by

Fear And Monocles

“There is a pretty overwhelming perception amongst EVE players that these changes are bad. I think they’re brilliant, but our players don’t. We’re going to face an uphill struggle, and the reason many of us never talk about this publically is that we’d be burned at the stake by the players.”

— Kristoffer Touborg, from the leaked “Fearless” internal CCP discussion pamphlet

Eve’s current woes are interesting for a number of reasons. Let’s run through them quickly.

First, the Eve playerbase feels both empowered and angry. They feel very much as though they should have a voice in how the game is run. CCP has not disagreed with this, and their “Council of Stellar Management” player advisory council is currently winging its way to Iceland, at CCP’s expense (and knowing the expense of last-minute airline reservations, more than cancelling any benefit from selling virtual monocles). We’ve seen player protests in MMOs before, but this is the first overt player riot – enabled in part by Eve’s own strengths of being a unitary server game so that if, say, someone decides it’s a good idea to shoot up a statue commemorating the in-game NPC leaders as a political gesture, it can get legs.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCHDMf6i3Vk

In-game political ownership, and a sense of that extending out of the game into the game’s corporate management, is not new to Eve – virtual worlds in general elicit that sense of ownership. (See the fury at Star Wars Galaxies’ NGE changes, or Prokofy Neva’s various writings demanding that Linden Lab not be permitted to run their own product without some sort of oversight). Part of the bargain of setting people loose to build your world for you – or more accurately, the social constructs that help build that world – is that those people tend to value their labor more than yours. And they should. Without the value added by its players, Eve is a spreadsheet simulator, Second Life is literally nothing whatsoever and Star Wars Galaxies is, well, post-NGE Star Wars Galaxies.

The NGE is illustrative here as well, in that, like that ill-fated attempt by SOE to move Star Wars Galaxies in a more mainstream direction, CCP appears to have plans for its MMOs that Eve players aren’t very interested in. Eve is a very hardcore, complicated, and most importantly, abstract game. The great majority of Eve players don’t care about monocles, they care about extracting 3% more efficiency out of their missile launcher speeds. The drama about $25 virtual shirts and $60 virtual monocles in the item store is amusing, the “walking in a small room in your spaceship” feature Incarna added to justify said item store is also amusing, but what enrages Eve players is the thought that they might have to pay $50 – or $5 – tomorrow to get that 3% missile launcher efficiency. Or worse, that someone else would. That was the part of the leaked internal discussion/propaganda leaflet that so enraged the Eve playerbase, where one member of the “point/counterpoint” discussion advocated exactly that. And that was why an Eve producer posting to the official blog finally said, point blank, in an attempt to calm the rioting, “there are no and never have been plans to sell “gold ammo”” (contradicting another section of said leaked document which said explicitly that ammunition sales were in fact under consideration).

Still, the fact remains – CCP introduced an item shop to Eve, a game which very vehemently did not need, nor want one. They patched in ambulatory avatars, in a game where most players ever appear only as abstract radar widgets, specifically to support that item shop. CCP is taking their game in places that their players do not want it to go. And the players know this. And they are angry.

To state the brutally obvious: this is not how to handle microtransactions. In fact, this is probably a textbook case in how NOT to handle microtransactions (a story that has been written already, actually). And in a hardcore abstract game such as Eve, I’m not sure microtransactions can even work, at least without alienating almost every player Eve currently has – in other words, an NGE-style extinction level event. And CCP is not a stupid company. They have one of the most successful independently-run MMOs in the market today. They effectively own the niche of PvP virtual worlds, to the point that fans are angry at the realization they have nowhere else to go.

The conspiracy theory one is tempted to indulge in, then, given that brutally obvious fact – is CCP, in fact, intentionally forcing an extinction level event? Do they want to alienate the hardcore playerbase that helped give the company the motto “harden the f*ck up”?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgvM7av1o1Q

As a possible reason for this: World of Tanks has over 3 million accounts, today announced a publishing deal to appear in retail stores, and sells ammo that blows up other tanks far better at 5 to 7 cents a shot. Clearly the revenue model works. At least for people who aren’t paying a subscription fee to a game that isn’t World of Tanks. And that last key point may be what CCP forgot in its Aurum rush.

I suspect CCP can still recover player good will and staunch the bleeding of what anecdotally are already a significant number of cancelled accounts – but it needs to be done quickly.

“The most visible example of another game introducing virtual goods sales is certainly LOTRO. It is worth pointing out though that they made almost everything microtransaction based and at the same time removed subscription fees. Because other games with very different communities and very different gameplay styles are able to do something it doesn’t mean we can do the same thing with the same levels of success.”

“More revenue is of course an aim, but making our customers feel like they are being “double billed” to be able to play on the same level as others is just a step too far.”

— John Turbefield, from the leaked “Fearless” internal CCP discussion pamphlet

 

  • I think there’s a direct parallel between what’s going on in EVE and what has gone on and is going on with Blizzard’s silly desire to integrate Battle.net with social media such as Facebook.

