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CCP Deconstructs EVE Online's Microtransaction Missteps 106

A few months ago we discussed an uproar in the EVE Online community over CCP Games' implementation of microtransactions within the game. Hilmar Pétursson, the company's CEO, recently posted a lengthy apology and an explanation of their thought process, which he admits was "wrong." Now, at GDC Online, CCP has gone into further detail about the lessons they've learned from the fiasco. Quoting: "Of the eight original items, Cockerill said all but one was in the mid- to high-tier price range. Players naturally assumed the lower-tier range would be neglected going forward, which served to push some of them away. The second wave (and the forthcoming fourth wave) featured more lower-tier options, but it wasn't enough. Cockerill said virtual-goods sellers should release a range of goods at all of their price points to start with, or else they'll face the wrath of the user base. What's more, the team should have targeted the desires of its then-current user base, who cared much more about having virtual clothes for their ships instead of their avatars."
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CCP Deconstructs EVE Online's Microtransaction Missteps

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  • by zergl ( 841491 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2011 @04:40AM (#37676696)

    The EVE MT experiment did not just fail because of that, it failed because of a multitude of reasons, most of which a sane person would have seen coming from miles away.

    First of all, the NEX Store (the name of this abomination, yes I'm biased against it, deal with it) was released in a vacuum of a completely single player environment. The only place your purchase will be seen in all its glory is in the confines of your own game client in a shabby little hole called the Captain's Quarter (or dismissively, the Captain's Closet). Multiplayer Avatar interaction was indefinitely postponed for now (they finally admitted/realized that they had nothing fun in terms of gameplay value on the drawing board for it [eveonline.com], go figure), so the only way your purchase is visible to other players is through the Tiny Avatar portrait (which is one of the reasons why the Monocle was the only item seeing significant sales, the other being trolls buying them to enrage the more easily excited opponents of microtransactions in EVE).

    Second, the concept of a market-less (if you ignore the resale), infinite supply item is diametrically opposed to the core concept of EVE's player run economy and sandbox nature. Everything in EVE has a price defined by supply and demand. The price of the Vanity Items is based solely on the current ISK equivalent value of a month's worth of game time.
    For a more sane approach on that and how it would be at least somewhat acceptable, I made a thread about that on a community forum [failheap-challenge.com] in the wake of the ingame riots.

    Third, even the low-price tier is still retardedly expensive. Even the cheapest items still cost 1000 AUR which amounts to 1/3 of a PLEX (the Gametime Code token which converts to 3000 AUR, clocking in at around 17 USD from a cheap supplier) and a full set of clothes (boots, pants, shirt/jacket, etc) would set you back over 20 bucks worth of PLEX/Gametime.

    The reason given in TFA, while certainly not wrong as it really was bloody stupid to launch with almost exclusively high-tier items, compounds with all this and resulted in a huge backlash against CCP over it (and other poor decisions and a backlog of frustration over the last two years of neglect towards the core gameplay) but was definitely not the only or even the main reason for it.

    I should probably also point out that the prices of the items in general are also hugely immersion breaking. The ISK equivalent price of a monocle (the highest priced item) is roughly that of a dreadnought. Which is a capital ship. The second largest and expensive tier of ships (after supercapitals).
    And even the cheapest boots cost as much as a battleship.
    Admittedly, you apparently buy a lifetime subscription to your clothes as they don't get destroyed upon player death like implants (another decidedly un-EVE feature of the Vanity Items) but that still seems somewhat extreme...

  • by zergl ( 841491 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2011 @04:50AM (#37676740)

    Oh, and I forgot one other point that was pointed out in another comment:

    I'm already bloody paying a premium subscription price for EVE (well, not any more at the moment) and double dipping (or rather attempting to do so) into a customer's wallet like that also offended quite a lot of players in conjunction with the idiotic price points. A couple of EUR/USD for a full set of high tier clothes might have been acceptable to some in that context, but the way it was rolled out, not a chance.

    Microtransactions have a place in gaming. That place is Free To Play games or to justify further development time on an already aging one time purchase title (like Team Fortress 2 before it became completely F2P and MT based).

  • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2011 @06:04AM (#37677054) Homepage Journal

    You speak as if day to day life itself is any less of a game.

    I can't imagine why people should care about what your view of "life" is, if they're enjoying themselves. No, I have never played Eve or WoW. I probably would have got into Eve if there weren't any stupid RPG skill building elements in there though. I do think that it is unhealthy to not get out and do a bit of exercise every so often, but besides that, who cares if these guys get their kicks from playing computer games vs going out to bars or any of the other boring, meaningless crap that most people do?

  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2011 @08:46AM (#37677882)

    nerfing is the correct solution to unbalanced items/content/etc. Increasing the power of other things to match just launches you into a never ending spiral of increasing the power of things. And it makes no difference, other than that players are notoriously stupid and complain about nerfs no matter what, nerfing a ship is exactly the same as making the other ships more powerful - that ship is now less "good", those skill points are "wasted".

    To use your example of "Vultures too hard to shoot". If you "Give some other ship the tools to provide a staunch opposition" then those tools will likely make that ship better against non-Vultures as well, given designers/programmers/whatever are human and don't get it exactly right (as evidenced by the initial problem) they'll very likely end up with that ship being overpowered. Now they have to power up a counter to that as well an the cycle continues. If they just nerf the vultures the problem is solved directly without it causing knock on balance problems. But players hate nerfing.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday October 11, 2011 @10:36AM (#37679188)

    They're ALWAYS in an uproar about some shit or another. That's like saying "Linux community upset about changes to kernal" or "Sony being criticized for heavy-handed move" or "Apple fans anxiously awaiting next Apple announcement."

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.