Is Greed Good?

 

In the summer of 2011, CCP launched Incarna and forever changed the face of EVE Online. For better or worse, the introduction of microtransactions had begun. Accompanied by the leak of an internal newsletter entitled ‘Greed is Good’, the release of Incarna was a massive step in the wrong direction for the plucky Icelandic company that, for years, persevered against all odds and made a sustainable MMO in a crowded and daunting market. Within days, players rioted in EVE’s main trade hub while others unsubscribed from the game in disgust. Warranted or not, the message was clear: microtransactions are verboten.

Aurum didn’t go away though. The Nex didn’t close. Though the dreams of microtransaction fueled baths of money evaporated, as did 20% of CCP’s workforce worldwide, the hope that Aurum may one day provide a significant form of revenue for the company survived. Work continued, with additional articles of clothing for the captive capsuleer released quietly, surreptiously, over the years. Dust launched, and additional uses for Aurum were found in the free to play shooter.

Even in that game, where microtransactions were part of the plan from the beginning, CCP faithful pushed back against the brash, tone-deaf march of the Aurum. As one Dust player put it in an article on TheMittani.com, “CCP’s monetization mantra was going from annoying salesmanship to a personal agony.” That wasn’t about to stop them, though. The concept of microtransactions was here to stay.

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Now, three years after the events of Incarna, the creep of microtransactions is welcomed in EVE Online. First came multiple character training options per account. For the addition of a PLEX, players can now enable more than one character at a time to train. This, anyone can agree, is a Good Thing. A long requested feature for the game; a feature that, I’m sure, many people avail themselves of. Before that, players were encouraged to pay a PLEX for an all-access HD pass to the world of Fanfest. Again, certainly not a terrible idea, and one that many players took advantage of.

Then, earlier this week, CCP announced the pilot paint job program. For Aurum, players can now have a modicum of control over the appearance of their favorite ships. The devblog for this program is careful to couch itself in mollifying terms. “Begin to gather data,” “Depending on the reception,” “going to start small” – all of this is qualifying language, meant to ease the concept of a new avenue for microtransaction revenue into the player population. Nowhere in the devblog do the words “if you really want this feature,” “if you want to spend Aurum on this feature,” or “should we decide to pursue” appear.

Then again, why should they? Prominent blogger Ripard Teg states in his writing on Jester’s Trek: “I’m thrilled at the prospect of custom ship skins.” “All I can say is OHMYGODIT’SHAPPENING! Thank you so much, CCP!” says EVE player Crasniya on the forums. The reaction throughout the community has been favorable, and in this we can hope that CCP finds a lesson: reasonably priced value additions are good. Outright money grabs are not.

At least, we might be able to hope that, was it not for a certain other project CCP is working on. I speak, of course, of the Worlds Within a World monument that CCP is commissioning to appear in their hometown of Reykjavik. What was originally discussed as an honorable monument to our fallen brothers and sisters of New Eden, is now nothing more than a marketing ploy and a cash grab.

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It is easy to recognize the difficulties in erecting a monument solely to the fallen who counted themselves members of our strange little world within a world. Issues such as verifying real identities, real deaths, real tragedies – these are heart breaking and impossible. What is not easy to recognize is why, then, CCP did not instead tie the monument to some other, notable feature of EVE Online. Why not erect said monument with a list of each player actively subscribed to the game on EVE Online’s 10th anniversary? Instead, a random date (in the future, mind you) was picked to conduct this census of New Eden’s capsuleer population – the better that you might consider returning to New Eden or, perhaps, even make an additional account or two. Then, a second census date was assigned, to give players one last chance to be part of history.

In typical infomercial fashion, however, that’s not all! Now, for the low, low price of one PLEX, you can contribute your words to a time capsule, to be buried with the monument and opened in 25 years. Act now and for just two PLEX, you can upgrade your 1000 word text message to a two minute video clip! Wow, the future is great. Doubt us? Here’s Reykjavik’s mayor to tell you why you should partake!



From a monument to our dead to this. This is what CCP presents to us – not the opportunity for immortality, or future fame, or anything of the like. Instead, hollow promises wrought upon slabs of stone and metal, all for the sake of a buck. In many ways, CCP is a better company than they were in 2011 – they have the capability of sensitivity when it comes to microtransactions, and are generally making smart decisions when it comes to value additions to New Eden. Yet, we have the brash salesmanship of Aurum in Dust. The infomercial-esque beckoning of monuments and time capsules. The tone-deaf march of business carries on, leaving players to puzzle over the question: is greed good?

