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CCP debates micro transactions in EVE Online

Thu 23 Jun 2011 10:17am GMT / 6:17am EDT / 3:17am PDT
Online

Leaked internal newsletter reveals disagreement amongst developers

EVE Online developer CCP Games appears to be as divided over the question of micro transactions as the game's community, according to a document purporting to be an internal newsletter from the company.

The document first appeared on forum Failheap Challenge and although it appears to be authentic its contents have not yet been commented upon by CCP.

The primary focus of the newsletter is micro transactions, with an introduction to the concept describing the revenue model as:

"...as a subscription based golden goose, EVE needs to incorporate the virtual goods sales model to allow for further revenue - revenue to fund our other titles, revenue for its developer: you. The model also supports the notion of creating a meaningful experience and identity for the player..."

The concept is then debated by various employees, including lead game designer Kristoffer Touborg, who comments: "I would like virtual goods sales in EVE."

"In fact, I'd like to sell a lot more than vanity items. Does this mean I'm an evil capitalist that, unless stopped, will cause the entire company to catch fire and be buried at sea by a secret team of Navy SEALs?

"Let's hope not, although that's the impression I get sometimes when interacting with our customers. 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 publicly is that we'd be burned at the stake by the players."

Touborg then suggests that using microtransactions and in-game currency as rewards could be a key way to winning over sceptical players.

"I think we should be giving money away too. Giving people small amounts of micro-currency for being loyal subscribers, or even as a reward for high level gameplay like taking sovereignty should be just as legitimate a part of the business model as charging players."

CCP's John Turbefield was against the concept though, arguing that it would unbalance the gameplay and there was no clear benefit from introducing the new business model.

"I feel that if people have already paid a subscription fee then unless there is a good reason for the overall community to introduce a gameplay-affecting virtual goods sales (such as with PLEX), then gaining an in-game advantage isn't justifiable. 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."

The potential for microtransaction to unbalance PlayStation 3 title Dust 514, which uniquely takes place in the same virtual space inhabited by PC users, was also highlighted:

"With no subscriptions in Dust, we have to be careful about selling permanent awesomeness, as there's a danger of saturating the market. When everyone has everything, there's no reason to buy anything anymore. Concepts such as planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence thus play a key role (obsolescence referring to the deliberate shortening of a product's lifespan)."

Scans of the entire newsletter can be found at GamesIndustry.biz sister site Eurogamer.

8 Comments

James Taylor Studying Games and Interactive Entertainment, Queensland University of Technology

11 0 0.0
IMO fake

Posted:3 years ago

#1

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,137 1,177 1.0
God forbid when everybody has everything and the developer has to come up with new things. Even CCP can only dig a rabbit hole so deep. At some point you need another rabbit hole for people to fall in, even if that means work. I wonder if this is a press narrative, or a real thing, of developers thinking they can make one MMO and then ride it out the rest of their lives with subscriptions and microtransactions. Never having to make another game ever again, never having to worry about drawing in a new set of customers.

He is right with his double-billing argument. The subscription is charging for access, the microtransaction is charging for the instant gratification of increased power. Two different things best not put in the same game.

Posted:3 years ago

#2

Attila Olas IT- security consultant

6 0 0.0
So, the leaked document is real( check here: http://www.eveonline.com/ingameboard.asp... ) and now most of the EVE gamer's are very angry. But it looks like CCP realized that they need to listen now very carefully to they gamer's or they will loose a lot of they subscribers.

Posted:3 years ago

#3

Richard Gardner Artist, Crytek

123 32 0.3
They have an up and coming patch related to captains quarters and a personal living space for your avatar, why not simply use this as a testing ground and start selling items to personalise your space? This way you don't anger your community but at the same time test the market, much like what Blizzard have done with vanity pets and mounts.

Posted:3 years ago

#4

James Prendergast Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
I don't think there's a reason for people to be angry since they're obviously discussing it and not announcing the implementation. Those two scenarios are completely different.... but then i guess people get angry very easily these days.

Personally, i think microtransactions in a game were you pay a subscription is ridiculous... I also don't believe that you should pay for the "box" of an expansion like they do in WoW.... I never understood why (even in other MMOs) that first month costs you more. Always seemed like fleecing to me.

However, if they implemented a free to play version of Eve that ran concurrently with the subscription version where a lot of higher stuff was locked behind paywalls or with microtransactions then i think that would work well.

@ Richard:

They've already done this - RPS reported that they had released vanity items like a monocle and a suit or something... Unfortunately, working out the price in real world terms showed that they were priced at around the real-world values for those items..... Seems stupid to me.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 24th June 2011 8:52am

Posted:3 years ago

#5

Stephen Woollard Online Infrastructure Specialist, Electronic Arts

146 71 0.5
Richard is spot on. Microtransactions should be about fluff, never "pay to win".

Sell vanity pets, pot plants and funky clothes, sell limited time XP boosts, or stuff to reduce skill training time - things that add personality and convenience but no real substance.

One of the most useful bits of microtransaction fluff I've seen is the starter mount in Warhammer Online; a mount you can use at level 2, only 25% speed boost with 100% chance to be dismounted on damage, it doesn't disrupt gameplay but it makes it so much nicer getting around the starter areas, and of course the Snotling Herald was the product of inspired genius :-)

CCP - go for it, just don't sell anything even vaguely resembling "pay 2 win" or your players will hate you forever.

Posted:3 years ago

#6
The thing that made so many players amazed *(and mad) is that some of the pricing was tied to the price of the in game currency to subscription item they have ('plex') and they were pricing things at like 3-4 months play time for the aforementioned eyeware. The 'plex' market is a pretty big deal, as it ties to legitimate players using their success in the game to play for free, and frankly the prices were insane. Hypercapitalistic true market society blah blah blah...

I am obviously a player too - and while I appreciate the whiteboard, many awesome possibilities of the in station environment (and the cross over to their other mmo project) they really, really should have done a bit more market analysis for the decor, etc. This is from a company that elects their most popular players, then flies them to Iceland twice , and does regular online meetings with said alpha-playerbase. They have the people to ask, solidly under NDA already!

Posted:3 years ago

#7

Attila Olas IT- security consultant

6 0 0.0
http://de.justin.tv/deamosseraph#/w/1380... EVE Players make they stand against CCP. Check the live stream from Jita.

Posted:3 years ago

#8

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