Eek: EVE’s Clothing And Cash Crisis

By Alec Meer on June 22nd, 2011 at 4:00 pm.

Should've gone to Specssavers. No, really- it would have been much cheaper

There’s high drama in the spacey world of Eve Online this week. Well, there’s always high drama in the spacey world of Eve Online, but this one’s proving especially clamour-inducing. It hinges on the fact that CCP have just introduced a third virtual currency to the game. In addition to standard ISK and the exchangeable gametime credit known as PLEX (perhaps not technically a second currency, but it is traded between players in-game for ISK as well as being bought out-of-game with real-world currency), there’s now something called Aurum. This is spent on customisation and vanity items for the long-promised player Avatars, which were introduced as part of today’s free expansion pack Incarna. You can sell PLEX for Aurum: that’s complication one. Bear with me here.

The vanity items appear to have been comically overpriced. If you’re buying PLEX directly from CCP and you convert it to enough to buy an in-game shirt, you’ll have paid the equivalent of $25. In other words, as much or more than you’d pay for a real-life shirt.

A rather natty cyber-monocle – again, purely a vanity item – will set you back approximately $70. A skirt is a relative snip at the equivalent of $20. These are some pretty darned expensive pretend clothes. There’s probably some awful joke here about how Eve players spend so much time at their PCs they don’t actually need real clothes, but that would be a horrific stereotype that I couldn’t possibly imply.

When you need a diagram to explain how to buy things, something’s probably gone a bit wrong.

Complication two: You can trade ISK to other players for PLEX, and vice versa. If you have plenty of ISK, in theory you can thus get PLEX and in turn Aurum and finally whatever visual trinket you’re after without spending any real money. Quite naturally, as a result of Incarna landing, players are finally getting to see their pilots in the simulated flesh then wanting to customise them, and thus there’s high demand for Aurum-unlocking PLEX. The sudden demand has created crazy prices in Eve’s in-game economy. As Massively observe, the ballooning PLEX-ISK exchange rate has led to people wanting/paying absurdly high amounts of ISK for their PLEX. Which obviously complicates things for the players who essentially pay for their subscription(s) by diligently accruing ISK and swapping it for PLEX from better-monied (in real life) players who want a shortcut to in-game cash.

And all because people want to wear virtual shirts. That’s just the situation today, of course – things may settle down a little, but a lot of people are hoping CCP will adjust pricing on the vanity items released so far. They do claim this: “We will start out with a rather limited number of items initially, carefully measuring the demand and how it impacts the economy. As time progresses, we’ll gradually introduce new items and revise our strategy. We’ve also discussed this issue in depth with the Council of Stellar Management and will both consult with them and keep them up to date every step of the way.”

For more on Incarna and how to finally see your pilot somewhere other than in his/her cockpit, either update your copy of Eve or have a gander at the website.

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129 Comments »

  1. Torgen says:

    (boggle)

  2. Inglourious Badger says:

    Hah! EVE has got to be the only game I still enjoy without actually playing. All the stuff going on around it is far more interesting than the actual game itself. Knowing EVE and its life-like economics the demand for clothes will no doubt die down amongst the ISK billionaires soon and markets will return to normal with garments being resold for a more reasonable amount of ISK to the less extravagant EVE player, bypassing CCP’s new currency altogether

    • President Weasel says:

      I agree with and fully endorse the above statement.

    • Dachannien says:

      Exactly. It’s a lot more fun to watch drama on TV than to live it for yourself.

    • metalangel says:

      I never played EVE (I nearly started in 2005 and now figure I missed the boat) but doesn’t the game play itself a bit anyway… skill training happens in realtime, whether you’re there or not? Sorry for the ignorance.

    • RaytraceRat says:

      well, EVE is about money and power, and those don’t come without playing.

    • McDan says:

      Hear hear! Although everytime something amusing happens I want to play again, but then remember I still won’t make a difference and I get all the hilRity of it by not paying anyway.

  3. Ralphomon says:

    Do the vanity items include… hats?

  4. Mr_Initials says:

    Oh no a virtual economy may crash! So many people would be left with no ship but the clothes off their backs! Or vice versa! Someone get a GM bailout!

  5. egg651 says:

    This only strengthens how interesting EVE is as a social, economical and technological experiment.

    • Mr_Initials says:

      Eventually we will find out that eve was just an experiment on people in a controlled environment

    • mpk says:

      It’s secretly an open beta for the real Ender’s Game.

  6. Inigo says:

    There’s probably some awful joke here about how Eve players spend so much time at their PCs they don’t actually need real clothes, but that would be a horrific stereotype that I couldn’t possibly imply.

    You could insinuate it instead.

    • Bilbo says:

      On my planet we call that “Having your cake and eating it too”.

      …My planet is a sad, lonely place

    • westyfield says:

      Though it is a well-fed planet.

    • subedii says:

      Only until the confection bubble bursts.

      You’ll see it soon, mass rioting at the sweet exchange, dumping of sugar stocks, the whole tuck shop.

  7. johnpeat says:

    I know that a lot of the development of Eve has been based around realistic economic models and I think, sometimes, they actually emphasise the “let’s see what happens if” aspect of that over the “let’s make the game better for the players”a aspect – but this is something else entirely.

    I have an abiding hatred for the idea of selling people avatar customisation items at the best of times but here you have a game where players have developed a concept of their ‘in game persona’ beyond that found in almost any other game WITHOUT all this shit, and CCP decide to indulge in what amounts to price gouging to offer this technically inferior option to them!?

