By now you’ve probably heard the news – CCP permanently banned the founder of the popular eve site Somer Blink after another episode of attempting to skirt the rules of RMT. For those in-tune with the community, it isn’t any surprise this happened as last year similar accusations took place, ultimately leading to CCP closing a loophole within their rules for affiliated time card distributors. The RMT rule has always been in place; you cannot use assets within the EVE universe to gain a direct real world financial benefit. While traditional RMT in the past has been largely viewed as a direct transfer of cash for ISK, Somer’s schemes involved a complex series of transactions utilising a third party.
There have been a number of great blog posts and articles explaining what happened previously, so I’m not even going to attempt to outdo the excellent work those writers put into their respective pieces. If you wish to read some of the commentary, I suggest you read blogs by CSM9 member Funky Bacon  , Nosy Gamer   , a series of articles that appeared on TMDC   , and an excellent piece by my colleague Tarek Raimo. Otherwise, to make a long story short, Somer Blink attempted a new scheme similar to the one that lead to the rule change last year and got caught in the process. This, along with a lot of raw feelings from the episode last year, predictably lead to a shitstorm within the community.
As with any complicated issue, a lot of confusion has arisen. Somer stated that CCP had given permission to run the promotion; this is technically true as an employee of CCP did in fact give Somer permission to run it. However, the proposal Somer sent that CCP employee explicitly stated there would be no extra ISK given through it. Any legitimacy the promotion might have had died with the extra ISK bonus. When you combine it with him intentionally breaking the EULA by releasing the private communications with a staff member, CCP had just cause to permanently ban him from the game.
The most pleasant surprise to come out of this was the quick and informative response from CCP. As long as I’ve been playing the game, one of the big issues with CCP has been their failure to adequately deal with situations with quick responses to the community. You don’t need a better example of last year and its various dramas, when the debate over the role CCP should play in supporting third party sites arose. By the time CCP addressed this last year, a lot of time had passed and concern had quickly grown into anger. CCP avoided that mess altogether by being very open and honest at the very beginning with the community.
CCP would be the first to tell you that a lot of the credit for that should go to the members of CSM9, and indeed they do deserve recognition for that. The rapid response from CCP also shows the health of the relationship between CCP and the CSM, as well as the relationship between CCP and the community. CCP absolutely deserves credit for this, especially after being very inconsistent in the past in their dealings with us.
Don’t get me wrong, CCP isn’t 100% clean in the mess, but the handling of the crisis of last year with this incident is like comparing night and day.
ISK for Services
In addition to the rule that you’re not allowed to exchange in-game assets for money, you’re also not allowed to exchange assets for services outside the game. The one exception to that rule, repeated by Falcon a few days ago, is that you’re allowed to trade ISK for services if they are related to EVE Online. So you’re allowed to trade ISK for things like artwork, killboard hosting, and various other projects. Sites such as TMDC, EN24, and CZ are allowed to pay their EVE writers in ISK in exchange for written EVE content. This process has been vetted and approved by CCP; and there are rules to what it does and does not cover.
(Full disclosure: As a writer for Crossing Zebras, I have been paid ISK weekly for the articles I’ve written for the site.)
Part of the community seems to think Somer is the target of a witch hunt and have made numerous posts on EVE-O in support of him. Much of the criticism coming from the supporters in their eyes comes from the fact we’re attempting to dehumanize him and turn him into a pariah. My opinion on Somer has never been based off anything but the involvement of him and his complicated RMT scheme. I agree that many in the community dislike him for that very reason, and because of that he’s given his detractors ample reason to distrust him.
The Ishukone Scoprion and Golden Magnate scandals last year were entirely CCP’s fault. Somer was involved; but CCP should have known better and I put the blame of that ordeal entirely on their doorstep. Purchasing PLEX from an affiliate for Blink credit was a loophole that needed to be closed for logical purposes. While I think Somer exercised very bad judgement, I was of the opinion that CCP needed to close that loophole to prevent wider ramifications to the game. CCP gave a deadline of a few days for PLEX affiliates to close that loophole, and during that time Somer proceeded to firesale a ridiculous amount of in-game assets to gain as much money as possible on the way out.
So was I surprised he attempted to do the same thing in a new and even more convoluted way? Not in the least.
Am I glad he’s banned?
But Somer made his own bed and CCP had no choice but to react in the way they did.
Tags: csm9, rmt, somer