Thoughts on the future of Eve media

 

It’s very rare for me to write anything about EVE Online anymore – partly due to the fact I’m less active in EVE nowadays than i’d want, but the recent changes to the EULA, the ban of IWantISK and the knock-on effect this will have on media sites across New Eden falls into the scope of my real life profession.

I am a digital journalist for a newspaper. I frequently work with our advertising on what works, what doesn’t and what is the best way to bring in additional money for the site. The lack of sponsorship will force sites like this one to look elsewhere for extra income and I’m here to share my thoughts on where this could, and couldn’t, come from.

If you look at the traditional publishing model for newspaper websites the majority are reliant upon advertising revenue feeding into the paper product to sustain both their digital and traditional formats. Most of these publications supplement their income in one way or other through either standard advertising, surveys or paywalls.

Advertising

EVE media sites have a highly targeted audience – something which massively appeals to advertisers – and with the right deal in place could be earning in excess of £15-£20 per 1000 impressions. The problem here lies in the fact they just wouldn’t have the traffic volume to generate the income they would need to be self-sufficient.

Sites like YouTube and Twitch can also have their content monetised. Based on personal experience the income from this , especially on YouTube, can be hit and miss. If you fail to upload a new video or if people stop watching your content, your income drops.

Surveys

No doubt we’ve all seen a Google Consumer Survey – those annoying multiple choice questions you have to answer before being able to read the full article. The website I work for uses them.

They’re frustrating, they increase complains, but they do bring in the cash to help keep websites afloat. But for EVE media sites this again wouldn’t work. The majority of EVE players are tech savvy, they will find a way to block or avoid the GCS. Failing that, they will just go elsewhere.

Paywall

There are two possible ways of looking at paywalls. The first and most commonly used by newspaper is the article based function.

This effectively allows people to view a set number of stories per day or month. Any more above and beyond that point would require people to pay. This could be potentially be done using purely ISK as a sign up charge, but this could potentially breach the revised EULA. It would also require admin work to monitor who has paid and a sign-up access system.

The other option is a paid for Android/iPhone App.

Real world currency would be used to purchase an app based version of the website, pulling together all the existing and future articles, podcasts, videos and features. To encourage uptake, preview versions of articles could be posted on the website, with only the fully fledged versions available on the app.

The big issue with all the above for sites based on New Eden is the blurring of boundaries between RL currency and the conversion of ISK – something no sensible website will want to cross.

Realistically, for me, there’s only two real solutions for EVE media sites.

The Wealthy Benefactor

There are plenty of very wealthy players within the game. Those that have either benefited from the now banned sites, that have great skill in trading or those that got ISK by just purely playing the game for a long time.

For me it’s time for some of these players that have amassed an incredible wealth to give back to the community. For reasons of balance the players sponsoring the sites must be revealed and all ISK donated should be done with no strings attached.

CCP-funded support

To say I expect this to be a controversial idea is a massive understatement.

In the past CCP have courted controversy with their interaction with external player groups. A prime example of this would be the gifting of Ishukone Scorpions to SOMER Blink – which caused uproar amongst the player base when this was leaked/revealed.

The loss of EVE-Bet, a legitimate group which operated within the bounds of the current EULA, has left a niche which needs to be filled – and why not have CCP fill it themselves. They could even find a way of bringing the EVE-Bet team on board officially.

The profits from this CCP-backed venture, which are likely to be in the tens of trillions (almost certainly outstripping those made by EVE-Bet) would be mainly fed directly into the CCP’s Plex 4 Good and into helping to run Live Events.

The rest could be used by CCP to sponsor external sites, like Crossing Zebras or like EN:24, which would be telling the stories of players to the world, act as a source of advertising for the game, as well as holding CCP accountable when they release new game features.

Due to the volume of ISK moving between CCP and the media groups there would obviously need to be some form of traceability and accountability to prevent any form of RMT, but i trust CCP’s monitoring tools to achieve those goals.



The future for Eve media is probably at its most fragile point. Decisions over the next few weeks will either make or break each site. With the upcoming changes to clone states and the potential volume of new players it could bring to the game, CCP needs to recognise that the in-game, player-ran media is a vital cog to the machine that is New Eden.

And one that must be preserved.

 

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Tags: eve media, MainDrain

About the author

MainDrain

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.


  • Anonymous

    The problem with CCP-funded support is that it can lead to the murky territory of people accusing CCP of favoritism. In my opinion, I think that CCP should stay away from anything that can lead them to claims of not being an impartial judge.

