Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
 
Working in EVE for $2 per hour

Nothing gets you famous as quickly on the internet as a well-made chart. This one shows the ships of EVE online, with a circle around them whose area represents the cost of the ship when it gets shot down from under you. The cost is represented in either virtual currency, US dollars, or hours of work to get such a ship. RMT is legal in EVE Online, thus there is a known, and relatively stable exchange rate.

So a lot of blogs linked to that chart because it raises the obvious question on whether you really want a $7,600 Titan ship to blow up under you. A lot of people drive cars worth less than that, and normally nobody shoots at your car to destroy it.

But what I found even more remarkable is that by giving the cost in both US dollars and real time "work", you end up putting an hourly wage on time spent in EVE, and it is about $2 per hour. That means you either get paid $2 per hour of "working" in EVE, and that is not a lot, way below minimum wage. Or you end up paying $2 to *not* have to spend time in EVE. If instead you would not play EVE and flip burgers for minimum wage in the time, you would be winning either way.

When discussing games with microtransactions, I repeatedly stated my point of view that there are good systems and bad systems, and that the bad systems are identified by players spending money to completely bypass content (like buying the best available weapon in Free Realms, making the smithing profession obsolete). And EVE to me is a case of bad microtransactions.

I would say that EVE has two major gameplay parts, one being a PvP game, and the other being an economic game. With me not being interested in the PvP part, I'm looking mostly at the economic part. And I would say that legal RMT makes the economic part look a lot less attractive. At the start of the game, when your character is still very weak and has no capital to work with, you will earn a lot less than $2 equivalent per hour. Thus the temptation will be great to jump-start yourself with the 300 million ISK or so you get in exchange for one PLEX. Thus if you think of your power in EVE depending on your skill points and your virtual wealth, you end up having bought both for real money. Skills don't go up from gameplay, but go up with the length of your subscription, thus there is a direct skill points to dollars correlation too.

The funny thing is that EVE has a lot of hardcore fans, which will undoubtedly swarm all over this post in the comment thread to defend EVE. That is exactly the same people who tend to complain about games where you can buy your way to power, but somehow in their mind it is different if EVE does that. Imagine Blizzard would offer gold for dollars, and automatic leveling of unplayed WoW characters as long as you pay a monthly fee for that, there would be a huge outcry. I wouldn't like that in World of Warcraft, and I don't like that in EVE Online. EVE being a PvP game doesn't change that, just the opposite: You being able to boost your power with money is even worse if you directly compete with other players in PvP.
Comments:
Yeah, I dunno if it exactly works like that. The $2/hr logic only holds true if you find playing Eve work. Which maybe is a sign that one shouldn't be playing Eve.

If your goal is to Reach 1B isk or whatever, then the most time-efficient way of doing so may be to buy Plex. I would imagine most people think of it more as 'play an economic warfare game and win it (i.e., get rich)'. In which case buying plex would be like cheating yourself god-powers in an offline game, declaring victory and calling it a day.

I also don't have a big problem with people buying money, but I also think it doesn't matter as much. It can give you an edge, but it won't guarantee you a win. Some of the best pilots I flew with, with lots of kills and relatively few deaths, were 6 month to 1 year-old players in cheap ships (>10m for ship & fittings.)

Another way to look at it: if it really were possible to just buy victory, wouldn't someone have already done it, people being what they are?

- a lapsed, sometime eve-player.
 
Let me qualify this comment by saying that I don't play EVE and never subscribed for more than 3 months or got involved enough to join a corp.

Sure the idea of increasing power levels with money is unpleasant but I find this form of RMT acceptable in EVE for a few reasons.

1) The usefulness of money is aggressively capped by the length of your tenure in EVE (skill points).
2) The most powerful items are prohibitively expensive, offering a poor risk/reward ratio.
3) Excessive purchasers are an exciting target and are generally punished by non-RMT PVP players.
4) This form of RMT does not increase the amount of money in the economy. Unspent riches make their way to players who can actually use and possibly lose the cash. A handy sink?
5) Sales are only made to players wanting to legitimately buy more game-time.

I wouldn't begrudge a new player a head start/catch-up tool like this. It's unneccessary, won't get them very far, but is meagre toy money that a legitimate player worked to acquire.

I would expect an end-gamer to be unable to afford items that they'd find useful, and if they could then it's there to be shot down.

Money does not speed up the process from new character to end-gamer. In fact you could start in your desired end-game with a new character without the cash.

There would certainly be uproar if that change was made to WoW. What a massive one. But I personally wouldn't mind removing the cap on Rest XP (much the same effect as XP for subscribing) and couldn't care less if someone legitimately purchased gold from another player in exchange for subscription time. Like EVE, gold has limited usefulness depending on character skill. One caveat though, items purchased with this gold would need to be destroyable/lootable in PVP.
 
The usual argument I hear from my eve-playing friends at that point is that buying your way into power that way is pointless, because you lack the skills to retain it. The microcosmos of stories around Eve is full of stories of stupid (or inexperienced?) people with big ships who suffer crushing defeats against laughably weak opposition just because the dude in the crappy ship was a good player while the dude in the expensive ship obviously had no clue.

However I can't comment on how often such a scenario occurs, Eve Online has never appealed to me personally.
 
Now, seeing as I'm not an out-and-out EVE advocate, let me add something to the mix that could throw my above logic out of the window.

