No More Star Wars: CCP Declares Peace

By Alec Meer on July 5th, 2011 at 10:56 am.

I hope he didn't pay for that hairline

Eve Online’s laughably expensive pretend clothes drama seems to have settled down – officially-speaking, at least. Last week, developers CCP flew the Council of Stellar Management (a collective of player-elected Eve, er, players) to Iceland for crisis talks about what the hell to do about all the online screaming. Both parties have reached some accord, and as far as I can tell it didn’t involve locking the CSM in a dungeon and slowly flaying all the skin from their bodies until they whispered “Yes, charge for everything – the clothes, the ships, the ammo, additional starfield colours… You’re right. You were right all along. Kiiiiiiiill meeeeeeeeee…”

What seems to have been determined in the wake of of this “perfect storm of bad luck, bad planning and bad communication” for sure is that there will be no pay-for-unfair-advantage microtransactions, that lower-priced vanity items are necessary, that more communication is needed and that there are tech issues which need a-fixin’ asap. The problems were “a perfect storm of bad luck, bad planning and bad communication,” apparently. Watch a chat between two very tired-looking representatives of both sides below…

Much as I’m sure you’ve been floored with admiration for my impeccable copy and pasting skills, I should observe that all of this originates from the Eve site.

Here’s Arnar Hrafn Gylfason aka CCP-Zulu – author of the notorious ‘virtual clothes=real clothes’ misfired apology – and CSM representative The Mittani (who seems a whole lot less sadistic than he did in our interview with him last year) chatting about the agreements they’ve reached after two days of evidently knackering debate.

“It’s been no party” indeed.

Upshot: the CSM have been shown what CCP are planning, have argued the toss about what should and shouldn’t be done, and they’ve come to an “adequate resolution” but things aren’t entirely “hunky-dory” as yet.

Here’s the official statements, first from CCP’s Gylfason:

“Following the series of events surrounding the launch of Incarna, CCP invited the Council of Stellar Management (CSM) to an extraordinary meeting in Reykjavik to discuss and address a variety of topics ranging from ship spinning to performance to virtual goods strategies. The discussions were very productive and both parties came to an understanding and agreement on key topics. That meeting has now ended and a firm resolution reached by both parties.

CCP acknowledges that the reaction following the leaked internal communication could have been handled better. Good communication and trust between CCP and the EVE community has always been a fundamental priority for CCP and will continue to be so.

It is CCP‘s plan that the Noble Exchange (NeX store) will be used for the sale of vanity items only. There are no plans, and have been no plans, as per previous communication and CSM meetings, to introduce the sale of game breaking items or enhancements in the NeX store.

The investment of money in EVE should not give you an unfair advantage over the investment of time. The CSM, under NDA, has been presented with CCP‘s plans for continued evolution of the business model and agrees that nothing they saw breaks this principle. CCP has committed to sharing their plans with the CSM on this front on an ongoing basis.

CCP acknowledges that communication surrounding the launch of the virtual goods store should have been better. To address that, we will write up dev blogs that explain the pricing strategy of the NeX store and the price tiering system. We will also communicate that we intend to put the focus on further fleshing out the lower price range and give visual examples of upcoming items.

The CSM raised concerns with performance running multiple clients after the Incarna launch where the minimum hardware spec will only support one client logged in when in a station environment. CCP will work on creating a minimum hardware spec that supports multiple clients, but wants it to be clear that the current minimum specification aims at single client with low settings.

The CSM helped CCP understand the emotional connection players had with „ship spinning”. They vehemently demanded the return of the feature, which CCP committed to introduce in some form at a future date. Until that functionality is added back in, the option to load station environments will remain in the Settings menu.

We are very happy with the results of the meetings and appreciate the commitment to EVE the CSM members have shown by attending the meeting on short notice.”

Then there’s The Mittani, speaking on behalf of CSM 6:

The CSM came to Reykjavik for this extraordinary summit to address the cloud of suspicion and fear which has descended upon CCP and the EVE community in the aftermath of the Incarna expansion and the various internal leaks.

