Tuesday, October 1, 2013

SOMERblink: Serving the Eve Community, Not a Community Service

My twitter feed just about exploded yesterday morning, and it would appear that we're not quite out of the woods yet with regards to the CCP/SOMERblink fiasco that has been all the rage lately. The good news is that this has taken the heat off of the recent TOS PR disaster. The bad news is that this has arguably been far worse.

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.
Now then, a lot has been said thus far as to how wrong it is for player run organizations to be given such rare bits of swag to give away. I have some experience with CCP and swag, so I'll happily delve into this in a moment. The issue at hand is really 2 issues though. One of them is the swag. The other is the venue, and the issue with the venue is not so much that it is a player run site, but the type of player run site.

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.
  1. While SOMERblink serves the Eve community, it is NOT a community service.
  2. 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.
  3. Players must spend ISK and directly enrich SOMERblink for a chance to win these prizes. The more ISK they spend, the better their chances.
  4. 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.
Number 4 is easily rectified if CCP plans for this to be the norm in community promotion giveaways. The first 3 can not be fixed at this point, and point to a larger issue that's been concerning me lately with CCP's promotion of 3rd party community sites, which have seen community spotlights like Markee Dragon (who made his money in RMT before going "legit") and Eve Bet.

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.

  1. The site being endorsed should be a not-for-profit community service, or legitimate business partner (like EON Magazine was).
  2. ANY eve player should be able to participate without needing to sign up for a 3rd party site or service.
  3. Players should not be required to enrich, or otherwise spend money (RL cash or ISK) directly payable to the entity performing the promotion.
  4. Prizes supplied by CCP should not show favoritism to one community site over another by large and clearly obvious margins.
That's my 2 ISK anyway. Comments welcome.


  1. Nailed it. This is IMHO comparable to the t20 incident, only that back then someone got fired, while now it is done in full public.
    Guess I'll give my accounts a rest. CCP has been going full retard lately.

  2. You are fully right here!

    And look who is winning at SOMER Blink? Always the same persons! You win one time and can always reinvest so much, that you have good chances to win the next time again and so on....

    This is why many people suppose somer as scam

  3. I have to agree. I'm a fan of Somer. It's fun, I've enjoyed playing it, but it doesn't enrich EVE in any way. I think it's a brilliant idea, and I wish Somer all the best, but why is CCP reaching out to them in any case? Aside from your last 3 points at the end, what community service has Somer provided? Is there one? I'm not aware of one, anyway.

    1. They sponsored the New Eden Opens, and some other tournaments, but other than that, not sure.

    2. Agony U scholarship fund - pvp classes for free from Somer
      Somer keeps EACS owner PLEXed.
      RVB Ganked weekly event prizes are all Somer
      310B to the NEO teams to level the playing field.
      Fiction Contest prizes were all Somer
      Flight of a Thousand Rifters prizes were all Somer
      Eve Blockpack monthly blog competition prizes are all Somer
      Eve University's biggest contributor is Somer

      And me - I was given 6 PLEX for what they called "Super helpful forum posting"

      And probably a shitload of other things I don't know about.

      And now someone will come along and say that was all just advertising - despite none of you knowing they even did it, despite them not requiring any of those groups to say they get these sponsorships..

    3. All of those events you mention where I was aware of the event in the first place, I was also aware of SOMERblink's sponsorship, and I take no issue with sponsorship. I've had events that were partially sponsored by EOH, and happily extolled their virtues to live audiences and gave them prime real estate on video feeds. Sponsoring community events and donating to worthy causes does not make you a community service, though it is commendable.

    4. "310B to the NEO teams to level the playing field."
      So CCP indirectly rigs the tournament via Somer?

    5. Even if that weren't batshit insane levels of tinfoil - how would giving every competitor the exact same amount of ISK be rigging?

    6. Before you throw their "sponsorship" achievements around - Somer makes about 20% of every blink. How much billion isk is that per day/week/month?

