Greedy Goblin

Monday, February 16, 2015

The holy water for EVE

Imagine that you could change something in a game that would remove a bunch of negative activities without harming any positive. A bottle of holy water that burns the undead but only make humans wet. There are many-many people tried to destroy the Blue Doughnut, the series of treaties that guarantee that there aren't meaningful fights between Sov holders, but all of them failed, since their cure is worse than the disease.

Behold the holy water that hits the cause of the Blue Doughnut: make CCP the cheapest source of PLEX. What am I talking about? Currently you can buy game time from retailers. These retailers get time codes cheaper than the price you pay for a PLEX on the CCP site. They will sell you game time a bit cheaper or equal to CCP price, profiting from the difference. So far so good, normal business transaction.

The problem can be best explained with the Blink scandal. Somer Blink was an affiliate of a retailer. They motivated players (by giving them extra ISK in the form of Blink Credits) to buy from that retailer. The retailer gave Somer some money after every purchase. Somer operated for the sole purpose of getting this money. As soon as CCP stopped them from motivating players via ISK, they became unprofitable and they tried to return to ISK payouts. They got caught and banned.

Now Somer isn't the only affiliate. Practically every Blue Doughnut leadership is one. They make real money from their members clicking on their affiliate-PLEX links like Somer did. To upkeep this scheme, they must prevent their members leaving. Now imagine two empires clashing: one of them fall and failcascade. Its members leave for other groups or lowsec, so its leaders will lose their affiliate money. On the other hand the winner doesn't get new members overnight, so its leaders won't get more affiliate money. Since they have a lot to lose and nothing to win, they don't fight but sign peace treaties.

If CCP would sell game time to retailers for the same price they sell them to us, retailers could only sell it higher than CCP price. Then their only customers would be those who don't have a credit card or for some reason don't want to share it with CCP. Everyone who could buy from CCP would buy from CCP since it's cheaper. Since the customer base of the retailers would shrink greatly, their affiliate income would shrink too. The various leaders wouldn't get enough to be able to live on "playing" EVE. Most of them would quit EVE for a new job, some would remain only to play after job. Their place would be taken by player-leaders, people who want to win a game instead of getting real money. Such leaders would choose wars where they can win.


Anonymous said...

I don't think you understand retailers. Like, at all.
As a shop owner, I am a retailer. I buy in bulk, giving the bulk quantities to the distributor.
CCP is a distributor.
I don't sell ccp products, however me buying let's say 100 codes from them per month is better then them trying to sell 100 codes per month. This way they could focus on the product and not the sales.
Tell me why, ccp selling direct is better for ccp and for the customer, and not a monopoly?

I understand the blue donut and how bad it is, but honestly that doesn't directly have to do with sales

Anonymous said...

I think this is all a holdover from thinking they are a mainstream MMO and need to act like it. Unlike WoW, how many grandmothers give EVE time cards as gifts?

I don't see CCP changing it, and certainly not the CSM of RMT supporting it.


I wonder if you could push the Something Awful issue. If you have to spend RL$ to join SA to be in goons, then what if you set up the Something More Awful forums that cost a one-time fee of $30 and allows you to join the Gevswarm corp. Any corp member gets their first 3B ISK reimbursed. in advance, immediately upon joining. I.e. RMT. Yet how can CCP object to you requiring an out-of-game forum membership if goons do?


Anonymous said...

I just can't imagine people at CCP saying "Hey! Let's set up a system where we sell plex to people for them to resell, and have no restrictions on conflict of interest at all. People that run the major in game alliances want to sell their members plex? Sure! What could go wrong?"

But that's exactly what they're doing. The Mittani runs the biggest alliance in the game, and profits from doing that directly through his web site. He has no incentive whatsoever to do anything that reduces that gravy train.

Anonymous said...

Do you have any proof? The "live on playing" meme has been trotted out many times but I have never seen any hard data that supports that this is widespread.

Yes alliances do make a modest profit selling GTC, but much of this goes to upkeep the massive IT infrastructure required to run a modern mega coalition. Servers are not cheap. By cutting their ability to make a modest amount of money to offset this cost you suddenly lose content creator and organisers who give thousands of people something to do in an otherwise terrible game.

Anonymous said...

This suggestion is unrealistic; there is no financial incentive for CCP to implement it. In fact, they would lose the value provided by their affiliates.

Vampires are a problem in myths and movies. In real life, a non-mystical solution is needed.

Anonymous said...