    What it comes down to is that this superfluous stuff doesn’t necessarily harm the game directly, but it’s stuff that no one really wanted or has a use for.  Why does this stuff end up in the game?  Because bean counters want as much as possible to jump past the whole point of making a product with such excellent value that consumers rush to buy it.  It’s much easier (they theorize) to jump straight to the point where people just pay pay you money without all the troublesome steps in between.

    In the case of Blizzard, the harm is not that Facebook integration exists, rather the harm is that apparently the thought process that led to Facebook integration prevented the inclusion of basic features like Chat Rooms.  When decision makers are so focused on the transient, quick money “features” they lose track of the basic, high value features that don’t directly add to the revenue stream.  Net result is that consumers wind up with a lesser product.

    In the case of CCP, the harm seems pretty obvious.  It’s not the fact that monocles exist or that they cost a lot of money, it’s the fact that CCP spent a lot of time and resources developing a feature (player avatars) that exists only as a path to monetization, and which adds no real value to the game itself.  The first time a player notices the lack of an important bug fix or a common sense feature, they must necessarily wonder if that fix or feature was the opportunity cost of including player avatars.

      On some level they have to feel a bit ripped off by the fact that development is focused on delivering a more lucrative product for the developers instead of better value for the consumers.

  • j1000

    Cheap RMT seems to always slide. Expensive RMT, even in RMT-based games (allods) always raises hackles.

    Eve is different in a lot of ways, but I’m not sure it’s different when it comes to PMT–we’ll see once cosmetics come down to earth.  I suspect that if cosmetics cost $5-$25, as in most other games (particularly subscription games), Eve players wouldn’t prove themselves that different from WoW or CoH players.

  • Ha ha did you just compare Eve’s rioting bitter vets with Prokofy Neva?

    Sounds about right.

    Tbh the time to protest was when plex were put into the game. Pay to win is an established part of Eve and has been for years. I suspect this riot has actually more to do with vanity. Middle class players who were expecting to purchase cosmetic items with which to lord it over the poor instead found themselves lorded over. A bourgeois rebellion.

    • Neo Omni (former EVE player)

      Actually no.  The bulk of EVE players (me included) dont really care about the cost of so-called vanity items.  If you can afford it, then by all means buy it.  What we do care about is the ability to purchase..ships..ammunition…skills…standings….and other elements that define both the player created economy and the reward-earned “grind” of the game. 

      If a manufacturing character in EVE who makes ammunition and ships is suddenly faced with the
      game being able to provide said items out of thin air with the use of your credit card, then his gaming experience is now broken.

      It’s the equivalent of say, being able to purchase a lost piece back during a chess game, as long as you have your credit card ready. “I took your knight but for $19.95, you can have it back.”

      That is really what is at heart of this debate. So why continue to invest time , energy and money in a game that may very well change the rules of gameplay later on….making the way you play obsolete and giving the player with the more expendable cash, the advantage.?

      • Gridley17

        First time I’ve heard that chess analogy to describe pay2win. Well said, sir!

    • Sinij

       In ever *every* player is Prokofy Neva, because EVE actually has community unlike your run of the mill DIKU.

    • Vorkie

      Wow, you’re pretty dense. The entire point of the blog, and thousands of posts on EVE-O, is just the opposite. Of course P2W is already in game, but the current proposals fo EVE MT completely circumvent the player driven market and allows the integration of benefits without SOMEONE spending time and effort. They are considering emptying the sandbox altogether and completely making player actions meaningless.

  • JeremyT

    Ah, all the protests are fine and good, but do you really expect players to quit over this? As you rightfully pointed out, they have nowhere else to go.

    I think we see this across the board in the MMO space (and indeed, in any sort of game with something other than “box sales” as their sole revenue model): when you’re the only (or just the best) game in town, you can shovel a lot of crap on people before they actually vote in the only meaningful way that they can (with their wallets). After all, the only (or best) game in town with a bunch of garbage you don’t want may still be better than any (possibly nonexistent) competition.

    I think CCP sees EVE nearing its peak, and with the kind of numbers they push it’s only a matter of time before somebody tries to edge in on their turf. They know that their days as top (or, for now, *only*) dog are numbered, and this is the right time to monetize the hell out of the product before they actually have to start competing.

    I mean really, these guys employ PHD economists. You have to think they have some sound reasoning behind the play here, don’t you?(PS – since you can already buy pew pew for $$ in EVE, I don’t really know why these guys have their panties in a bunch to begin with)

    • Mist

      Hint: economists don’t really know anything about people’s behaviors.  Economists are neither marketing experts, nor psychologists.

