Tobold's Blog
Monday, May 30, 2011
 
Every item in EVE is for sale for real money

Syncaine claims that CCP is doing item shops better than other games, because they announced a shop with vanity items only. You buy a PLEX, break it up into a new currency called Aurum, and buy items like monocles for your character, or paint jobs for your spaceship. So far, so good.

What Syncaine fails to mention is that of course the old PLEX against ISK trade is still there. And with ISK you can buy every single item in the game. Thus if you wanted, you could buy any item you want for real world money, although you might not have the skill to use it.

Sorry, I fail to see how that is "better than the rest of the genre". Other games have items which are exclusive for people who play, and other items you can buy. In EVE you don't know how the other player got his ship, whether he earned the ISK by playing, or just used his credit card.

So yeah, added vanity items are nice. But that doesn't distract from the fact that EVE has the most extreme "virtual item for real cash" system out there.
Comments:
That's not what I took away from the post, and not what I think they are doing right with it. What I like about the idea (pending on how it gets implemented in reality) is that the use of real world money just gets you what you want NOW, versus working/grinding for it in game. Since you can buy PLEX for ISK earned in game, and then convert to AUR, all the vanity items are available to everyone - they are just available easier to people paying real world cash.

Also, I like that the vanity items become part of the economy, and so add to the real (in my opinion) driving force of the game, rather then being "pay cash, get shiny".
 
Yeah, everything's buyable. The only difference is that everything buyable either with real money or time. If your proverbial cash-strapped teenager doesn't want to spend real money, they can just spend time to make ISK and buy the cash shop items from the in-game aftermarket.
 
There's a couple of reasons why plex is better than most too.

First, at most 1 plex (at around £15) will buy you 1-2 T2 ships or HALF a T3 setup, so your never going to be buying super caps unless you've got ~£800 to spend on plex and that only buys you a supercarrier, if you have your eyes on a titan your looking at 3-4 times that. So you can buy 'power' but it'll cost you alot (not to mention the fact without out friends you may as well be driving around in a really expensive punch bag with a big target on the side)

and second you can pay for your sub with isk via plex, so it allows people like myself (an avid trader) to play EvE without myself spending a single £ on sub ^^

Yeah it's RL money for isk but its everything this kind of trade should be, namely completely optional with minimal impact on the game!
 
He likes it because the hardcore players don't have to pay anything at all. Which is actually why it's not a great model for the company imo.
 
While I dislike Aurum, I do feel that CCP handles RMT better than anyone else. They allow for cash rich, time poor people to subsidize accounts for those who are cash poor, time rich or playing multiple accounts and are simply good at making ISK. The ISK value of PLEX is set by the players, and at the end of the day, while it's not perfect (ISK spammers still exist, after all) it's certainly a better method of keeping that down than playing ostrich and ignoring the fact that people will participate in RMT.
 
The thing about EVE Online, however, is that it is a fundamentally different game.

The real power for characters comes from their skills, which can not be advanced by any investment on the player's part except real time. You cannot advance them faster through more time spent in game, and you cannot advance them through money.

Items in the game are important, true, but there is permanent, unavoidable, and frequent item loss, unless you play the game extremely safely, in which it is nearly impossible to actually have any fun anyway.

Thus buying ISK does not actually permanently advance you ahead of others the way buying ingame items would in a game like World of Warcraft. All that buying ISK for real money does is allow you to replace ship and equipment losses without having to invest large amounts of time grinding or completing missions (quests), thus freeing you to spend more time doing the more fun things in the game.

This, to me, is why people say EVE's item shop is ideal.

However, your arguments are also true. You cannot point to CCP and claim they have invented the ideal Real Money Trading system, because while it works for EVE, it would not work for another game.
 
As others have said, it doesn't matter that you can buy everything, because it's the skills that actually matter. While it might make difference when you're starting out, EVE's real strength is simply that it only sells time. Because everything is buyable via real life money, nothing is exclusive to it. Thus, it's just the age old choice between time and money.