I resell premium game currencies for various Asian mmos and I need to say you don't really understand how retail works. It's in ccp best interest to find resellers who take on the burden of marketing from them. Asking the same price from them as from players would make the deal unprofitable to the tail end. In such case everybody looses. Ccp likes bulk purchases and retailers like their margins.

maxim said...

I can't imagine any reason why gametime pirates wouldn't be able to find a way to sell gametime cheaper than CCP does.

If CCP starts pricedumping, it will price itself out of the market before pirates

Gevlon said...

@maxim: they aren't pirates, they are official resellers, they buy game times from CCP at bulk price

@Anonymous: of course in short term CCP would lose sales. But it would be compensated by removing the Blue Doughnut, therefore make the game better, therefore having more players.

Anonymous said...

Even if this wasn't wrong in how you are thinking this all works, destroying the blue doughnut by trying to make the players leave or disband would still hurt the game. Thousands of players enjoy the game they play in null, and while you don't like it, that doesn't make it wrong. Destroying anyone's playstyle just because you don't like it is bad for the game.

Anonymous said...

So, you are suggesting The Mittani would quit Eve if he didn't get his income from PLEX sales?

99smite said...

Well, @ first anonymous:

All EVE players already have established a business contact with CCP. CCP does not need to promote their GTC or PLEX sales if they were the cheapest source of these items. The EVE players are ALREADY their customers!
Retailers only create conflict such as which we have seen with markeedragon, TMC...
I have known a lot of people who have bought their PLEX from CCP for years until a corpmate informed them that if they buy GTC from shattered crystal, they would get a huge amount of extra blink credits, which they could spend and maybe win a nice ship.

In no time everyone bought their GTC from shattered crystal...
Why? Did CCP offer a bad service? Were the PLEX bought from CCP not as good as the PLEX from GTC???
No! Retailers offered some extra value to make trigger the purchase decision.

Therefore, they need a source of ISK to be able to offer that isk to customers...
RMT in a nutshell

And speaking of financing IT infrastructure....
Make the overheads transparent and have a subscription model for alliance membership.
If people spend money for a SA membership, they can as well spend some mones to be in any other nulsec group...
That way, the systems would bedome more honest.

Gevlon said...

IT costs are part of the problem. A player alliance (where members and leaders are just spending some time in the game to play) is unable to compete with a "worker alliance" where full time employees run various services, including IT. The sooner they go down, the better.

maxim said...


As far as i'm concerned, resellers are CCP.

In other words, CCP likes and endorses the fact that resellers like blue doughnut holders are selling their PLEX. Saves them some marketing budget. Buys them a good chunk of people who essentially make money from providing Eve metagame.

CCP is a like a federal government, whereas blue doughnut holders like GSF are individual states that handle tax collection and take a cut of it for their services. And also benefit from all the corruption going on :D

At this point, asking CCP to make changes that would hurt resellers is like asking, say, USA to shoot itself in the Alabama.

If you want a real way to fight it, i'd recommend getting yourself into a creative mindset and then sitting down with Gene Sharp's treatise on doing politics without violence.

Gevlon said...

@maxim: they allowed, even celebrated Somer, until they realized what Somer is doing and then banned it. It's not unreasonable to assume that this is the case again.

The problem is that sales and development don't cooperate and don't even see reason to. Sales sells game time for real world money, development works on the virtual world.

In this case sales is happy with the performance of resellers while in-game the developers work hard to stop the blue Doughnut (see Phoebe).

TM said...

I think you vastly overestimate the amount this happens. Having been a part of several large null alliances, both CFC and not, generally there is a spot on the wiki or on the forums along the lines of "If you really want to buy PLEX, if you use this link we get a little bit of cash for servers, but actually NEVER BUY PLEX, you can earn ISK easily and SRP will keep you in ships."
The attitude of most people I have encountered in big alliances, from directors on down, is that buying PLEX is a mugs game.

Anonymous said...

First anonymous:

"I don't sell ccp products, however me buying let's say 100 codes from them per month is better then them trying to sell 100 codes per month"

No it's not. Because it's not a thing you sell, it's a digital code. The ONLY reason to have "retailers" is if you can't reach your customers, and they then do the "marketing" for you. But in this content, they're ALREADY your customers. The only reason for retailers is to support players who want to pay in some currency you don't want to accept, like seashells or whatever.