The issues we have addressed and discussed with CCP are:

Captain’s Quarters: We discussed the hardware and lighting issues within the CQ and we were satisfied that they were being addressed. We were pleased when Torfi announced that the current “Disabled Incarna Door” will be replaced with an environment that will provide similar functionality and performance to the pre-Incarna Hangar, and this environment will be available until Incarna performance is similar to pre-Incarna performance. While the final details and timelines have not been worked out, ships will once again spin all over New Eden.

Noble Exchange Rollout Debacle: We were shocked and appalled to discover how badly the planning and implementation of the Noble Exchange was executed. Despite the fact that they did not have enough assets of the right types to do a proper rollout, they launched anyway. The CSM believes that if CCP had properly communicated the details of their vanity goods pricing strategy and had sufficient low-tier items available at launch, the controversy would have been greatly reduced. CCP will issue a dev blog in the near future explaining their vanity goods strategy and how it will be implemented in the Noble Exchange.

Game-affecting Virtual Goods: We are convinced that CCP has no plans to introduce any game-affecting virtual goods, only pure vanity items such as clothing and ship skins. We have been repeatedly assured that there are no plans for ‘gold ammo’, ships which have different statistics from existing common hulls, or any other feared ‘game destroying’ virtual goods or services. We have expressed our deep concern about potential grey areas that the introduction of virtual goods permits, and CCP has made a commitment to discuss any proposals that might fall into these grey areas in detail with CSM at the earliest possible stage.

The Fearless “Greed is Good?” Leak: We accept CCP’s position that Fearless is a deliberately controversial internal publication and does not represent the policy of CCP Management or of CCP Zulu, the Senior Producer of EVE Online, nor the direction of game design.

The Leaked Hilmar Global Email: We were appalled by the leaked Hilmar email and the atrocious and out-of-touch messaging it contained. We sympathize and agree with those players offended and disgusted by it.

Arnar (CCP Zulu)’s Angry Friday Blog: We were disappointed by the tone taken in Arnar’s Blog, but we understand that he was in a state of extreme agitation and reacting to the leaks coming from within his company, which he saw as a breach of trust. While we may disagree with some of his decisions, we are united in our support of Arnar as the Senior Producer, and were pleased with his followup Apology Blog. We hope that his statement today will begin to restore your trust in his leadership and vision.

We believe that the situation that has unfolded in the past week has been a perfect storm of CCP communication failures, poor planning and sheer bad luck. Most of these issues, when dealt with in isolation, were reasonably simple to discuss and resolve, but combined they transformed a series of errors into the most significant crisis the EVE community has yet experienced.

We hope that this meeting will be the first step in the restoration of trust between CCP and the EVE community, and we will keep the community informed as to CCP’s efforts in delivering on the commitments they have made to us and to you.

Whether the players themselves are happy remains to be seen, of course – around 6000 people claimed to have cancelled their subscriptions in the wake of the Incarna shouting match, and all we’ve really got from this ‘extraordinary meeting’ so far is promises rather than action. There’s much talk of compromises being reached, but I’m not altogether clear what those are (unless CCP really was planning on pay-for-advantage stuff) beyond CCP acknowledging that they’ve been a bit lousy at explaining their thinking.

Still, it sounds broadly positive, and a sign that CCP are now trying very hard to listen to the needs of the many as well as the needs of the few’s wallets. Hope it works out well for all concerned.

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51 Comments »

  1. Batolemaeus says:

    We’re seeing very predictable statements from CCP.
    Having been around CCP for over half a decade, I can tell you this is one of those moments where I look at what CCP does and less at what CCP says.

    No, seriously. We were here before last year, and nothing came out of it. History repeats itself.

    • wu wei says:

      Agreed.

      There are no plans, and have been no plans, as per previous communication and CSM meetings, to introduce the sale of game breaking items or enhancements in the NeX store.

      Then why internal speculation about the viability of selling non-vanity items? Why continue to speculate – in such a greedy, grasping manner as the Fearless doc showed – if there were was no possibility of such plans coming into being?

      we understand that he was in a state of extreme agitation and reacting to the leaks coming from within his company, which he saw as a breach of trust

      And yet they keep hand-waving away as some kind of legitimate mistake the breach of trust they engendered with their users.