Which is unlike, say, Allods, where certain items can only ever be bought in the cash shop.
 
it's the skills that actually matter

And those skills are learnt offline. So, what game activity matters in EVE?

I have always considered EVE to be one of the best economic simulations out there. You can buy goods, transport them to somewhere else where they are more rare, transform them, and sell at a profit. The EVE auction house is lightyears ahead of every other game.

But the fact that you can legally buy ISK for me destroys the interest in the economic gameplay. Take one basic economic activity in EVE: Mining. I think even the fans agree that mining isn't the most exciting activity in itself. Now you take a relatively new player, and check how much time it takes him to mine enough asteroids to make money equivalent to what he'd get from selling a single PLEX. You'll end up with an hourly salary of a few cents. As somebody said in another thread about item shops: The fact that you can put such a low price tag on it devalues the game activity.
 
Great to see you argue against cashshops, Tobold. Funny, how EVE can make people turn around 180°.
I agree, by the way.
 
But the fact that you can legally buy ISK for me destroys the interest in the economic gameplay.
You buy the ISK from other players. This would create demand for ISK which would increase the revenue from mining.. if the market wasn't already saturated with ISK from other sources. Mining simply isn't a cost/fun -efficient way of spending your time. And like other games, Eve has a prevalent botting problem which pushes the value of manual labor even further downwards.
 
At first I was confused as to why they introduced a whole new currency. Given that that you can already buy isk for real world money why not just sell them directly for isk?

Of course with a little thought it makes sense. CCP doesn't sell isk for cash directly it sells plexes (monthly subs). Players then trade those plexes for ISK at the market rate. Since the demand for plexes is limited to those people who want to pay a monthly sub CCP doesn't make any more money by creating an isk sink. They need to create a plex sink and that is exactly what the aurum is. To create aurums (aura?) someone needs to buy a plex and then destroy it. More cash for CCP. Clever but complicated.
 
Funny, how EVE can make people turn around 180°.

I'm continuously astonished by your binary thinking. For you everything has to be either FOR or AGAINST, either BLACK or WHITE, you refuse to even consider the possibility of shades of grey.

I am not FOR or AGAINST cash shops. I am FOR cash shops that enhance my enjoyment of the game, and I am AGAINST cash shops that destroy my enjoyment of the game. I have written numerous posts about bad cash shops, like the one in Free Realms where $5 best-in-slot swords made the complete mining and smithing careers obsolete. Or the one in EVE, where buying ISK with PLEX makes much of the economic game obsolete.

However I do think that a better cash shop can actually make games better. And there are lots of examples of such cash shops too, for example the one of World of Tanks is very well done.

Dogma is the very antithesis to intelligence. The intelligent person adjusts his judgement to the individual situation, the dogmatic person has a fixed and unwavering opinion regardless of circumstances. If you think that all cash shops are always evil, you are dogmatic. Personally I prefer the intelligent approach.
 
To create aurums (aura?) someone needs to buy a plex and then destroy it. More cash for CCP. Clever but complicated.

Indeed, it is brilliant. They essentially found a second way to remove PLEX from the game. And since those PLEX don't go towards subs, essentially 90% of the money goes directly to CCP's pockets (I was liberal and considered that developing the vanity items will cost them that 10%).

Brilliant. This is the best cash shop design... (for CCP, that is)
 
You can also buy characters in Eve and you can pretty much buy other players too. Make a corp, set taxes to 0%, offer great ship replacement deals so people can fly with you and die and fund the whole thing with real money. That's basically how Red Alliance got started.

I don't think anyone minds though because the system is so elegant. Time rich and money poor? It's the best free game out there. Money rich and time poor? It's the most exciting and contested pay to win game.
 
Mmh. You're right, Tobold. I was too much thinking about virtual worlds, when I wrote this. Of course, a game in which money doesn't matter could have a cash shop that doesn't diminish the game too much.
 