High skill point characters can legitimately be traded for game currency on the forums. A new player could come along, purchase a lot of subscription time for other players and theoretically buy a character capable of piloting a Titan.

This does not bother me, but I wouldn't be bothered if someone purchased a Warrior in raid Epics for straight-up $$$. The purchaser probably wouldn't have the skill to retain a raid spot but that's not the reason I'm laissez faire about the whole thing. I'm just not the type to get up in arms about it and I wouldn't begrudge anyone their opposite opinion.

The subtle difference here is that the seller now has a huge stack of in game cash with limited usefulness. What they have sold is an item that already existed on the PVP scene, something that they personally invested years in. They must still have a foothold in the game to use the money they have gained and whatever they use it for could be beneficial to the economy and a target for PVP players.

Interactions like this excite me. I love talking about EVE.
 
"And I would say that legal RMT makes the economic part look a lot less attractive."

They are only attractive if everyone else is forced through them?

You wouldn't just play them because they are fun just to play?

That's how mmo culture is crazy - people do an activity they do not enjoy, simply because other people are doing it.

To give a contrast, I would play a solo version of puzzle pirates, cause the games are fun in and of themselves.

It sounds like the economics are not fun to you...unless other people are forced to play them too.

It's a lil scary
 
Having played EVE for about 6 months I have to disagree. In my experience the ability to buy Isk with real cash didn't hurt the game at all. In fact it complemented it.

I think it is because of the sandbox nature of EVE. EVE doesn't have a single track to progress in the game. It is up to each player to choose their own path and these paths are varied. Some of these paths generate more isk than they consume. Some paths consume more isk than they generate. The plex market (rmt exchange) allows those with an excess of isk to sell to those who need more. It helps the sandbox to work.

The $2 per hour figure is a red herring. EVE is a game. People play because they enjoy playing not in order to earn money. In my few months as a fledgling pilot I never got near the ability to earn $2 worth of isk in an hour but I really enjoyed what I was doing and I enjoyed slowly building up my own assets so I never felt the need to purchase isk. A friend who started around the same time was a bit more cavalier than I was and lost ship after ship to pirates. Buying isk through the plex system allowed him to keep playing. His playstyle was no less valid than mine as long as he was enjoying himself.

By the way you don't have to create a tortuous link between rmt and skill points. There is a direct link. CCP allow players to sell mature characters for isk. If you want you can log in today and buy a ready made character with several years worth of skills. I don't think many new players do this. What would be the point? The character transfer market is more useful for experienced players who want to try a different playstyle or who perhaps need a certain set of skills to complement what they are already doing.

You have made a couple of references to EVE in recent posts Tobold. Is this an indication that you may be going to try the game again?
 
I love EVE for the one universe - a dream compared to the massive instancing in other games. I love it for the quite consistent world they have created. The newbie areas are safe because of mechanisms that work according to lore. Brilliant.

However. I agree with you.
If you are not into EVE PvP you only have the economic game and that one can be 100% sidestepped with RMT.
It's the worst way to handle it.

Together with the skills/hour fixed relationship there really isn't much to achieve in EVE exept for PvP.

And that PvP is very expensive. If you want to rule you need to also use the RMT (in addition to playing the economy game depending on how much $ you want to spend)

As I wrote before, there are three things I absolutely don't like about EVE:

1) Abysmal interface with incredibly small letters on my 1650x1050 22 zoll flatscreen. I need to pull my screen right in front of my eyes to be able to play the game in a somehow relaxed sitting position. But I never actually feel relaxed, trying to decipher the letters and aiming the mouse.

2)Fixed skills per hour relationship. While it can be considered to be desireable to not let hardcore and casuals drift too far apart, I dislike the fact that I have no influence at all. It's like WoW and every week you gain one level. Why add character development at all when the player you cannot influence it? (Except for deciding what to train every few days). What about 'gating'. That is a max of skills you can gain per day or diminishing returns?

3) RMT: The only reason left to play (skill gains are no reason to play) is to economy and PvP, but there's the RMT.

When I started EVE I was very tempted to try the RMT. After all 130mio is hell of a lot of money for a new player. But I resisted. If I had bought that amount of in-game money, I had had nothing to actually achieve anymore. I could have played pirate, but with no success rate, because my skills weren't good enough. To get the skills high enough I had had to pay and not play for months. Even if I had wanted to spend the money for that - I would simply have forgot to log in and select the new skills to be trained.

Fazit:
EVE is a dream of a MMO. It has exactly 3 weaknesses and perhaps the long travel time - but that's a tricky problem to solve.

The three problems above are all easy to solve. They are design decisions.

And that's the reason why I think that Blizzards new MMO, should it ever be released, will be EvE 2.0.

The game as an enourmous potential. And this way Blizzard wouldn't create a rival for WoW.
 
The chart and premise isn't accurate to the actual game.

The whole premise is that somebody is buying the ships with cash (USD) for GTC's or the isk in valued at that level.

I have two problems with that. One is players like myself that over the years have built up one man empires pulling in up to a billion isk in profit per month if not more casually as an industrialist to finance my PvP. My only 'cost' is in-game time building and researching, yet I find that fun so being part of my game I don't see it as a cost.