  2. Stormbane says:

    I don’t know about you but I find the idea of game developers having serious discussions with a council of gamers elected in a virtual world over in game economics a little surreal. I guess this is good news in any case.

    • Jumwa says:

      Even more surreal is a gamer governing body capable of putting out a coherent, edited public statement.

      In all seriousness though, yes, I really don’t see the compromise here. I see them saying: we messed up the PR aspect of our changes, we’ll be sure to be more crafty and persuasive (manipulative?) with that in the future”. Then saying they wouldn’t release “game breaking” microtransactions. Which seems a rather loose term. What’s game breaking? How do you define that? Who defines that? Well I can only answer the last of those questions, and it’s CCP.

      I don’t play EVE, I gave it a brief trial years ago, but big open-PvP games just aren’t my deal. So I’m just speaking as an outside observer on this.

    • JFS says:

      what is this I don’t even

      ’nuff said.

    • oddshrub says:

      Nah it’s not really good news, they may be sorry they handled it this way but it’s not like they’re NOT keeping the cash store. Sure it may just be vanity items and there certainly wouldn’t be any harm in that in most MMOs. But it’s already affecting the market as it’s removing ISK from the game.

      Aside from that they’ll keep letting eve players pay for WOD and DUST.

      So my accounts with remain shut off, it’s mostly because of principle but that’s still 1 monocle they need to sell ever month to make up for it.

    • MCM says:

      Of course eve players pay for WOD and DUST. I mean what did you even think like I dont understand.

      What, you never expect CCP to develop any other game? Just keep developing EVE forever? Most companies make more than one game, you know. Simon and Schuster got them started with money to publish the game. Where do you think that money came from? A special “spaceship MMO” fund?

      I haven’t heard WoW players whining (much? at all?) that their money was going to develop SC2 or Diablo 3. Why is CCP this magic “spaceship MMO only” company?

    • oddshrub says:

      I don’t play world of warcraft, but as far as I heard their latest expansion wasn’t a tiny single player room which literally melted the hardware of anyone who used it.

      I’m also pretty confident you’re not going to see Blizzard tell their players that they’re taking 18 months off from developing any gameplay for world of warcraft because they’re doing the engine they’ll use for titan.

      The latter was last years PR storm for CCP, and they later corrected it and made some amends with incursions. But really, for the past two years CCP has been doing nothing but damage control for their own mistakes and this cash shop is just the tip of the iceberg.

    • Zyrusticae says:

      “But it’s already affecting the market as it’s removing ISK from the game.”

      I must make a correction here:

      You don’t *generate* plex by spending ISK. ISK does not go out of the economy when you buy plex – it is merely going from one player to another. In other words, it’s a PLEX sink, not an ISK sink. ISK only leaves the economy when you:
      - Pay taxes
      - Pay for repairs/insurance/clones (in other words, station services)
      - Buy from the LP store
      - Buy NPC-provided goods (very rare, usually only trade commodities)

      …And that’s it, to my knowledge. The whole reason plex has been supported by the player base is because the plex itself is entirely subject to the fluctuations of the player-centric economy.

  3. AbsoluteDestiny says:

    These strikes are wrong at a time when negotiations are still going on. Players and the community have been let down by both sides because CCP have acted in a reckless and provocative manner. Both sides should put down the rhetoric, get round the negotiating table and stop it happening again.

  4. frenz0rz says:

    Granted I only started playing EVE a couple of weeks ago, but I just dont get what all the fuss is about. CCP are not currently charging RL cash for anything other than vanity items, and have repeatedly said that they will never be selling ‘gold ammo’ or any such thing. After all this, they’d have to be utterly insane to try such a thing. So why complain?!

    • Hanban says:

      Because it’s what the EVE community does best.

    • oddshrub says:

      It’s vanity items but they can be bought with isk. This raises the price of plex’s and thats frankly not good for anyone but rich people who’ll get much more of an ingame advantage than they already did.

      And you can bet your ass it wont just be vanity items. It’s a slippery slope.

    • Pathetic Phallacy says:

      Video game players have a strong sense of entitlement. That is all.