    It’s bollocks, is what it is…

  8. Crimsoneer says:

    The reason they’re priced so high is to avoid an even higher demand in plex – currently, PLEX prices are already at really, really high. That implies PEOPLE ARE ALREADY BUYING THIS SHIT. It would be far far worse if rational people actually considered it.

    • Lu-Tze says:

      A rational voice in the sea of chaos? Say it isn’t so. Make the avatar items initially prohibitively expensive was the only way to try to ease this in without destroying the market for PLEX.

  9. Kdansky says:

    I don’t see how 70$ for a vanity item is more overpriced than 5$.

    Either way, you divide by 0 when figuring out the ratio of “money / has a point”

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      Pictures of things!
      http://www.youtube.com/user/Tobuscus#p/search/0/I5qS85ETrCQ

      Checked this out last night, didn’t know about the clothes costing money, I just assumed that using the mirror in the captains quarters would become restricted. I also assumed Plex costs would rise purely because the TV in the quarters shows a plex advert. I’m only writing this here to avoid being assumed to be a pirate spammer. Because of the link.

  10. Bilbo says:

    And to think, I was vaguely considering getting back into EVE. But *paying* for avatar clothes? Not in this fucking lifetime

    • President Weasel says:

      So… don’t pay.
      It’s still a game about spaceships, where you play as a spaceship. Nowadays it’s got something like Playstation Home or Second Life attached, where the spaceships get to pretend to be people for a bit, but to think for one second that your gameplay is somehow diminished because you haven’t paid the equivalent of $50 for a nice hat is idiotic.

      If you have vast amounts of ISK sitting about, spend it on imaginary hats (and/or trade it for Plex and sell the Plex for actual money and then spend the money on an actual hat)
      If you have vast amounts of real world currency and fancy having an imaginary hat, feel free to spend your money on it. That’ll go to keeping the servers going, or to keeping a cash-poor ISK-rich player flying.
      If you don’t want to buy an imaginary hat, then just don’t.

    • Bilbo says:

      Don’t call me an idiot – a game in which I’m a second class citizen unable to access features despite *paying a monthly fee* just isn’t an attractive prospect for me. And yes, having access to items to customise my avatar counts as a feature.

    • Dervish says:

      But the game has always been full of features that you don’t have immediate access to solely by virtue of being a paying customer. And you don’t have to pay extra real-world money to access this one, either. And it’s an additional, new feature, not something you once had that is now restricted.

      You are the guy who is no longer satisfied with his television once he sees that his neighbor has purchased a larger one.

    • Premium User Badge Aerothorn says:

      But you’ve ALWAYS been as second (or third, or fourth) class citizen in EVE. This is about as far from an egalitarian universe as once can get. It’s the height of free-market capitalism, and if you’re not wealthy you will always be at a disadvantage – a much more REAL disadvantage than not being able to afford some clothes. CCP has done nothing to change this.

    • steviesteveo says:

      Yeah, what’s this “battleship” bullshit that other players have even though I PAID MY MONTHLY FEE?

    • fenrif says:

      How dare someone say they don’t want to play a game based on virtual shirts costing as much as real life shirts! Quick, Lynch him!

    • steviesteveo says:

      I think you’re stretching the words “based on virtual shirts” further than they can bear.

      I mean, we all agree EVE’s really based on spaceships, right?

    • Bilbo says:

      This is all arse, by the way, folks. There’s a difference between unlocking stuff by playing the game and unlocking stuff by paying real-steel poundage for it. Playing for weeks to afford a battlecruiser makes sense; a t-shirt? Not so much, but that’s okay because you can buy your PLEX with real money instead! No no no, there’s a serious divorce of logic and developer good faith going on here, and I won’t be part of it. The apologism on display here is sadly absolutely endemic to the grip an MMO has over its playerbase.

      Besides, I’m more turned off by the announcement that they’re doing vanity item sale at all than I am somehow “fundamentally fucking stupid”, which is what you’re all implying. I said it was an unattractive prospect, not that it was some new design leap that i’d hitherto not considered and which had blown my fucking mind.

      I’m going to lurk for any time any of you say something vaguely deep-end-water so that I can immediately just go “Durr, you’re shtupid” “You’re jealous of your neighbour’s TV” etc.

      Gah, I used to love RPS comments.

    • mpk says:

      I see this as a first step towards EVE going F2P. Only the fact that the vanity items are indirectly purchased by RL cash muddies the waters a bit, but I don’t think it’ll be too long.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Bilbo – do you actually play EVE? Just interested, given its reputation as, aaaah, somewhat ruthless?

    • dsi1 says:

      If he does, he’s a carebear.

      Also Bilbo, you can pay real money for a ship as well, hell you can pay real money for anything in the game, CCP is in the process of legalizing RMT as we speak.

    • Gadriel says:

      To me this is just like PLEX. People with cash to burn can buy the stupid crap with real money (via PLEX obviously) and the people with no money can buy it with ISK from said people with more money than sense.

      Just another way for those who actually play the game to get everything they want without paying a dime by taking advantage of the game’s economy (read: other people). That’s sort of the whole point of the game.

    • Machinations says:

      I am a long-time, but no longer playing, EvE player. I had many, many billions of ISK on unsubbing.

      What makes EvE unique is the strong, player driven economy. Every item in game is manufactured, ever piece of ISK is blood money.