    • garreth vlox

      their “sound reasoning has cost them 5000+ accounts in the last 7 days, and the number continues to grow, and with the recently leaked financial documents it is clear the reason behind incarna is to solve CCP’s money problem they have enough money currently to run eve pay the bills and develop a game, they decided to develop 2 games and now don’t have the liquid cash to pay their rather large loans, which conveniently are now due,  great use of those PHD’s in economists don’t you think?

      incarna is not a feature and should NEVER be called an expansion, it is nothing more than a desperate money grab to keep the company out of the red long enough to get a new loan and launch their next game

  • Jason Brodsky: “I’m not sure it’s different when it comes to PMT”

    It’s definitely different when it comes to PMT. Ask your wife.

  • dartwick

    This Lum guy is pretty smart.

    Too bad CCP couldnt afford him.

  • dartwick

    A thought on “no where else to go.”

    The feeling Im getting from hard core players is that the place to go is actually – spend less time gaming. Just play WOT or what ever for casual  guild PVP fun.
    Granted if CCP caves most people will happily continue playing.

  • Anon

    It is not just the MT store. Eve online has suffered from lack of development while CCP make their other games. Supercapitals are not balanced and have been that way for ages now which is game breaking, let alone all the other content that was released in the past and just left abandoned. So the new incarna patch comes out and just adds a shop front with $70 monocles and a vision of what they have been working on and what to come that has nothing to do with the current game itself but just what to tack on to get more money.

    For those that were holding out for some good changes in game its looking really unlikely we will ever see them and looking at the direction things are going the writing is on the wall. GG eve was great but really started  dying a few years ago, its death rattle is beggining.

  • ed

    Hmmm.

    1. As a player in Eve with about 1.5 years playing time I suppose I’m a “bittervet”.  Primary in-game character is “Zeta Zhul”.

    2. The combination of MT and subscriptions isn’t really a factor in Eve because you can use in-game money “isk” to buy PLEX.  Basically around 350 million isk will buy 1 PLEX.  1 PLEX = 1 month of game subscription.  As an example I’ve got (I think) about 250+ PLEX worth of isk lying around in cash and liquid assets.  Frankly you really have to be an underachiever to not accumulate isk very quickly after playing for 6 months.

    3. Additionally you can convert PLEX into Aurum, yeah really idiotic names there, at the rate of 1 PLEX = 3,500 Aurum.  So really neither subscriptions nor MT really have to involve RL money and it could all be funded entirely through in-game money earned by doing missions, ratting, trading, scamming, stealing, ganking or complexes.

    4. IMO most vets are at around my situation or better.  Quite a few have 2x-10x-20x my assets so I’m not exceptional in any degree.

    5. One major issue is that there have been bug fixes and game changes that people have clamored for over the years that CCP just refuses to implement.  Why that is I have no idea and I don’t believe CCP ever has given a substantial reason.  Even if they are good ideas.  One issue for me is changing a character’s name.  It seems ridiculous to me that you can buy and sell characters but the name can never change.  No idea why.  If I want to buy a character, and avoid the 2-5 year wait until my main character matures, then I have to also accept the silly name that bought character was created with.  Even if it is “Azz Likker” or some such nonsense.

    6. The primary issue with MT for most players is that it is the starting point of the inevitable slide.  Sure you might have to cash in some PLEX to buy the MT goods that will give you a 3% advantage now.  But will that be the end of it?  Will the advantage go up to 5% for  a premium?  7%?  10%?  15%?  More?

    7. There are other issues too such as a horribly inefficient and frankly badly coded 3d engine.  CCP has designed their 3d engine to work well with nVidia, but not ATI.  Quite a few players with ATI based computers aren’t happy about having to shell out money for a new computer, particularly in a bad economy.  And what precisely is the purpose of Walking in Stations (WiS)?  You can’t pvp.  So you can … decorate?  Look at yourself in a mirror?  Try on daring underwear?  One popular meme in Eve is that Internet Spaceships is Serious Business.  Kinda hard to keep saying that with a straight face now.

    8. Then there is the incessant lag issues, bad networking code, lousy UI, etc.  For 3 months there was a bug in the market trading window where if I opened a window and clicked on another window before the first one fully loaded my client would crash to the desktop.  Considering I’m a market trader that is a bit of a problem.

    For myself I feel that CCP simply doesn’t have any vision.  And what vision they have is not only ugly but … generic.  I want something more than generic.  And right now Eve is chock full of generic.  Even their vision of WiS is superbly generic and bland to the point of pointlessness.

    IMO if CCP had right off the bat designed Incarna + WiS + MT + CQ as a *separate client* and coded + optimized accordingly they would have had a much easier time developing the expansion and a much simpler time getting the Eve players to accept it.

  • Kalle anka

    I think one of the things that really makes the playerbase feel like they’re being betrayed, is that CCP always have very much been a player-oriented company. It has always seemed like when CCP made decisions that the players didnt like, it was because they felt they *knew* what they wanted and that was primarily making the game better (whether that actually was the case for many of the changes, is a different matter). With Torfi being perhaps the most visionary game designer of an mmo yet.

