

    • dartwick

      @ gx1080   I think most the the people who canceled will come back pretty quickly is CCP says “uncle.”

      @1e370da9e155643300807c11f743bc16:disqus  Geldonyetich  The meta gaming aspect of EVE exists but its much bigger in internet folklore than in the actual game experience.
      I bet the greatest extent of meta gaming for 99 out of a 100 players is posting on a guild forum out of game and using a kill board.

      • > “The meta gaming aspect of EVE exists but its much bigger in internet folklore than in the actual game experience.I bet the greatest extent of meta gaming for 99 out of a 100 players is posting on a guild forum out of game and using a kill board.

        I’m not going to argue for or against that because it’s hard to say when we’re trying to eyeball what everybody’s doing on our lonesome.  However, I will say that the major movers and shakers of EVE Online are the ones that metagame the most, and consequently the players are ruled by metagamers even if they themselves never metagame.

        Now, speaking in terms of abstract philosophy (which is delightfully easy to do) I’m going to say this riot is how the game is supposed to end, because, when you’re running a game/activity/party/whatever in which the primary focus is, “invent your own drama” doesn’t there eventually reach a point where the drama being invented comes to be about ending it?

        The idea certainly holds a certain sense of inevitable karma at work.

  • Comstar

    We now have their financial records. CCP has a 12 million dollars debt that must be rolled over Oct 28th. They have 7 million in cash. 4000+ accounts were closed this week. If they cannot convince the CSM on friday of what the stakes are, Eve Dies October 28th.

    • flagonwiththedragon

      @90513bf6afa55168ba1747d8afc064d2:disqus  
      That’s reasonable speculation. It may not be that dire however.  They have 2 games in current development and it’s not unusual to be running in the red while you have big titles in development.  They need to be out attracting investors to cover the margin until they release the next games. That said though I don’t think CCP has show the kind of history to succeed at what they need now, a big splash with broad appeal.  They’ve been GREAT at releasing a feature bare product that can build a following over time.   I doubt that can afford to do that with WoDO and Dust514.    Particularly with First Person Shooters and generally with Avatar driven MMOs the evidence is very strong that you have to get it right out of the gate and in a big way if you want to grab any of the market share.  What it takes to keep that market share is anyone’s guess right now, but history of games in the last few years they are WAY more likely to fail at this than succeed.

      Given all this that means the best case is they are trying to use Eve to mitigate the risk of current titles in development, at worse they are in real financial trouble and need to milk the players.

  • Dave

    An analysis of CCP’s financials can be found here: http://www.eveonline.com/ingameboard.asp?a=topic&threadID=1541148

    And  the document the analysis is based on (which is also in the thread) is here:
    http://dl.eve-files.com/media/corp/Herschel/CCP_Financial_Statements_2010.pdf

    • JuJutsu

      Thanks for the link. Who would’ve thought a financial analysis could be interesting 🙂 Looks like the stakes are pretty high for CCP.

  • Guy

    Geldo, your last comment was great.

    To elaborate on this: “the major movers and shakers of EVE Online are the ones that metagame the most, and consequently the players are ruled by metagamers even if they themselves never metagame.” … in general that the movers and shakers are able to rule the game to the extent they due betrays how poor a position those lower down on the food chain find themselves. The game survives on the joy of being near the top and the illusion of importance and opportunity when lower down. In real life that story ends in some partial combination of misery, reform, and revolution.

  • Vetarnias

    I rather liked Geldon’s recent comments as well.  I think that the reason why this train wreck is particularly fascinating is because of all the irony and schadenfreude involved.  We have a game which actively encourages its players to grief, shaft and backstab other players, which was all fine until the players found themselves griefed, shafted and backstabbed by the company itself (which, naturally, they suddenly can’t stand).  We have a company called Crowd Control Productions that suddenly finds itself unable to control its crowd of players.  We have a company celebrating the excesses of libertarianism which many fear may find itself driven out of business.  And, finally, we have the poster child example of MMO success without following the WoW model introducing a cash shop model which is not only reminiscent of WoW — RMT in a subscription game, yeah, right — but which may soon enough start offering game-affecting items. It’s like discovering that the opposition party is just as corrupt as the government.

    I really don’t care about EVE itself, and, as far as its players are concerned, it’s schadenfreude time for Vetty; but I don’t like the implications this bears for all subscription games, especially if there is no exodus, especially if the cash shop proves popular.  It will indicate to every publisher how much they can get away with in the cash shop *while charging for a subscription*.  A subscription still means to me: “no RMT crap to affect the game world”, even with cosmetic items.  Blizzard might not have started the trend — I think lesser games by Cryptic and others really opened the breach — but they legitimized it and, what’s more, got away with it (remember that $25 horsie?); and now CCP, which, as far as I know, was being highly regarded by EVE players (except for that blueprint scandal involving a staffer which seems to haunt them), grabs a jackhammer and pounds away.  The subscription model might never recover; after this, how could players not look on an MMO you need to buy and maintain with monthly subscription as a scam?  I liked the traditional subscription model precisely because you were guaranteed there would be no RMT shenanigans, nor any outside influence on the game world. Now that guarantee is gone, and the entire field might soon be corrupted by cash shops and game-breaking items.

    It may well be that EVE was already past its prime, and losing players, before this expansion.  It may well be that CCP is in a dire financial position (I did read their annual report, but it is difficult to know for certain how critical their situation is without knowing their exact progress on Dust 514 and World of Darkness). It may well be that EVE needs to sell monocles to stay afloat, but then you do not charge $60 for a monocle, only to sell a few dozen; you price it at $5, and maybe sell hundreds.  At any rate, even that would be too much corruption of the game world.

    So the CSM is being flown to Iceland for an emergency meeting?  To be told what?  That CCP might be going under unless the shop is brought in?  But will the CSM members ever do some introspection to see whether it was their attitude, and, by extension, that of their game’s elite, which drove players away and prevented the game from being more than a marginal success?  As I said, I don’t think CSM members are representative of the population of the game; they are merely representative of their vested interests and little more, and maybe CCP shouldn’t rely on them to pass on information to the rest of players.

    What’s more, EVE players, you don’t owe CCP anything. If they start ripping you off, and show no sign of relenting, don’t bother; thank them for the fun you’ve had in their game, tell them that their current actions will be detrimental to the game and their bottom line, and move on.  That’s the key part: thanking them for the good times you’ve had; otherwise, you’re just falling prey to that old enemy of mine, gamer entitlement.  Like those Goons who act for teh lulz but never stick around to reap the consequences of their actions when teh lulz cease, drilling holes in the hull and the first to hop on lifeboats.  And if you’re staying in spite of what is happening, you’re weak-willed, though I did read that a few players were considering returning to EVE if Goons quit; now that’s irony for you.

  • gx1080

    Sigh.

    There’s something deeply wrong on the “EVE players are eeevil metagamers, so they deserve to be screwed by CCP” thought line that Vetarnias and Geldon are exposing.

    I get it, you guys don’t like “hardcore PVP” players. That doesn’t excuse CCP for their poor management decisions.

  • Guy

    When I think of the betrayal, scamming, and spying hijinks in EVE, I don’t really think of the term “hardcore PVP”…

    When people can pour money into the game to get a head start equipment-wise, I don’t think “hardcore PVP”…

    Geldo and Vetarnias aren’t dissing EVE for its actual “harcore PVP” elements I think… the ire is reserved for the class-warfare re-enactment.