      Now, the current vanity items are not a Big Deal ™. This is true.

      However, most of you are disappointing me by missing the overarching point – CCP intends to introduce PAY TO WIN style cash shop items a la Korean F2P games.

      As in, gold turrets that d 10% additional damage, etc. On top of this, these items will just come into existence, no materiel required, no time, no risk. Just pay, and get your ship that you cannot obtain any other way.

      Now, if CCP would come ON THE RECORD and say no, this is not the case, we have no plans for that, there would be no tempest. However, CCP is definitely planning this now that the pointy heads are in charge, and they are going to gut the game in doing so.

      I won’t pay a 15% month sub AND then pay extra on top iun order to remain competitive, when all your opponents are using Micro-transaction-only Gold Ammo and Gold Battleships.

      This is not a case of people moaning over nothing. Eve players, generally, are a wee bit more sophisticated than your average WoW player.

      The writing is on the wall.

  11. Batolemaeus says:

    Sadly, I am apparently no longer the target demographic for Eve.
    Will play something else then.

    • Crimsoneer says:

      yeah, because men don’t like clothes. I PLAY EVE IN THE NUDE.

    • Brumisator says:

      Yeah, that’s the reaction any sensible person would have.

      Many times when I go to the grocery store, and see that they also sell vegetarian food, I go apeshit and firebemb the place. I mean I could just walk by these shelves and buy my usual steaks, but overreacting and storming out of the place is so much more macho.

    • cncplyr2 says:

      FIREBEMB!

    • Batolemaeus says:

      I see the insane troll brigade has reached rps now too.
      Here’s a proper analogy for you, Brumisator:

      An mmo company isn’t happy with the audience it has, so it tries to reach out to a completely different one, abandoning most of their existing audience and stopping or delaying development of features relevant for retention and instead putting a lot of manhours into acquisition.
      In time people start leaving even though there is no competition and the company tries to compensate by aggressive acquisition of the potential new demographic by pouring even more manhours into new stuff for quick boosts in subscriber numbers and panicking when the numbers drop immediately after release.
      Oh wait, that’s no analogy, that’s what is going on.
      It’s what us gaming snobs call a “NGE”.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Are all EVE players so thin-skinned?

    • Gadriel says:

      @FunkyBadger3 They’re not thin-skinned. They’re elitist. They want their hardcore space spreadsheet simulator that they can play for free to remain a hardcore space spreadsheet simulator that they can play for free. They don’t want CCP garnering new, paying customers to keep the game alive. It messes with their data points.

      Note: I play EVE regularly.

    • mpk says:

      Ban ’11s etc

    • Machinations says:

      “overreacting and storming out of the place is so much more macho.”

      EvE is still ‘spreadsheets in space’ because if anything performance has gone down the toilet since 2004 – the UI is just as rubbish, etc.
      WoW players are not going to migrate to EvE en-masse.
      What will happen is space will become that much emptier, and CCP have convinced me – despite LOVING the setting, remember Troika’s Bloodlines – to not even CONSIDER World of Darkness, given their statement that micro-transactions will permeate every aspect of gameplay in WoD.

  12. kyrieee says:

    I knew this would happen, we told CCP this would happen but they are quite clueless about the economy of their own game.

    • bwion says:

      I don’t know. If I were CCP and someone warned me that my plans were going to create an economic crisis fueled by pretend clothing, I don’t think there’s any possible way I could avoid doing it.

      It is possible that I should never have any power over an MMO.

    • Bhazor says:

      I have to agree.
      CCP must have known something like this would completely fuck up their economy.
      Seriously, what the hell? After all the trouble caused by selling in game currency for real money they go and create a brand new exploitable to unbalance everything.
      Also: Microtransactions in a subscription based game? GTFO.

    • Gadriel says:

      Significant changes to the economic landscape cause economic upheaval. Of course they knew this would mess with the economy. That’s likely why the items available now are so pricey, they want to minimise the impact on the economy as a whole in the long term. They likely plan to reduce the prices and introduce new items as time goes on to lead the market to stabilising.

      CCP is stupid but they’re not completely disconnected from the game they’re developing.

  13. Inigo says:

    Or you could just play Second Life for short periods of time between hour-long sessions of staring at the “Flying Through Space” screensaver.

  14. Lunaran says:

    Damn. Every time a patch comes out it ruins something economically and some price skyrockets. I always read the patch notes to try and anticipate what’s going to happen and I’m always wrong.

    No space riches for me this time. :(

    • wu wei says:

      Yes. Every single update seems designed to reduce the amount of ISK you can make in game, or push the cost up elsewhere to ridiculous prices.

      The amount of bullshit CCP talk about their “economic sandbox” doesn’t fit with their constant tinkering with it.

  15. Serious J says:

    The market should balance out after a while. PLEX prices were absurdly high when they first came out before dropping down quite a bit.

    I am surprised however that CCP didn’t anticipate this. A lot of players purchase PLEX to pay for their subs, but they won’t be able to afford it now, which means less subs (the last thing CCP wants)

    • steviesteveo says:

      “A lot of players purchase PLEX to pay for their subs, but they won’t be able to afford it now, which means less subs (the last thing CCP wants)”

      That’s not true. Plex is really ingenious for CCP. There’s two options, you either buy from CCP with actual money (which hasn’t changed in price) or you play the game religiously and make enough ISK each month to buy a Plex in-game, thereby keeping the community active and generating wealth in the in-game economy. You need to be a fairly serious player to pull off completely paying for your EVE gameplay by playing EVE and serious players have fairly inelastic demand for more game time.

