EVE Online Expert Systems are an upcoming feature announced in EVE Online that gives CCP yet another way to give players a taste of EVE Online. They sound like a great way to give players a taste of what a full account can do, until you read into it. The reality is much worse than just expanding the trial system for a limited time. A new CCP blog has revealed the system, and it just makes me sad.
Years ago when CCP revamped the new player trial system and implemented the Alpha and Omega clone states, the writing was on the wall. Progress was being locked off behind more than just a simple paywall. In the old game, time was the limiting factor on what skills you could achieve as a new player. The new Alpha experience is a much worse way to play the game, and with EVE Online Expert Systems, we’re seeing the natural progression of what I’ll call “greener side” marketing.
“The grass is always greener on the other side,” as the saying goes. Though with CCP and EVE, it’s pretty clear that they’re making the new player experience seem better than it is by pushing people to open their wallets. Alpha restrictions, more focus on big groups and battles, less focus on solo play, and so much more. The game has steadily shifted in more ways than one to embrace a certain tone in its development, and it’s not a good one.
Players began to notice a very obvious shift in the tone of CCPs marketing and new player experiences with the way they handled player’s complaints. That’s to say that they really didn’t handle them. Botting and spam are as rampant as ever, In-game gambling is a blight on any major hub. The ever-present stagnation in many features still lingers, and many gameplay systems still feel half-done years after being implemented. Considering this, you can see where the cynicism of many EVE players comes from.
From Bad to Worse
Despite the attempt to create a more meaningful trial state with Alpha clones, the experience was all the more bogged down. And when selling Skill Points became a thing, the situation only got worse.
It used to be that only players could trade SP with each other, but more recently, CCP has gotten into the game as well. They offered a one-time paid pack of 1.5 million SP and now they’re doing it again. And even worse, this time they’re clearly violating laws about deceptive discount pricing by doing it. This bundle has never been sold at the “original” price, so I wonder what countries with laws about this kind of thing have to say.
All of this is an attempt to get players to become invested and buy into the game in more ways than one. “You already pay for a sub, but why not try and compete with the competition by buying SP too,” seems to be the mentality. If the selling of SP wasn’t bad enough, now they want to sell you that “greener side” marketing directly.
What are Expert Systems you ask? Expert Systems are a single-use time-limited item that removes the restrictions of an Alpha player and allows them to get into the ships and gear that they experience in Omega. Sounds fine, if it were entirely free. Instead of being strictly a login reward, CCP plans to sell it as well.
And with Expert Systems, the railroading isn’t forced, but it does have a price tag attached. This system is the wet dream of any marketing company, getting your customers to pay for you to advertise to them. That’s effectively what this is, a paid advertisement.
These packs can be purchased as many times as a person desires and give access to skills that can take anywhere between 9 days to more than 70 days to train. The fact that they’re time-limited rubs salt in the wound as well.
It’s just one more sign that CCP has completely given up on making this game anything more than a cash cow.