When DDO went I pondered briefly what Eve Online as a micro-transaction based game would look like:
At the time, I didn't take it seriously but a couple other events combined with successful LotRO going free to play has me taking a second serious look at the issue. These other events are:
I can see existing account services like character transfers and avatar changes remaining but they would be low money makers I suspect.
Perhaps some customization options like more character avatar upgrades or perhaps custom ship skins. Could the player community agree to some ships being available in a microtransation store?
Maybe allowing players to buy Loyalty Points in bulk. They can use the LPs to buy from the Loyalty Point Stores items not available to be built from blueprints and then turn around and sell them on the market for ISK to get whatever they want.
Do we allow certain ship classes to be available only through LP stores?
- PLEX becoming true transferable commodities,
- Free ship for no apparent reason,
- The 100,000 skill point allotment for the extended downtime.
Now the PLEX thing is just a niggling thought about how its already acceptable in Eve to purchase something outside of your normal subscription and then sell it for ISK, a micro-transaction to improve your in game status with real life money. It would nothing to further that model with other purchasable items whether they be cosmetic or actually useful.
Which brings me to the ship. When the Apothesis and Zephyr free ships were released, every character got one (actually, unsure about the Zephyr). But the Primae was one per account using the new Redeem functionality they added a while back. This allowed you to choose the character to get the ship and kept it limited to one per account. Hmmm... great delivery mechanism for purchased items wouldn't you say?
And then the free skillpoints. I'm not an expert on the design of the Eve client but they just didn't whip up the tools to pool and distribute skill points just for the 100,000 free point gift. That functionality had to be in the pipeline and already tested prior to that announcement even that downtime event. The question is why?
Now, some including myself have speculated its a method for eliminating the hated learning skills and redistributing allotted skill points for veteran players but could it not also be a method for distributing purchased skill points? I approximately gain a million skillpoints a month, why not sell them for 15 bucks?
Wild Speculation Time
So if I was an evil soulless marketing demon in charge of turning Eve Online into Eve Online Unlimited (with new and improved space lazors!) and I had the tools listed above available to me, this is how I would do it.
1) Remove subscription fee. People will think they have more money to spend on the game and end up spending more. Plus you bring in hordes of new people eager to try the game out.
2) Give the skills for Tech 1 frigates and weapons away for free, but they still need to train them. This is the free to play basic and allows people to potentially go anywhere and participate in the end game without spending a dime.
3) Take all other skills off the NPC market. Move them to a item shop where they must be purchased in micro-transaction style with "CCPoints". Rank level 1 skills are cheap (e.g. 50 cents), middle skills like battleships around a couple dollars, and the capital skills up to $10. So a character in order to get Tech 1 battleship with tech 1 weapons can do so in about $30-40 dollars (about 3 months of playing time in subscription model) but to get to tech 2 levels requires a lot more money. Training time remain to "gate development".
4) Also in item ship are purchasable skill points (1 million for $20), limited ships that can't be built like the Alliance prizes at premium prices to keep them special (e.g. Freki for $50), decorative items like please yachts, unique anchorable "starbases", special hanger environments, etc etc etc. Some stuff useful in war, others just ornaments.
5) You could even go so far as having alliance level purchases by allowing players to pool CCPoints and buy different station models for outposts, stargate skins to denote borders, etc. Obviously very expensive and no help in alliance warfare. E-peen items on a group scale because its easy to get a few hundred players to throw in a couple bucks each... time and time again.
DISCLAIMER: I'm not advocating changing Eve in this manner. I'd much prefer a subscription model to a game that the developer concentrate on improving in the PvP manner and not in the "Oh look, my ship has a yellow paint job!! TEE HEE!" manner. But I think the decision makers at CCP might have a different vision than I do and its best we be prepared for it.