      The more that free players have to play to pay for their Plex every month the better for CCP. They can either decide to pay the real money price or they can play the game quite a bit more. Neither’s a particularly bad outcome for CCP.

    • ix says:

      Maybe they did anticipate it. More ISK for PLEX means less people can afford to fund their account through ISK means more are forced to pay the monthly fee. You lose a few subscribers but most are probably likely to stick to their space-crack, seeing it as a personal failing of not acquiring enough ISK/not playing the economy well enough.

      Cynical I know. Still…

    • Serious J says:

      CCP makes the same amount of money from the PLEX-subbers as they would if those paid their subs with real money. The dollar value of PLEX remains the same. Someone has to buy it initially.

      The question I suppose is if the additional PLEX’s being sold due to their current ISK value outweighs the potential loss of ISK-subbers that won’t/can’t pay via cash. (I stopped playing when I couldn’t pay for my subs via PLEX)

      I paid for my my multiple subs for quite a while via earning ISK > buying PLEX, and I didn’t need to put much work into it after the initial setup. All it took was an hour a day running missions etc… But I got bored and would forget to run my missions, so I ran out of ISK and didn’t want to sink more cash into it.

    • Lifebleeder says:

      ^This. If the prices for plex don’t stabilize I don’t see how it couldn’t/wouldn’t effect subs. I payed for my subscription with Plex, when I decided the time to earn enough ISK to buy plex wasn’t worth it, I stopped playing. I can’t help but feel some (Maybe a decent amount, maybe not) people will feel the same way as I did. The notion that the players have only two choices, play more, or pay more is ridiculous. The third option, stop playing, is always on the table. If/When the prices stabilize, some of those people may come back, but I’m willing to bet a decent amount of them will have moved on to something new.

    • 0p8 says:

      @ix
      “Maybe they did anticipate it. More ISK for PLEX means less people can afford to fund their account through ISK means more are forced to pay the monthly fee. You lose a few subscribers but most are probably likely to stick to their space-crack, seeing it as a personal failing of not acquiring enough ISK/not playing the economy well enough.

      Cynical I know. Still…”

      ^this^

    • mpk says:

      I’ve an old corpy who is still playing EVE and who last paid RL cash for his sub in 2009 . He’s a fair industrialist and PvE completist, but he’s never been an intense marketeer. That said, he did once sell an alt for 17b ISK.

      Introducing the PLEX and legitimising a form of RMT basically fucked the economy of EVE more than anything else CCP have ever done. Imo thats what allowed the explosion of cap ships – and then supercap ships – which effectively destroyed the kind if PvP I loved.

      Didn’t stop the botters, either.

    • steviesteveo says:

      I’m just arguing that a significant proportion of players who are serious enough players to fund their EVE account by playing EVE would continue to play EVE because they’re good at it and they play EVE a lot. It’s not easy to play for free. You need to somehow generate a few hundred million ISK every month just to keep buying a PLEX to let you play another month. That’s not something a new player typically manages to do. You need to play well, consistently and quite a lot to keep up with that, especially if you want to do anything else with your game time.

      If you’re invested enough in the game to be able to make that sort of money month after month I don’t know how likely it is you’re also the kind to go “oh dear, PLEX costs more now so I’ll just stop playing.” As I say, I think demand among players at that level is inelastic.

    • mpk says:

      @stevie

      I don’t disagree, but once you hit a certain level of ISK, then unless you’re splashing out on POS infrastructure and supercaps, it gets a damn sight easier.

      Not that I even managed to keep more than a few hundred mil at a time in my wallet mind, but then I used to make a living selling off PvP, back when that was actually profitable.

    • steviesteveo says:

      Yeah, my impression was always that EVE is a game which rewards players getting good at it. The big problem was always getting players to stick with the learning curve because you start the game flying a spaceship and trading commodities and it’s hard to curve the difficulty on that.

  16. Dervish says:

    Expensive vanity items are a good way to encourage power disparity without actually touching the game mechanics. The idea that people will undergo risky behavior at great expense for status symbols is how a lot of good adventure stories start, and one of the draws of EVE compared to other MMOs is that you can achieve real power/influence and be involved in real drama with other players.

    Granted, T-shirts aren’t too exciting, but the idea that there could be the MMO equivalent of a Hope Diamond that people are fighting over is pretty cool.

    • Ultra-Humanite says:

      Actually I consider it pretty pathetic now that I know how much they’ll have to pay to create their imaginary adventure.

    • steviesteveo says:

      We’re resenting people paying for entertainment now?

    • Derpentine says:

      The purchases have nothing to do with entertainment – remember that you cant actually do anything with these items, they make no difference in the real game world. They are only for use in a single room in which you have a bed, tv and view of your ship.

      While you may say that’s entertainment – You can still see how overpriced the goods are and how buying them only justifies the players getting ripped off. At the end of the day – no one wins(besides like 5% of people who are most likely furries irl), even if they expand the shop.

    • steviesteveo says:

      This may be reply fail, the thread I was replying to is this one:

      >> “Expensive vanity items are a good way to encourage power disparity without actually touching the game mechanics. The idea that people will undergo risky behavior at great expense for status symbols is how a lot of good adventure stories start, and one of the draws of EVE compared to other MMOs is that you can achieve real power/influence and be involved in real drama with other players.