    Not so with the “pay to win” additions. That very clearly comes from a “fuck what the players want, we want more money!”, in stark contrast – atleast on principal – to the “fuck what the players want, I want this cool shit in my game”.

    Tbh, I cant fathom why they didnt just introduce the vanity items (at whatever price they wanted) and see how that went, and state that no non-vanity would ever be in the store. Perhaps people would go bonkers for vanity stuff and it would generate a nice income stream, or atleast thin out the massive amounts of playing time currently accumulated in the game.Perhaps it wouldnt be enough, but no need to burn that bridge until they get to it.

  • gx1080

    “nowere else to go”

    All the brand new Perpetuumm players have something to say about that.

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

    I think that CCP -vastly- underestimated how much being “burned at the stake by the players” was going to hurt.

    At the moment of this writing, tomorrow is going to be the CSM emergency summit. All the eyes are on it.

  • Vetarnias

    1) Keen and Graev were quite incensed over Allods, but strangely enough they approved of Blizzard’s $25 horse in World of Warcraft. Go figure.  What I gather is that they disliked the excesses of Allods which forced you to buy store items to remain competitive, while the horsie was just cosmetic.  Fair enough; but one of those games charges you a subscription on top, while the other is “free to play”.

    2) That PLEX business definitely sounded like CCP digging its own grave at the time.  If every mid-level player can earn enough ISK to pay for a subscription using PLEX, who is left to actually pay for a subscription?  At best, this means giving a free pass to the people most likely to keep on subscribing with real-life money if you didn’t offer them the choice; at worst, this sounds like screw-the-newbie, in which case: congratulations, CCP, for being elitist through and through. And there is PLEX to Aurum now?

    There is also that seniority thing, whereby you would level “skills” purely by filling in your queue and letting time do the rest, meaning a player who started five years ago would remain ahead of you as long as he remained subscribed to the game and kept his skill queue full.  I even heard that some of the later skills took so long that you could even cancel for a month (or more) while your skills continued to level up.  If so, that’s perhaps good for the player, but not really for CCP.

    3) I’m not sure that CCP hiring PhD economists means much.  If anything, those guys are around to maximize profit for the company, not foster long-term development of the game itself.  By the way, economics is one of the so-called “social sciences” I respect the least, precisely because some of its foundations, like “rational choice”, are ideologically motivated and built on quicksand. At least the humanities can easily be exposed as bunk when they go into overdrive.

    4) Whether EVE players will go away or try Perpetuum, I don’t know. Incarna has been talked about for two years or so (I remember hearing about it, or a previous version of it, back in 2009), but it does carry the game in a completely superfluous direction.  Meanwhile, I’m sure the newbie game is just as grindingly dull as it ever was. I see CCP going in two opposite directions here: first, they do everything possible to not attract new players (see “screw-the-newbie” above) or give them some form of leverage in the game by changing the core mechanics; but then, they add ancillary content that its player core wants nothing to do with, and which would definitely be more appropriate in a casual game (which EVE prides itself for not being).  This dichotomy leads to a weird situation where the only thing EVE wants to share with the mainstream is its revenue model, i.e. having its cake and eating it; but I think CCP just painted itself into this corner by catering to the most petulant and hard to please segment of the gamer demographic — but one that is clearly not large enough to bankroll two other projects by itself.

    5) CCP should definitely clear the air about potential gameplay-affecting items, but who would believe them now?

    6) As I’ve said before, I despise EVE. I hate everything it stands for, and I harbour nothing but scorn for those who revel in the immoral behaviour the game actively encourages. So I don’t think much of the CSM itself.  And I don’t think the meeting will lead to anything, because the CSM itself is a sham. It holds no real power; it gives an illusion of power to those who are in it.  CCP could tell the CSM to shove it and it would change nothing.

    • Whatev

      Tell you what, Vetarnias: you come up with a good way to model irrationality in a macroeconomic setting that provides reliable predictions of both the events that occur and their timings, and suggests workable policies to manage both the rational and irrational parts of human behavior.  We’re all waiting to give you your Nobel Prize.

      • JuJutsu

        Tell you what Whatev: you and your economist buds come up with a good way to do it and get back to us. I work in a biz school with dozens of PhD economists and they know fuck-all just like the rest of us.

        • Whatev

          Not my job; I’m not a macroeconomist.  And on the micro end we make fairly decent progress, even if thus far we haven’t been able to integrate any significant number of individual findings into a more coherent theory.

  • Eve Player Dude

    Eve player here.  Just one comment, to the poster above who says that RMT is already in the game:  All that PLEXes get you is in-game currency.  You don’t buy advantages that are not available through grind.  It’s a shortcut, yes, but not unique gear.

