EVE producer defends microtransaction costs

Arnar Gylfason compares virtual clothes to real ones

One of the producers of EVE has posted in the game's official blog to defend the company's pricing policy for in-game virtual clothes, and has called for attacks on individual employees mentioned in a leaked internal newsletter to cease.

Arnar Gylfason addressed the issues in a post which begins by praising the smooth rollout of the recent Incarna update, before moving on to cover players' concerns over item costs. One piece of virtual clothing on sale equates to $25 in its virtual currency cost - enough for several large ships. (Via RPS)

The producer also asks that any criticism of the move be addressed to CCP, and not individuals, after a copy of internal newsletter Fearless centred on the question of 'is greed good' was released to fans.

"The opinions and views expressed in Fearless are just that; opinions and views," writes Gylfason about the leaked internal document. "They are not CCP policy nor are they a reliable source of CCP views as a company. The employees who submitted articles to that newsletter did exactly what they were asked to do, write about theories and opinions from an exaggerated stand.

"While it's perfectly fine to disagree and attack CCP over policies or actions we take, we think it's not cool how individuals that work here have been called out and dragged through the mud due to something they wrote in the internal company newsletter. Seriously, these people were doing their jobs and do not deserve the hate and s***storm being pointed at them."

Gylfason then justified the cost of virtual items by comparing the glamour and status they would confer to that offered by expensive designer clothing.

"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," he continues. "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.

"We will gradually introduce items at other price points, definitely lower and probably higher than what's in the store today. We hope you enjoy them and are as passionate about them as you are of the current items that are for sale."

EVE is a game which lives or dies on the strength and balance of its economy, to the extent that it employs qualified economists to ensure its integrity. Whilst the price of some items is high, it may be that this was an intentional move to provide a cash sink for an overly bloated economy.

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Latest comments (8)

Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus6 years ago
Other than the defence of the employees, this is the stupidest, most roundabout way of trying to justify exploiting a percentage of your customers that I can find. When a pair of virtual clothing keeps me warm in real life, then you can compare the cost of virtual clothing to real clothing, designer or not.

Of course, this person is *doing his job*. So that makes it perfectly OK to spout what is essentially corporate-driven bullshit.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game6 years ago
I don't play Eve, but this weekend I looked at the complaints on their forum, after it was linked here. Although some of them where crazy, most seemed fair. One that stands out was that it was promised that their would never be advantages sold as MTs. So the employee advocating them wasn't just suggesting a business model, but also that they should break a direct promise made to their very dedicated community, it shouldn't have even made it into the newsletter as it shouldn't have been given a second thought.

Judging by the high emotions and unanswered questions within the community, this comes across as pouring petrol on the flames.

People also talk about whales in free to play, but in a way eve seems to have these, as a lot of the players seem to be running 4 or 6 paid accounts at a time, they arn't limited to £10 a month as it is.
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Stephen Woollard Online Infrastructure Specialist, Electronic Arts6 years ago
I think the point people are missing is that you don't need to buy any of that stuff, it's all fluff. If they were selling the Uber Battleship of PVP Pwnage™ then there's an argument that they would be exploiting people, but they're selling clothes for your avatar.

If you don't want to spend money on them, then don't. In fact, there's a strong argument in the microtransaction model that you don't want everyone buying stuff, because that means people have to pay to compete and will burn out quicker and your game will die. I think the general consensus is 7 to 10% of players buying items is more than sufficient to maintain the "freemium" model, and with a subs based MMO it's extra gravy.

As long as the items being sold do not provide a significant in-game advantage, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with selling items on top of the usual subscription.
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Show all comments (8)
Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game6 years ago
@Stephan. The newsletter mentioned is the main thing that has been upsetting people, as the article expressed a desire to start selling in game advantages instead of just vanity items. Thinking that the high prices are the main concern means he isn't listening.
The other thing that has upset people is that the update that shows off captains quarters reduces game performance and adds nothing that was promised except a shopfront and display cabinet for items, and although it is optional at the moment, the comunity believes this is temporary.
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Stephen Woollard Online Infrastructure Specialist, Electronic Arts6 years ago
Unfortunately this is a common problem with "leaked" docs and emails. More often than not they're completely out of context.

I would imagine what's actually happened is that they've had a free-for-all brainstorming session and this is the result. I would also be completely unsurprised that the idea of selling "pay2win" items was just as slated internally at CCP as it inevitably (and rightly) has been by the community.

I could send out a thousand internal, confidential docs from EA that have some completely outlandish stuff in them but 99.999% of it will never see the light of day, which is exactly why these kinds of things are usually marked "company confidential" - they are not meant for public consumption for precisely this reason.

Whomever released this doc may have thought they were doing a Good Thing™ but actually it was very irresponsible and has created a lot of ill-will quite likely for for no reason at all.
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Jeff Wayne Technical Architect 6 years ago
Well said Stephen.

People do tend to all too easily gloss over the key point that they don't *have* to buy that junk. Once the stuff doesn't give any sort of edge on gameplay then good luck to them finding suckers that are willing to pay that sort of cash for vanity items. They are just serving a tiny percentage of their customers and getting extra income to fund further developments.

No harm no foul. :-)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jeff Wayne on 27th June 2011 5:09pm

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Sascha Henrichs 3D Environment Artist, Piranha Bytes6 years ago
i wonder if the items you purchase are actual yours?
could you reuse them wherever you would, could you leech them out of the game and use them where else? do you get the sources? i think not.
are graphic noobs actually allowed to export their clothing to their copy of "poser" to create their own pics with it? well perhaps, but what if they sell any kind of it?
any item you ever purchase inside games is in the end NOT YOUR ITEM. it stays their item. so what you do is actually lending it for in-game use for a single fee.
and what happens if the game just ends some day. the company dies or the game will be stomped by the publisher or whatever. you wont ever get a dime back. and you don't have the virtual sources.
so the comparison to real life pants can't be more absurd..
i think that is enough reason to just NOT buy such items. it's a bad habit taken from social games and they try it out. so perhaps it's in the players hand if they will continue develop that game in this direction or not.
dont buy the silly stuff.
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 6 years ago
I don't understand what people are so upset about with regard to the item prices. If you can't afford them, don't buy them. You don't see me threadnaughting Rolls Royce just because I can't afford a car.

Plus, Hilmar's comments in the leaked newsletter are right. Players -will- buy these items at that price and you'll see "luxury pricepoint" items popping up in a lot of f2p games over the next few months.

Also, don't forget that Eve has a thriving trade in ISK -> PLEX which can now become Aurum, the stuff you buy from the NeX shop with. There are players out there who -easily- raise enough ISK to buy 4-5 PLEX a month without even thinking about it. Selling 3-5 GTCs (2 PLEX each) to one person isn't even unusual.

As for the possibility of selling game advantages in the NeX shop, the legality of selling GTCs and PLEX for ISK -already- lets people buy game advantages. An important part of PvP in Eve used to be restricting a corp's access to lucrative hunting grounds. The only way to force a surrender was to keep costing them ISK and denying them income until they are willing to agree to your terms.

Now GTC sales are legitimate, you'd have to be able to stop a player going to work to force a war to end, or drive costs up so far they are harming -the player- not the character.

You can sell GTCs to buy a titan or a supercarrier. You can fund an endless stream of ships out of your RL pocket. What do they honestly think a monocle is going to do to unbalance that?

And even if a monocle gives you deathray eye beams, does that seriously justify death threats? Honestly, there are a lot of players out there who need to revisit the real world and put their attitudes back in context.
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