Greedy Goblin

Monday, October 29, 2012

Greed is good 2: the FW scheme

CCP is evil. They want money for themselves. In our leftist world that's considered the worst crime after child porn. Their view echoes in the narration of EVE. They care little about the well-being of the EVE player they get their salary from. They spent the subscription money on various other projects and as the pinnacle of treachery, they planned to change EVE to a pure pay-to-win game. It was the infamous "Greed is good" plan when they wanted to sell ships and other in-game items for real world currency. Their plan did not end because they realized that it's "wrong". It ended because the players revolted and unsubscribed in masses. They did not get any "better", they just bowed to the stronger dog.

Jester wrote a half-good piece about the FW economy disaster. It's bad because he got the economy totally wrong. The FW cashouts were increasing the ISK volume in the hands of players, despite the LP stores are officially ISK sinks. The reason is simple: if you bought a +5 learning implant in the highsec LP store, you paid 65M. If you bought the same item in FW T5, you paid 16.25M. 47.75M ISK was left in the player economy. The FW implants weren't added to the market, they replaced highsec implants, by making highsec missioners leave that field for either faction ships (you needed to give a full ship at T5 and not 1/4) or left missioning totally. You can see that the traded volume of implants did not increase significantly due to FW:

Jesters post is great because it shows how unrealistic it is to attribute the disaster to simple incompetence. It was identified and mass-exploited for long, it was all over the blogs, it was reported by CSM and they still did not fix it. Hell, they had the fix, they just refused to put it to the live server. I agree with him that it was a scheme to make a wealth transfer, to make some players rich at the cost of the majority. Inflation is the tax of everyone. The price of PLEX is the conversion between ISK and real money. If you have a PLEX worth of ISK, you can play for free for a month. You save 15-17 euros. If you had a billion ISK before FW, you had 30-35 euros, assuming you wanted to continue playing and would pay money to upkeep your subscription. Now if you have the same billion, you have 15% less Euros. This money was taken from the EVE players, given to those who exploited the FW system. And they got tens of trillions. The wealth transfer from the average EVE players to the FW exploiters can reach a million dollar. To make it worse, even the cynical "stay docked if you don't want losses" advice doesn't work against inflation.

Why would they do this? Why would they want to screw up with most of their players just to help out some other players? They could keep the dollars for themselves by printing the same amount of ISK, using it to buy PLEX at Jita and trash the PLEX. That would be more subtle.

Enter the DUST Bunnies. DUST will be an ISK sink. Their weapons, clones, vehicles and whatever they use will be NPC seeded. The ISK they pay is removed from the economy and in turn - like a skillbook - an item appears. It won't live long as it will be used in a bloody FPS game. Where will the ISK come from? Two sources: one is that the DUST players buy it via some form of microtransaction (the new intro shows items purchasable with Aur). The other: EVE players hire DUST players with ISK for capturing planets. What planets?

Faction warfare planets. With the current implementation of DUST-EVE integration, the only EVE player who has a reason to hire DUST bunnies are the FW players. So the scheme was to feed up the FW corporations with the T5 cashouts. To fill their coffers with trillions so they will casually spend it on DUST bunnies, letting them play for free. The FW scheme was to remove about one million dollar worth of ISK from the EVE playerbase and give it to DUST players in a "Try DUST out fully, now free!" marketing campaign. To make the players enjoy access to expensive gear for free. Of course when the wallet runs dry, the DUST players won't get more ISK from EVE players, they have to start paying. CCP hopes that by then they are hooked on the game enough to do so.

While 30T ISK might worth $1M to you, legally it worth nothing. It is a game item and it is in total control of CCP Games. You have no ownership over it and they are free to do anything they want with it. They could just announce "we take 15% from the wallet of every player, corporation and alliance and use this money to give free ISK to everyone who tries out DUST in part of its marketing campaign". You had absolutely no legal right to debate that move. But you could hold a Jita riot and unsubscribe in masses. And you probably would. So they did not say that. Just took the money silently and placed all blame on other players: the FW exploiters.

Why did they stop it prematurely? Because there is one thing more "evil" than CCP Games: EVE players. The trillions never reached the FW corporation coffers. Most players involved had nothing to do with FW. The real FW players are in the FW zone for the good fights and I doubt if they earned more than they used to. OK they might got a few billions here and there, but nothing worth mentioning. The money went to players who moved to FW exactly to exploit the cashouts. Their legion pushed the real FW players aside, practically destroying Amarr and Gallente faction, turning Caldari and Minmatar into a huge farming blueball. They ran the multi-account AFK orbiting fleets, they ran the multiboxed missioning bombers and they will not give a cent to DUST bunnies. The price of Slave implants increased by 50% the last two months and the titan BPC contract prices doubled! I guess the trillions from the FW ISK print is already in the coffers of supercapital builders an - ironically - the highsec miners who mine the veldspar for all those titans. Mark my word, soon the horrible fit titan lossmails will pour out of the sky.