What matters most in Eve isn't items or character skills, it's who your friends are, what you choose to fight for and where, what choices you make with investments and alliances. The big social and political game.
 
Odd, another EVE post here, another whooosh.

"And those skills are learnt offline. So, what game activity matters in EVE?"

The skills he was talking about aren't SP. And why is it that, unlike in most "buy every item" MMOs, the top players in EVE are not the top spenders? Odd huh? Odd how you can't buy that $5 best-in-slot here, or that those who dominate the best virtual market in the genre do so in-game, through player-skill rather than spending.

Your current FOTM lets players buy power (just not much of it, and matchmaking is already half the battle), yet something like this irks you. Not very consistent.
 
You're just angry that I called you out on your BS, syncaine. So instead of trying to explain what exactly makes the EVE item shop so great, you talk about other games. Just admit it: EVE is a buy-to-win paradise, while other games have strong limitation of what you can buy with money and what not.
 
Tobold its like you failed to read any of the numerous comments explaining exactly that - why EvE's item shop is superior.

I'm not going to repeat it all, but simply the fact that *everything* including the *subscription itself* can be bought with in-game currency (essentially with time). And the rate of money=time is completely driven by the *player* market.

If you know anything about economics, what is so wrong with the players themselves deciding the equilibrium where time and money balance out?

The fact that you can say ANYTHING about EvE's system being unbalanced while playing WoT is pretty nuts.

And in your last comment you have sunk to audacious trolling, clearly EvE is not a "buy-to-win" paradise...and clearly WoT is much closer to if not way past being one. It seems nearly like you are unhinged and raging at Syncaine for some reason.

In WoT you CAN buy power, and power that is unaccessible to other players EVER. In EvE time is *REQUIRED* for your character skills, and nothing can be bought for real money that you can't earn with time.

There is no comparison, EvE wins hands down.
 
Bravo, I love when sync puts his foot in his mouth.

I quote, "You're just angry that I called you out on your BS, syncaine."

EPIC
 
I'm really not sure why you can't see EVE for what it is, but if you continue to be in denial about how it actually works, well, kinda hard to have a conversation with you about it.

I'll try, again, for the last time: Corps don't BUY power through PLEX. They just don't. You can theorycraft it all day long here, but go ask any top Corp how things work, and they will tell you. Until you accept that FACT, you can continue to troll post/comment about a game you either refuse to understand, or just enjoy the attention the name brings to your blog. Continuing to harp on this fantasy way that EVE is played is sad from someone who claims to be above trolling for attention.
 
Spinksville wrote: "He likes it because the hardcore players don't have to pay anything at all. Which is actually why it's not a great model for the company imo."

That kind of depends on what you think the company should be. It is not incompatible with making lots of money, as poker sites have shown. It may well be incompatible with certain properties you think would be ideal for a game.
 
I didn't see it mentioned, so I'd like to add this point:

One other thing differentiating EVE's virtual-goods-with-real-cash approach from others is that the virtual goods again are player made. You can't just whip out a credit card and by a Titan from CCP - somebody in game must have built one and be willing to sell it to you. And ditto with the ISK used to buy the Titan in-game: even if you use a PLEX to get the ISK, somebody must have created the ISK in the first place to be able to buy the PLEX.

Of course, this design has its own issues (ie. botting for ISK and minerals), but nonetheless at its core it helps limiting the advantages a cash-rich player can have.
 
I'm completely confused here.

CCP says that they have a vanity shop. Tobold says they have a vanity shop. So how did we get to the point of EVE being able to buy power with RMT? Is this just people buying PLEXes, and then just trading those PLEXes for ISK/items with other players? Because that's quite a bit different from a cash shop.

And how does a cash shop with only vanity items make it "better than the rest of the genre"? That's basically par for many major MMOs, including WoW.
 
