Proposal: Paid Expansions


With the launch of Citadel, Eve Online has finally returned to proper, feature-led expansions. On the back of this I would like to propose an examination of the way these expansions are released and marketed, and in particular the possibility of introducing paid for versions of each release. Humor me this proposition, as a thought exercise if nothing else.

One thing as a playerbase we’ve always been massively against is the introduction of anything that would be considered pay-to-win. The introduction of Skill Extractors/Injectors earlier this year saw us soften our stance, arguing that it would give new players a leg up to help them get involved quicker. It also allowed people who had massively changed their playstyle to tweak their characters to better suit their needs.

My suggestion of introducing a tiered paid-for expansion could not be considered pay-to-win. It should offer no boost to a character’s skills, no boost to the rate skillpoints are earned and importantly, no special ships or so-called ‘golden bullets’. It would instead merely be cosmetic improvements, similar to what we already get from the New Eden Store, or early access to certain ships or structure blueprint copies.

For instance, last week’s Citadel expansion CCP could have released in four different flavours;

  • The base expansion, everything that we have now would be included free of charge – there would be no change for the normal player.
  • The first paid for tier, the Premium edition.  This would include very limited run BPCs of the either Astrahus citadel, as well as a BPC for each of the new force auxiliary ships. This version would also include unique skins for each of these ships and the citadel.  I would imagine this would retail at £20
  • The second tier, an Ultimate edition. This would include a limited run BPC of each of the Citadels. One Astrahus citadel, a different unique skin for each of the citadels and the new ships. This version would also include everything available in the previous tier. This would retail at around £50.
  • The Ultimate Collector’s edition. This edition would include every item in the Ultimate and Premium edition, but also be the only version that would include a real world item. This would be a metal or high-quality plastic version of a Keepstar. It would also include a colour art book featuring a number of concept images relating to the expansion. I would expect this to cost in excess of £100 and to be a limited one-off production run.

A key feature of this would be that everything was available to everyone for ISK. Each of the paid-for tiers could either be bought using real world currency or by using PLEX, i.e the Premium edition would cost two PLEX, the Collector’s edition would cost five.

Additionally, I would propose that every owner of the Second Decade Collector’s edition code would receive the Premium edition free as a way of finally getting some real added benefit from the code.

This would also return Eve Online to traditional brick and mortar stores

This would also return Eve Online to traditional brick and mortar stores. While I’m not suggesting CCP start putting the game on disk, the inclusion of physical items with the Collector’s edition of each expansion would create the perfect opportunity to have Eve back on retailer’s shelves. The model in each pack would need to be high-quality and of a limited  number. The item must relate to something in the expansion.

A lower-tier versions could also be available to purchase in stores, perhaps the Ultimate Edition with the Collector’s edition art code and a redeemable PLEX.

The reason for introducing this is simple – it would generate more income for CCP, that additional income should be ring-fenced for Eve Online’s development only. The money should not be spent on developing Valkyrie, it should not be used to develop Project Nova.

This idea is likely to prove controversial, Eve Online has always had free expansions

This idea is likely to prove controversial, Eve Online has always had free expansions. My plans do not do away with this selling point, it instead adds alternative to fans who want to contribute more to the game. For those who are either well-off in real life or who have plenty of ISK to burn.  Similar to the golden pod, they would be prestige items.

While I don’t imagine the extra income ever being enough to hire extra staff, I would expect it could be used to bolster any marketing or advertising budgets, to add extra benefits to existing staff for working on something in their own time, or even used to pay developers to stay behind after hours to bring a return to live events.

With any change of this type players would need to be involved in all levels of discussion, including importantly, pricing. The items with each edition should be a surprise to the majority of  players, however, some discussion with the CSM or a focus group should take place.


Tags: expansions, MainDrain, marketing

About the author


MainDrain has played EVE Online since early 2009 and flies with SMA. In his time he has FC’d mainline fleets, bomber fleets and support fleets, but always returns to being a line member and shooting red crosses/triangles.

  • Niden

    For the record, I think this a horrible idea.

    • For the record I agree with you, and your face is horrible 😉

    • Fuzzysteve

      I’m not a fan of the concept.