  4. I've also toyed with the idea of leaving. It hasn't been CCP's best year in the ideas department.

  5. Typical mindless whining post, so trendy these days. Good to see some other butthurt retards joining the fun, delicious tears.It is CCP's game, this a business and they can do whatever the fek they want with it, including partnerships with 3rd parties.
    "Guess I'll give my accounts a rest"<-good riddance fuck off, less whiners in game better for everyone.
    "And look who is winning at SOMER Blink? Always the same persons! "<-this is also golden

    And i have not played Somer even once before you blame me with being a Somer marketing agent or smtg.

    1. /posts as anon - asks people to believe him/her

      Only total retards whine about people whining. You did get one thing correct tho. CCP is a business, and yes, they can do whatever they want. Even if that means they drive their customers away because of stupid business practices. They wouldn't be the first gaming company to do so.

    2. Hey sunshine, there is no stupid business practice there, a good idea but sadly a mass of whining tards opposing it. And you really think i will give my real toons name in a 3rd class blog while supporting a ccp decision? As a final note i am not whining friend, i am so enjoying tears of this...this...horde

    3. Yeah, it'd be a real bad idea to give your character name along with your opinion, someone might... well they might... well, give me a couple days and maybe I can think of something horrible that might happen as a result.

      3rd class though, that's cute! :) Please come again, I do appreciate the traffic.

  6. Eve Radio complaining about getting free shit from CCP is the absolute height of disingenuous bullshit.

    1. Dear angry SOMERblink fan/employee,

      Firstly, unless explicitly stated otherwise, my words and opinions expressed on this blog or other social media outlets are my own, and do not represent the opinions or thoughts of any other organization I may give my time to.

      Secondly, as Eve-Radio is a community service in eve that operates solely off voluntary donations as well as voluntary labor, providing their services absolutely free of charge to the Eve-Online community and beyond, they are entirely different than a for-profit organization like SOMERblink. There are a number of other sites and community services in the eve community, all of whom are very deserving of such awesome donations to drive interest and traffic in their direction, and I would not count SOMERblink among them.

    2. More disingenuous nonsense.

      I point out that ER has gotten huge amounts of preferential treatment, free stuff, and so one over the years and calling you stupid for crying foul when anyone but you gets it means I'm a fanboy.

      Also - not makings a profit? My ass. If you hold one more fundraising drive, you'll pass PBS. Eve Radio tries to reach into my pocket more often than I do.

    3. "Disingenuous" You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.

      That said, your donations, or lack of donations has not affected your access to the service Eve Radio provides one bit.

      -Chribba's site eve-files, no money needed for full service!
      -Chriba's site, eve-search - community service. No money required.
      -eve-kill.net Free killboard for anyone, ISK donations will remove advertisements, but do not otherwise enhance service.
      -The Angel Project - subsists through donations, gives shit to noobs and drug addicts for free to get them off the ground, requires nothing in return.
      -SOMERblink: No money, no service. Have a nice day.

      See the difference yet, or do I need to continue breaking this down for you?

    4. Dear Angry Everadio fan/employee

      Disingenuous - not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.

      I grant, I was giving you the benefit of the doubt in assuming it was only feigned retardation and not an actual mental defect.

      Every free event Blinks has provided, you wrote off above with "That's nice but it doesn't count" so you could skip down here and say "They don't do anything for free!"

      Come back when you aren't the sole service put on the default channel list. Then talk to us about being preferential treatment.

    5. I'm being perfectly candid and sincere in my posting.

      Eve Radio is not the sole 3rd party to have been on that in game chanel list, there have been others. Off the top of my head, Eve TV used to be on that list as well, but they folded. Split Infinity Radio had a place in there, but they closed down the channel, it wasn't CCP.

      Let's look at it this way. The Olympics are a not for profit community service of sorts. They happen to have a lot of sponsors. McDonalds is one of them. McDonalds is not a community service, it is a business. Donating money to the Olympics and providing free burgers to the athletes does not change their status as a for profit business and suddenly make them a community service organization. A business can do good in the world and provide financial support and sponsorship to worthy causes, like blink does, and that's great. It does not make them worthy of receiving donations that they can then turn a profit on, though it might make them worthy of receiving your business if that sort of thing impresses you.