"Is this just people buying PLEXes, and then just trading those PLEXes for ISK/items with other players? Because that's quite a bit different from a cash shop."

Well... it's not really. There's an additional step, but you can, say, take american dollars and turn it into a ship with little effort. The way CCP does it avoids pegging a price to the ships, because the plex-to-isk ratio depends on supply and demand, not a developer fiat. But you can still buy all your equipment.

It's amusing the contortions people will go through to maintain their 'buying non-vanity items is bad' opinions, but there it is. You can buy non-vanity items in Eve. I personally don't see a problem with it.

I do think that you're missing a bit of the point Tobold though, with the 'makes the economic game pointless' argument. Some people actually enjoy mining, and people enjoy playing the market, even though from a strict efficiency standpoint it might make more sense to get a part time job at McDonalds and just buy isk with cash. I think it's cool that people who enjoy the former can do it if they want, and people who loathe it and just want to get to the blowing stuff up stage can do that too.
 
Every top-player in EVE has multiple subscriptions. If that isn't buy-to-win, I don't know what is. How much money they spend on PLEX in addition to that, nobody knows.
 
Just to be clear, my definition of a cash shop is where you can buy items directly with the cash currency. For the most part, using PLEXes to trade for items with other players should just be categorized as RMT.

If PLEXes cannot be redeemed for ISK/non-vanity items from the developers, then buying power with real cash is hardly an issue. This is because, since while people are buying their items with PLEXes, other players are getting those PLEXes.

Thus, there's not really much to worry about RMT buyers overpowering the game, since RMT can only get you as far as the sellers will get you. And anyone who's been playing the economic game of any MMO can tell you that the people taking advantage of these people basically are the kings of the market.

As a final point, @Tobold: whether the economic game is pointless or not is always up to the players themselves to decide. The WoW economic game is inherently pointless since it's pretty hard to turn that gold into real cash, yet people derive meaning from it anyways. Second Life, which has a direct cash to in-game currency exchange (and vice-versa), seems to have a thriving economy which directly counters your point. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Second_Life . And finally, EVE players are actually here directly defending EVE's own economic gameplay, and they seem to be enjoying themselves quite fine. I think the evidence is stacked quite heavily against you.

You seem to want to logically deny their fun, but it should be quite obvious that "fun" is the enemy of logic.
 
Every top-player in EVE has multiple subscriptions. If that isn't buy-to-win, I don't know what is. How much money they spend on PLEX in addition to that, nobody knows.

Reference? Link?
 
Just to be clear, my definition of a cash shop is where you can buy items directly with the cash currency. For the most part, using PLEXes to trade for items with other players should just be categorized as RMT.

that's a bit like 'four legs good, two legs bad', isn't it? what a strange place we've come to when *RMT* is considered ok....

that said, there IS a difference between EVE's MTX implementation and other games. if i want yet-another-bloody-Scroll-of-Empowerment for my 1st Age Spear in LOTRO, i have several in-game options (some tedious grindfests, some quite trivial, plus the AH) or i can just get one from the LOTRO Store. there is an unlimited supply of them in the LOTRO Store; whereas the in-game supply is either variable (AH) or time-limited (grind; daily/weekly quest limits). an EVE shopper, on the other hand, buys their PLEX, converts to ISK (as i understand it) then goes hunting their AH or equivalent for that big Titan they want - and both the price and the availability are dependent on the in-game market.

on the other hand, there's bugger-all i can buy in the LOTRO Store that's going to advantage me with respect to other players - some pots, basically, and yet i honestly don't know anyone who's bought them. whereas, i purchase an enormous quantity of PLEX, and i *can* (given scarcity limits, already mentioned) buy my way to end-game Titan happiness.

