Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The content creator paradox

Meet any business provider and offer them that you bring them 1000 new customers and ask them to make it worthwhile to you. They will. Hell, they'll likely seek you out first. They surely seek out advertising agencies for this very purpose. It's just good business.

Is it a good thing that CCP supports a book written about one of the events of EVE Online? Sure it is. Every science fiction fan reading that book has a chance to find this game interesting and join. Do the participants get rewards for it? Sure they do, they worked for it, just like they guy who refers 10 friends to the shop. Do you get the same rewards? No, since you didn't work for it.

On the other hand, that book will have an effect in-game. It will be about one of the victories of Goons, so even if it is written without bias (good luck with that in cooperation with TheMittani.com), it will show the Goons as winners, TEST and S2N as losers, PL and NC. as treacherous and everyone else as irrelevant. Further stories are hinted: "the Bloodbath of B-R5RB, the Fall of 6VDT, Burn Jita and the Disbanding of BoB", and each of them is about a Goon victory. Will any of this series feature anything that isn't showing Goons as awesome? Not while The Mittani (.com) is involved. Every reader coming to EVE because of these books will want to join Goons as they are clearly the most awesome guys in this game and they always win. Is it a problem? No! Goons have the right to advertise themselves. Want a book singing your praise? Set up your own crowfunding!

The problem is that the very same book is a good PR for the game in the real world and shameless Goon propaganda piece inside EVE, therefore CCP Games is following a good industry standard and showing unprecendented favoritism in-game (indoctrinating new players with "Goons are the best" before they download the client or meet anyone in the community) with the the same act.

You can claim that anyone can cooperate with CCP making material that promotes both the game and one group, but it's wrong for two reasons. My blog has 292773 position in the US at alexa rating, (I guess I need some subscription to show out of US traffic), higher than eveoganda.blogspot.com (388557), www.lowseclifestyle.com (408672) or nosygamer.blogspot.com (432405). Sure it's not the top EVE fansite, but it's doing pretty well. Hundreds of people tried EVE out after my referral link. I've never stopped logging in, never ever said that EVE is a bad game and never told anyone to stop logging in (I told Goons to stop being horrible people). What media cooperation I got from CCP? Insults and insults and more insults. Good luck with your site about your lowsec corp with a few dozen visits a day! On to the bigger problem:

Since most players aren't engaged with the "community", even if every community leader would get equal support from CCP, most players would still be totally uncovered. They would never get any attention or favorable handling.

The fundamental difference between gaming industry and any other entertainment is that favorizing one customer gets another into worse position instead of just "not better". If you're in the cinema, you don't care what a guy gets for bringing 100 new paying customers. In a game, you very much care if the other player have exclusive dev info, influence on development or a business with the game company that ends them up having a paid crew of directors and FCs. Think of the "gold ammo" in WoT. Lot of fun to use, absolute funkiller to be used on. However WoT is a free-to-play game, where the players with decreased enjoyment are free players, while the gold users pay for it. On the other hand a line Goon doesn't pay more (or plays better) than a highsec miner, yet he receives benefits of the business between his alliance leader and CCP.

The storm became perfect when Goons realized that receiving benefits of their business isn't something to hide like improperly gained T2 BPOs. It's something worth bragging to intimidate others. When CCP protected their image and their members from jail after the monument vandalism - keeping such actions secret obviously - Goons announced it, telling everyone that "CCP Falcon lied to protect us" and "CCP Falcon reversed the bans handed out officially including Fanfest entry". When Falcon was insulting me, they celebrated in a SotA and literally claimed that he knocks me out. Because of this, everyone avoids conflict with the "smoke filled room" participants, including each other, even in extreme cases, when the Broadcast 4 reps crew flat out refused to condemn The Mittani for rallying to bully someone to suicide on stage. If no one fights in a PvP game (staged lolfights don't count), usually bad things happen:

What you need to understand is that this is not about Goons. If I'd pay my bills from money coming from CCP and had influcence on their design, I'd also persuade them to favorize me and wouldn't risk my salary for some pixel victory. A bad system corrupts even decent people and explicitly attracts scumbags like the one in the wizzard hat. Beat the man and another will come. Beat the system and they are gone for good!