Then you need a retailer for that specific purpose that sells onesies of the product for seashells. Obviously, the guy selling the codes for seashells is doing so for a profit, at the expense of the customer who cannot (For whatever reason) pay in anything other than seashells.

Anonymous said...

"...who give thousands of people something to do in an otherwise terrible game."

Well then, perhaps they should fix the otherwise terrible game. I don't think CCP can do that, though. They're too committed to producing a product that's as complicated and cross-purpose as possible.

I've been playing this game for 3 months, and in that period I have learned VOLUMES about how not to design online games.

maxim said...


If i was a developer of an MMO and had guild-organizers essentially living off my game, the last thing i'd want is to alienate them. Any fix i'd make would have to be cool with them.

By that i mean, any fix that removes Blue Doughnut would have to be cool with current Blue Doughnut owners. This doesn't mean such a fix is impossible, but you would need to create something that the people would be willing to give up the Doughnut for. This is a game design problem of the highest order.

It is literally easier to create a new MMO from scratch than to fix an MMO where you pissed off your highest value-generators. Your hypothesis that numbers are going to soar after the Doughnut is gone is not supported by actual history of MMO development.

Gevlon said...

@maxim: I believe they are just as valuable for EVE as ISK-sellers. They are living off the game after all.

They are leeches who abuse the game and destroy its primary characteristics (conflict, war). The sooner they leave, the better.

99smite said...

Well, even if big alliances and powerblocks in 0.0 might crumble once the retail system got removed, and even if a lot of players would leave EVE for god, it would not mean that EVE would die or become worse.
Maybe getting rid of leechers that profit most from the status quo are the cancer that ruin EVE.
Passive income on alliance (top-down) level are terribly bad.

Alliance income will remain on a very high level and people will complain about how easy and unfair it is that pilots in 0.0 earn like trillions without effort.
Therefore, 0.0 income on player level has seen constand nerfs, up to a point now that it is just not interesting isk-wise moving to nul as more steady income that cannot be sabotaged can be and is made in highsec.

Which means that CCP while traing desperately to change this does everything it can to perpetuate this ...

I agree it GG that resellers are totally unnecessary in this game...

Anonymous said...

therefore make the game better

better what?
As long as the whales are satisfied. not only the players that are paying but the shareholders too. everything is fine.
CCP can't pull shit like BLizzard they are too niche and the players way to conservative about changes, so they have to plan longer term than other MMO companies. EVE is dumbed down .. and tierdicide is just the beginning for more of it.

If you really want to destroy the sonut. just merge asia eve and TQ. simple as that.
as if us and china players will have treaties. it will be the best backstabbing fest EVE will ever see.

about reselling. ccp is too niche to not use them. And it's kind of a bandwagon thing, all the other companies use them.

maxim said...


And yet they also create a good chunk of content for players. If they leave, what will be left is chaos. What is going to fill it? At best it is going to be chaos, And i don't mean the fun kind of chaos here. I mean the kind of chaos which makes everyone's continued in-game existence feel pointless. The kind of chaos that very quickly becomes void. Or - best case scenario - returns to the original blue doughnut.

These "leeches" are doing the job that in other MMOs are filled with NPCs. Doing it much more effectively than NPCs ever could. If CCP nukes them, it will have to write its own NPCs (say. more interesting pirate factions that will never be as interesting as current GSF) just to keep things interesting.

Gevlon said...

@Maxim: there would be warring small kingdoms. A few hundred or dozen players controlling a few systems, having a few blues and lot of enemies.

They practically removed Sov Warfare, the major selling point from the game.

By the way if they are valuable, than ISK sellers are valuable too: they give ISK to players, without them, there would be poverty and players would quit.

Anonymous said...


What you call "chaos" would actually be more content for more people. Currently, a LOT of content is owned or suppressed by the blue donut.

There is no reason for the resellers to exist. Gevlon is absolutely correct about the problems they create. No one starts or keeps playing EVE because of reseller marketing -- that's stupid. The ONLY reason for CCP to keep them going is because they fear the short-term dip in sales, and are uncertain about the long-term loss of donuters, many of whom may maintain multiple subscriptions. But the donut is killing the game. If CCP waits much longer to end reselling, it will be too late to keep/re-grow a viable player base. It may already be too late. The next generation of players doesn't have the attention span for a game like EVE, so it's pretty much now or never for CCP to keep older players who are sick of the status quo, or started playing only to find out the worthwhile sov is impossible for small groups, and large groups can only stay together or trust each other if they have a financial stake in doing so.