    • JeremyT

      “All that PLEXes get you is in-game currency.  You don’t buy advantages that are not available through grind.  All that PLEXes get you is in-game currency.  You don’t buy advantages that are not available through grind.”
      You do realize that you’d still be able to buy all this stuff through the grind too, right? These currencies all have equivalents. Just as you can buy ISK with PLEX, you can buy PLEX with ISK.
      Personally, as somebody who admires EVE from a systems standpoint but can’t stand the actual “game,” I think it’s brilliant. ISK to PLEX, PLEX to ISK, whatever. The groundwork was laid for this long ago and; it was inevitable.
      This will certainly have an interesting impact on the EVE economy, but the fundamental argument of “I can’t get that by grinding” is just plain wrong. (The amount of grinding you’ll have to do, though… well, that’s an interesting question)

    • Ian Whitchurch

      Hi, I’m another bittervet.

      Eve Player Dude is wrong. PLEX get you Isk, and Isk can buy you a new toon with skills your existing toon dont have. ; that is an advantage that is not available in game – it is the advantage of time.

      Isk can also buy you enough motherships, ideally held by another toon in an altcorp, to give your alliance strategic depth.

  • From what I can tell, pretty much everyone’s final complaint is that the new RMT shop will allow “pay to win” options for players. That complaint is based on a fear that was stoked by a leaked document saying that CCP designers discussed that possibility, with at least some of them making the argument in favor of it.

    What makes all of that fear and anger at CCP somewhat pointless is that they ultimately decided not to go that route. CCP actually made the right decision with respect to the RMT shop according to what their most hardcore playerbase wanted.

    I want to say that again, CCP did NOT put in gameplay-impacting items in the RMT shop, but people are up in arms after learning that they even *considered* it. From my perspective as a game developer, CCP would be operating poorly as a company if they did not consider those options, and have sound reasoning for dismissing them. Possibly their reasoning was that it would massively piss off the playerbase, and this leak has proven that to definitely be the case. So I highly, highly doubt that CCP is going to switch their mind on it now and start offering standing or ships or fittings or other gameplay-impacting items in the “Noble Exchange”.

    As people above me have mentioned, the PLEX system that was implemented a year or two ago already provides people with a “pay to win” option as anything in EVE can be purchased except skills, and for that you can go buy a character. If these veterans have any reason to be angry about such changes they should be directing their anger at the PLEX system not at the Noble Exchange.

    Finally, I agree with you on the point about adding the one tiny room to slowly stroll around being a poor decision. I don’t think the feature was developed solely as a means for selling their RMT costume items, as I have read they intend to use the same or similar engine for DUST. However the “walking in stations” feature was most likely put into the game before it was complete (not necessarily a first for CCP, also not necessarily a bad thing) because with out it the RMT shop would be pointless.

    Arguably the more EVE-like thing to do would be to allow players to manufacture avatar costume items themselves and sell them, potentially in shops represented in the avatar space. Although that would require delaying the walking in stations part of Incarna until the feature was more complete or robust, possibly several months or a year from now.

  • It saddens me that MMO-industry homogenization has proceeded to the point where niche groups (like players who want an uncompromising virtual world) feel like they are out of options.

    I never made it past EVE’s abysmal newbie experience, but I respected CCP for building something aimed at a specific type of player and standing behind that vision.  I think we need more of that mindset, more concern for “player clusters” and less for the “average player” who doesn’t really exist.  EVE’s demise would erase some of the proof that a niche MMO can actually work.

  • “Eve player here.  Just one comment, to the poster above who says that
    RMT is already in the game:  All that PLEXes get you is in-game
    currency.  You don’t buy advantages that are not available through
    grind.  It’s a shortcut, yes, but not unique gear.  ”

    Nonsense. The Russian billionaire kickstarted the Russians in nullsec who were negligible before that. Although this Alliance splintered the several Russian alliances that emerged from his legacy completely dominate nullsec. Most recently they destroyed the Northern Coalition.

    Go grind that and show me how conquering Eve is something one player can grind.

    • Ian Whitchurch

      Stabs,

      Be fair. RA were a power in nullsec before the Aluminium Tycoon kidlet showed up.

  • gx1080

    @04699bf8eabf84a5dfb0ddaff9561c77:disqus
    I don’t think that CCP would have gone through all the problems of the emergency summit just to tell the CSM to shove it.

    PLEXes still have to appear on the market somehow. That means, that someone still have to buy them. Is just an in-game way to say “I will pay for your suscription for X amount of gold”.

    After a certain point, the biggest factor on resolving conflicts on EVE Online is “metagaming”, not ISK.

    Economics is fine, problem is, the modern study of them is vastly biased.

    So, you are wrong.

  • Two step

    As one of the CSM members who is about to leave for Iceland, this article is 110% spot on. I think I might just have to print up a few copies and pass them out to CCP.

  • Guy

    Scott said: “And CCP is not a stupid company.”

    Evidence to the contrary. And owning a niche doesn’t make you smart in the long run, it makes you dumber, from laziness.

    Stabs said: “The Russian billionaire kickstarted the Russians in nullsec who were negligible before that.”

