EVE Online and the “Pay to Win” Argument
The situation is extremely clear: as the definition of “win” is “reaching your goal”, if paying real world money gets you closer to your goals, you are paying to win. All the excuses are wrong. The pay-to-win people usually claim that their win is not guaranteed by the payment. It’s true, but irrelevant. Just because it’s possible to win a soccer game 10 vs 11, bribing the referee to ban one of the opposing team without reason is still cheating. Playing 11 vs 10 is a huge advantage. Just like having gold ammo or being able to spend all your game time on fighting because you bought dozens of replacement ships from $.
The “my real world income is higher than the $1-2/hour I can earn in the game” is wrong for three reasons:
your income is $0.00 while playing a video game. Unless you are an RMT seller, you create absolutely no monetary value. Being more productive while working than while playing is obvious.
if you can earn 50-150M per active playing hour, you are either very newbie, very “just smelling the flowers and watching the scenery”-casual or fail very hard
finding that paying gets you in-game progress easier than playing is an obvious criteria for deciding to pay to win. Saying it loud isn’t more of an argument than “I cheat because it’s easier to progress this way”.
Now the trick in EVE, compared to World of Tanks is that you don’t pay the developer to win. In WoT, you buy gold ammo and you can pop enemy tanks like they were tissue paper. In EVE, you buy a PLEX from CCP, but it doesn’t make you any stronger. However, you can trade it to better players for their power.Te common saying among many EVE players is “ISK doesn’t buy you PVP skill”. There is no better way to say it. The fact of the matter is that even if a large number of players invested personal out of game wealth into the game for the purpose of creating a formidable and well-fit fleet. Their understanding of game mechanics, overall coordination, and general skill at manipulating the game and its players is laughably poor.
A small but skilled force will always outclass a richer force as they have the means and understanding to utilize tactics that will confuse and disorient the newer players, nullifying their ISK advantage.
This is where the hiring of skilled players comes in. An entire industry exists within EVE for exploiting the relative weakness of players with little skill but, lots of wealth. Hiring a merc alliance to distract your enemies can work. If you use that distraction to your advantage to build up your own forces or devise new ways of hiding from your enemies. But most players who go this route never take it that far. Most don’t even bother to fight back. They take their lumps and continue with the same activities that made them a target in the first place.
What is worse about this cyclical behavior is that these players are often driven from the game entirely because they cannot cope with the sense of constant PVP of all forms that EVE embodies to its core.
While buying PLEX does make a player stronger in the sense that they have POTENTIAL for better resources and the means to engage and overpower their enemies. The true strength lies in the judicious exploitation of that potential. Why buy a brand new fleet of ships without the adequately trained pilots to fly them?
It would seem that the the obvious conclusion for anyone that understands EVE, is that the game will never be what most undretsand to be “Pay to Win”.
ISKMogul is a growing video game publication that got its start covering EVE Online, and has since expanded to cover a large number of topics and niches within the purview of gaming.