      >> Granted, T-shirts aren’t too exciting, but the idea that there could be the MMO equivalent of a Hope Diamond that people are fighting over is pretty cool.”

      > “Actually I consider it pretty pathetic now that I know how much they’ll have to pay to create their imaginary adventure.”

      and in that context “We’re resenting people paying for entertainment now?” makes a bit more sense. I’m not talking about decorating your house.

    • Lifebleeder says:

      I think, to sum up what Ultra is saying is, if you paid more for your Avatars clothes, then the clothes you wear outside, in the real world, than that is pathetic. I tend to agree. If you’ve got ISK just lying around, and you really want that 90$ Tricorn, that’s one thing. If your spending 100 dollars on plex, to get it, thats another.

      Additionally, I cant wait to see the outrage of the people that threw down 200+ dollars on a nice button up cardigan, and that badass ascot. When the prices go down.

    • Soon says:

      “The purchases have nothing to do with entertainment – remember that you cant actually do anything with these items, they make no difference in the real game world. They are only for use in a single room in which you have a bed, tv and view of your ship.”

      But Eve is a social game, things only need affect players. An alliance, say, having a uniform affects the players socially; maybe bring them together into a tighter unit, or just by drawing mockery from others to create some animosity. Status symbols affect attitudes towards people, positively and negatively. They may not give you in-game bonuses, but any social affect on the players will play out in game.

    • mpk says:

      It’d be far more interesting if someone could chib you on the way to the toilets and steal your shiny new monocle, in the same way that jumping into that pirate gang would lose you your blingbling faction BS.

    • steviesteveo says:

      @Lifebleeder:

      I don’t think that’s what he’s saying. The complaint was that it’s pathetic to spend so much to have an imaginary adventure and that really speaks for itself. My view on that is that it is a strange thing to say on a gaming website. For example, Portal 2: it’s not real, it cost money so does it make you “pathetic” if you spend your money on it?

      I agree with the point that you are the first person to bring up which is that comparing your spending on your real life clothes with your EVE avatar’s clothes is an important test of how you’re doing in life but it’s not what he was talking about.

    • Machinations says:

      “cant actually do anything with these items, they make no difference in the real game world.”

      Yet. CCP has stated they intend to introduce – and this is my term – PAY TO WIN type items, turrets with 10% bonus damage that can only be purchased with real currency, for instance, and cannot be made.

      The commotion is not about a freaking monocle if you bothered to look into it at all. It is obvious they want to take EvE down the Korean F2P route. This *will* kill the game, which many players have played for, in some cases, years and years.

  17. Janek says:

    I still say it was a mistake to introduce “other currencies” (i.e. PLEX) in the first place. I know it was an attempt to legitimise and control the GTC sales that were going on anyway, but moving it ingame was a bit of a strange decision.

    The “ooh shiny” impulse was fairly predictable, and as you say it’s a shame it could price out the more casual players who want to fund their sub through what ISK they can scrounge. I mean the market will adapt eventually, but still.

    Personally I’d have just stuck the clothes on the NPC market for straight ISK. Basic stuff at a price suitable for all (or maybe from a mission chain or something) then vast prices for a particularly blingy getup. Wouldn’t make much sense in the lore (here is a battleship, or alternatively for the same price here is a top hat) but I always thought it needed more ISK sinks, inflation is already ridiculous.

    • Ultra-Humanite says:

      Haha, great justification. Save the Icelandic economy.

    • Janek says:

      Well I mean they could, y’know, just add it as a feature for the good of the game, and enjoy the subscription money like they’ve done for the last 8 years.

      I think it’s going a bit far to say that the sale of internet space-hats is going to contribute very much to dig Iceland out of their hole. Every little helps I suppose, but still.

    • President Weasel says:

      RL currencies are used to buy time codes from CCP. Time codes are swapped for ISK. ISK is used to buy a techno monocle.

      The step that is missing there is “ISK is converted into Aurum”; the point at which CCP sees some money is “RL currency is used to buy time codes from CCP”.

  18. cocoleche says:

    I remember EVE because it was the first and only game where I started watching telly while playing. Kinda surreal, come to think of it. Then again, maybe only boring.

  19. kenoxite says:

    “Drama” and “EVE” in the same sentence. Shocker.

  20. Tei says:

    Real Word Analogy:

    In some country, the ecologist forced the use of biodiesel. Since biodiese is made from food. This made food more expensive. Making food more expensive made …. food unavailable to some people, resulting in people dyiing of famine. The ecologist efforts have result on some people dyiing of famine.

    Bonus note: Since to make biodiesel you need diesel, biodiesel is not that good, and could be (in the end) bad for ecology.

    • arccos says:

      What country would that be?

    • Fwiffo says:

      Glasgow.

    • Tei says:

      Google for “biodiesel mandatory”. anyway the country where people die of famine, is not the same country where biodiesel is made mandatory.

    • mpk says:

      Fwiffo wins teh weegiewebs…

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      arrcos: a fair bit of that type of thing (not biodiesel though) goes on in Brazil, PNG, Indonesia, that kind of place…

  21. Stuart Walton says:

    Sounds like it’s worked as intended to me. Money Sink added to game is… Money Sink. The hilarious thing is that it’s for vanity items.

    • Zyrusticae says:

      It’s not a money sink.
      Plex sold for isk is isk transferring from one player to another.
      Plex bought with RL money to be converted to aurum is simply RL money -> virtual money, isk never comes into it.
      It’s purely a money grab, plain and simple. It will do absolutely nothing to control inflation.