The second problem is every player participating in PvP or combat with the risk of having their ship being blown up would have purchased insurance for their ship, thus bringing their losses to the cost of the insurance plus fittings with the entire value of the ship itself being paid back (when minerals would cheap, you would actually profit off blowing up your own ship).

If this chart wasn't exaggerated toward the RMT extreme, and took insurance into account it would've been a much interesting chart and perhaps given guidance to players on how to get the best return for their ISK.
 
One word about the $2:

Every MMO has an exchange rate. Either a legal or an illegal one.
To argue that the exchange rate is low is absolutely stupid, because you play a game to have fun and not to finance your way of living.

If the play time per hour also adds something to your life that you could potentially sell for Euros that's great.

$2 per hour of fun seems a lot to me, actually. I know that WoW play time is worth much less unless you are a professional AH trader - and that doesn't seem like a lot of fun to most people.
 
You have made a couple of references to EVE in recent posts Tobold. Is this an indication that you may be going to try the game again?

No, that is an indication that I react to comments from my readers. I had several posts this year where I was talking about what to play, economic game design in general, etc. without mentioning EVE, and every time some readers came and said "you really should play EVE". I listen to such suggestions, but don't just blindly follow them, they just make me think "Do I want to play EVE? And if not, why?".

Apart from not liking PvP, and finding parts of EVE (mining, long flights) boring, the legal RMT of EVE is one of the factors that makes me not want to play EVE. The same sort of arguments people use here to defend RMT in EVE can be used to defend RMT in WoW, or microtransactions in Free2Play games. But the same people defending RMT in EVE are those who are most rabidly opposed to RMT in other games and microtransactions. Come on, guys, be consistent. If you admit that RMT is good in EVE, then by definition it must be possible to design good RMT and microtransaction systems in other games too. So why the strong opposition there, but not for EVE?
 
So why the strong opposition there, but not for EVE?

First, because when you buy ISK in EVE, they won't be created out of nothing and added to your wallet, you get them from another player who earned them somehow. So you will have no ingame inflation because of RMT.

Second, you cannot buy Dollars with ISK, you can only buy Game Time Codes, which are automatically added to you subscription. There is no chance in reselling them.

Third and last, you can do everything and nothing with ISK. A huge wallet means nothing in EVE, because you lose ISK really fast. More important is a way to earn ISK and it doesn't matter for the economy if you RMT it, get it from doing PVE mission, mining, playing the market or ganking freighters.
 
RMT is neither good or bad. You have to look at each individual case and decide for yourself. Painting a broad brush to the many, many different RMT systems out there just doesn't make any sense to me.

That said, I don't think a beginner in Eve buying plex is really buying their way to more power. More power comes in more skills trained and that only comes with real time that no amount of isk is going to save you from. At most, they're just saving themselves the aggravation of farming it for themselves through mining or other means.

You also have to look at the flipside of Eve's plex system which allows those with isk to burn to fund subscription time with it. It's win/win IMO.
 
The chart also shows that the average ship seems to be quite affordable ($2 to $30).

Personally I also enjoy playing the economy in games such as WoW. Adding RMT to such a game ruins that. It makes one think "hell, I'm making $2 an hour here, I'd better just work one hour overtime".
 
"The same people defending rmt in EVE are those who most rabidly oppose rmt in other games"

That is a sweeping generalisation. Let me volunteer as a counter example. I defend RMT in EVE and I do not rabidly oppose rmt in other games.
 
I think one of the big differences that makes RMT more acceptable in Eve, is that your items can and will be destroyed.
Imagine you had to buy a complete new equipment set and mount, everytime you died in WoW. A lot of players wouldn't be able to afford that unless they could buy ingame cash.
 
"Yeah, I dunno if it exactly works like that. The $2/hr logic only holds true if you find playing Eve work. Which maybe is a sign that one shouldn't be playing Eve"

This.

Moonmaster has nailed it, if you are doing anything non-productive - watching TV, playing Eve, reading a book - in your leisure time and not enjoying it then stop.

It's leisure. The purpose of leisure is not to earn money.

In other news the former head of Goonswarm has just walked away with an estimated $80,000 worth of isk and assets in return for leading a few suicide gank fleets.
 
But the same people defending RMT in EVE are those who are most rabidly opposed to RMT in other games and microtransactions.

Hope you don't refer to me here. I dislike RTM wherever it is and in EVE it's even worse than it could ever be in WoW, because, exept for skills (that take only time), you can buy anything for credits.

It's just that EVE also has a lot of advantages that weight very heavy. Especially the highly immersive one server. And a meaningful economy - well if there were no RMT.
 
I guess you could say I defended RMT in EVE above but I also gave only a couple of caveats for how exactly the same system would satisfy me in WoW.

I think that's fairly consistent :)

But like I said in my second comment, I'm easy when it comes to RMT. I don't oppose it at all.

I only have 3 potential problems with it that (as an example) don't exist in EVE:

1) Prohibitively painful debuffs on free to play players (meaning f2p isn't really an option).
2) Money created from nowhere leading to inflation.
3) Imbalance in PVP where the item that has been paid for is not put at risk.
 
EVE's sponsored-subscription model appears to be economically neutral. There's no useable item or currency faucet generated by the step, no external monetary benefit to players over access to the game.