    Seriously? Man why do people play this game…

  • I have never heard of a business – that is an entity that provides a good or service in exchange for money or some other means of conveying value – that spends heaps of money on international flight travel, or indeed ANYTHING, unless they thought that what they’d get in return for that expenditure had equal value.

    Now that I’m back on the dark side, I can’t really comment on the handling of the situation. Tragically, a phonetically transcribed version of the noises I’m making would count as “comment.”

    I’m just sayin’: Usually you can tell how a company feels by the way they spend their money, and no one on earth shows contempt by spending tens of thousands of dollars. If you do find people who show contempt that way, please send them to me. I could use that kind of contempt.

    • John Smith

      You dont know anyone on earth who shows contempt by spending tens of thousands of dollars? Isn’t that exactly how cash shop games hope to make their money?

      “Man, I am  (or my parents are) rich but am level retarded. My gear sucks because I play 2 hours a month and everyone calls me a noob. I really shouldn’t be playing mmorpgs in the first place. Wait a second, what’s this? Pay to win? That sounds interesting… Oh Damn, I just got wrecked in pvp again. Better drop 10, 20, 100, 1000 dollars and show those children with no money who is boss!”

  • Sinij

    ” Devs are taking their game in places that their players do not want it to go. And the players know this. And they are angry.”

    Please tell me you don’t believe that players would EVER consider micro-transactions “a place that they want to go”.

    MTs suck, they are like commercials on cable – unmitigated corporate greed that not only taints experience but changes medium in process to be conductive to it.

  • ed

    @ Charles Ellis

    “What makes all of that fear and anger at CCP somewhat pointless is that
    they ultimately decided not to go that route. CCP actually made the
    right decision with respect to the RMT shop according to what their most
    hardcore playerbase wanted.”

    Unless something has changed in the last 24-48 hours that I’m unaware of the fact is that CCP has -refused- to state officially that P2W will not be a part of the MT system.  The current dodge is that we will all have to wait until after July 1st when the CSMs and CCP meet in Iceland.  And just because they chose to initially stock their MT shop with ugly crap doesn’t mean that they weren’t working on P2W items for the MT shop.

  • Aufero

    I see  a number of people here assuming that PLEX and non-cosmetic Aurum sales are equivalent – I.E. “Pay to win”. I don’t think so.  I see two new game-changing problems that would be introduced by selling non-cosmetic items in the Aurum store:

    1) Eve’s economy is based on player time and training right now.  Whether you got that 5 billion ISK by selling PLEX, running missions or playing the market, the things you buy with it were made by a player who put in game time to manufacture them. Aurum store items would break that model – You could just purchase ships and ammo without worrying about whether there were enough people mining, manufacturing, or running missions to support the local economy.  I can think of half a dozen problems with this off the top of my head,  from pirate corps not having enough victims to prey on to new players not having a market for what  they can produce.

    2) Logistics is a huge part of Eve PvP.  That player owned station under siege in 0.0 or wormhole space has to get fuel somehow.  The ships that have been blown up need to be replaced from disputed local resources or flown in past gate camps.  Aurum item sales would break the logistical part of war in Eve by introducing resources that could magically appear at local stations without worry about mining or transport.

    These things are why experienced Eve players are so upset at the possibility of direct item sales. (As opposed to PLEX.)

    (The previously announced plan to charge most of the major Eve reference sites and utility developers – the volunteers who made Eve popular in the first place – a fee every year set the stage for the present anger.  I can’t imagine who thought that idea, which was practically guaranteed to piss off the most vocal and trusted people in the Eve community, was a good intro for CCP’s new microtransaction shop.)

    • Some Dumbass, Phd in Economics

      “1) Eve’s economy is based on player time and training right now. 
      Whether you got that 5 billion ISK by selling PLEX, running missions or
      playing the market, the things you buy with it were made by a player who
      put in game time to manufacture them. Aurum store items would break
      that model – You could just purchase ships and ammo without worrying
      about whether there were enough people mining, manufacturing, or running
      missions to support the local economy.  I can think of half a dozen
      problems with this off the top of my head,  from pirate corps not having
      enough victims to prey on to new players not having a market for what 
      they can produce.

      2) Logistics is a huge part of Eve PvP.  That
      player owned station under siege in 0.0 or wormhole space has to get
      fuel somehow.  The ships that have been blown up need to be replaced
      from disputed local resources or flown in past gate camps.  Aurum item
      sales would break the logistical part of war in Eve by introducing
      resources that could magically appear at local stations without worry
      about mining or transport. ”

      Funny thing with these gripes; most of them are ridiculously easy to remedy or cure outright. In the case of remedies, you could only make items of a certain metalevel available for purchase. This leaves manufacturing viable in T2, although (last I checked) morphite is a limited resource, and the supply of t2 would skyrocket over current demand. Like I said, remedy.  Alternative to remedy: only make officer and storyline items available, and keep the pricetags high enough to allow t1 and t2 manufacture to stay competitive. Problem solved.