      As Eve Radio has never profited directly from donations given to them by CCP, and blink has, that is another pretty beefy difference between the two organizations.

  7. Keep saying that. Keep believing it. It totally doesn't at all sound like you're crying that someone else got something instead of you.

    brb, someone from Eve Radio asking for my credit card info again.

    1. Throwing in the towel already? I was just starting to enjoy this exchange. In all honesty, I don't think anyone should be given multi thousand dollar trips and stupidly rare ships to give away like this. If any site had been given those prizes at this point, there would have been backlash, and I'd disagree with the decision if it was Eve-Radio that got it. This is a few magnitudes different than a bunch of PLEX and a few items being discontinued from the Eve Shop.

      Now, if this is to be the new norm for CCP prize donations, that IS another story. They could have communicated that a bit better if it is the case. Does not change the fact that there are dozens of community services in and around Eve that are deserving of such attention, and the distribution of such prizes should never constitute a direct profit for those who get to give them out.

  8. You can simplify your rules of who they should give preferential treatment to significantly to make the document an easier read.

    1. It must be organizations who take RL money and ISK from players and then use that money to show everyone how generous they are while pretending they don't profit.

    2. It must be proven that their name rhymes with SunkyTacon.

  9. Oh look...Poe Mk2.

    Can someone please tell these people that registering for Blogspot doesn't mean anyone cares when you do or don't play a video game anymore?

    1. Given the overwhelmingly positive responses I've gotten, I'd say quite a few people do care. Keep up the sperg though. I appreciate the hits.

      Also, unlike Poe, I'm still playing Eve.

  10. Don your tinfoil hats for a minute...

    What if Blink is a CCP supported (though not acknowledged) ISK sink?
    What does Mahm do with the ISK he rakes in with SOMER Blink? RMT? He would have been shot down already. Building a spaceship empire? Has he bought himself a Titan & super army?

    SOMER Blink was created in September 2010.
    LAST QEN? Q4 2010. QEN had information about sinks and faucets, as well as Price indexes (inflation).
    No more data since then. Eve is full of smart people, people with engineering degrees, people in IT, and hey, even economists and accountants. With enough data, some of those players maybe could have come up with numbers that don't make sense, like, I don't know, inflation rates that are way lower than expected when 20TISK are introduced into the economy every month?

    So, what if CPP takes something like 200TISK/year out of the game with SOMER Blink without nerfing the all-sacred ratting bounties, incursion payouts or mission rewards, while avoiding the player outcry such a nerf would cause?

    OK, rewind, let's assume that SOMER and CCP are not associated and let's come back to the topic of this blog. CCP still must REALLY like SOMER, since I am pretty sure they have a very positive influence on PLEX sales. Community sites? Not so certain... OK, so giving BLINK a few shinies makes business sense (in their tiny heads), since they will probably generate even more plex sales. That could answer the "why did they give the ships to SOMER" question.

    Fast forward again... SOMER is CCP. Same equation as before : more betting = more plexes sold = more "profit" = more ISK out of the game, and shinies will definitely bring more betting. Now, there is no question that they have to go through SOMER: it is CCP. Doing otherwise would be playing favorites.

    Things that don't fit in this conspiracy theory (just a few of a million): why did they chose those particular shinies? Couldn't they have foreseen the player backlash? Why would they show their hand full of SOMER is CCP cards when they would have been trying to hide it as well as they could?

    TLDR: useless rambling about CCP Blink, tinfoil hats, ISK sinks.

  11. Had 3 EVE accounts ,was going to resub, read all the crap CCP is pulling these days with TOS, giving players who are already billionaires more billions because most likely they help CCP by stealing other players isk from them, so those players need to buy PLEX with actual cash. CCP favouritism /scandals like this makes this game not worth playing sadly.