      I mean, it’s workable, but I don’t like the ‘buy in game stuff with real money.’. It’s a bad precedent to set.

      (The ultimate edition I have the least problem with, tbh. Mostly because of the physical thing. If it was physical thing, + vanity, that’d be ok?)

      • Dave Stark

        “I mean, it’s workable, but I don’t like the ‘buy in game stuff with real money.’. It’s a bad precedent to set.” that precedent was already set with plex, a long time ago.

    • luobote kong

      Tiancity on Serenity did something similar – not with Citadel BPC’s obviously but the principle was the same. Sky didn’t fall in either.

    • GrouchyOldGamer

      I’ve always liked you and what we Xander confirming that brown sauce is indeed mandatory for bacon rolls I can say without fear of conditridtion that CZ is the most sane space in Eve – apart for from the author of this drivel.

    • Kama Kairade

      Anything that equates real money with in-game currency is a loser. You can dance around it, and dress it up in any number of creative ways…. but it’s still a loser. You might as well just allow gamers buy/sell ISK on the open market under the guise of allowing normal players to compete with the RMT’ers.

      • cloaky sniper raven

        Oh? Like PLEX?

        • Kama Kairade

          Yes. Exactly like PLEX.

    • Jensar Antak

      I think there are pieces of this that are horrible, but the idea itself isn’t complete shit. Once you unpack it, it’s a bit of a dud proposal.

      Despite the title, the actual content of the proposal is clearly NOT for paid expansions, but rather expansion themed goodie boxes of items for sale in the New Eden Store. One detail that I take particular issue with this is the inclusion of non-Cosmetic items such as BPCs, but selling themed skins and out of game memorabilia is entirely OK in my eyes (mainly because we already do that and we’re all generally fine with it). The price points would also likely be problematic, but that’s something CCP would always be able to sort through if no other issues prevented it from happening.

      When you remove BPCs from the package contents, all this really becomes is a New Eden Store special event package, which we basically have already. Maybe CCP could do better with marketing around these and do more limited edition things to encourage “Buy now, supplies won’t last” thinking, but once you boil it down that’s all this really is. From there I’m left with my conclusion that the idea is just a dud. It’s not awful and damaging other than the idea of selling BPCs for $$ which would have been pruned out in the first round of any real discussions. Instead, it’s just ‘meh’.

  • Saint Michaels Soul

    My kids are crying as their kitten is now dead. This idea killed that kitten. I had to smash my monitor into something after reading this and ‘Mr mittens’, the real victim of your concept, was nearest. I hope you’re proud.

    • CPPC T’amber

      poor kitteh 🙁

    • Kamar Raimo

      … but who will lead the Goons to victory now?

      • Chief Gumbo Speaker

        DJ, clearly.

  • Cosmo

    This really is a poor idea from multiple points of view. I’d rather have an ‘Aurum per month for subbed accounts’ since a lot of people have alts and leave them to lapse. An Aurum amount that increases the more you keep subbed, capping at six months or a year, and allows say a frigate skin per max month payout, would incentivise keeping those accounts active and seen as a boon instead of a sword or tasty grapes held over the players head.

  • TaurenTom

    I doubt going paid expansions is going to help the game’s playerbase in any positive fashion. It’s typically a turn off when you tell someone “Buy the new expansion today! Only $60” or whatever pricemark you’d prefer. I already personally avoid paid expansion games as content is uneven, and there’s no clear cut way of showing the game is more fun after spending that extra bit of cash.

    As for your proposal ideas, if you ever went to a paid expansion system, I’d rather see something physically that cannot be taken away (limited run bpc’s are a nice idea, but after the first month they’re gone). Give me BPO’s for specific items with a guarantee that it will be returned to me if I lose it like an idiot, and did not just way whatever the pricemark was when my life gets turned upside down and I have to change my region of play.

    But, since every idea has an upside and a downside, there shall always be differing opinions. I personally would rather keep the current dynamic (and see skill injectors removed from the game as all it’s doing is creating newbros with no idea what they’re doing, wasting hundreds of real dollars blowing up like idiots. The game is a passive skill game for a reason. You take that passive time to learn how to play. Remove that, and any fool will fly a titan into a camped lowsec gate.).

