“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10 (New International Version Bible)
The latest blog banter is about money. We are invited to comment on the SOMERBLink drama, RMT (real money transactions), monetizing services, offsetting costs, selling goods, requesting donations, EVE events, and converting PLEX into cash.
Gone are the simple days of playing games simply for fun. Games and gaming are now huge business. They have “journalists” and fan sites and major conventions and merchandise and movies and IPOs and spinoffs and in-game monetization and third-party services and in-game services and “gold making guides” and blah blah blah.
I suppose it is an interesting phenomenon. Harvard Business School will probably do a case study on the rise of The Mittani someday (if they haven’t already). As games have gotten more complex (and interesting), it has fueled the rise of gaming blogs and guides and services that are external to the game company itself. In fact, most of the guides done by passionate players are orders of magnitude better than the guides provided by the company. Personally, I like this. It adds to the richness of the game and the gaming community. EVE has been at the forefront of this. Given its relatively small size (compared to say World of Warcraft), EVE has a huge meta footprint in gaming blogs, sites, guides, services, etc. EVE has also pioneered the use of PLEX as a company controlled way of buying in-game currency without destroying the game. I think EVE is richer and better because of PLEX and certainly it helps CCP’s bottom line. This is not easily done. Diablo III’s auction house as designed by Blizzard pretty much ruined the game and was eventually removed.
EVE as a game is designed around both pvp and a market economy. Everything in the game is designed to be built and destroyed and rebuilt (with only a few exceptions). The complex nature of this lends itself to specialization and niche businesses. Things like courier companies (Red Frog, Push-X) and clone services (Estel Arador Corp Services) come to mind. Things like that don’t really exist in other games..
So what does all this have to do with money? Well, here is my simple opinion. In-game actions and services should be paid with in-game currency (ISK). Out-of-game actions and services should be paid with out-of-game currency. When there are entities that have large dealings in both in-game and out-of-game actions, then they need to be closely monitored by CCP.
Website services: Out-of-game compensation. If it is a high-traffic site, it should sell ads (including to EVE), get an EVE referral bonus, and possibly get some support/compensation from CCP if it fits with their engagement strategy. I think it should be able to accept monetary donations (however, if this entity and associated accounts have a ton of ISK, they would need to be monitored to be sure they are not giving out ISK in return for donations).
Blog about EVE: Out-of-game compensation. I think the CCP compensation of one paid account is sufficient for a fan site.
Running an in-game event: In-game compensation. I think CCP should use reward/prize ships for those that run useful and successful in-game events.
EVE “Journalism”: If the site meets the requirements of the “Website Services” above then those that write for the site should receive out-of-game compensation (ETC’s for articles, etc). I don’t think they should be paid directly in ISK.
Bookmarking Service: In-game compensation. The bookmarkers should be paid in ISK by those that use their services.
PVP training: In-game compensation. The trainers should be paid in ISK by those that get the training.
New Player Training Corporations (EVE University): Primarily in-game compensation. CCP should provide in-game assets and support to corporations that support the new player experience.
Gambling “Services”: This one is a mess. I know that they are gambling with ISK, but they are using an out of game resource to do it. If I were CCP, I would stay away from this one. It generates limited in-game content and is ripe for scams. I would certainly no provide it with in-game resources and I would closely monitor it since it is likely to have large dealings in both in-game and out-of-game activities.
EVE RL Events and Gatherings: I think CCP should support the hosts of these events with out-of-game resources and compensations if the event meets CCP’s marketing/recruitment goals. I think CCP could support the attendees with token in-game resources as door prizes.
I don’t think that PLEX should ever be able to be converted into cash. Directly or indirectly.
Personally, I like to keep my recreation activities and my work completely separate. I also value being able to walk away at anytime. I have no aspirations of ever making money in EVE. I am an adult with a career and I don’t have much interest in trying to make money off my hobbies. I think once money starts getting mixed in, all kinds of bad stuff happens. On the flip side “all kinds of bad stuff” being possible is one of EVE’s selling points. And I know there are many gamers who consider “going pro” and supporting themselves by their gaming habit to be the ultimate success. I am just not one of them.
I think that once it starts to be a way for you to make money, it is more about the business than about the game and the game itself is corrupted for you.