Eleven years ago I wrote about the dangers of crossing the monetization line. That is just one of dozens and dozens of posts along the timeline when I've stood up to the increasing monetization of Eve Online. When I entered the game in 2008 monetization was an illegal, and ban worthy offense. And then GTC and Aurum and twelve years later and we are literally swimming in a pool of monetization, promotional daily gifts (including skill points), skill point farming, Plex purchases, and more bots than I can shake a stick at. Yesterday alone I reported eight bots. And that was a slow day.
Just to be perfectly, 100% clear - I do not in any way support or agree with anything that involves skipping-time in-game. Especially anything that involves the expenditure of cash. There is a line and it is cash for advantage. That is not a new opinion, it is one that has been held all along. Having said that, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I did something a few weeks back that I have never done before - I spent real world money on Plex. I did so to enter our team in the Anger Games because I had spent the free Plex I had on skins. I held out for a long time, but they finally got me.
In my defense that is not an in-game advantage, as the Anger Games will take place on the Thunderdome server. So I don't feel like a hypocrite. Not totally.
Which brings us around to fitted ships for sale in a marketing bundle. Which, duh, is dumb. But not unexpected. I would argue, that in the context of the game as it is currently, a rather weird place to get all Open Letter to CCP about. And while that might seem like a controversial opinion, and perhaps it is, I do think we've gone way too far down this rabbit hole to be upset about it now. The other day I saw a two month old player in a T3 Cruiser. Every day when I log in I get gifts I don't want that accumulate into skillpoints I haven't earned. I can flash my credit card anytime I like and put some Plex on it to sell for Isk I haven't earned. Players farm skillpoints with alt accounts. They fly gangs of bots into sites all day long, grinding away at Isk and there is little us players can do to stop them. This is the universe of Eve Online right now. Today. And in that context, it seems a tad weird to be all up in arms over a promotional opportunity that perhaps a total of 150 people might use.
And with all due respect to my dear industry friends - I feel your pain. Again, this is a bad idea. But it is a bad idea pilled on top of a dozen of other bad ideas. And I haven't even gotten around to mentioning the declining server numbers, the lack of new player retention, the explosion of free-to-play accounts, and the increasing pressure cooker that is a gaming company driven by overlord masters demanding profitability. Let's not even go down that road.
So I've got some news for you that you won't like - Eve is now and has been for a very long time - all about CASH. If you believe otherwise then you don't understand how this game works. Back in 2008 I was told by another player that you could buy iskies from a certain website for cash. He sent me a link. I asked about this and he said that everyone was doing it, how do you think he could afford to replace so many ships all the time? I didn't know any better, I was only a few months into a game I didn't understand. So I bought a billion isk. I got caught and lost it all the next day. I got a firm warning from CCP about it and an explanation about why it was a bad idea. I never did it again. But back then this was a serious problem. And do you know why it was a serious problem? Because money was being spent and it wasn't being spent with CCP.
Back then that Isk came from bots running sites in Null Sec. That was twelve years ago.
This perfect sandbox nirvana some people seem to fantasize about hasn't existed for a very, very long time. And yet, through some miracle, we still haven't gotten to the point where anyone can directly purchase in-game advantages or "Golden Ammo", which has always been and always will be, the red line. You can buy isk, sure, but that isk has to come from somewhere inside the game. And that is ok, at least so far. Ultimately I believe that a fully fitted Mining Barge in a bundle isn't the end of the world. I hope the new players that purchase it will be happy and undock and use that Barge to mine ore. I hope they find that content engaging and decide to keep playing. I hope they work around the fact that this game teaches new players rather poorly and they figure out the complex UI, the daunting lack of clear direction, and the thousand other problems facing them to enjoy it for the wonderful game it can be - a few more months down the road.
If you want to fight this fight then so be it. Or you can just wait a few more weeks for the next thing that everyone gets all drama llama about. It happens every 4-6 weeks in the Eve Community.
As for me I have a FFA to plan and prepare for. A self-created annual event that tries to show players how much fun PvP can be. I hope you will attend.
Everyone will be there.