      In terms of cures, you could make the items only available at noob stations or specialized pickup locations patched in for such things. Logistics problem solved (or at least left in the same shape it is now.)

      • Aufero

        Yes, they could undoubtedly find solutions for most of the economic
        issues.  Thing is, many of the potential fixes (making item purchases
        only possible in certain areas, using trade-ins involving t1 or t2
        items, etc.) involve fundamental changes to the way the Aurum store
        works right now – changes the devs have said aren’t on the table in the
        near future.

        Restricting sales to high-meta items and setting Aurum store prices high
        might help, if they can find a way to avoid breaking in-game logistics.
        (Maybe they could sell equivalents to things that normally enter the
        economy through hisec mission runners?  That’s an economic category CCP
        has been trying to encourage players  to move out of for quite a while.)

  • Dave

    At this point, I’m just watching the fireworks.

    I stepped down as an officer in my EVE Alliance because I won’t be playing (although I will let skills update until my subscription runs out), and I’m one of the hundreds of recent EVE expatriates in Perpetuum.

    It’s funny, the whole thing, combined with another sandbox to go play in that just got a massive influx of players (and doesn’t hate my ATI card), flipped a bit. I’m just not interested in EVE at the moment. Maybe someday in the future, but I’ll let let the account lapse rather than pay to gain skill. And I know myself well enough to know that that makes it less likely that I’ll go back to EVE in the future.

  • John Smith

    Remember when lum had that big rant about how he pretended to answer “stupid” mmo questions and basically implied abunch of things that just got proven wrong? I sure do.

  • Theliel

    Basically Incarna was a test run for the WoD MMO….sold to starship players…facepalm anyone?

    Also I love the fact that the WoD MMO will work EXACTLY like it’s live action counter part – favours/cash for flat out better classes and special snowflakeness.

  • Vetarnias

    Someone at MMORPG.com was raising an interesting point which may explain CCP’s current approach: perhaps the game world is saturated with years’ worth of PLEX cards, which may mean that although EVE remains popular, the company behind it could be slowly sliding into insolvency if it continues to rely on subcriptions and PLEX sales.

    As I mentioned in that other thread, the PLEX model does remind me of Puzzle Pirates’ doubloon currency (bought with RL cash) for its free-to-play servers.  I just see two differences:

    1) PLEXes, according to the EVE Online wiki, are treated just as any other in-game item. They can be stacked, stored, put on the market, lost in looting or scams.  Doubloons, on the other hand, can only be consumed by players when taking possession of goods at (in-game) stores, at which point they vanish, and can only be traded with other players through the “doubloon exchange” for pieces of eight, the in-game currency, and nothing else.  The doubloon exchange is anonymous and based on supply and demand.  Players can still exchange doubloons between themselves directly, but they don’t have to.  Where second-hand goods (i.e. where the doubloon cost has already been paid) is involved, the seller will usually add the current exchange value of doubloons in pieces of eight to the cost.  

    2) EVE uses PLEX to allow some players to avoid paying for a subscription, or to subsidize others to stay in the game; Puzzle Pirates has subscription servers, but they are separate and don’t include doubloons in the game world. You can pay for your subscription in doubloons, but this is by necessity on a separate server.

    Some of you seem to be jumping through hoops to justify PLEX, and say it’s not pay-to-win because the money exchange does not affect the in-game economy. That last part may be true, but PLEX is pay-to-win nonetheless. You’re in effect buying goods with real money which you can then exchange for ISK, instead of grinding for ISK in the regular methods.  Provided you don’t remain stuck with 35 years’ worth of PLEXes in your attempt to buy your way to riches, you can grow very wealthy indeed without the slightest effort.

    Also there is this, from the EVE wiki: “CCP has not made any special exceptions for the PLEX items. They are treated as regular in-game items with regards to market orders and contracts. Scams are easily avoidable by careful scrutiny of market orders and contracts and we urge anyone to be alert when dealing in PLEXes.” When you can get scammed out of a store item which you paid for, and that the designers have not done anything to prevent, we’re talking about real-life fraud. Worse, if EVE players can pat themselves on the back for large-scale scams with the blessing of CCP itself (promptly used for promotional fodder), I say the law ought to get involved.

    @Sanya Weathers

    “Usually you can tell how a company feels by the way they spend their money, and no one on earth shows contempt by spending tens of thousands of dollars.”  

    Um, I would say that every company that takes pride in being seen handing out a cheque the size of a door to some charity or other is doing just that, along with every lobbyist or political party in existence.

    • Aufero

      My point wasn’t that PLEX isn’t pay-to-win. (It is, obviously.)  It was that selling items directly in the new Aurum store would be much worse for the Eve in-game economy than PLEX.

      As for Eve being saturated with PLEX cards, the recent rise in the in-game market cost of PLEX (the price in ISK has risen ~30% in the last four months) makes a glut seem unlikely.

      • JuJutsu

        My last go-around in Eve I bought a plex. I paid, why didn’t I win?

