Monday, August 18, 2014

Breaking: SOMERgate 2014

EDIT: I got some confusing info from a user on twitter. While I made sure to include wording such as "if so and so is correct" to avoid presenting the info as solid fact, the claim of that user has been called out as misinformed on several fronts. I've put a strike through on the affected part of this post.

At this point I don't have a ton of details. What is known thus far came initially from THIS reddit thread, and there has been a lot of back and forth over Twitter as to exactly what is going on.

On the surface, it looks like SOMERblink is at it again with another crazy masked RMT scheme. Their last one ended in a sort of implosion of public angst, and was shut down by CCP in no uncertain terms. This latest one was apparently "vetted and approved" by CCP.

Screen cap provided as one needs a Sb account to see prices.
The scheme this time around works like this: You go to Somer's site and click their link to buy a PLEX from Markee Dragon. Once the purchase is confirmed, you are granted a "PLEX Credit" which is Somer's promise to buy that PLEX from you. Right now, Jita prices are around 785 million, but Somer will buy them from you with your PLEX credit for 830 Million. A best estimate suggests that Somer's cut of a PLEX sale at Markee Dragon is in excess of 8% of the sale (SOMERblink bailed on Shattered Crystal and switched to Markee Dragon when the bidding war between the 2 resellers hit 8% according to SC)

Assuming 8% of the sale and a PLEX sale price of just 780 million, $35*0.08=$2.80/2=$1.40. 830m-780m=50m actually spent per $1.40. 1 Billion ISK/50 Million=20*1.40 = $28 per Billion ISK.

The lower the sale margin, the better for Somer in this case, so if they are able to sell off their PLEX for the equivalent of 785m ISK they make $31.10 per billion at an 8% commission. Even at $28 per billion, Somer is far outstripping any "honest" ISK selling service (read: the dudes who don't try to hide that they're doing RMT) who are making $11-$13 per billion, and getting both their and their buyers accounts banned left right and center. If you or I buy a pair of PLEX for $35 and sell them on the market for 785 million ISK a pop we are spending about $22.29 for 1b ISK, but this is before the SCC takes their cut.

Bear in mind that if Somer puts that same PLEX up in one of their blinks at a 20% markup, they will also pull in 936m ISK, so really, they're paying nothing except perhaps a little more than if they purchased off the market.

But it gets even better!

Last year's SOMERblink graphic updated!
According to Radamere on Twitter, that 830 Million ISK is put directly into your Blink account, meaning, you are selling a PLEX for Blink credit (something entirely misleading on SOMERblink's site if this is true, as they word it to seem like they are paying out straight ISK). Somer's payout is around 80% on the average, so 830 million in blink credit will generate payouts back to players worth around 644 million ISK. Instead of paying 830 million for an item worth 780, they are paying out the equivalent of 644 million for that same product. Using that logic YOU are paying Somer 136m ISK plus $1.40 from Markee Dragon to take that PLEX off your hands! In other words, I can't give you a $$ per Billion figure since Somer isn't actually spending any ISK on this, you're paying them....twice. (Read: You're getting scammed son)

When one considers the old RMT scheme was paying out 200m in blink credit per GTC sold, and the new one taking IN 136m ISK + $1.40 per PLEX sold, Somer has REALLY put the screws to their customers on this if Radamere is correct.

Whether blink credit or straight ISK payouts, the scheme would be positively brilliant if not for the fact that anyone with half a brain should be able to see that this is still obviously RMT, and should be quite against the spirit of the game, the EULA, and TOS and all that jazz.

Of course, according to SOMERblink's website, "This program has been vetted and approved by CCP." Assuming for a moment that Somer isn't dumb enough to make a false claim about that, I have yet to see anything from CCP endorsing this. If I were a betting man (haha get it?) I would put my ISK on Somer dropping a petition outlining what they wanted to do and getting a response from a GM saying they didn't see anything wrong with it. Since there is no point of reference on Somer's site, and petitions are considered confidential information (you can get banned for a copy/pate of a GM response to a petition even if you don't post it on a CCP service) this seems the most likely scenario.

From a lot of the angry words I'm seeing on the net, there are some hot headed people ready to string up CCP over this scheme for "endorsing" it, but I would urge everyone to stay calm. Why?