Do I mean "CCP must realize that the paradox can't be solved and must stop partnering with any player group"? Sure, but I could also say "Palestinians and Israelis must find peace". That has better chance to happen. What I want you to realize is that the money is coming from you. CCP doesn't give Goons or previously Somer money because they love them, but because they see that they are getting them lot of PLEX sales right now. How much they lose because the game is openly compromised is harder to measure. So the solution is simple: get an adblocker, never buy PLEX from anyone but CCP directly and quit any group that has leaders in the smoke filled rooms!

22 comments:

Borat Guereen said...

I believe the point you raise is linked to the origins of the game's goals. CCP designed their game to be an empire building sandbox game 13+ years ago. They succeeded in implementing that vision and the goons have become the only players' empire standing, because the game mechanics and the players' ingenuity in min-maxing has converged to reach the current point.

The Northern Coalition fell because it had too many leaders while the goons empire united behind a very solid core of players. I like to compare Sion to Teuwynn Lanister and The Mittani to Joffrey Lanister, as fundamentally the goons' leadership has unified as a "family" while N3 never achieved this kind of unity.

In that sense CCP has achieved their original vision, and goons have achieved their PAX Goonica, where all senior goons member can plex their accounts from the passive incomes of their organization, while they enroll young and casual players that are being given bread (Farming areas) and games (Blob Safari-style PVP). They are the supporting middle class to the goon elite.

Even if the splintered non-goons groups could challenge the goons, they will never commit their strengths. This is the same balance that multiple major nuclear powers achieves. There can't be a large scale armaggedon style titans' battle because the losers will lose everything, and none will risk it.

History is always written by the winners, and I also believe the Fountain War book may just be that, another piece toward the PAX goonica propaganda. Like you point out, CCP is partial to it, and has little reasons not to be. I also agree that personal relationships may cloud the judgement of some CCP representatives, but you can't really go against human nature after all. The game is not build by an emotionless AI, but by humans with their own biases and influences.

This said, CCP must have realized that the original goal is no longer the most likely to attract or keep newer players engaged. New players coming in the game may want to build their own empires, and not be assimilated in an existing ones or become a reserve of "good" fights. The mechanics as far as last year were not really helping break down stronger forces until the introduction of Entosis, that clearly showed that the CCP Seagul's team has started this shift toward a new delicate balance favoring smaller groups, and it is up to CCP themselves to introduce the other seeds that will upset the current statu-quo.

I believe this must lead to CCP shutting down the CSM as an entity entirely (the current investigation about leaks from the CSM may provide the perfect opportunity).

I believe CCP should only rely on focus groups that they build and control themselves via their forums.

I do trust CCP teams under CCP Seagul to bring the necessary changes to the game to find the right balance between every style of play, and they can do it without the CSM.

I do also agree that players that want to see things change need to follow your advice. I have been doing it for a few years now myself. Buy PLEX only from CCP site (or an entirely game neutral site like Amazon).

But I believe your call to leave any group that has leaders in smoke filled room is much harder to do for the majority of players. Again, I did it myself but even if I play dangerously in an already dangerous universe, this is not for the faint of hearts or for the beginners. Too many players have too much to loose to upset the current statu-quo unless the focus of the game itself become less about empire building and domination in numbers, and more about giving hope to the smaller and newer groups that they can really challenge the older powers.

One way or another, Guerilla and Revolution should be the focus of this second decade.

Keep fighting the good fight!

Stan vanderVille said...

Mhm, I'm in imperium and never buy Plex anywhere except from CCP.
Why should I buy it from someone else? I want to play eve, regardless my current alliance, basically if my money is not coming to CCP, the creator of the basics for the content becomes unpaid. I pay for the game, not for the groups inside...

Anonymous said...

Alexa ratings are wildly inaccurate, as they don't use proper analytics (so they actually guess based on information they can source) and they vastly overrate repeat visitors. They are also skewed when, like your site, the target site shares links with others sites (you have a commonly used ga link in your website body for some reason)

That said, you have nothing to say that is worthy of external media. Certainly nothing stops you from trying, but I doubt it would be a success. Look at someone like Rixx Javix though - his site may get less hits, but he has something worthwhile to share so he gets support from CCP. That's the difference. It's not because you're not a goon.

Anonymous said...