Every time someone buys a GTC and trades it for ISK, someone _else_ gains access to the game they perhaps would not otherwise have. If I spend money, I get what I want, and someone else benefits. The game-as-a-whole benefits from the transaction, not primarily CCP's bank account. This I think is why many EVE players don't mind GTC activities too much: because for every person they know who's sold a PLEX, they personally know people who are still in game only because they could buy one.

Of course CCP do profit from GTC sales - the effective subscription cost is substantially higher than a "normal" subscription, (there's also an RL charge for character transfers). But the game remains fundamentally a subscription model, and the perceived primary benefit to CCP is from subscriptions that may not otherwise be maintained.

There's a small matter of tens of thousands of PLEXes that have been created by market speculators, but not yet used. That's money in CCP's account for services not yet provided. Clever company - taking advantage of muppets who wanted to game the markets...

@Tobold: "But the same people defending RMT in EVE are those who are most rabidly opposed to RMT in other games and microtransactions. Come on, guys, be consistent."

I'm not sure I have a worthwhile opinion on the RMT in those games. The impression I get is that other games economic model tends to be substantially different - bind on equip, low item loss, company stores that create items that would otherwise not exist. Some of these may eliminate the impact on players that other parts may have if they were done in EVE. The players relationship with the game operator varies between games, the implied "social contract" may be substantially different.

@Nils: "If you are not into EVE PvP you only have the economic game and that one can be 100% sidestepped with RMT.
It's the worst way to handle it."

And yet, EVE's buoyant economy says not. Players still run missions, still mine asteroids, still manufacture items, research BPCs. It can only be at most 50% sidestepped with RMT, since for every person wanted to take the shortcut, someone needs to have taken the long route, and the ISK acquired through the process goes straight back into the economy.

I wanted a big shiny missioning ship, a Paladin on the market for 750M ISK. I didn't buy a GTC £35, enough to acquire it more or less immediately, I spent a day or two mining ice for it. I like ice mining. I'm funny like that. Hello Ms H Boson.

Do I feel strange about one of my in-game friends deciding to replace _his_ Paladin that got blown up in a mission by selling a GTC? Not even slightly. :)
 
I think one important interaction here you have failed to note, or mention, is that when a ship is destroyed, it is unrecoverable.

For instance, your analogy to WoW is incomplete. Lets go along and imagine you could legitimately buy characters in full epics in WoW, and they autolevelled with time. To make this a more accurate representation of Eve, you must now also imagine that every time you died, you lost all your gear and levels and had to restart at level 1. Also imagine that the people who killed you got to pick up some of your epics, and thus the strongest people/guilds etc were constantly under threat of being ganked in a totally free-for-all pvp environment.

Suddenly the RMT doesn't seem that bad. I think my crux being that, if you had no skill but bought your warrior in full epics, you'd be brought down to size in a day. This is completely unlike WoW--where gear outstrips skill to such a degree that a high-level epic character will practically never lose to someone lower level/gear, and even if they do, there are ZERO lasting repercussions. This means that in Eve, buying epics will not get you much further than where you'd be without.

Now I'm by no means defending Eve, as I don't even play the game. I just felt that you aren't considering the entire game from all it's aspects, and only focusing on RMT and the levelling design...without seeing how this is in some ways, natural to the game's progression. The fact that gear is essentially destructible lends a new aspect to the viability of this model that I think you should consider.
 
I think one important interaction here you have failed to note, or mention, is that when a ship is destroyed, it is unrecoverable.

While I am not familiar with the details, I understood that there is some "insurance" system, so if a ship is destroyed you at least recover a major part of its value.
 
There is one important factor at play.

In EVE you can only level up by being subscribed. There is no boosting there is no way to do exta work to get quicker to higher levels. This sets a certain price range on the skill points.

If you look at the prices for charaters you will see that their prices are not substantially higher than that of what you would have paid to level them up yourself.

Thus I strongly suspect that ievery price is really a reflection of how much it *actually* costs to obtain them. Thus I find it hard to believe you could make a living on it.
 
"Apart from not liking PvP, and finding parts of EVE (mining, long flights) boring"

You admitted yourself you spend (spent) an hour a day running AH-related mods to make gold in WoW while switching between multiple mules, how is that any different than mining in EVE, aside from the fact that gold in WoW is capped and leads to little actual reward?
 
"Yeah, I dunno if it exactly works like that. The $2/hr logic only holds true if you find playing Eve work. Which maybe is a sign that one shouldn't be playing Eve"

This.

Moonmaster has nailed it, if you are doing anything non-productive - watching TV, playing Eve, reading a book - in your leisure time and not enjoying it then stop.

It's leisure. The purpose of leisure is not to earn money.

In other news the former head of Goonswarm has just walked away with an estimated $80,000 worth of isk and assets in return for leading a few suicide gank fleets.
 
@Tobold
Insurance can recover much of the cost of the ship, but the vast majority of the value is in the additions to the ship: shields and weapons and that sort of thing. Those are gone.
 
Any job that a lot of people enjoy and want to do pays very poorly.

Average advance for a novel in the UK is about £5000. Working full-time, one prolific novelist I know manages to produce one novel every six months.

(He's paid a lot more than £5k, but I use him as an example to figure out how many hours are in a novel).

So... 10 hours a day, 6 days a week (his workload), for 6 months = 1500 hours per novel. (This isn't solid writing time, but includes other work that's essential to being a novelist, like checking proofs, research, accounts, communication with fans, etc.)

