EVE Online has been around for just shy of 20 years. During that time, player complaints are bound to crop up. The CSM, or Council of Stellar Management, is a pretty great concept for an MMO developer. The CSM is a player-elected committee that meets with CCP to help give them better insight into players desires and complaints. That’s how it was envisioned, at least. But in recent years, fewer players than ever have felt represented by the council. And though their relevance is felt less these days, this isn’t the first time the CSM has been vital in addressing player concerns.
Years ago, some EVE Online players may remember “monocle gate”. Long before loot boxes became the bane of the video game industry’s existince, the promotion of in-game purchases was much more maligned. But back in roughly 2011, CCP found itself in a major dustup over such an issue. The short version of the story is that a leaked internal memo caused a massive player backlash. The issue got so bad that thousands of players blockaded the Jita market hub, and the game was effectively paralyzed for a time. The protests and riots in-game started when an internal CCP communication leaked online. Called “Greed is Good?,” it provided a detailed argument from the developers at the time that tried to justify selling otherwise pointless in-game cosmetics. The response from CCP came in the form of an emergency meeting with the CSM and a pledge to do better.
But now, they seem to have completely abandoned that promise. The days of an honorable CCP are long past, and it really shows. Selling of in-game currency and skill points is already pushing it, but the company has done so much more. More recently, CCP has been selling ship packs bundled with skill points as well. This is a huge problem in an MMO with permanent loss, and CCP don’t seem to care. On March 9, CCP released a devblog called “Prospectors Path”, in which they announced a new Prospector Pack.
What’s the problem?
This latest dustup centers around a new in-game ship pack. The ‘Prospector Pack’ is positioned as “the perfect starter kit for any prospective mining tycoon”, and it’s pretty obvious why this is a problem. Selling ships in a game where the ship is entirely destroyed on death is a huge problem. Targeting that kind of purchase at new players is even more predatory.
The $25 dollar pack includes a fitted Mining ship, along with the related skills and points. There’s also 30 days of Omega premium time and 100 PLEX. The value of this pack on its own would be around $20 at best. So imagine paying $5 for a relatively squishy ship as a new player, only to lose it 5 minutes after you undock it the first time. That’s bound to happen. It shouldn’t need to be said, but you shouldn’t give CCP your money for this.
This is, quite frankly, insulting to all players, new and old. CCP’s monetization strategy has increasingly opted for this incredibly exploitative strategy. The player response to this has been predictable, with players questioning the integrity left at the developer. And the player anger isn’t the only thing that’s happening today. The CSM has gotten involved, penning an open letter to CCP over the issue. The letter, posted by Brisc Rubal and available on the EVE-O forums, is pretty lengthy. In short, the points laid out are entirely valid. The CSM lays out where they see the game going, and it’s not a good place.
The best part to include from the letter would be the excerpt below.
Let me be clear – we do not support this sale, we cannot speak for all of our colleagues but we have not yet spoken with a single existing player who supports this sale, and we think it represents a serious misjudgment on the part of senior CCP leadership that the player base would accept such a sale.