"Mhm, I'm in imperium and never buy Plex anywhere except from CCP.
Why should I buy it from someone else?"
It's cheaper elsewhere.

Gevlon said...

@Borat: Goons control about the quarter of the Nullsec and pose no threat to anyone except the overfilled freighters and the rats. Hard to call it PAX Goonica. They are indeed safe, but so is XWX. It's PAX $ica. Game monetizers distributed the space, decisions are made over $ and not ISK or land. Goons are merely the biggest ones. And this is fully on CCP.

@Stan: and you do it on CCP site, not from the affiliate link of TMC or EN24 or whatever, right? Because they get commission.

@Anon: If people visit it for any reason, it's worthy of media attention, period. Your point is like: "Avatar is worthless commercial shit, but the play in the teather of Nowherewill was such a valuable piece of art". But even if true, do you usually go out of your way to attack worthless sites or just ignore them?

dobablo said...

@Stan vanderVille It could be argued that affiliates are providing you with resources that enhances your game. By buying through them you are facilitating their auxiliary content creation.

Gevlon said...

@dobablo: except he doesn't facilitate them. CCP does. Stan pays $15 anyway, if he does it via an affiliate link, CCP will give a share to the affiliate. If Stan would donate money to his alliance, it would be OK.

Anonymous said...

"If people visit it for any reason, it's worthy of media attention, period. Your point is like: "Avatar is worthless commercial shit, but the play in the teather of Nowherewill was such a valuable piece of art". But even if true, do you usually go out of your way to attack worthless sites or just ignore them?"
No, my point was that alexa ranks are useless. They are the equivalent of taking sales stats from a homeless who lives outside a supermarket and guesses how many people went in. They don;t grade popularity properly, so while you say "the site is popular", it will appear that way even if one guy were repeatedly visiting the page all day long. Real analytics break down users into usable metrics.

Sure though, it may be worthy of media attention, but that's up to you to sell to CCP. You need to convince them that your media is worthwhile. Maybe you should write a book and push it to them.

Gevlon said...

The very problem is that if I do and they contract me (hahahaha), do you claim with a straight face that such action wouldn't affect my play? If it would, would I be a player in the sandbox, or a dev, a GM or somewhere in-between?

Amarr-Zon said...

@Anonymous 14:06:
"[...] it will appear that way even if one guy were repeatedly visiting the page all day long [...]"
I don't know anything about this topic, but if it's wrong in absolute numbers for one page, it is also wrong in absolute numbers for other pages.
So, the numbers should show relations between pages regardless of the absolute numbers being correct or wrong, shouldn't they?
E.g.: My page is shown with 1,000 visits while having real 800. Your page is shown with 5,000 visits while having real 4,500 visits. The numbers are wrong, but the trends are okay, aren't they?

Gevlon said...

@Amarr-Zon: only in case of no malice. My page has 1000 visits from 800 visitors, your page has 5000 visits from a bot. However I doubt if alexa would be so bad. Also, it's a side issue. I didn't seek any kind of business agreement with CCP (as I'm a player). Even the "media account" I got was because Tora Bushido petitioned for it during the Lemmings times. The main issue is that - despite I never wronged them, strike that, I create content and get customers for them - CCP Games attempted to diminish my blog, for obvious reasons. This shows that you likely wouldn't fare better unless you'd kiss the proper rings.

Anonymous said...

"The very problem is that if I do and they contract me (hahahaha), do you claim with a straight face that such action wouldn't affect my play? If it would, would I be a player in the sandbox, or a dev, a GM or somewhere in-between?"
How much it affects you depends on you. You'd just be another content creator.

Gevlon said...

You seriously claim that a partnership comes with no terms? That CCP would just give me money for nothing? If they have terms, it affects my gameplay.

Anonymous said...

"You seriously claim that a partnership comes with no terms? That CCP would just give me money for nothing? If they have terms, it affects my gameplay."
Terms like what? There would be no gameplay affecting terms. The content being sold itself would need to stick to whatever legal agreements you made, but you wouldn't have to behave differently in game.

Gevlon said...

Even if it would be true (it's obviously not), it would still affect my gameplay: I'd go risk-averse. I can create content (therefore get money from CCP) only if I'm relevant in-game. So my priority would be avoiding losing what relevancy I have, and that's best done by not angering anyone and signing treaties.