So the novelist receiving an average paycheck earns... about £3 an hour. In the same area as the Eve player.

Maybe that's a useful way to look at it?
 
Ship insurance payouyts in Eve are limited.

The Tech 1 battleship insurance costs about 30-40 million and "pays" about 100 million.

Tech 2 Battleship insurance costs about 30-40 million and "pays" about 4 million.

In WoW terms, tech 1 battleships are blues, tech 2 battleships are epics.

Also, the tech 2 ship is more valuable to the killers due to salvage.

The diminishing returns kick in quickly. As a result, RMT enables players to get back to a baseline, but rarely enables them to get a sustainable advantage.

The emblem system in WoW is quite similar. With about 400 triumph badges you can get yourself up to speed for entering ICC 10 or 25. You are not typically (Gevlon may be an exception) ready for Heroic ICC 25 man in 232 gear. Yet buying 400 badges worth of gear won't help if you don't know how to build a DPS, Healing, or tanking set.

RMT in Eve is a very useful booster to keep someone in the game. RMT would also be pointless in WoW as tons of gold is mostly useful for buyng vanity items.
 
You admitted yourself you spend (spent) an hour a day running AH-related mods to make gold in WoW while switching between multiple mules, how is that any different than mining in EVE, aside from the fact that gold in WoW is capped and leads to little actual reward?

Ah, syncaine, my links section shows that you are still busy trying to promote your own blog by using my name in the title of your blog posts, undoubtedly yet another attack post. I hope you are getting enough hits from that cheap tactic for it to be worth it.

I did in fact do various boring things in various MMORPGs, including EVE and WoW. I did those activities until I had fully understood (aka grokked) them, and then I stopped doing them. In cases where the boring activity is optional, I switch to doing something else in that game. In cases where the boring activity is the core gameplay, I switch to a different game.

Why is it that you can say with confidence that WoW is not the game for you, while saying with equal confidence that if I decide that out of personal preferences games like EVE and Darkfall aren't for me, I must be mistaken? Why are you so opposed to the idea that EVE / Darkfall might be ideal games for you, while WoW might be an ideal game for me?
 
It's been raised before but Eve's RMT is very different from 3rd party RMT.

1) It stresses the game world's economy much less. In games like Everquest some spawns were effectively impossible for normal players to compete for. They were camped 24/7 by RMTers who would train you if you looked interested. In WoW certain professions like mining are devalued by gold farmers dumping saronite etc. This in turn has influenced game design. WoW (and DDO even more so) is solving the gold seller problem by throwing so much money at the players and offering so little to buy that's it's close to pointless farming gold let alone buying it.

2) the real money you spend goes to developers to help produce new content and new games, keep the servers running and promote their products. Better than giving it to people like Brock Pierce:
http://www.wired.com/gaming/virtualworlds/magazine/16-12/ff_ige?currentPage=all
And of course there's a huge amount of duping, phishing, hacking and cheating associated with some of the RMTers.

3) the money you spend ONLY buys playtime. Essentially you are paying for someone else to play in return for some extra game money. This is no different from a parent paying for their children to pay or a hardcore player multiboxing. Who here has not been killed in Alterac Valley by 5 chain lightnings from some WoW player who spends to win?

What this means is that Eve essentially comes with a slider with isk-making and dollar cheap at one end and isk-losing and dollar expensive. Both are perfectly valid ways to play a sandbox game, the latter tending to be almost exclusively for pvpers who lose ship after ship without wanting to stop to grind isk.

I think in a sense Eve doesn't have a sub at all, just a default setting on that slider. Want to do isk-making stuff like pve missions and daytrading? Set slider to zero and play for free! Want to do isk-losing stuff and fly great ships that kick butt? Set slider to high and own faces courtesy of your credit card!

I can see myself picking either of those options and enjoying it. In Magic: The Gathering I spent a fortune and was a superb player, winning two national tournaments. In Eve I'm actually enjoying isk-making and would play exactly the same way if there were no plex system, I'd just be a couple of billion isk richer.

What I do take away from this is that if I use Eve as justification for some comment here I ought to comment in detail explaining pros and cons. I can see it must be very annoying to make perfectly valid comments about MMOs in general and have the smarty-pants "Ah, but Eve solves that" come up time after time with no further explanation or examination of the drawbacks. Apologies for any time I've done it here.
 
If someone gives you an EVE dreadnaught, do you have to pay capital gains tax?
 
A random select of a ship's fitting (50% probability per module, all of its rigs) are lost on destruction. The other ~half remains on grid to be recovered by whoever holds the battlefield.

(Skillpoints are also lost if it's a Tech3 ship).

The maximum insurance on a Tech 1 hull covers most of the hull build cost. It doesn't scale with the ship's fitting, varying only as mineral market prices float.

Tech 2 hulls, which are commonly used for pvp, cost many times more than their Tech 1 versions, but insurance payout is the same amount. Tech 2 ships are regard as essentially uninsurable.
 
And yet, EVE's buoyant economy says not. Players still run missions, still mine asteroids, still manufacture items, research BPCs. It can only be at most 50% sidestepped with RMT, since for every person wanted to take the shortcut, someone needs to have taken the long route, and the ISK acquired through the process goes straight back into the economy.


True, but meaningless.
What's meaningful to me is that I can become rich and there is not way around it using $.