  • Free can

    If CCP finance a media it should be hosted by them and submission approved by a CCP Dev. Player media already proved themselves completly incapable of being impartial. In worst cases they use their media to attack and witch hunt individual players (eg, madness of montolio). Absolutely CCP should not be endorsing this.

  • SiXiN

    If sites started using Paywall, I just wouldn’t read or use them.

    • Cosmo

      Rest easy, CZ will never use a paywall.

  • Dirk MacGirk

    EVE Media: I know I’ve said it a lot over time [not a trademark claim – it pre-dates me] to refer loosely to the disparate group of people who do what we do. When I first started saying it, it was sort of tongue in cheek. Actually, it was very tongue in cheek. It was also before things like casino-based, big money funding found its way into the equation. Hell, it was really before many (if any) contributors were seeking support for their hobby or fansite. Most of these people were doing it for fun. They simply enjoyed writing or talking a bit about EVE. And referring to it as the “EVE media” tilda, tilda, airquote, was part of the fun.

    Now don’t get me wrong. I know we’ve witnessed changes over time and the scene evolved. The idea of trying to monetize efforts crept in, whether it be by way of sites that could draw advertising revenue, or through new crowd-sourcing efforts like patreon. But at its core, all of this is still hobbyist in nature. Even with ISK-based funding of talent, we all better be doing this because we enjoy it, not because we’re earning 300 million ISK for hours of effort, regardless of the source.

    Maybe the “EVE Media” has matured into an EVE Media, without airquotes. But if that is the case then the value proposition has to change if it requires some kind of support to retain sufficient talent. Simply finding a new benefactor of top-down largesse, probably isn’t the answer. Not if the desire is to actually be the EVE Media and not just the “EVE Media.”

    • Cosmo

      I think it turned into EVE Media when we started having conversations about visibility, brand management, article quality, release schedule and editing fees. This isn’t two guys with a blog anymore.

      • Dirk MacGirk

        Shit, I had a lot here and then deleted it. If you think its gone professional, nothing I can say will change that mindset. So I’ll leave it with: if you’ve stepped up your professionalism then create a value proposition and present it to your consumers, or some well-heeled benefactor willing to be a patron of the arts, and see where it shakes out. In the meantime, most will keep doing it out of a sense of enjoyment and the iskies never mattered for them. They’re just having fun.

  • Rob Thompson

    Thought-provoking article. Thanks.

    I doubt whether CCP has the capacity to take on extra work right now. In a reply to a question I posed directly to them on the EVE-O Forums, they told me their current staff complement for dealing just with in-game problems (‘tickets’) is 45 people. That’s quite a few, and I bet they’re fully occupied. Realistically, how would they spare folks to do as the writer suggests (however worthy the cause)?

    It would be great if players could be persuaded to support EVE-Media more consistently (or at all). I rather liked EVE-Radio’s front-page donation thing, with its monthly target. That seemed to work, though I daresay the staff ended up shelling out most of it.

    ‘It’s the internet, and someone’s hobby. Why should I pay for it?’ Heard variations of that since Windows 95. But the reality is that, even in the real world, artists of all kinds slave away for pennies or nothing at all. Art, Music, Literature; they’re not regarded as ‘work’ by some people, on the basis that artists, etc., would do them regardless of remuneration. Same with player-run enterprises like CZ; it’s not a ‘job’ so you shouldn’t expect payment. Money for back-end stuff is just your tools and gear, you know, brushes and so on. Your call.

    I’ve always believed that if you like something you should show some appreciation to the driven individual who produced it. Back in 2013, I did some work. Wasn’t very good, but it was early in my fumblings. A couple days later someone sent me 5 million Isk and a really nice ‘thank you’ email. If people believe that you would do the stuff anyway, they may or may not support you. There’s only one answer.

    If you want money, ask for it.

    • Messiah Complex

      I doubt very much that CCP is going to want to administer some kind of grant program to keep Eve media running, especially to the tune of tens of trillions of isk. Too much overhead, too much potential for political blow-back.

      Art requires patronage, and EveBet was CZ’s House of Medici. CCP will not take on that role. If the community wants this kind of content, the community is going to have to pony up.

      • Cosmo

        Even if not directly, we will need to extract some support from the community, be it ad revenue or donation runs.

  • Klyith

    BREAKING: Future of Board Games Media in doubt after Monopoly Money discovered to be valueless

    A wave of panic and despair has the board gaming news in it’s grip after members suddenly realized that everything they were working for was a game accessory worth zero dollars. Already known as ‘Black Wednesday’, many are calling it the biggest crash of a hobbyist media since the Model Glue Payola Scandal of 1988.