1: This scheme is complex, and we don't know how this was explained in the petition (assuming there was one. I have no insider info on this and can't confirm or deny this was even done through petitions). In simple terms, they could have just asked if it was ok to purchase PLEX from players in exchange for Blink credit. It's obviously ok to purchase PLEX from someone for ISK. All of that seems pretty legit except for the part where that PLEX purchase and what looks like a bonus requires a RL cash payment to SOMERblink in order to obtain. Without all the facts presented in a clear fashion, even I would probably give the nod to this. Without the RL purchase requirement, people are just dumb to sell something worth 780m to Somer for the equivalent of 644m. I'd call that a scam, not really RMT, since if Somer wasn't required to get paid RL $$ to sell the PLEX to you in the first place, it's just in-game items being exchanged, and there's nothing wrong with that.

2: Even if the scheme was explained to a CCP employee in the fullest detail, this would not mark the first time in Eve history that some clever player got a GM to tentatively sign off on something, only to have the decision completely reversed upon further review.

Look, there's no way CCP lets this scheme stand, it'll get shut down just like the last one. Ideally, I'd like to see SOMERblink and Markee Dragon get their pee pees slapped for this, because both of them should know better and shouldn't have tried to pull this stunt in the first place. Unfortunately, if someone at CCP did sign off on this (and I doubt that they would if given all the facts) I think the best we can look forward to is a swift and decisive closure to this little loop hole, and another cease and desist order from CCP to its PLEX resellers.

For the CSM's part, while I can't speak for the other members, I don't think anyone is happy about this, and I wouldn't be shocked if you hear or read words from the others as this develops.


  1. I think your graph is wrong. The blue arrow net flow of in-game current/items is TOWARDS SomerBlink.

    As the gambling adage goes, the house always wins.

    1. I made the graph before fully pulling the math in if it's 830m in blink credit. The graph is accurate if they are actually paying 830 in cash. If it's blink credit you are correct, and that blue arrow needs to point the other way, though perhaps the ACTUAL ISK is coming from a 2nd player, as you're technically just selling the PLEX for less than it's worth... yeah, it's complicated.

  2. The first time could be a mistake. The second time - Surely CCP weren't given all the facts before signing off, assuming it's true because for it not to be true would be a very stupid act on Somerblink' already grey history.

    Time will tell though.

  3. Ah somer, why haven't these people been k-lined yet?

  4. Someone should also ask CCP why Markee Dragon is the only group/person allowed to offer 30 day trials.

  5. If this turns out to be an unapproved scam that they're trying to pull, I really hope CCP comes down as hard on them as is possible within the rules. I have faith in you guys to ensure CCP is informed. Go get 'em!

  6. Here we go again! How quaint.

  7. Forum repost for your opinion:

    Honestly, the problem here is NOT the apparent RMT at all, but the fact that Somer provide a service only to people that have bought PLEX through them. It would not matter if the service was terrible and caused people lose ISK, there would still be complaints.

    Any service in this game has an inherent cost, so any service that Blink provides to it's customers can be calculated and converted into RMT figures.

    Thus the only way to solve this issue is for CCP to either stop affiliate referrers from providing any services to anyone,
    or just simply stop them from discriminating their service provision based on whether the person has used their referral.

    The Customer Loyalty Program is the true issue here, the RMT complaints are an irrelevant sidetrack.

    1. From my reading of how the promotion works, you don't need to play any blinks. All you need to do is create a SOMERblink account in order to keep track of the PLEX Credits.

    2. Yeah, I meant customer as someone who has bought a GTC, not as a blinker.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. I run and we were also told to stop the bonus GTC thing as it was now considered RMT.

    However, CCP also contacted GTC sellers and told them that sales are now to remain confidential and they could tell no one about who made any purchases.

    How does somer blink and marquee dragon get around this? Favoritism.

  10. What I don't understand here is how this is actually considered RMT?
    From what I can see, the only thing to do with real money is the 8% commission that Blink makes from your PLEX purchase. As far as I can tell, the PLEX reseller's "affiliate programs" are allowed by CCP, or they would have told them to shut them down years ago. Lots of places use affiliate marketing and give said affiliate a cut of each sale through that affiliate. They are not receiving money directly from you in exchange for isk or other in game goods/services. They are receiving a cut of the money you paid to the reseller for the PLEX in the first place. If they then choose to offer you a buy-back program, which does NOT constitute giving you real life money in exchange for your shiny new PLEX, but rather, giving you isk, in exchange, then this seems fine.
    (also, I don't know exactly how or when this came about because as far as I can tell, the "GTC Bonus inactive at CCP's request" message has been up for quite a while now (since the last supposed RMT scandal)
    Read: I don't see how the affiliate marketing counts as RMT since affiliate marketing is allowed. This is really all they were doing, just with a buyback. Unless my understanding is flawed.

    1. edit: they are receiving a cut of the same money you would have paid the reseller anyway if you had bought it without the affiliate link.