  22. mmalove says:

    This idea of paid vanity items in an MMO that
    1. Makes its appeal as a “sandbox”
    2. Claims all its expansions are “free”

    makes me all the more glad that I only used PLEX to revisit Incarna, and will never pay real cash for the MMO again.

  23. subedii says:

    So can an Eve player tell me: If you die in-game do you lose your character and all the accoutrements with it?

    As in basically, you could buy that $70 monocle, and then be killed off on your next trip and simply lose it?

    • PopeJamal says:

      1: “Did you hear what happened to Bill?”
      2: “No, what?”
      1: “He got podded and lost all of his implants, plus $200 in shoes, belts, and cuff-links!”
      2: “Ouch! Those were nice shoes…”

    • buzzmong says:

      No. The day before this patch went out, they quiety posted on the forums that 1) If you’re *wearing* the stuff you’ve bought, you keep it and it doesn’t go pop

      2) It only goes pop if it’s in your cargohold (ie, not worn).

  24. Premium User Badge shoptroll says:

    And people thought TF2 and Portal 2 hats were bad.

    That said, from my experiences in Kingdom of Loathing (it’s no EVE but this story sounds awfully familiar) when new high-desired content rolls out…. The economy should stabilize after 24-48 hours. The average player should be patient, but this sounds like an opportune time for newer players to make some ISK off older players (who presumably have more disposable resources) by selling PLEX to them.

  25. ribidons says:

    How did it take EVE this long to add useless avatar-decoration items? The prices are nuts here, but EVERY micro-transaction MMO and most vanilla pay-to-plays have them as currency sinks or revenue sources. Are these clothing items account-bound on purchase, or can the items themselves be traded?

    Tulip bulbs. Yeesh. Too bad there won’t be any funny stories about people mistakenly eating their ridiculously overpriced tricorn hats. Mostly because you can’t eat something that ain’t there. Yes, it needs more rubbing in.

    • wu wei says:

      The Captain’s Quarter nonsense in Incarna is basically the engine they’re developing for the World of Darkness MMO.

      So yes, EVE players are getting the fun opportunity of paying money and watching the economy get screwed over as part of a beta test.

      Beats paying for testers, I guess.

    • Machinations says:

      I think you meant that every garbage free-to-play game in existance has an item shop, where most pay to play subscription games do not.

      Blizzard is just an anachronism – it doesn’t surprise me they eventually allowed PVP-PVE transfers, faction transfers and all the other nonsense (including purchasable mounts, I hear?) Being that Activision owns them, they are up there with EA in the list of Worst Game Companies.

      WoW players though, should not be considered rational AT ALL.

  26. .backslash says:

    It’s funny how a disproportionally large amount (or maybe small, but rather vocal, never could tell) of eve players are convinced that CCP is staffed entirely by blithering idiots, who somehow have managed to drool their way into programing one of the most intricate and complex games on the market today.
    And that it’s their solemn duty as economic savants, certified in both real life market trend analysis and the in-economic model, to to point out how every single decision by CCP will lead to both the eve economy crashing and burning and the game losing its entire subscriber base. According to the forums Eve has been dying ever since I started playing. (Apocripha, for the curious)
    Granted I agree that the initial prices are incredibly inflated, but that’s rather clever play by CCP, to both stabilize PLEX prices, which have been going haywire pre-expansion, and gauge the actual demand for vanity items and adjust the costs accordingly to to provide optimal supply. That was of course pure speculation, just with the initial premise that CCP actually know what they’re doing.

    • buzzmong says:

      If you’d been playing for that long (or longer like in my case), you’d see the general view that there are some serious idiots on CCP’s dev teams aren’t unfounded.

      Comments like “Yes, they’re overpowered, but they’re so expensive that we won’t see many” were applied to Supercaps when they got boosted to their current levels. Of course, now alliances are hot dropping dozens onto single targets out of boredom because they’ve got hundreds if not thousands of them and can afford to lose them in spades.

      Or how about the Titan’s Doomsdays? When it first came out they were massive AOE smartbombs that destroyed anything less than a capital in one shot. Entire fleets would get wiped out? Did I mention CCP thought that being able to fire this weapon remotely from a different system to the fleet with no danger at all to the firing ship was perfectly fine for a quite a long time? Yeah….

      Thing is, the other reason why the view perpetuates is the fact *loads* of bugs and problems get reported on SiSi (the test server) by the players who want to see new content before it goes live. Some of these bugs are near game breaking. CCP are made aware of these problems, but go and release it onto TQ anyway. Cue angry forum threads by people who’ve never been on Sisi going x doens’t work, y’s now broken, only to be pointed to the SiSi threads by players and told to wait for CCP to patch it. CCP only acknowledging problems after it goes live on TQ.

      Sometimes breaking things are allowed, like the Carbon tech they’ve introduced into the background, or Incursion 1.6 where they rewrote the UI backend. Obviously you can’t test everything. But the complaints about this current release have been on Sisi since the first build of CQ was put up a couple of months back.

    • wu wei says:

      Well, some of us are convinced they’re idiots for pretty good reasons.
      Take the in game calculator, where 878.53-874.20 = 4.3299999999, because they use imprecise floating point over decimal everywhere in the game. Nothing more annoying than being told you can’t put items into your cargo hold because you have “1000.0 m3 of items and only 1000.0 m3 of space free”.

