I feel compelled to throw in my two cents on the current EVE stir. Disclaimer: I still rate EVE as the coolest game to talk about where my actual play generally consists of logging in to queue skills every few days.
Microtransactions in videogames: Everyone is looking to increase profitability. I work in a freemium space myself with Facebook-based social games. It’s not even the way of the future; it’s the way of now that AAA gaming is catching on to. Ever upgrade a flight to an exit row seat? Book the pool-side room at the hotel? Want to add shrimp to steak for only $5.95? In my opinion, the existence of MT in videogames is, at this point, inevitable.
Vanity Microtransactions in EVE: I own a Sparklelion in WoW. I see nothing at all wrong with vanity microtransactions. EVE’s items cost more than I’m willing to spend, though.
Game-enhancing Microtransactions in EVE: This always feels dirty. But let’s be honest – money can already buy success in EVE. How this is approached will be extremely important; if we’re talking a small number of ships and ammunition, then it’s probably an advantage more than an IWIN button. Start moving into skills, faction standing, and the like, and it has more impact.
The EVE Economy: This is my bigger worry. Make the microtransactional content important enough, and the EVE economy becomes one of Plex and Aurum, rather than one of ISK. Or ISK would become merely a counter towards the Plexes that are the real economy. It’s too early to tell; as yet, there are no items in the Noble Exchange or resold on the ISK market in sufficient quantity to judge.
The PR Hullaballoo: Well, you’ve got to be really careful what you say in internal documents. Unless they leaked extremely strongly-worded documents intentionally in order to gauge the playerbase reaction if they were to go to extremes. I mean, this is EVE Online, where scamming is a way of virtual life. So call this poorly handled, unless they were handling it poorly in order to try something crazy, in which case I applaud the game-like deceit, in a dirty kind of way.