    The front page of one site, Parallel Elephants, was typical in it’s editorial response: “We are all in shock. We paid our writers, sold advertising space, and operated our entire budget in monopoly dollars. We have accounting spreadsheets and everything! But now they tell us that it’s all just little slips of colorful printed paper. This is a dark day for us, and our loyal readership. I can’t imagine how the Monopoly Community will carry on without the Monopoly Press.”

    We reached out for comment to Milburn Pennybags, the owner of record for Parallel Elephants. “Yes, I suppose I own the site. I pay the hosting bill anyways, but mostly I just let the kids run it. It was supposed to be a fun hobby. But I suppose the game of pretend got carried away.”

    When informed that the editors and writing staff of his site were all legal adults, Mr. Pennybags was heard to sob, then hang up the phone.

  • Lady Ayeipsia

    Or… Maybe get alliances to donate a money moon or try to setup a small PI empire that generates income for ad revenue. I would tolerate watching a quick corp ad or an add for Chribba if it meant writers were paid and news flowed. The assumption seems to be that isk must be made out of game, yet why can’t a CZ or others seek advertising resources in game? Or offer services for isk to help fund? Want a good corp ad, pay isk to CZ. They assign a writer, profits are split.

    • Cosmo

      Ads are something that you might start seeing soon, maybe starting next year. But we will never do articles for hire. Tight control and vision is what makes CZ, CZ.

  • luobote kong

    “CCP-funded support”… gulp. OK lets go there. Currently most Eve media is narrowly focused. Null, big blocks, PvP, English speaking are all over represented. That is not entirely their fault – they can only publish what people will write, but it is a bias. CCP wouldn’t make that bias any different and they already do fund a wide range of fansites.

    But if CCP were to replace the casinos, there remains the issue of where are they going to get the ISK from. Casinos take player ISK and in theory redistribute it back into the game. I don’t think it is likely that CCP will set up there own betting operation in the current climate. Printing ISK would impact the game economy. A voluntary donation program would not get the same traction amongst players.

    More radically, CCP could overturn their 3 year design principle of socialism for the ISK rich and capitalism for the ISK poor and create a progressive wealth tax. You could even make the CSM useful and give them oversight of the revenue gained and its injection back into the game. It will never happen of course but then neither will anything more sensible.

    • Cosmo

      Your last line is quite on point, if a very bitter and hard pill to swallow, but it’s true. CCP has very limited bandwidth in regards to what they can do and any kind of additional oversight would fall under existing people’s purviews, like Falcon or Manifest, as community contacts. Either way, i don’t think anyone’s hoping, or even wishing, in CZ’s case, of CCP being proactive on this.

      • Kamar Raimo

        Yeah, seriously the last thing I’d want is to be dependent on CCP for anything like that. As dedicated as the community team is, they are understaffed and therefore slow to react. Just look how long it takes them to bring back the Prime Fiction content which was lost when the Evelopedia went down. In addition to that it is unreliable. The issue with the gambling sites has shown that CCP will do an about-face turn from full-on support to outright ban if the political or legal climate changes. Finally, it would probably put us in difficulties when it comes to publishing some content. Not that we are habitual CCP bashers, but some articles turn up which are very critical of CCP’s decisions. It would be terrible if they could step up and interfere with that. I’d rather write and not get paid at all than having to deal with this kind of issues.

        • luobote kong

          That does rather illuminate the larger point. Large dollops of ISK will be directly or indirectly influencial. Constantly tormenting a sponsor, whoever it may be is something you would want to avoid.

  • Zaros Tenjin

    how viable int he new eula would be a patreon to enable the publisher to buy plex to convert into isk to then pay their authors? i guess its also player donation but its like a dollar per month for most, less than a coffee at the train station a month and it would prob help 20 people and you’ve financed 6 articles assuming maybe 200m per article as payment(considering the current price of 1.2b-ish per plex) add some rewards like for example a live broadcast of the minutes every month and you enter the area of reward tiers. it works for a lot of project around the internet

  • Ghost Rider

    This mess is entirely CCP’s fault. They should of banned betting sites right after the Sommer Scandle.

    That episode proved that they were unable to police these sites yet once again they did nothing until it was too late and it happened again.

  • I’m confused. When you talk about advertising revenue, why do you talk about real world revenue? Writers and editors are paid in ISK from sites like eve-bet, so why would the obvious solution not be to mirror the advertising that real world media sites do, but in game? EVE corporations that offer paid for services, or even just looking for recruitment could pay you for advertising in ISK.

    I mean really the most obvious solution is to just not require payment for writing and editing articles and do it out of your passion for the game, just like the vast majority of other site owners and service providers in EVE do, but apparently that’s not acceptable.