Even more importantly: oh wait, this will be a full post, thank you anonymous.

Anonymous said...

"Even if it would be true (it's obviously not), it would still affect my gameplay: I'd go risk-averse. I can create content (therefore get money from CCP) only if I'm relevant in-game. So my priority would be avoiding losing what relevancy I have, and that's best done by not angering anyone and signing treaties"
That would be your own choice. Not all content creators changes their gameplay just because they are making content. Usually, content creators are content creators because they are playing the way they play.

Lucius said...

I think the state nullsec is in right now is unavoidable. Big groups will always form simply because it's the most beneficial to everyone. Once they get too big and key figures start disagreeing they'll fall apart. It's actually quite amazing the CFC hasn't yet.

Consider a few small groups holding a few systems each. Group A wants to expand and because they don't like B they decide to invade their space. Group B isn't sure they can hold A off so they ask C for help. C agrees because if A pushes B over they might get too big and take C's space as well. A now realizes it can't attack B alone any longer and asks D for help and in return for that D will get half of A's space.
You now have 2 small coalitions.
Eve is a numbers game and CCP can try really really hard to break up big groups but they'll fail every time. Either they die because of drama or they become big enough to do what they want.
Just look at the OTEC and the B0TLRD Accords. The groups involved recognized that splitting up space was better for everyone instead of fighting over it.
Because of those agreements they could basically shit on everyone else in nullsec as a form of content.

And let's assume for a second they would fight over it. What would've happened if the CFC beat N3? Or vice versa. The amount of income they could've generated would've made it impossible for any group to challenge them.
We don't always give CCP a lot of credit for balancing the game or coming up with new mechanics but everyone should at least try to figure out a way where nullsec would be small groups fighting everywhere. I can tell you it's pretty much impossible without dramatically changing the game.

As for the book and CCP supporting mittens. I actually agree with you here that it's a bad thing. The book itself is fine but CCP getting in bed with TMC is something we shouldn't want. If anything TMC could've come up with the idea and stepped up to CCP to tell 'm about it but CCP should've taken the lead on it.
I don't think it's a good idea for a company to create business relationships with playergroups.

Anonymous said...

I'd argue that this partnership between CCP and so-called "content creators" is not only their way of doing marketing but a business necessity. Eve being a "sandbox" game with basically no real content of its own, it is desperately dependent on people actually creating content for players. Why does CCP not permaban someone like Mittani for his action? Because doing so has the potential for causing a great deal of harm to their business. If he were to leave and goons were to disband, how many of their players were likely to stop playing? How much more stale would the game become if its largest organisation were to just vanish? And how many other players would leave because of these indirect ripple effects? The problem is that CCP has managed to manoeuvre itself into a position where in-game power translates to real power over them. That's why they have no choice but to coddle these highly visible individuals.

Borat Guereen said...

@Gevlon: "Goons control about the quarter of the Nullsec and pose no threat to anyone except the overfilled freighters and the rats. Hard to call it PAX Goonica."

Goons have reduced their foot print voluntarily with the introduction of the entosis system.
With their constant recruitment and addition of players to their ranks, I do not believe one moment that they will chose to not extend from their current borders, while continuing to protect their dominance and preventing any contender from rising.





NoizyGamer said...

Hopefully you're not encouraging people to buy ISK on the black market or from sites like G2A that are known to sell stolen game codes. G2A is so sketchy that Riot banned it from offering sponsorships to pro League of Legends teams.

Stan vanderVille said...

@Goblin: Yes. Directly at CCP Website. Why not?
Besides the reason to route the money directly to the Company who provides my "Fun" all other possible sources of plex seems always a little bit shady to me. I avoid things like paypal, bitcoins or sending my credit card number into unknown countries.
Call me oldfashioned, but it is as it is. :-)

Druur Monakh said...

@Anonymous @ 18:23

"If [the Mittani] were to leave and goons were to disband, how many of their players were likely to stop playing? How much more stale would the game become if its largest organisation were to just vanish? And how many other players would leave because of these indirect ripple effects?".

Myself, I would hardly even notice. Hi-sec players might notice and rejoice, because MiniLuv would be gone. And non-Goon null-sec players might be able to rope some friends in, because of all the unoccupied systems suddenly opening up.