      Or how about the Incarna (or any, really) release? First you install the update, then you install the 0 day patch they’ve hastily cobbled together that day because they were unable to deliver a bug free update that they tested and planned for.

      Then again, CCP have been very open about their belief that adding new features is far more important than fixing the broken shit. New features attract new, paying players; broken features drive the angry older players away.

      I really, really wish someone would release a more solid space-based MMO. Maybe one with a real combat model…

  27. faelnor says:

    How much is a PLEX in Bitcoins?

  28. newname42 says:

    I’m not convinced the PLEX price spike is significant. I fund my subscription by buying PLEX in-game, so I watch the prices closely.

    I bought my last PLEX a few weeks ago at the main trade hub, Jita, for 379 million ISK. Currently they are available there for 388 million. That’s within normal variation. You can pay more if you don’t bother to comparison shop, but you can also pay significantly less. The small spike and few outrageous prices are probably due more to speculation than real demand; some players probably bought a few extra PLEX before the update, hoping to sell them to people interested in vanity items, maybe to people who don’t have access to credit cards to buy PLEX directly.

    As for complexity — EVE is a complicated game. People who don’t enjoy that probably won’t get into the game enough to care anyway.

    That said, the update was disappointing. The “Captain’s Quarters” are novel for a few minutes; after that they just slow down the interface. Novelty items are irrelevant unless players’ avatars can interact, which they can’t. All EVE’s pilot customization, some of which is cutting edge, is wasted because we only see each other as small static faces. Why would I buy admittedly nice-looking pants if my pants don’t even show up to other players?

    The new turrets look cool though.

    • Jae Armstrong says:

      Yup. PLEX has been oscillating between 300M and 400M for the last year; usually somewhere north of 350M. If it goes to 450M, that might mean something.

  29. AltimaNEO says:

    These prices are pretty insane. And considering you already pay a monthly sub, its pretty unfair to players. So much for being a “free” update.

    Its like GamersFirst and APB Reloaded. Have you seen their cash shop? $10 for monthly weapon rentals. $60 for permanent weapons purchases. They were trying to charge $20 for a body kit for a car. Its pretty insane. The game is free to play, yet they run a ridiculously overpriced cash shop and run a monthly sub that lets you get a few bonuses in game and increased customization limits.

    Were talking the prices of full blown retail games here, on a free to play game.

    Its irritating whats becoming of online gaming. Everyone wants a piece of the microtransaction pie, but theyre taking the whole damned pie and then some.

  30. Acefrog says:

    I think you forgot to mention that prety much 75% of the current Eve population hate the waste of time development cost of CQ/Incarna, 5% like it and 20% just dont give a dam about it at all. (Random figures out of my ass btw)

    There is no new gameplay content at all with this expansion, I logged in for 5minutes to check it out after my 3 month long break just to log out again and proberly never play again since CCP obviously dont seem to want to add content to there game to keep there current playerbase playing.

    • yellow says:

      Good guess on the stats. Eve thread 1534943 for a current survey of these questions.

  31. Grim says:

    There’s already an epic thread full of whine on the EVE-O forums and now they start here too. Obviously half of the guys do not have a clue about the stuff they talk about. I’ll try to explain some things… The high price of these (completely useless and in no way needed items) does not really matter:
    * It’s often new players that want some extra ingame cash that buy gametime cards and sell them on the market. I assume nobody will just buy GTC and sell them only to get one of those items.
    * there are countless players who have ingame cash and do not know what to do with it. Those guys are usually the ones that buy the plex. If one of said players wants to spend one billion to get the needed plexes to buy the currently most expensive item – then that’s fine. So usually those buying those stuff do not pay themselfes with RL money.
    * I can not understand all that talk about “things you could get in RL with the amount spend for item X” – it’s not that you can get RL cash out of your ingame ISK – at least not in a legal way. You can buy PLEX with it but it’s only worth RL money if you use it for your own account instead of paying.
    I assume the current prices are there in order not to drive plex prices even higher – because all those people on the forums are obviously interested in the stuff but do not want to spend their ISK on it. If things where cheaper a lot of them would buy a plex, thus increasing prices.

  32. Scott Kevill says:

    Aurum is the Latin name for gold, by the way, so it makes sense. :)

  33. dsi1 says:

    Internal CCP document leaked: http://dl.eve-files.com/media/1106/evenews24_ccp_bulletin.zip

    Password to pdf is dominixevenews24

    Original news article: http://www.evenews24.com/2011/06/22/greed-is-good-purportedly-leaked-internal-bulletin-shows-ccps-refreshing-new-direction/

    TL;DR is CCP is trying to take a page out of Valve’s book but misinterpreted the entire book.

    • Machinations says:

      Valve is competent. We like Valve. Look to Mann-store for acceptable (though still opportunistic) ways to implement micro-transactions. Coupled with the game going FREE TO PLAY, it made sense.

      EvE is even older than Tf2 – if they think they can get away with keeping a 15$ sub and having Golden Battleships you have to buy with real money, they are absolute fools.

  34. Robin_G says:

    I can’t wait for the next massive double crossing, economy shaking, war inducing embezzlement story from EVE. Because this time the motivation will be; “he wanted a full wardrobe”.

  35. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    “Which obviously complicates things for the players who essentially pay for their subscription(s) by diligently accruing ISK and swapping it for PLEX from better-monied (in real life) players who want a shortcut to in-game cash.”