I do agree that the way of implementation is close to brilliant - but that doesn't change my judgement.

I judge from my PoV, not the PoV of the whole game economy.
 
/me tries to keep Syncaine and Tobold away from each other.

"Please" :)
 
Dear Tobold, I think I was one of the guys who suggested you try out Eve (again). I will get to my reasons for that soonish, but before we get to that I wanted to comment on:

"That means you either get paid $2 per hour of "working" in EVE, and that is not a lot, way below minimum wage. Or you end up paying $2 to *not* have to spend time in EVE. If instead you would not play EVE and flip burgers for minimum wage in the time, you would be winning either way."

I don't think that's a healthy argument to make. Simply because playing a game and flipping burgers are not equal ways to spend your time, even if the monetary gains are the same. Also for some people, especially in developing countries, 2$ an hour is a hell of a deal to get by doing nothing else than playing a game. Not everyone lives in a rich country, and Eve's single shard system gives even RMT a unique twist.

You don't pay $2 to *not* play the game, you pay it to skip the tedious part of making money, thus enabling you to get to whatever else you might want to do. WoW is very similar, a LOT of people are buying gold so they don't have to pick up herbs for hours on end so they can finance their raid costs/boe epics. The variable you're missing when trying to maximize gains is the quality of gameplay gained when you have the ISK, which is the primary motivator for the transaction in the first place.



Anyways, getting back to why you should try EVE - your blog is focused on game mechanics analysis, I think EVE brings two major game twists that none of its competitors bring to the table: a single shard world and offline leveling systems. I think those are very important alternatives to consider regarding to the traditional DIKU model, and worth trying out first hand before dismissing them.

And then ofcourse it's the fact that there's a 15 day free trial, the fact that they've worked and improved their tutorials to more resemble a proper newbie introduction quest, the fact that you're probably safer in high security areas than on your average WoW PvP server, and ofcourse the drama. Or better yet, the DRAMA - even if you never take part of it, it makes for a very amusing read.
 
Most of the people who play the economic game, play it to have fun, or at least to fund alts for free. The ones that only grind money so they do something else are doing work. Of course they may be broke, so they can only trade their time. But the game gives them that choice.

The game isn't just PvP vs. economic. There are many aspects to the game. There is solo mining, group mining, solo missions, group missions, pirating, ninja salvaging, bounty hunting, trading (and I mean REAL trading, with trade routes, fighting off pirates who hijack you and ransom your goods type trade routes) exploring. If you are just looking to kill people for fun, you can do it solo, in a small gang or take part in huge fleet battles. Maybe you do the latter because an enemy corp is coming for your mining operation, and your corp's alliance is fending them off.

You can be involved in PvP and not fire a shot. Perhaps you are part of a pirate corp or wormhole exploration corp. But you do mining, salvage, research, manufacturing or surveying (maybe they don't like to outsource). Or hauling to/from safer parts of space.
 
"The funny thing is that EVE has a lot of hardcore fans, which will undoubtedly swarm all over this post in the comment thread to defend EVE."


I think you're doing yourself a disservice if you dismiss the "pro-EVE" comments with a handwave like this. There have been a lot of polite, insightful comments to this post that do a good job of pointing out the problems with your analysis, Tobold. I hope that you would consider them thoughtfully and change your opinion if the argument is persuasive enough.
 
The problem with all RMT systems is that no matter how good intentioned they are they will eventually effect game design.

When the game starts to change and be designed around the assumption that you are buying items/gold/etc then it becomes an unbalanced and bad system.

On a personal note I wanted to play EVE. I tried the 2 week trial and just couldn't get into the game. The graphics were really nice and the world seemed interesting, but it just didn't hook me.
 
I've played EVE for almost 2 years now. I am the quintessential "hi-sec carebear" as well. My only pvp experience is that I once lost a cheaply fit T1 frigate in a lowsec static plex to a T2 assault frigate. And it was my fault, since I saw the guy coming at me on my scanner but didn't bug out, thinking I could finish destroying 1 more building and looting the gate key I needed from it. . . .

I didn't even insure that ship, since the hull only cost something like 200K isk and the fittings cost less than a million also. Frankly, I can't see insuring anything smaller than a battleship -- the T1 cruisers only cost 4 million (I can make that in 10 minutes or less) and the T2 ones aren't worth insuring. Insurance is really only "worth it" for T1 hulls.

I do have a goal of eventually owning and being able to fly every subcapital ship in the game and having 1 of each in my "home base" hangar. Since some of these ships cost anywhere from 600 to a billion isk.... yeah, I've thought about buying PLEX with cash to sell, but... never done it either, becuz I didn't really want to spend $35 just so I could buy a ship for a hangar ornament.

Now, I'm on the flipside. I lost my job a month ago and my wife's on unpaid maternity leave, so I can't buy a PLEX under my current budget.

BUT!!!!!

I can use my in-game ISK to buy that PLEX and keep playing, and I have done so. It only takes a mission or 2 a night for a week to afford that, then the other 3 weeks of the month are still spent "building my empire."

All becuz some nice person decided he wanted more isk and was willing to pay ME to play for him :D

S/He gets isk, I get to play "free," CCP keeps a subscription. . . everybody wins.

Now if only I could resist the urge to keep "pimping" my mission running ship and actually work on building up my stable of ships again. . . . .