i'm a big fan of F2P/MTX models, myself, so obviously i'm baised, but both the LOTRO Store (which i'm still in massive credit with, not having used up my initial allocation for being a Lifetimer - even after all those Scrolls of Empowerment) and the WoT model work for me: i pay money, i get stuff. i can get that stuff in-game if i want to grind for it, or i can buy it. i don't have a problem with the EVE model either (except insofar as it encourages rather than discourages RMT, with all it's attendant evils, such as account theft and chinese-prisoner-abuse), but it does always amuse me to see people try to redraw the red line ('the cash shop goes *this far*, and no further!).

if we really want to talk 'the evils of MTX', then surely Blizzard wins the prize for their premium LFG tool: 'hi, we know our LFG tool makes you cry. if you don't want to cry, pay us more money on top of your sub'.
 
Reference? Link?

Funny you didn't ask syncaine for references for his statement of "And why is it that, unlike in most "buy every item" MMOs, the top players in EVE are not the top spenders?. That EVE is the MMORPG with the most multi-accounts out there is a well established fact, it was even mentioned once on the devs blog. Just look through their economists quarterly reports, I don't remember in which one it was.
 
that's a bit like 'four legs good, two legs bad', isn't it? what a strange place we've come to when *RMT* is considered ok....

I wasn't trying to imply either was good (or bad). Only to clarify nomenclature.

@Tobold: Mainly an unfortunate outcome of posting schedules; I'm sleeping during the exact times your posts usually come up so I only arrive at the tail end of such discussions. But there is the fact that he IS an EVE player whereas you are not. Sorry.
 
Uh, what? What is your definition of "an EVE player"? Nothing on syncaine's blog suggests that he is currently active in EVE. Syncaine is "a Rift player". He doesn't even play Darkfall any more, as far as I know.

And I've never seen you to tell syncaine to shut up about WoW because he hasn't played that game for several years. I have more recent EVE experience than syncaine has WoW experience.
 
It's better because if you use real money to buy a plex and turn that into ISK then whatever you buy was actually crafted by a player rather than being spawned by the dev team. So you're still contributing to the game economy rather than just the dev wallet. RMT is only a problem when it short-circuits the player economy.
 
Yes, the header to the blog is true... to a point, however the truth of the matter is that in comparison to most, if not all MMOs out there, the extent of power you can gain from Eve is limited by the amount of real-time you have put into the game and how long you hold it is based on a massive number of factors.

In Eve, you have to have spent real time to fly that Titan - you need the skills, even if you've not been in game during that entire time. To use it effectively, you have to have spent time in game to learn correct and efficient usage.

In other MMOs, for instance WoW, you can (All be it against the EULA) pay to be power levelled, pay for gold, pay for pretty much ANY achievement or item with real money. These items/levels stay with you permanently and directly affect your overall power in the game without having to spend a single moment in game yourself.

If that's not a huge difference, I really don't see what is.
 
The real question is what cannot be bought with in game money. Typically these items define the player power ceiling and as such "encourage" players to spend cash to be able to participate in the endgame. Particularly devious are games that couple that money dependent progress to some kind of gambling process such as Ace Online or Runes of Magic. This in addition to a fairly frequent item power inflation. World of Tanks is another example where player power ceiling can only be reached through real world cash by means of gold ammo. I am not fundamentally opposed to cash shops (Turbine does it right with LotR&DDO) but anything that promotes an uneven playing field as incentive for cash shop items is no longer a game in my book.
In Eve this is pretty much a non issue as everything in the game can be obtained through means in game and the value of the odd plex is negligible in the greater scheme of things or the money that flows through player's hands.
 
A reader informed me by mail that there are also ways to buy skills with real money: There is a legal character market, where you can buy skilled-characters from other players, with CCP getting a cut from the sales price.
 
A reader informed me by mail that there are also ways to buy skills with real money: There is a legal character market, where you can buy skilled-characters from other players, with CCP getting a cut from the sales price.
You were misinformed. There is a character bazaar forum for setting up trades and CCP provides the means for trading characters securely. However, no real money is exchanging hands, only ISK. Therefore the idea that CCP is getting a cut is absurd. If you can print Monopoly money, why would you want a cut of sales done with it?-)
 
CCP charges $10 to transfer the character you bought on the bazaar to your account.
 
