(I’m talking about what are usually called “microtransactions” in most games. But since EVE opened with $60 eyewear … DERP! Let’s just call ’em MT for short.)

Anyway, I was never against MT in EVE. Done right, MT can make a game better. Done wrong, they are horrible. But I just saw this poker analogy on Failheap that explains the difference in a way that I couldn’t have:

Think of Poker. You get the big tournaments, like WSOP Championship. You buy in from the house (or win your way in through free tournaments at PokerStars) and that’s it. Everyone starts off with the same # of chips. You can’t buy more.

It’s a game, and there’s actual accomplishment. People with big dorrah can buy into many tournaments and don’t have to play in, but it’s broadly fair.

Then there are games where you can keep buying in, throwing your car keys, house deed, etc on the table. Bad idea. But guys at the table are OK with it because they’re going home with everything you have.

What you can’t get people to accept is to keep buying chips from the house that the players at the table can’t win.

GTC/PLEXs is putting your car keys on the table – the guys in the game take your money. Aurum for ships/ammo/skills is buying in from the house and fucking over the guys at the table.

Reason I was always fine with Plex buyers (never bought one myself) was that I viewed myself as one of the “guys at the table” who were going home with the benefits.

But I don’t agree with the last sentence that I quoted. Done badly, Aurum for game-changing goodies is indeed “buying chips…that the players…can’t win” and therefore is “fucking over the guys at the table.” But if you do it right … if you zealously police the items for sale so that all of them, one way or another, are as vulnerable to loss and transfer as the player-made items in the game … then the “players at the table” will accept them just like we always accepted Plex-ing your way into a Titan.

Just for example: want to sell skill training for Aurum? That could be OK. But not if you just buy points in a store and get to distribute them into your training queue. But imagine if they sold EXP potions (call it “Quafe Especiale” maybe) that operate by doubling your training speed for a short time (say, half an hour). To get much benefit out of those, you’d have to carry a bunch of them around with you in your cargo hold, and you’d have to be playing the game. If you are carrying them around, you can lose them, and “the players at the table” can win them.

Of course, they shouldn’t just sell one QE potion. They should sell a range of them, from 25% to 200% speed boosts, with durations varying from 15 minutes to maybe 2 hours. Prices to vary accordingly.

Also, of course, they shouldn’t sell the exp-boosting “Quafe Especiale” directly. For Aurum, they should sell very expensive blueprints for very expensive nano-additives used in the existing (difficult and tricky) booster manufacturing. The player can just buy the very expensive QE on the market, and player manufacturing gets a boost, and CCP still gets paid. The game gets richer and better. Do rich people get a leg up? Yeah … but the game gets richer and more complicated and more interesting, too, so that’s OK with me.

Except, of course, we no longer trust CCP do do things this smart way that they themselves invented.

How about another example? I expect them to sell better rigs (Tech III?) for Aurum. Imagine if they instead sold blueprints for these, but the only way you could get the TechIII salvage was by salvaging wrecks that were from MT-derived ships or had MT-derived equipment on board. You just added a little more risk to flying around in a cash-premium vessel, which is good because it helps balance whatever benefits the ship provides; plus, you boost salvaging and manufacturing. Game play gets a tiny bit richer and more interesting.

Except, of course, we no longer trust CCP to do things this smart way.

There were a lot of reasons I canceled my accounts, but the biggest was my #1 listed below: “Persistent failure to balance, update, and iterate on old content.” And that includes the failure to integrate new content with the old content. It’s clear to me that they’ve abandoned last year’s promise to keep MT in the realm of “vanity items only” — but as I look around the gaming market today, I can understand they may have made a foolish promise, and I could forgive them saying “We derped, and man is that embarrassing. But we’ve hardened the fuck up to get through this, and we hope y’all will HTFU along with us. And here’s what we are gonna do to make sure MT in EVE will aways be awesome…” And then, they just have to promise never to sell chips that the players at the table can’t win.

But they can’t do that. Because they seem to have forgotten what makes EVE awesome. And they never integrate the new stuff with the old stuff any more. Or, when they do try, they fuck it up on a massive scale (like when they tied PI to old commodities but showed their cards to the speculators first).

And that’s why I canceled my subs. Because I’ve been waiting for a year and more for new stuff that’s niftier than the old stuff, new stuff that works with the old stuff, new stuff that takes opportunities to make stale old stuff useful and interesting again. And they aren’t doing any of that any more. A year ago they said :18months: and I didn’t believe them but decided I could wait and see. Now? I’ve realized I was fooling myself.

And that’s what angers me about MT in EVE. It’s coming, and I don’t mind. But they aren’t going to make it awesome, they aren’t even going to make it EVE-flavored. Instead, they opened with virtual space-dolly shirts that cost more than my real shirts. And that’s how I knew there was no point in waiting any longer.

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