FWIW, my current mission running ship including its modules is worht nearly 2 billion isk, and only about 500 million of that is the ship hull....and if I insured the hull I'd get about 4 million back in payout. If i ever get blowed up... yeah, that represents a fairly long time investment to me, but... I spent that time playing a game I enjoy, and I while I don't have the liquid assets available to simply replace said ship immediately, I could still work up to it again. OR sell off some of the faction ships I've managed to acquire over time and then replace it, I suppose.

Either way, I don't see the need to try to put a real-world value on what I'm doing or on the isk I make and spend. I'm having fun playing the game my way, and that's good enough for me.
 
I think you're doing yourself a disservice if you dismiss the "pro-EVE" comments with a handwave like this.

You are distorting my "handwave" by quoting only half of it. I was talking about hardcore MMORPG players who are strictly against RMT in other games, but defend it in EVE. I have no problems at all with those commenters who find RMT okay in all games, including EVE.

Because I do agree with Epiny's comment: The problem with all RMT systems is that no matter how good intentioned they are they will eventually effect game design.
.

Hypothetical situation: Blizzard introduces two things at the same time: Item loss in World of Warcraft, and the legal possibility to exchange game cards for other people's emblems. What would people say? They would say that the item loss was introduced to make people participate in the RMT. Can you exclude the possibility of EVE's game design having been influenced by its RMT?
 
[...]This means that it doesn’t really ‘take away’ from the economic game, it enhances it. In short, I have to think that 'winning' the Economic game in this setting would mean BUYING the PLEX and not paying real money for game time. Or put another way, laughing at the people who ‘paid your subscription’ for something you earned so easily.[...]
-Serial Ganker
 
Perhaps I should write my down my experience to explain why I have a problem with EVE RMT.

First, I agree that it is very well implemented. But here's the way I experienced it:

1) I started EVE, got into the game and the PvE missions.

2) I saw would I could achieve in the game and started to make plans.

3) I realized that money isn't a problem. Since I have enough in RL nowadays, I could easily use the RMT extensively.

4) I tried to make a plan about what to do next to become someone 'important'.

5) I realized that the only thing there was I could do, was to WAIT.

WAIT.

I could do missions to earn money - but these missions were fun only for the first days.
I could mine, but mining was fun only for the first few days.

None of that could help me advance my character, because buying RMT at that point in game would have been dramatically more efficient.
I actually have the money to spare. The question was: Buy RMT or buy other single player games.

So after I coded a mathematica program to calculate the most efficient training sequence (later found out there's already a program to do that ..), there was nothing to so.

Sorry, but I quite a few weeks later.

I have no problem with grinding myself to power. I played games where it did take years to become 'important'. I like that. The feeling to work to get something in the future. But here, in EVE, I couldn't make a difference with 'work'. Except for logging into the game every few days.

Perhaps, if I could have set the game to autoskill for half a year or more, I could resubscribe now and had the character I want. That wouldn't be perfect, but as least I would resubscribe.

I couldn't get myself to log into the game every few days just to change the training queue!!

That's just my perspective. Nothing more. To everybody who tells me that I could have joined a corp and had some fun while 'leveling' automatically I have to say: That's a good idea, but not the way I like to play MMOs. I want to have the feeling that my actions actually make a difference concerning my character!

---

So, while WOW suffers from my actions not making any difference concerning the world, in EVE my actions don't make any difference concerning my character.

As I wrote before: It's a shame that there is no game out there that offers both.
 
Eve had item loss long before the introduction of PLEX. Your example is different because both would be introduced simultaneously.
 
@Nils: "What's meaningful to me is that I can become rich and there is not way around it using $.

"I do agree that the way of implementation is close to brilliant - but that doesn't change my judgement.

"I judge from my PoV, not the PoV of the whole game economy."

I perfectly respect your preference. One man's candy is another man's poison, and all that.

My opinion steams from the knowledge that GTC<>ISK exchange helps my friends, harms no-one and has no decernible impact on me. YMMV. :)

And, Nils, on your other comment - what was you wanted to do (solo?) in game that resulted in you needing to wait, and only wait, until you passed a certain skillpoint gate?
 
The thing that I always wondered about EVE was..

* You can pay for your subscription for $15 per month.

* You can pay for your subscription by buying PLEX for ~300 million ISK per month.

* But.. if you're willing to risk it, you can buy ISK from goldfarmers, for less than $15 for 300 million ISK, and then buy PLEX.

CCP seems to be one of the most aggressive companies around when it comes to fighting the goldfarmers. But I have to say, it looks to me like they have to be, since they have created what looks like a perfect storm to encourage a goldfarming market. Is this not true?
 
Just to offer a comparison.

In WoW people play primarily to upgrade gear. People play approx 20 hours per week on average and Cataclysm will come out about 2 years after Lich King and will probably render all of this gear obsolete.

The value of the labour of WoW players that will be destroyed by Cataclysm is 2 years (104 weeks) * 20 * hourly rate (say $20 US dollars) * 11.5 million players.

That's worth $478,400,000,000 - $478 BILLION dollars worth of work which will be wiped out by mudflation - which makes $7600 for a ship pretty modest by comparison.
 
d, Nils, on your other comment - what was you wanted to do (solo?) in game that resulted in you needing to wait, and only wait, until you passed a certain skillpoint gate?