    Doesn’t it though. Fancy that.

    Don’t suppose the real reason that particular model was decided on was to try and increase the number of people having to pay actual money for gametime?

    • Jae Armstrong says:

      All subscriptions are paid for by real money. All PLEX means is that someone else is paying for yours.

  36. Bassism says:

    I’ve been out of Eve for a while, partially due to the cost of PLEX these days. I typically pay for my two subs with PLEX, and the current prices are double what they were when I started doing so. While I can still manage to pay for it, it kind of takes all the fun out of the game when you’re stressing about getting together 800 million isk by the end of the month while also replacing losses all the while. But, I’m not convinced that there’s been much of a spike as a result of the micro-transactions. The current price isn’t too far beyond the trend over the last year, so meh.

    That said, the whole 70 dollar monocle thing is totally ridiculous. But, rl-isk comparisons have always been a little skewed. I regularly fly around in 50 dollar ships, which is completely ludicrous, but loses its meaning when you don’t actually pay any of that money. It makes for a weird economy, when you’ve got guys like me who spend no real money on the game competing with doctors and lawyers who have no problem with pumping tons of money into the game in order to have a nice place to relax after work.

    I hope that these clothes aren’t an indication of future possibilities, but to be honest, they’re just the latest in a long-time trend towards the micro-transaction model.

  37. yellow says:

    The heart of the issue isn’t with prices or vanity items.

    Eve players are often long-term dedicated gamers who have chosen CCP and Eve because of the dedication they’ve seen through the years.

    This dedication from CCP has slipped as the company grew. CCP has been focused on expanding their business into new markets at the expense of looking after their existing customers.

    The garbage they fed players about micro-transactions combined with the plans they had which have already been shouted down, became the final straw for many players who had been waiting for CCP to show they understood the current environment and were striving to rededicate themselves to the flagship product.

    CCP have over extended themselves and left their amazingly loyal customer base behind. The majority of the good faith they built up over years is now gone. The rubber-band broke.

    • LeJosh says:

      People need to learn not to put their loyalty into a business.

      It’s not CCP’s fault they got so attached to a certain aspect of the game.

    • Machinations says:

      Thats funny LeJosh, I would say CCP needs to learn how to manage customer loyalty. You seem to think we should thank companies for serving us – what a twisted worldview.

  38. bill says:

    The monocle! It does nothing!

  39. LeJosh says:

    We could apply the whiners logic to Real-Life and we would have a communist state.

  40. Machinations says:

    LeJosh, or you could apply it to real-life and watch a company crumble as a PR disaster alienates all their paying customers.

    Your communist state idea is a little bizarre and inexplicable. Wouldn’t ‘listening to your stakeholders’ be democracy, not communism?

    Hey, what do I know, amirite?

  41. Machinations says:

    Here is a good way to illustrate how far CCP has fallen. In 2008 the below April Fool’s Day post was sent by CCP to their dev blog – thankfully, it is still up:

    http://www.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&bid=549

    Here at CCP we care very strongly about our product, and we’re constantly evaluating new paradigms and thoughtspaces in order to better realize our Total Market Potential. Our goal is to enhance the customer experience by offering new product channels and opportunities, allowing our customers to participate through selective transactional channels and fully realize their potential as Valued Income Partners – VIPs!

    Today we’re announcing an exciting new service family, which we’re calling “Subscription 2.0″. In the spirit of Web 2.0, this new Integrated Business Bundle will allow VIPs – that’s you! – to participate in the global product community, creating your own Tailored Product Packages in a way which best matches your Ideal Product Experience.

    Just as Web 2.0 is built on top of Web 1.0, Subscription 2.0 will be built on top of Subscription 1.0. We’re not changing the underlying Service Provision Model – you’ll still be paying a monthly fee as part of your Community Participation Agreement – although certain product areas will be migrated across to Subscription 2.0 in order to enhance user choice through Selective Resourcing. Subscription 2.0 will allow you to invest in optional product areas on an ad-hoc basis, so you only pay for what you actually want!

    Our launch product for Subscription 2.0 will be AmmoAnywhere!, which will be fully integrated into the client next week. It does exactly what it says on the tin – simply click the new “AmmoAnywhere!” button in the UI, and a new stack of ammunition will appear in your cargo hold. We’ve done everything we can to streamline this process, so there’s no fiddling about with details and authorization: once you’ve set up your account to enable Subscription 2.0, clicking “AmmoAnywhere!” will automatically bill your credit card for the transaction as part of the Customer Experience Process. No hassle, no fuss, instant ammunition!

    Of course, we’ve had to make a few changes in order to fully realize the Product Delivery Potential of this new service. First up, all weapons will now use “NanoAmmo”, which automatically morphs into the desired ammunition type at the point of firing. This ensures that there’s no confusion over what ammo types you need to buy, streamlining the customer experience.

    Secondly, as we’re projecting universal uptake for this service, we’re removing the ability to manufacture ammunition in order to prevent people from erroneously utilizing manufacturing lines to build ammunition. This means more manufacturing capacity for everyone!

    Contingent upon a fully realized Product Delivery Potential, we have an additional range of Subscription 2.0 services in the pipeline which will further enhance the Customer Experience Process. These include InstaClone, Dock-O-Matic, T1 and T2 releases of BlueprintNow!, and many more.

    Subscription 2.0 – the future is TODAY!

    So, who’s fooling now?