The moral of the story: the best counter of "evil" is not "moral" but "selfish". The scheme wasn't caught by some watchdog, it did not leak and no one can prove it (my post is just speculation without hard eveidence). The scheme was destroyed by a bunch of AFK-farming, botting, multiboxing exploiters. They forced CCP to fix FW early. You cannot make an hidden scheme without it being exploitable as guarding it is impossible without clarifying your aims. They couldn't say "those who do it for a titan must stop, those who do it in preparation of DUST can continue". If you see an exploit and no one responds to your calls, you should go and exploit it. Every cent you take is a cent the "evil ones" will miss. I'm sure CCP learned its lesson and will never try to make such market schemes again. All they achieved is making a bunch of players upset with no profit at all.

Summary: EVE is real!

The moron of the week is this specimen, without doubt. Just a week ago it was established that you don't transport expensive small items in an unfit frigate. This week's moron managed to pick the slowest aligning frigate in the game for shiny transport. Congratulations.

Saturday morning report: 176.9B 570M spent on trade alts PLEX. It is operational cost. (5.5+1.1 spent on main accounts, 6.5+0.6 spent on Logi/Carrier, 3.2+0.6 on Ragnarok, 2.7+0.6 on Rorqual, 2.8+0.6 on Nyx, 2.8+0.6 on Dread, 37.4 sent as gift)
Sunday morning report: 178.6B (6.6 spent on main accounts, 7.1 spent on Logi/Carrier, 3.8 on Ragnarok, 3.3 on Rorqual, 3.4 on Nyx, 3.4 on Dread, 37.4 sent as gift)
Monday morning report: 178.5B I have no idea what happened here, no misclick, no gank, nothing in the journal that explains a loss. Can only think of the sharp increase of the implant prices which makes the CCP item price guess greatly undervaluing. (6.6 spent on main accounts, 7.1 spent on Logi/Carrier, 3.8 on Ragnarok, 3.3 on Rorqual, 3.4 on Nyx, 3.4 on Dread, 37.4 sent as gift)


Bobbins said...

'despite the LP stores are officially ISK sinks'

However unless the demand for implants increases by a factor of four due to FW in the long term the effect of the old FW system will allow more isk to stay in the economy. FW was not the isk sink people claimed it was.

Anonymous said...

CCP have grievously miscalculated. Why would people want to play DUST when Planetside is coming out?

Anti said...

the FW participants converted time into LP. they then converted ISK and LP into implants.

investors had huge piles of ISK. they bought implants at current low prices. they assume prices will rise in the future.

CCP provided an ISK sink and then made it ludicrously profitable. it may have indeed been intended to also move ISK to FW (and then to DUST).

all CCP need to do now is make a new source of implants that can be either cheaper or better than the current implants. this makes the investors stockpiles worth less.

my bet is that DUST will produce implants somehow.

Jeff said...

If implants were the only item cashed out on then your argument would be correct. Check out the number of stabber fleets being sold. Let alone all the other items (datacores, modules etc.)

Anonymous said...

I think it's time to increase the skills system from 5 ranks to 10 ranks. That will create a need for new forms of implants.

Gevlon said...

@Jeff: faction ships do not destroy or create ISK as you have to provide a normal ship + LP

Anonymous said...

You must be one of those conspiracy theorists who think the government is listening to every phone conversation. Isn't it just as possible and likely that CCP wanted to make sure their patch was stable before bringing it to the live system? You have no proof of their evil plans, its just one possibility.

I don't know why people who love a game blame the developer for wanting real money to pay their hordes of IT professionals and coders. I anxiously await a true F2P and also free to download game that is any good at all! Hint; it won't happen.

Unknown said...

The "greed is good" thing is fine inside of the game, but you're borrowing from Randian rhetoric. In the real world, Randian rhetoric is dangerous, because it claims that the social benefits of a large and liquid market are inevitable and natural.

In actuality, markets are set up and policed by societies (nations), and without things like police enforcing property rights and secure transactions, fraud and violence routinely leads to tyranny, which is not pleasant for most of the denizens.

Think about the difference between trying to make a deal with the CCP-enforced contract system, or the CCP-enforced market system, vs. trying to make a deal while hanging in nullsec via cargo containers. If TEST wanted to, perhaps they could make a real "player run market", in some deep TEST sov system, where people could come and do CCP-tax-free deals policed by TEST enforcers. It would be a lot of work, and it would take "don't be greedy" ethics on the part of the TEST police officers. But that's what we do in real life - there's no CCP available to embed contract law in the laws of physics.

In real life, the moral thing is to be greedy within the market, but also be pro-social regarding things like changing the rules of the market for the common good - lobbying for less environmental protection, or other subsidies to your industry may be profitable, but it does not lead to the pro-social good outcomes gestured at by the "greed is good" slogan.