Quite frankly, I wanted to sit in a big ship and make a fortune with my large mining buisiness.

The fortune with mining was meaningless, because it was easier to get there via RMT.
It's like you want to start a board game with your friends and before you start everybody tells you:
"Hey, don't bother!! I declare you the winner. ok? Less stress for me, more fun to you!"

Well .. no. The way is the goal - but only if I am not aware of it. That's how it works.

The big ship: I know, I know! Small ships can be very powerful - but I still wanted a damn big ship - even if it would lose against a good small ships's captain :)


To get such stuff you need skills and ISK in EVE. ISK you can buy with money and skills you need to wait for. There's no way to actually play the game to get there. I wanted to achieve this goal without handicapping myself.

Beating somebody at 100m sprint by jumping on the left leg is just less fun that running as fast as you can.

---
So to repeat myself.
You character in EVE is determined by your skills and your wealth. Wealth you can buy and skills come with time only.
Thus, you cannot develop a character in EVE by playing it.

That's in contrast to WoW where you have an immense influence on your character.
Unfortunately you don't have any influence on the world in WoW - in contrast to EVE. That's why EVE fascinates me.
 
So to repeat myself.
You character in EVE is determined by your skills and your wealth. Wealth you can buy and skills come with time only.
Thus, you cannot develop a character in EVE by playing it.


Oh dear i have to repeat myself. Your wealth as in "How many ISK are on your wallet?" really means nothing in EVE. It matters if you got some 20 billion, but not the normal players 500 million ISK wallet. 500 million ISK sound like a lot, especially to a newbie, but the amount is trivial and spent really quick.

The important thing, that defines your wealth is your income. Sure, you can spend 60€ a month and get a billion ISK, but that won't affect other players or the economy. He is not more powerful than the guy who does 10 hours of Level4 missions for that amount or the producer who spends 5 hours shifting minerals and blueprints between Jita and his headquarters.

The other side of this whole discussion is: I spend 900 million ISK a month to buy subscription time for my accounts. Am i real life cheating, because i don't have to pay real money to play Eve?
 
Like Tobold, I'm not anti-RMT, I'm anti-bad-RMT.

For example, an RMT that allows you to buy a vanity item with little affect on gameplay is good RMT; the folks who want it will pay for it, but those who don't do not suffer. It's "victimless."

On the other hand, an RMT that allows you to pay $15 to skip 100 hours of tedious grind is bad RMT, because a well-designed game shouldn't have tedious grind to begin with.

An RMT that gives you advantages you can't gain any other way is, in my mind, the worst kind of RMT because distinctly favors those who can afford the most.

Now here's why Eve is different from most models of RMT. In most RMTs, you are giving money directly to the gamemaker and the gamemaker is directly giving you something in return. In Eve, however, you are giving that money to another player - in essence, you are paying for his or her subscription in exchange for in-game currency.

So here's the thing: players buy plexes from other players because they value their time more than their money, but players sell plexes to other players because they value their money more than their time.

And so RMT in Eve is truly "victimless" - everyone who participates in the system wins, and those who do not participate are largely unaffected.
 
I dont see the $2 per hour. In eve the ONLY thing worth anything is your skill points, and you can gather them even being offline if you have your training queue full.
The first lesson I learned in Eve is: ships are worth loosing, don't care about it. Its the character skills you need to protect (via cloning).

Whenever you looked into PvP those battles are huge sometimes and billions of ISK thrown out into space. Buying 260 million ISK for a PLEX is just a drop of water on a hot stone. Its nothing. My 3 main ships alone are worth 2.5 billion and I earned them through trading, and I am a beginner compared to other folks.
ISK is not important, you can gain billions if you know how. So the RMT is not as bad as it looks but is very helpful for beginners.
Btw, my trading currently makes me so much money that it pays for both of my accounts, i.e. I play for free right now.
 
CCP has been explicit that their policy of selling GameCodes for $ and allowing those to sold for virtual currency was designed to reduce the demand for "illegal" (against the EULA) sellers. CCP has many flaws but one of their outstanding virtues is, as corporations go, openness: At least for a numbers person, CCP is far more forthcoming than many, like showing exactly how many people are logged on or having the economics team publish quarterly reports. The point is you can Google "Unholy Rage" where CCP implemented a program to remove RMT minions.

MMOs are going to either be irrelevantly small or have RMT. I suspect there is far more real money spent for WoW virtual currency than for EVE virtual currency because of the larger player base. CCP's "decriminalization" if you will allows the transactions to take place more safely and with less impact on the economy than purchasing WoW gold from a dubious web site that spells their URL out with gnomes.

In addition to being a well designed way to sell currency, the impact in EVE is mitigated because EVE is a sandbox and more open-ended. It is not just a drive to get BiS for a dozen slots, that will be worse than level 84 greens. It is much harder to buy success, since everyone's success is pretty individual. Some people crave the $7600 ship and some would never fly something so big aand slow.

MMO preferences are at least as personal as tastes in food or movies. But I think that it is fair to say that if someone is patient and enjoys virtual economics in MMO's, EVE provides a sophisticated environment that you might want to investigate.
 
I completely agree with the poster above me.

When I did play WoW, it was no secret that the majority of guild members (myself included) spent no small fortune on Gold. Our actions had a direct and negative effect on our server's economy - setting in motion the very issue we tried to side-step.
 
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