  • Somebodyelses

    they tried something similar with the release of Incarna. The NEX store. They almost lost the majority of veteran players.

    This would in effect, be the same. Terrible idea.

  • Doc Kinne

    Honestly, its an interesting idea, and worth the article, but it has a couple of totally fatal flaws.

    1) Drop every sentence in the article that has the string “bpc” in it.
    The idea of buying early access to the BPCs is horrific. Indeed, the only reason why the article works and why I’m happy CZ published it is to make sure everyone knows how absolutely horrific this idea is. SKINS, absolutely! But BPC moves solidly into the “pay for advantage” area. I know we’re there in some ways, yes, but adding to that area is, again, a horrific idea.
    2) Adding in the Second Edition Collector’s Edition perk is interesting but unworkable. CCP has no way of knowing who bought the Edition. Unless, you actually mean that everyone who has electronically checked in one of the codes the Second Edition came with. THAT might be workable.

    A couple of good points: I love the idea of a Keepstar model. I also like the idea of bringing EVE into GameStop, but it would have to be done carefully. I think that’s do-able, though.

  • Moe

    Also codes for free ships from drinking Dew and eating Doritos, right?

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  • Andre Felipe

    Oh, great! As if the R$150 I pay every month is not fracking enough.

  • Erik Kalkoken

    I think the idea of “paid expansions” for Eve Onliny in general is bad. But that is not what you seam to propose. If I understand your examples correctly its more a themed bundle of game items (and physical objects) that one can buy as add-on. This may work, but the pricing would be delicate since it would directly influence the in-game prices on the Eve market. And depending on what is in the package it would definitely raise cries about “pay-to-win” in the user community. (even if it technically may not be that). Last but not least you can more or less achieve the same thing today by buying PLEX, e..g you can buy an Astrahus BPC from contract for ISK that you got with PLEX. So I don’t think its an idea worth expanding on.

  • 2.4

    Those who got the “Mystery Code” with the 10th anniversary edition (that didn’t even have a copy of the game!) got shafted. CCP is hoping no one brings it up again.

  • Nou Mene

    Current Expansion Themed Skins (for avatars and ships) selled only when the expansion hits its acceptable….

  • Ethikos

    No. Just no.

  • Joseph Blade

    This is a terrible idea. don’t ever think again. When you find yourself close to forming an opinion, call a helpline please.

  • Grath


  • Provi Miner

    pointless: you should never ever kill your argument in your first paragraph and then try to sell the idea: “just like in new eden store”. However lets ignore that faux pas. “purely cosmetic items” well except the citadel bpc, the fax bpc’s um these are not cosmetic. The golden pod is cosmetic, you get nothing for it if I sell it to you but a shiney pod. However some BPC’s now they have real value.
    Ok so lets deal with skill injectors:
    Old ways character bazaar: potential RW $ or (RMT). you get stuck with a toon with a history you do not reflect. Near zero isk sink.
    Skill in jector: in game very hard to RMT. You get a clean toon with exactly the skills you want. And it doubles as an isk sink and SP sink. I am betting eve has lost hundreds of millions of SP since injectors rolled out (those destroyed prior to injection and the SP fall off).
    So skill injectors are not a “softening of a stance” rather they are very smart way to deal with an existing problem, and offer the people what they really want.
    bottom line this story has nothing of real value to add IMO. NES = cosmetic SJ do not = change in stance. Add to it that at least twice the writer drives homes the nails himself wellll…. I got a great idea and hear all the reasons why it won’t work with almost no good reasons why it would work kind of thing.

  • Angus Adalwin

    Intriguing and controversial. I agree that any in-game items with real value should be excluded – no BPCs. SKINs and other cosmetic stuff would work fine, and I do like the idea of tiered expansions that include SKINs and physical items – just nothing that gives you in-game advantage. However, we could skip the controversial part by just having SKINs and real world items available for purchase, instead of just Fanfest.

  • Erick Asmock

    Face palm….did someone actually just propose this? We are all now dumber for having read it.

