Monday, May 30, 2011

The Fury, It Warms Me

I made the mistake of going over to Failheap Challenge after the latest dev blog on vanity items for microtransactions:
So how will it work?
There will be a store, and it will have all kinds of stuff for sale: clothes and accessories for your character, custom paint jobs or logo placement on your ships or a fishtank/stripper pole for your Captain's Quarters. You'll browse through the list of items available and, when you're ready to make a purchase, you'll use a new currency called Aurum (AUR).
Where can I get some Aurum?
Aurum is created by breaking up a PLEX. Each PLEX gives you a bunch of Aurum that you can spend in the virtual goods store. If you don't want to spend Aurum on these vanity items, you can always wait for someone else to do so and then buy it off them for ISK. Oh yeah, I should have probably mentioned that earlier. Items bought in the virtual goods store will be transferrable between characters, just like PLEX is today.
The below image demonstrates how Aurum will be acquired and used:
On Failheap there is not one, not two, but THREE threads of people mostly complaining about this, usually going with the "slippery slope" catchphrase as if this wins all discussions on the topic.

The most (only?) interesting concept to come out of the spewing in these threads is that someone who uses real money to purchase ISK legally through plex and gets something is better than someone who pays money directly to CCP to have them spawn it. For example, a Titan bought with ISK needs to have minerals mined, blueprints purchased, space owned for the assembly array, etc, while one spawned by CCP simply pops into existence without the follow on effects. I agree that this is bad.

On the flip side of the coin, CCP is not doing that. They are spawning items which the players cannot make nor can they make analogous items to. The closest this discussion comes to CCP competing with player producers is ships with special visual markings / skins and it has been stated that a base player produced ship would be required input to produce the purchased item.

Basically, while my trust in CCP has been shaken due to recent game changes and the lack of changes in terms of balancing supercapitals, I think they are on the right track for implementing microtransactions in Eve and people who continue to rail against the thought, still to this day, are pissing in the wind. Its a reality of the marketplace that they are coming, we had best use our energy to make sure the PvP balance is maintained in what it proposed instead of raging against what might be in the future 2 years from now. This is the time the foundation is made and being an angry sarcastic internet "expert" is not going to help.

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Also, "slippery slope" arguments only really work where the event A (which may be acceptable) leads to event B (which is not acceptable). Selling vanity items does not mean selling useful items is a fait accompli. If they were selling something useful, no matter how inconsequential, then "slippery slope" arguments come into play.

However, you can argue the case of temptation for more profit in which event A leads to B because it means expanding revenue.

* * * * *

All that being said, it does make me think that the possibility of player designed and produced clothing in the future of incarna is dead, and that makes me sad. Time will tell but I suspect that CCP would not allow players to compete with them for coin.

Also, I agree that Aurum is a bad name. Too elvish sounding. I prefered microplex or something more original.


  1. Some people say PLEX were already a step too far, but well, they are there. People may like them or not, but they are a reality for a long time by now.

    Is CCP now on the slippery slope or slowly boiling the microtransactions frog? I prefer the latter term, because that's what happening across the whole gaming industry by now.

    Mind that, I have not been playing EVE for years by now. But I have played or play GW, STO and LOTRO. The latter two are unfortunately among the most expensive online games I have played. Sub+Shop model.

    LOTRO is boiling the frog rather quickly, GW is still very tame. It had zero micro-transactions in the past and still sells only vanity costumes that cannot be acquired or sold ingame. The PvP game is unaffected. PvE on the other hand is trending towards pay to win and I fear where this will end in GW2. I trust MMO devs about as much as used car dealers. If things stay as they are, I can live with it, but I expect more shopification.

    Case in point: LOTRO. A few days ago they added 3 "relics" that can only be acquired in the shop. These three are a little to significantly better than the relics one can acquire in game. LOTRO's PvP component "Ettenmoors" is very unpopular but shall be strengthened in future. Right now advantages you can buy are really minimal and I quit LOTRO due to other reasons already, but the shopification is picking up steam, and to pick up the unloved fallacy of the slipper slope again, there is reason to be concerned.

    Harsh criticism, even if unwarranted and over the top, might help keep CCP's lust for microtransactions in check. Despite my used car dealers comparison, I have more faith in CCP than in most other companies.

    /Rant: At least EVE does not go totally "casual" or whatever dumbing down is called these days. I am more in danger to die in real life than in a non permadeath MMO these days which strikes me as very wrong...

  2. All MMO companies are in a tight spot because gamers have set a standard that we will not pay more than $US 15 a month for a sub, a standard that was set 10 years ago. They are now at a point where increased costs are forcing them to come up with new revenue streams. Having a second form of in-game currency puts CCP more in line with the currency model that I saw in Runes of Magic. Also, I think using ISK to buy clothing would really distort the lore, but I would have to look that up to be sure.

    And I also dislike the name Aurum. It is Latin for gold, and smells too much like Amar for me. But then again, I'm a Minmatar pilot :)

  3. I thought Aurum was a hilarious in-joke for people who know the periodic table.

  4. An interesting question I haven't heard yet is whether Aurum will be transferable between players.

    For example: I cash in a PLEX for Aurum and the vanity items I want use up only half of the resulting Aurum. By buddy wants a new paint job for his spaceship, but doesn't need a whole PLEX worth of Aurum for the purchase. He exchanges some ISK or other in game items for my left-over Aurum.

    Allowing transfers between players would likely create a secondary in-game market for the currency in which player brokers buy Aurum with PLEX and then sell the Aurum at an ISK markup to other players who can't or won't purchase an entire PLEX worth of Aurum.

  5. Vanity frags > vanity items XD

    Seriously, I'd give real money if they would rename the currency "pyrite" !!!

  6. I wrote it almost everywhere that the whole thing came up and i will write it here.

    The problem and bad thing is that the stuff will be market-tradable.
    That means new ways for people to convert RL-Munniez to ISK. Until now the demand for RL-buyable stuff in-game was hardcapped because every account needs only one PLEX per month. That cap will go and it will inevitable improve the Isk/€ ratio. And that will mean more advantage for people who spend more than 15€/month. And that is bad.


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