        • Aufero

          Clearly you didn’t pay hard enough.

    • Iain Compton

      The difference between buying PLEX to convert to ingame currency and using that to purchase ships, characters and items from the player-run market and using PLEX to buy those things directly from CCP is huge and is why you don’t get the PLEX is not pay to win’ argument despite having had it explained to you.

      Before Incarna, CCP sold nothing except subscription time. I could buy it for myself or I could buy a chunk to trade with other players for ingame cash. All that was really happening was an arrangement where one player agrees to pay the subscription for another player in return for Isk. The Isk that was being obtained in that way came from a player who’d earned it through ingame methods, the items bought with that Isk were produced by players who’d built/mined/stolen them through ingame methods. It’s the same money and items swilling around in the fishbowl. By injecting new items or services into the market system that bypass the ingame production pipelines you undermine the entire economy of the game – and Eve is a game in which the economy drives *everything*.

    • Emergent P

      Suggesting that having their game saturated with PLEX leads to insolvency requires them to have spectacularly stupid accountants. Those game months are paid for; put it in the appropriate account, let it earn interest till it’s used, then release the reserve. It’s a better deal than a regular subscription since they get money ahead of time (time value of money). They figured out how to account for prepaying like that back when spears were still all the rage. 

  • Asda

    People like to argue word play instead of having an actual argument. It is possible to have in game transactions with real life money without them effecting the game’s economy or the players perspective of it. Many players don’t have any problem, for example, when their friends or themselves buy or sell an account or ingame currency that has been created through “legitimate” means. But they will raise holy hell if it was made by some chinese bot. Items and services created out of thin air are even worse in this perspective. You can deal with botters and exploiters, you can fight them, they are tangible. There is no way to compete with free. When the company itself starts pumping things out of thin air, it leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. This is even true for “f2p” pay2win games. Paying to win is only tolerated to a certain extent. Once you pass that tipping point, it becomes “fuck it lets just go somewhere else”.

    Quite frankly, I don’t understand how the government hasn’t litigated the fuck out of mmorpgs. From an ethics standpoint, it’s double dipping and in poor taste. We pay you for access to a service, then we create a community, and then you change the rules and tell us we have to buy x y or z or at least tolerate others doing so. The science invested in mmorpgs is insane. Don’t tell me a developer has never looked at the studies involving addiction and such and designed game play mechanics around them and when people get hurt because of this, there is zero liability towards you or your company.You are basically creating your own currency and exchanging it tax free when you sell cash shop monopoly money. You are basically producing goods and services with a production cost of zero, with a tax rate of zero,  when you make cash shop items. And then there is all those gambling boxes we know and love that some how do not fall under the jurisdiction of the appropriate committees and boards. I can’t play penny slots except in designated areas of certain states, but I can always play dollar slots in some f2p game? How is that even legal? I know asian countries like Korea and China have mmorpg specific laws. How come nobody else does?

  • People could always recover from losses in EVE by spending real time money on new ships and clones, once CCP legalized it by allowing players to sell game time (bought with real money) for ISK, it was one more reason for me to leave.

    FYI: the so called hardcore EVE players all left 2006 or short after, after they drove the game for 3 years day in, day out, helping to reach a critical mass needed for it to be profitable.

    Kinda strange how the game went downhill after the introduction of bigger than Battleship ships, regardless of how the subscription numbers developed.

    The PvP in EVE became a Player vs Pocket. 1 account vs 4 accounts, 1 account vs 4 accounts buying ISK.

  • Brask

    1) If MMORPGs were really that addictive, we wouldn’t have all of us bitter ex-players on the sidelines commenting. They tend to cause a 2-3 year phase that burns itself out.  Developers that focus on rules of addiction tend to produce crap games.  Note the whole “casual” trend in MMORPGs has been decidedly _against_ the skinner boxes of EQ.

    2) Gambling laws aren’t coming into effect because the game company is not selling back a cash reward for playing the games.  Compare contrast Magic the Gathering, which isn’t gambling either.

    3) Double dipping by corporations isn’t something the government wishes to regulate.  That is the sort of thing us consumers are supposed to regulate.  In any case, phone companies would be the logical first target of that sort of claim.

  • Vetarnias

    Hmm, this looks good:

    CSM member post on the first day, in which absolutely nothing whatsoever is said: http://treborofthecsm.blogspot.com/2011/06/peace-talks-day-one.html

    Comments already shoot him down for being vague, blaming it on the existence of an NDA.

  • gx1080

    Been following the twitter of The Mittani, according to him and Trebor, the situation is fixable.

    People didn’t thought that a series of corporate meetings were going to be fast, right? 😉

  • JuJutsu

    “It is CCP‘s plan that the Noble Exchange (NeX store) will be used for the sale of vanity items only. There are no plans, and have been no plans, as per previous communication and CSM meetings, to introduce the sale of game breaking items or enhancements in the NeX store.”

    🙂