  • Tseehn

    > My suggestion … could not be considered pay-to-win

    > The first paid for tier … would include very limited run BPCs


  • no way

    Wtf is this? I dont even…
    PLEX exists already as mechanism that would do everything you propose, except the real life object crap. For that CCP had a store.
    Your proposal adds nothing but problems.

  • Because what EVE needs is the cancerous notion of twenty seven different “editions” each release.

    Someone’s been drinking the AAA koolaid.

  • Tanesis

    Value/consumer wise it’s horrible. Pay walls, either in game or out, should not be implemented within a subscription model. It’s toxic in the extreme.

    • Dave Stark

      it might be toxic, but it worked for WoW which had 10m subscribers at it’s peak.

  • Saratje

    I stopped reading at paid expansions, sorry. The way I see it, free expansions are an investment by CCP in the player, just as our subscriptions are an investment in CCP. A two-way symbiosis, or mutualism as they call it. CCP trusts that their new content is on par with / exceeding our expectations and thus we keep paying. In turn we keep paying because we trust CCP to put that money to good use creating new content. Paying extra for expansions is like an employer giving their employees a thirteenth month christmas bonus. In that metaphore the employees will be grateful, but it won’t boost their work performance, only underpaying would affect their performance, ofcourse in that case negatively.

    Besides those who want some extras and have a daytime job can buy PLEX, those with a good daytime job can do so to their heart’s desire. Why add another system?

    • Dave Stark

      expansions are still free in his idea. the title is pretty misleading and click-baity.


    damn this is a shit idea, you should be ashamed but I expect no less from an SMA guy.

  • Dave Stark

    just going to burst the bubble of all the nay sayers for a moment.

    this unoriginal idea pretty much already exists. it’s called buying plex with irl money, selling it for isk, then buying blueprints etc in game.
    none of the actual content of the expansion, in his example, is behind a paywall. he’s just removing the middleman of transfering irl money to plex and the to isk in order to obtain a blueprint.
    as for the physical products – all ccp need to do is get their shit together and reopen the eve store.

    the idea is pretty much redundant. we already have it.

  • thenekkidtruth

    No. Way. Let’s take something CCP does way right and send it circling the drain. And while we’re at it, let’s also charge players for something they are already getting – all in what’s the most money-making game on the planet already. Just no.

  • Ming Tso

    No, and Get right the fuck out please. ——————————>

  • But getting new bpcs and citadels on patch day is exactly pay to try to win. It takes time to buy, copy, and build new stuff. Your idea removes that for cash. You could plex for those, true, but one fortizar bpc is currently roughly 7 PLEX, and you still have to play by the in game market and mechanics. If you are going to argue your point, you need better examples. I think you won’t end up with many not already covered by PLEX and the NES.

  • Punky260

    I dislike to sell expansions. But I like the approach of getting copies into the market this way.

  • Kamar Raimo

    Apart from being a very slippery slope, this whole model would not work the way CCP is doing their expansions and how EVE works. First of all, people will not pay for something consistently that “will be iterated upon later”. If I pay for something I want it to work right out of the box as a complete product, and CCP’s expansions usually don’t.

    The other thing is, that in EVE all the people who pay for premium content would make themselves premium targets for gankers and griefers who’d just loooove to collect the tears.

    No, this isn’t a can of worms CCP can risk opening.

  • Lady Spank

    This is a bad president.

    • MordenGeist

      You mean “precedent”. A bad “president” would be like…Obama, Bush (both of them), Clinton, Carter, LBJ, W. Wilson, etc..

  • Dagan

    Gotta be honest, I think this is a shit idea – PLEX is something that works both ways, as you can pay cash for ISK you can pay ISK for game time saving you cash. This idea of paid expansions is only one way and as others have said sets a precedent that I wouldn’t want in the game.

  • Ewes Dead

    Okay had to stop reading at price point. With eve being one of the few subscription based games paying tiered packages for expansions means no more subscriptiom for. Eve is great but its at a specific price point that keeps many of the trash out of the f2p market and because you pay to play you’re invested in the game and community. Don’t fall prey to the activision/destiny debacle. Eve is trying to grow player base. Any additional price barriers make more hurdles.

  • MordenGeist

    I started off, like some here, with a long cause and effect diatribe of why this is bad. I think I can be much more succinct with a simple “No”.