    • blind_boy_grunt says:

      ccp “repeatedly said that they will never be selling ‘gold ammo’ or any such thing”
      they actually didn’t at first. The big outrage, as far as i’ve seen it, was because ccp wouldn’t give an answer to the question: “will there be non-vanity items”. There was that strange blog post about designer jeans with the last sentence something like: “all your questions are answered now” without ever going into non-vanity items and than for a day or two just ignoring the question. If they never had any plans of “gold ammo”, this has been the worst piece of pr ever done.

    • Nick says:

      And Smedly from SoE repeatedly said there wouldn’t be a cash shop in EQ/EQ2. Can’t trust people.

    • Thants says:

      Can we maybe have one discussion without someone bitching about entitlement? Is that possible at all?

    • Johnny Lizard says:

      Typical entitled forum posters thinking they’re entitled to discussion without people bitching about entitlement.

    • kyrieee says:

      “CCP are not currently charging RL cash for anything other than vanity items, and have repeatedly said that they will never be selling ‘gold ammo’ or any such thing”

      I guess you missed the part where internal documents talking about selling game affecting things were leaked

  5. Freud says:

    As an outside observer it seems to me that everyone was much happier when EVE was a game where people had spaceships. Now with walking in stations, wearing monocles, linking the universe with some Playstation game, testing technology for their next game, microtransations and so on it just seems a mess.

    • Aska says:

      Eve players happy? Unpossible!

      Eve forums has always been a cesspool of conspiracy theories, “CCP is destroying our game” rage-threads and angry trolling.

      Compound that with a developer culture who “listens” (only to the forums mind you) to these few angry bees, while 90 % of the EVE player base never even set foot in the forums – and you have a bunch self-entitled “Game Experts” hanging around screaming foul at everything they can, because CCP actually listens to them.

      The best way to destroy a game is to listen to the people who play it.

    • frenz0rz says:

      Reminds me of poor old Westwood. “Give us more Dune!”, the fans cried.

      So they gave us Dune 2000.

      The fans cried.

    • Hanban says:

      What Aska said mostly. Most people I fly with in EVE hasn’t really bothered with this whole microtransaction debacle and said more along the lines of “When they announce they will introduce gold ammo, that’s when I will consider leaving.”

      So, rage rage rage rage rage!

    • Goronmon says:

      The issue people have is that CCP never seems to follow through on new features or spend enough time fixing old issues. Stuff like the faction warfare was introduced and since then CCP has pretty much just let it stagnate. People want changes in the game that will make the game a better game to play.

      Instead we get walking around in a small room in each station.

    • ankh says:

      What? I loved dune 2000. Maybe because I was twelve and didnt know anything about dune.

  6. innociv says:

    “There are no plans, and have been no plans” is not remotely close to “There never will be plans”. The former is null a millisecond after it’s stated.
    A year ago they said there will never be microtransactions, which is even more definite statement, yet there are ones now. Granted, they are just vanity things, they said they wouldn’t exist.
    It’s not like there is anything in writing saying you’ll get a refund if they break there word. But, the way they’ve worded it, it wouldn’t be breaking their word to add pay-2-win any time from now.

    I was just thinking about playing EVE again the day before Incarna, too. Good thing I didn’t.

    • DK says:

      I can assure you that within months real-money items with “+2% damage” is what CCP will not consider “game breaking”. And a few months after that, it’ll be “+5%”.

      Cash shops are a slippery slope, not to mention they have no place in a subscription MMO.

    • innociv says:

      Yep.

      Not to mention, they touted selling 52 monicles. That’s $3500 or so one time.
      Losing 5k subscriptions is losing $75,000 per month

      Microtransactions indeed don’t belong in a subscription game, ESPECIALLY one economy driven.

      Though, I don’t mind vanity ones much they’re still bad; like you said, it’s a slippery slope. When you add microtransactions you have to keep adding things people will want more after they’ve bought the last additions in order to keep gaining revenue from it. Every microtransaction game does this.
      They keep adding things with more sparkle, and when they can’t do that they add things with more pop.