Tags: marc, monument

About the author

Marc Scaurus

Lowsec pirate nonpareil; Editor-in-Chief of this fine establishment; System Engineer for SOE. All opinions his own.

  • Joran

    Great article

  • Poetic Stanziel

    “CCP’s monetization mantra was going from annoying salesmanship to a personal agony.”

    I would have been interested to see this quote explained further. What examples of monetization in DUST represent personal agony? I don’t play any DUST to know what CCP is doing in terms of F2P (free to play) or P2W (pay to win) in that game.

    Look out for Valkyrie. This will be Decker’s first hands-on approach to a F2P title with CCP. He was hired from EA for his F2P acumen. I don’t doubt there’ll be some eye-rolling purchase options in that game.

    And for anyone who thought the EVE monument was CCP’s attempt at altruism towards the community, well they were kidding themselves. The PLEX for 24Kb of data gives away that lie. Not too mention to “sign up before X date” to appear on the monument sales bullet point.

    That said, I will give CCP credit for the free digital comic book. That’s an example of altruism, even if it is likely unintentional. CCP is hoping that digital copies will not be enough for people. I’ll read all four copies for free, and then won’t even consider purchasing a hard copy. I read all my comics digitally now. I find hard-copies to be a pain in the ass. Collecting stopped being an investment around 1985, when everybody who started collecting comics became a collector. Digital saves me from a lot of ongoing storage costs.

    • anon

      wtf are you still doing around here?? no one cares about what you have to say anymore, just quit for good and done come back.

      • Poetic Stanziel

        I do play. I am currently playing casually, and deployed to Sendaya with the rest of Brave Newbies.

        Thanks for reading, though.

  • Poetic Stanziel

    Man, this has not been as well-received as a Marc Scaurus article usually is:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/Eve/comments/1zx16a/is_greed_good_ccps_new_era_of_pay_for_everything/

    • Obviously the opinion of Reddit is of the highest importance to me.

      Oh wait, no. The opposite of that.

  • Malcolm Shinhwa

    Hey, Poe, he’s not real keen on the opinion of twitter either.

    • Poetic Stanziel

      It’s not like people are trolling him, being general dicks towards him. They raise actual valid points about his article. It’s a shame he has to get all Malcanis about the criticism.

      Hell, I’d just like him to explain that one sentence I quoted: “CCP’s monetization mantra was going from annoying salesmanship to a personal agony.” Because it makes no sense without any explanation. He knows what he’s talking about, I don’t think anybody else does.

      • Dude if you could read you’d see there’s a link immediately preceding the quote. It’s a very long article that contains all the explanation you need. Simple.

  • GrouchyOldGamer

    Not withstanding the nonsense of a ‘time capsule’ in a digital age the monument is an exercise in corporate vanity nothing else.

  • W-Spacer

    Yes, I’m shocked. Utterly shocked. A company that wants to make money? How could they?

  • There are a couple of bad points in this post that I must point out:

    1:
    Microtransactions are not bad, but the greed is good article was about ‘gold ammo’, and that triggered the riot: gold ammo ist verboten! – to echo your article.
    Also there was the issue of third party licences, the NEX store being introduced without any prior focus group test (CSM), CCP bloating in all directions, just to name a couple.

    2:
    Multiple character training is bad. Why? Because it cheapens the (second hand) character bazaar. Why trade with other (unknown, perhaps scammer) people when you can raise your own little alt with all the niceties of not having to compromise.

    3:
    Ship skins is just like any additional “peacock” feature: it brings in revenues and doesn’t hurt the game, it is not even close to the gold ammo they were thinking about in greed is good.

    You yourself should be remembering this, after all, you are a ’09 character yourself!

    4:
    Yes, the monument memo costs PLEX. Why, did you think erecting something like that is for free? They were doing this anyway, then why not make profit on it?

    You have to always remember that CCP is a FOR PROFIT company. Nothing more, nothing less.

    You should give this link it’s 45 minutes of playtime:
    http://www.slideshare.net/bcousins/paying-to-win