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CCP Working To Calm Player Anger Over  EVE Online  Vanity Items, Leaks
CCP Working To Calm Player Anger Over EVE Online Vanity Items, Leaks
June 27, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

The makers of EVE Online are reaching out to player representatives after leaked internal documents regarding new, microtransaction vanity items have led to vocal player denunciations and in-game demonstrations against the company.

The controversy started last Tuesday, when EVE Online's new Noble Exchange shop began offering cosmetic avatar items for prices ranging from $12.50 to over $60, rivaling the price for major ships. These prices would also represent significant play time in the game's economy, which melds real world and in-game currency, which are largely interchangeable in EVE.

But negative player reaction exploded last Wednesday, when EveNews24 posted an internal CCP newsletter titled 'Greed Is Good?', seemingly detailing efforts to squeeze more money out of players and plans for further, game-altering microtransactions in the future.

"We want to offer convenience for a price," CCP lead content creator Scott Holden wrote in the newsletter, adding by way of analogy that "you can develop a friendship by 'spending' your time, or you can pay to get the same benefits that friendship would otherwise allow."

Many players responded to the leak by venting their outrage in massive forum threads and even staging a type of denial-of-service attack on an in-game trading hub by flooding it with attacking ships.

CCP officially addressed the growing controversy on Friday, when EVE Online senior producer Arnar Hrafn Gylfason wrote in a blog post that the internal newsletter merely represented employee opinions, and not company policy.

Gyalfson went on to compare the pricing for vanity items to fashionable, $1,000 jeans in the real world and promised future vanity items at lower price points in the future.

But in a supposedly leaked message to CCP employees posted on EveNews24 Saturday, CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Petursson purportedly called the player reaction "very predictable" and promised the company would not flip flop on item pricing in reaction to mere talk from players.

"I can tell you that this is one of the moments where we look at what our players do and less of what they say," Petursson wrote in the alleged message. "Innovation takes time to set in and the predictable reaction is always to resist change."

By Sunday, producer Gylfason had posted another blog apologizing for the tone of his original post. He also took the step of inviting the CSM, the game's player-elected representatives to an "extraordinary meeting" with CCP in Iceland to "help us define and address the real underlying concerns, and to assist us in defining and iterating on our virtual goods strategy." The CSM usually meets in person only twice a year.

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Ardney Carter
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Haters gonna hate. I'm with the devs on this one. The items are purely cosmetic and have precisely zero impact on actual gameplay. If people feel like spending money on that, that's up to them. No one is forcing you to buy suits for your avatar. If CCP's new store was selling items that actually modified perfomance of ships, then I could understand the rage. As is, it's a non-issue. Petersson is totally right on this one. Ignore what they say, watch their buying habits instead, and adjust based on that data.

Mike Pierson
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Actually the outrage stems from the conversations about being able to buy game changing items such as ship slots, something that was (supposedly) stated by CCP that they would not do (in the near future). Though i didn't bother to read the original leak, just hearsay from in-game. But clearly players have used real money in-game already to acquire the larger ships. So what will it be? raise the monthly subscription or offer such alternatives? Clearly any company needs to continue (revenue) growth. I can't bring myself to buy anything other than my monthly subscription, I also can't stop playing Eve, I think I'm addicted ... "Rise Pod-pilots and wreak havoc upon thy creators!" You gotta love it.

Ron Dippold
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I wonder if we're seeing some rage here at inequitable, ugly, real world mechanisms making their way into the pristine gaming environment. Petursson was 100% correct. Spending $400 on a sweater advertises how fit you are because you're able to throw away $400 on a sweater. Same thing with middle aged man buying a hot sports car when his wife goes into menopause. It's called conspicuous display in the animal world and it's exactly the same thing in the human animal world.

I'm torn here - Petursson was too dismissive in tone, but correct. But is it really a good thing to cynically replicate and exploit these biological drives in a game ala Zynga? But (but) Eve seems to be exactly the right game in which to exploit the basest human social behaviors - that's its appeal.

Haui Balazs
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Calling customers as Golden Goose is disrespectful, even in an internal document. It is nice that CCP decided to evolve in more areas: connecting Eve to Dust514 etc. Pasting MT into a subscription-based MMO is aimed to cut the development costs of other games they develop, thus sacrificing EvE's sandbox genre for a handful of silver coins.

Ardney Carter
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What? The genre of the game is exactly the same. Vanity item micro transactions don't affect that. The ability to buy (or not buy) a monocle for your avatar doesn't suddenly transform EVE into a racing game.

People are overreacting. IF the NEx shop offered anything beyond purely cosmetic items, then there might be legit grounds for complaints. It does not. Until it does, this is much ado about nothing.

Michael Lezon
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I hear that's what people where rioting in game over though. Nobody seems to mind cosmetic items but there was talk of "pay to win" in the future.