If you need to catch up, the first 2 postings in this trilogy can be found here: POST 1 | POST 2
I'm a huge fan of Eve, and by proxy CCP is one of my favorite game developers on planet Earth. I celebrated my 10 year anniversary a couple months ago, and no other game in the history of gaming has been given the time I have given Eve. On June 24th I made the following statement on facebook that was seen by some 57,000 people:
I believed in CCP during the T20 incident, I believed in them in the wake of Incarna, and I still believe in them now. Don't get me wrong, I also believe they've made some monumental mistakes in the past, but I've never seen a game developer with their ability to adjust, respond, and make things right.
Looking back for a moment, much of the community backlash can have it's roots boiled down to the following:
- SOMERblink prizes donated to them by CCP were effectively sold and profited from by requiring monetary participation by the winners to get their "free" tickets.
- The size and scope of the prizes were unprecedented, even after they were toned down.
- With regards to the IW Scorpions: By selectively gifting in game items that can be traded and/or sold for great profit to anyone they choose, the integrity of the sandbox was compromised. This issue was exacerbated by the secret nature of the gifts.
In no way would I like to see CCP pull back completely and NOT reward people and organizations they feel have given them and their game a fair shake. Prizes donated to community sites and given away to players are a great way to draw attention to CCP approved 3rd party services, and there are many individuals who contribute to the Eve community in some significant way that should be able to show off some bling.
If it is shown that players are prevented from participating in these events because they are arbitrarily banned from the community site in question for behavior that would not get them banned from Eve Online, these sites should not be given prizes from CCP to give away. Recall not long ago when CCP pulled out of in-game RP channels and set up their own official ones when it was revealed that the players running these channels were banning other players from participating simply because they didn't like or agree with them.
I am aware that in game items and other swag are sometimes given out at player gatherings and events both sponsored and supported by CCP. I've been to one myself, and considering the hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a lot of the people going to these events spend to attend, a battleship model or a coffee mug, or an in-game ship like the quafe iteron is a nice thing to take home as a momento. You effectively bought the stuff by attending.
It's become apparent that the community and marketing teams don't feel the need to consult the CSM with regards to these things, but I would argue that had they consulted the CSM prior to this latest outcry, most (if not all) of it could have been avoided entirely. I'm not saying the CSM should have a say in what's given out, so don't get me wrong on this, but using them as the sounding board they are meant to be might help weed out some issues before they become issues at all.
Number 3 is where things get interesting, and my suggestions get radical. No single player or entity should EVER be given any item by CCP for personal use that can be traded or sold, thus affecting the sandbox and giving that player an ISK or item advantage over other players for the simple reason they have done something to get into the good graces of CCP.
Let me repeat that.
Non cosmetic, trade-able/sell-able items would not be acceptable in any other game community, and shouldn't be tolerated in Eve either.
In other games, such players are rewarded. They might be given a special mount to ride around on in one of those fantasy RPGs that is bound to their account. They can show it off to other players, but they can't trade it or sell it. When I used to play Pirates of the Burning Sea, I had special flags I could put on my ships, and a special colored parrot I could have on my shoulder to signify my participation in Beta and other contributions. I could show them off, but they had zero affect on the game itself, and I couldn't sell them.
This might be a hard thing to adapt for Eve since just about everything can be sold, traded, or contracted to other players. But there are things that exist in Eve that cannot.
Take for example the golden pod for purchasers of the collector's edition. I'm fairly sure that a pod is not trade-able in eve. Skin a new pod, make it pink and slap a picture of a cat on it, or do something else with it to make it cool and flick a switch on the account of the player in question to make all of their pods like this. If the type of pod shows up on kill mails, so much the better. Every time the player is podded, their murderers will know they have slain a pillar of the community... I hope they can live with themselves.
What about tatoos, or T-Shirts for the character creator? Is there a way to activate such things to be player specific without requiring an item that can be traded? A gold star forehead tatoo to be shown loud and proud in someone's character portait might be a nice thing to be shown off, and will probably go over better than the gold monocle! (cheap shot, sorry.)
Here's another badass one. Chat text. I think Orange is the only color not already taken by CCP, the GMs, or the various divisions of ISD. Imagine if every time Rixx Javix or Sindel Pellion typed something in local you could see it around all the spam because it was ORANGE! This one might require an agreement between the player and CCP though... can't have someone with orange text scamming the newbros with promises of implied trust from CCP because your text is orange. If complete orange text is too confusing, or needed someday for a future division of ISD, perhaps just a colored highlight similar to how Dust players show up in chat.
For the record, I see nothing wrong with the free accounts given to fansite operators. Free account time can't be traded, and while you could make the argument that it's like giving them a free plex every month, it's not. In all likelihood, it's saving them a few bucks a month RL money, and in the rare cases where they would be buying PLEX with ISK to pay their account, their income is probably such that 600m a month isn't going to sway things much.
And That's That
So there you have it. I told myself I didn't want to end this by just pointing out problems and not offering up some tangible solutions. I sincerely hope that CCP is taking a long hard look at what a large part of the community found wrong with this situation, and is taking steps to allay those concerns for the future. The past is done. For better, or worse, the best that can be done at this point is to look forward.