  7. Kelduum Revaan says:

    The big problem as I see it is that there is a massive communication gap between CCP and the players, which, barring the CSM, has been getting wider since the T20 incident (a developer creating valuable in-game items) years ago.

    The CSM do sit as somewhat of a bridge between CCP and the players, but they cant comment on anything they have seen which hasn’t been announced due to NDA, and CCP can’t easily provide information about upcoming changes without skewing the economy in odd ways – see the massive spike caused by speculation on PLEX (the in-game items which represent subscriptions) values in-game when Aurum (the new microtransaction currency) was announced.

    The massive rage this generated, and a few well worded replies on the EVE forums and some blogs clearly demonstrated that the players are passionate about ‘their EVE’, and the list of people unsubscribing must have been a wake-up call, assuming its accurate.

    What it comes down to is that CCP as a company have been hands-off as far as the community goes for a long time as they don’t want to be accused of taking sides again, so its getting more difficult for them to communicate with the player base directly, leading to the players speculating and massive rage happening.

  8. The Sentinel says:

    The few vague breadcrumbs that David Braben threw out during the long wait for Elite IV suggested that he had ideas very similar to what CCP are slowly implementing in EVE; vastly multiplayer, human avatars, etc. I wonder if he’s watching all this and praising the heavens he decided not to go through with it?

  9. sonofsanta says:

    I love that the return of ship spinning is such a priority. God bless EVE players and their singularly unique view of the world <3

    • RaytraceRat says:

      helped CCP understand the emotional connection players had with „ship spinning”. I love this bit.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      Well, considering that CCP removed tons of functionality with the Captains Closet..
      “Ship Spinning” always was the metaphor of choice for doing things in station like trading, chatting, organizing.

    • Hanban says:

      Which is incidentally still possible. Although I can do it looking at my avatar looking at a screen now.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      No it isn’t. Try double clicking to open your cargo, drag&dropping a ship to make it active, discern your active ship at a glance..

    • Hanban says:

      Was referring to the trading, chatting, organizing. Not the actual spinning of ships.

  10. Dachannien says:

    Did they really do five-camera coverage on that interview?

  11. reticulate says:

    I love me some Mittens, and he’s a very good advocate for the game generally.

    But the truth is that we’re talking about a guy who spends far more time on vent/teamspeak/whatever he’s using these days than he does actually playing the damn game. Running the Goons is far more about talking to people than it is playing internet spaceships. I’m not saying he’s unqualified for the CSM role, but more that he’s uniquely unqualified to speak about the issues your average player actually has about the expansions.

    That said, I’m glad he got comped a trip out to Iceland. Dude needs to get out of the house more.

  12. Baines says:

    CCP-Zulu and The Mittani after two days of debate? The Mittani was already publicly defending the CCP last month, and his post-meeting statements match his pre-meeting statements. (The only thing he has added is to relay the promise that CCP will try to improve performance.)

    • wyrmsine says:

      That’s funny, what you read as “defending” I saw as “recommending a modicum of sanity.”

  13. jp0249107 says:

    As a new player, I’m glad I didn’t listen to the game forums before I decided to subscribe to EVE. I swear those people are worse than WoW kiddies. Just a whole bunch of complaining and conspiracy theories from bored neckbeards, and entitled basement dwellers. This game is nothing like those drama queens made it out to be.

  14. Walsh says:

    Man that meeting must have been extraordinary.

  15. kyrieee says:

    The CSM’s statement was co-written by all the CSM members in attendance, not just the MIttani

  16. ANeM says:

    Alec, you used the quote “perfect storm of bad luck, bad planning and bad communication” twice in the same paragraph. It is suffice to say that is the perfect storm of lazy editing.

  17. spelvin spugg says:

    I unsubscribed from Eve a long time ago.

    It was getting more and more easy to see the writing on the wall. It was a great game over the 7 years I played. I really don’t want to stay around to see it deteriorate further.

    It’s not the cash because I paid in ISK– it’s the opportunity cost. Ho hum, another nullsec war.

  18. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    I just love the fact that the developers are having real-life negotiations with videogame people from a videogame.
    Eve truly is the weirdest MMO.