Enough blogs and sites have given coverage to this by now that I'm going to assume my readers are at least passably clued in to what is going on. If not, I'll drop you a couple links to get up to speed first.
- SOMERblink's Celebration page detailing prizes and how to enter.
- Original CCP News Item announcing the reintroduction of the extinct Gold Magnate among other super rare stuff coming to a SOMERblink lottery near you!
- Threadnought: CCP pulls out on Gold Magnates and Guardian Vexors after severe community backlash, and changes the prize pool.
- CSM Response: We'd have told CCP this was pants on head dumb if they'd have only run it by us first.
As most of you are aware, I am personally involved with 2 player run community sites. I do a weekly radio show on Eve-Radio, and I write about Faction War on TheMittani.com. The 2 sites are funded quite differently, but they share 1 thing in common. They provide a service to the Eve community that any player (or non player) has access to, and they do not profit from those players, though Eve-Radio subsists on donations (and the generous wallet of its owner when those fall short) and TMC presumably from ad revenue. TMC writers are paid in ISK from Goonswarm coffers, while ERs staff is completely volunteer.
SOMERblink by comparison, requires players to sign up for an account, profits directly from those players, and can ban them from using their service. SOMERblink is not a community service, it is an online casino. In order to win these prizes donated by CCP, players accumulate "free" tickets by playing blinks (requiring ISK) and by winning blinks (requiring ISK). The more you play and win, the better your chances of walking away with some stupidly rare in game items, or an all expense paid trip to fan fest 2014 worth thousands of dollars. It goes without saying that the people with the best chance of winning these prizes will be spending a crap ton of ISK on SOMERblink.
While TMC has not to this point been donated anything from CCP to give out in any promotion, Eve-Radio has. Christmas Comes Early is a yearly event we have, and over the course of the year some other smaller events take place. CCP will often step up to the plate and hook us up with some swag, usually in the form of some PLEX, and some other stuff. Last year it was battleship models. The people who won those prizes only needed to have an eve account. Entries were handled through eve mail. No one had to spend a single ISK to get in, nor did they have to donate to the site. We did give a PlayStation 3 away to an ER premium supporter, but that was not supplied by CCP.
This past February I teamed up with CCP Masterplan to hold a tournament to herald the implementation of the new dueling mechanic. We didn't ask for it, but CCP came through and donated 25 PLEX to the prize pool. Teams had to give a 100m ISK entry fee that was refunded when they showed up and didn't cheat. Only 1 team did not get that 100m back, and it was due to cheating. That 100m went to the pilot who lost his ship unfairly. The 25 PLEX never passed through my hands, and were awarded to the winning team by CCP directly.
Perhaps we see a pattern here?
In short, I (and much of the community it would seem) have 4 very serious problems with this SOMERblink promotion.
- While SOMERblink serves the Eve community, it is NOT a community service.
- Eve players must sign up for a 3rd party account which they could be banned arbitrarily for things that have nothing to do with Eve.
- Players must spend ISK and directly enrich SOMERblink for a chance to win these prizes. The more ISK they spend, the better their chances.
- The prizes on offer are more rare than even tournament prize ships, presumably of greater value, and some may be substituted for a free trip worth thousands of RL dollars, completely dwarfing anything that has ever been donated for a community site giveaway to this point by light years.
Eve Bet is especially an interesting one as they handle betting in ISK on real world sporting events. At one point on my facebook page, I had advertised playing a round of Sins of a Solar Empire where everyone would toss some isk in a pot and the winner would walk away with it. I was shortly contacted by a CCP employee and warned that this might not be ok as ISK for non-Eve related events is kind of a grey area... this was right after the Eve Bet Community Spotlight went up, but none the less, I like to play by the rules so I called it off. Still, if this is a grey area, why is CCP spotlighting the service?
I don't know what's going on over in Reykjavik lately, but I suspect we have some serious issues with the right hand not being in full communication with the left hand, the feet, the head, and certainly not the CSM who would have seen these issues coming before they had finished reading the proposal.
One thing is certain. Regardless of what rules CCP comes up with for itself on things like this in the future, they need to take a long, hard look at who, and what, they are endorsing with these types of promotions.
- The site being endorsed should be a not-for-profit community service, or legitimate business partner (like EON Magazine was).
- ANY eve player should be able to participate without needing to sign up for a 3rd party site or service.
- Players should not be required to enrich, or otherwise spend money (RL cash or ISK) directly payable to the entity performing the promotion.
- Prizes supplied by CCP should not show favoritism to one community site over another by large and clearly obvious margins.