CCP charges $10 to transfer the character you bought on the bazaar to your account.
No, the seller pays the service fee, just like with any other MMO company providing character transfers. Of course, the seller will just pad the price by 213M ISK to offset the fee. From the perspective of the buyer, the entire transaction is done with ISK. You can either play Eve Offline to train your own character, make your ISK in-game or buy several GTCs to get that character.
 
You are splitting hairs. Fact is that a player can buy a skilled-up character using real world cash, even if he first has to transform that cash into ISK, and that CCP is making $10 out of each such transaction.
 
You are splitting hairs.
The devil is usually in the details.
Fact is that a player can buy a skilled-up character using real world cash, even if he first has to transform that cash into ISK, and that CCP is making $10 out of each such transaction.
Like I said, everything's buyable. It's also a game that you can (almost) play without paying a dime should you choose to do so. The only thing missing is paying for all account services with PLEX and/or Aurum.

It's extreme in both ways, but one of these attracts more attention than the other.
 
It's simple. EVE is not pay-to-win. I can get you as many ISK as you want, buy whatever character and ship you want and still you wil not ultimately win. This game has a non-linear and uncapped progression, you will not max out all skills and you will not be awesome in all parts life of New Eden without knowing how to play or other players.

And yeah, buying a PLEX is actually passing it to another player, which buys it for ISK either gained from also selling a PLEX or earned in-game. So ultimately all PLEX are bought and used by players who do not pay a dime to CCP (know one such person in RL myself).

Also, you'd know better if you played EVE a bit longer, that the top players of EVE that have multiple accounts make use of these accounts and earn their PLEX in-game also rarely paying with real cash.

So yeah - it's true that you can buy a characer and any item in the game, but fact is that the ill-labeled item shop of EVE is the most awesome in the genre because it allows good players to play out of what they earn playing, but the $-ISK transformation is indirect enough to still keep players immersed in the game. How's that not awesome?
 
How's that not awesome?

That is not awesome because SOMEBODY has to pay for those PLEX with real money. The people you call "the good players" are getting their subscription paid by the people you probably call "the bad players".
 
So wait, are you suggesting that 'bad' players with too much money and not enough sense funding the development of the game and play time of better players (not to mention providing plenty of in-game entertainment) is... bad?

Yes yes, it's much better that the dedicated players who are really into the game pay way more, and the rest get a free ride.

Wait, that's the F2P model., and leads to excellent game design.
 
Glad to hear that you are a fan of the F2P model, syncaine.

But what I object to is that in EVE the players with all the advantages are the leeches who pay nothing. In the F2P model the people who pay at least get some advantages over the people who leech.
 
Did you really miss the /sarcasm?

And have you ever considered WHY the leeches have those advantages, despite not buying power like you have so often suggested? Kinda flies in the face of your overall stance on EVE, doesn't it?
 
My stance on EVE is and has always been that it is a game in which the leet get to abuse the regular players. The leet leeching money of the regular players doesn't fly in the face of that, in fact it just confirms that opinion.
 
Tobold,

Remember the boardgame RISK? http://bit.ly/lFfA9l

That's essentially what EVE is, a never-ending RISK game in space with hundreds of player factions.

Cruising 0.0 you constantly hear about "the russians" botting and using RMT to buy ships, but even they must contend with hostile alliances.

RMT gives players a temporary advantage sure, until you start checking killboards and see how many russian capitals got ganked the past few months.

So RMT only goes so far.

The top "content" in EVE is provided by the hardcore players who command fleets and lead campaigns. When I log in, first thing I do is check to see what tasty alliance events are available for fun and mayhem. Without the "leeches" leadership and planning, the game would be very boring.

Cheers.
 
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