Earlier this month, you may recall a trilogy of postings regarding SOMERblink (ONE, TWO, THREE), the love they were getting from CCP, their practices, and what looked to me like some messed up priorities. All the attention has seemed to have a bit of a negative side effect which will likely bring harm to both CCP and SOMERblink, probably sooner rather than later. The can of worms in this case has not only been opened, but dumped on the floor for good measure.
I didn't delve too far into SOMERblink's RMT scheme in my postings here (it was mentioned, but amid other issues I was trying to discuss, delving too deeply didn't seem prudent at the time) but when I guested on Podside #144 during the whole thing, I got into it with former CCP Zinfindel. The illegitimacy of the RMT nature of it did come up, with Zinfandel defending SOMER's practice as being so small that it's not a big deal. Of course, Zinfindel no longer works for CCP, so his word means nothing as far as company policy is concerned, but one may gather an implied endorsement with all the promotional consideration SOMERblink has received from CCP. At one point (can't find the link just now, but I know I saw it) one CCP employee, Navigator I think, endorsed SOMERblink as "legit".
Let's first take a look at what is going on here. One of SOMERblink's revenue streams comes from GTC referrals. They post a link on their website that leads to Markee Dragon, an official Eve GTC reseller. Buying GTCs through this link generates a referral code. 5% of the GTC sale is then paid to SOMERblink for the referral, and SOMER rewards the player who purchased in this way by giving them a free 200m ISK in credit on the gambling site. The goal of the player is to then use that credit to win something in a micro lottery, and if successful, cash out a nice in game bonus. SOMER's hope, of course, is that the player loses the 200m gambling.
Let's draw a picture to illustrate what is, and is not OK according to current implied CCP policy (forgive my paint skillz):
|Feel free to use and distribute all you like! Click for big version!|
Eve players being clever and all, have begun to realize this little implied loophole in CCP RMT policy, and the floodgates are beginning to open:
First, character DNSBLACK decided to quit eve and cash out.
Now you can buy GTC through a referral link for a 500m ISK bonus from Katarina Reid! That's way better for the player than SOMER's deal, and while the exchange rate is far below market value, Katarina has figured she can cash out her 600b in assets for just over $1,000! Several players have come out and endorsed the service as 100% legit and thanked Katarina for the money.
CCP has yet say anything about this one way or the other. On the one hand, they're in an awkward spot. By endorsing SOMERblink and not thinking about exactly what they were endorsing, they have effectively told the player base that RMT in this way is OK. DNSBLACK may get caught on a technicality, but Katarina appears to be completely in the green at this point.
Coming out swinging the ban hammer on these players, along with the requisite confiscation of illicit goods before an official CCP response would be ill advised, and could spell yet another PR disaster in this chain of events.
To be reasonable though, CCP can hardly allow this practice to continue. I think we can expect a cease and desist on this form of RMT in the relatively near future. I don't expect anyone involved to get banned or their stuff taken, but a "from this day forward..." posting will probably be in the works before too long. A smart move by CCP would have been a "We're looking into this..." posting already, but, well... yeah. I guess silence is golden in this case. Happy cash outs guys!