EVE explained, again, this time with vanity items included!

I’ll give people that EVE is a complex game compared to other MMOs. But man, is it really that difficult to understand? It might be a game about spaceships, but it appears that some consider the mechanics on par with rocket science given how they talk about it.

I made my short post about the vanity item additions to EVE because, honestly, I assumed it was pretty self-explanatory. Queue the “assumptions” saying.

Let’s go over some basics before we jump into the deep end. The items are vanity-only, so CCP is not adding direct power to the game. We good here?  Not direct power.

Next, the items are not BoP, meaning they can not only be traded to other players, but they also now factor into the economic game. This is one of the +1 reasons for CCP’s shop over MMO X. In MMO X, when you buy a vanity item, the only in-game effect it has is it lets everyone know you enjoy standing in line for a $25 reskins. Helpful, perhaps, but not a huge impact overall. In EVE those who are into the trading game will have something else to factor into the profit equation, and how vanity items trade between the new currency and ISK should be interesting.

Finally, the all-important fact that so many either forget or ignore is that in EVE, items of power are not permanent. This simply can’t be left out when discussing the game, be it balance issues or vanity items. Case in point, this comment from Tobold’s blog (which always does a wonderful job of spreading EVE misconceptions):

on the other hand, there’s bugger-all i can buy in the LOTRO Store that’s going to advantage me with respect to other players – some pots, basically, and yet i honestly don’t know anyone who’s bought them. whereas, i purchase an enormous quantity of PLEX, and i *can* (given scarcity limits, already mentioned) buy my way to end-game Titan happiness.

In LotRO, or just about any other MMO, once you buy something from the cash shop you own it (or own it until the game takes it away, with things like temporary power boosts). It does not matter how many times you die, or how often you play poorly, once you buy that power item from the shop, you have that power forever (or until the company looks to cash in again by selling something even better). To make things worse, often that power is ONLY available in the cash shop, so not only is it permanent, it’s a simple choice of “buy or stay under-powered” (the degree of UP is another issue here, but lets ignore it for now). Even if CCP turns the vanity items into +stat items, players would still have the choice of paying cash or playing to earn them. That is a very, very important difference.

But going back to the quote above, it again highlights a major misconception that non-EVE players have about the game and just how PLEX/ISK works. Buying a Titan with PLEX is not only foolish, it would not get the player what they are looking for. You would NOT have end-game Titan happiness. What you would have is an expensive wreck shortly after you complete the purchase. Congrats, you paid a ton of money to play the role of a temporary loot piñata for some Corp in 0.0. Thank you, come again!

On a lesser scale, the same applies to quickly jumping into high-level missions in Empire, or going deep-end with the market. Simply put, the game will eat you alive before you even realize it, and all that “power” you buy goes poof until, wait for it, you L2P. And once you do, you start to realize just how much impact PLEX really has.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in EVE Online, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO design, PvP, RMT. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to EVE explained, again, this time with vanity items included!

  1. Nils says:

    You need to differentiate betwen what they added now, the vanity shop. And the buy-plexes that has been around for much longer.

    The buy-vanity stuff is done better than in other MMOs, but you can still invest $ to gain vanity. I mean, that’s what it is all about ;)
    If this is something that disturbs you, then the vanity shop is bad. That’s why I consider it bad. It blurres the barrier between real life and virtual life (even more). But there are worse way to do that, true.

    Now about plexes. Again, CCP does this better than many other MMOs, but you can still buy power if you want. You can finance an entire corp by buying plexes if you want. That’s certainly easier than financing it by making money without investing $. So, yes, while buying Titans is bullshit, you can buy power in Eve! And many players do. They play PvP in nullsec and finance this with $. Those who are willing to invest more $ have an advantage in that they can take more risk.

    • SynCaine says:

      You can buy the vanity stuff with ISK though, so how is it any different? I mean if paying anything above the sub fee is a deal-breaker for you, but you still want the vanity stuff, you can still get it. I’m just not seeing the issue on that.

      As for PLEX, more money = more risk is different from more time = more risk how? The guy blowing stuff up more than getting blow up is still going to come out ahead, right?

      And lets be real honest here, if someone wanted to buy there way to mega-power in EVE, if PLEX was not around they would still try it, just through shadier means. No game can eliminate buying power, it’s how each game handles it that matters. EVE handles it better than most IMO.

  2. Nils says:

    It’s how I said: The barrier between virtual world and real word is damaged. A lot of people don’t care. But I do. Well, and a few others do.

    • Rammstein says:

      That is the incorrect way to look at it. The correct way, is to say “which damages the barrier worse, legal RMT or illegal RMT?” Syncaine alluded to that but you completely ignored it–I would add that you have to look at it in a larger scale even than just that. How does the game handle botting? In Eve, you can can blow up botters in a profitable way, even in supposedly “safe” space. How does the game handle selling accounts? In Eve, you can sell accounts for isk, in a dev-supported way. (This blows up the “you can only accumulate SP through time” argument that people who don’t know anything about Eve always make, btw). To look at RMT without considering these factors, for any game, is naive.

      • Nils says:

        You can still buy ISK illegaly in Eve. It is cheaper than plexes, because the ISK farmers value their time in game much lower than the average population which creates the market price of a plex.

        There are good ways to restrict gold selling. For example, removing currency teleport. Or use heuristic methods that detect it two people who never played together suddenly exchange huge amounts of ISK.

        Also, I prefer to see some guy who is rich due to illegal activities that I can report so that he gets banned, to a guy that is rich due to leagal activities that happended outside the context of the game.

        Guys, you don’t need to go on a great Eve Online Defense Crusade here. Eve Online is a great game. If *any* developers of any virtual world damage the barrier between real world and virtual world, I complain.

        CCP does it rather well. Much better than other companies. Still, they want a piece of the cake and decide to increase profits with a vanity item shop. It doesn’t destroy Eve, but it makes it a little bit less good.

        • SynCaine says:

          In a vacuum, maybe, depending on which side of the immersion/options debate you fall into, it makes the game little less/more good.

          But this is not a vacuum (well, it is, since its in space, but um…), the money CCP makes off vanity items will go back into game dev, leading to better features faster for the game as a whole. I’ll take someone buying a ship decal or character shades funding increased game dev all day long, twice on Sunday.

          Now, if CCP pulls a Blizzard and sells $25 sparkle pants to pad the CEOs salary and increase their stock price, well, get back to me then. So far though, that’s not been the case with CCP, and so until proven wrong I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

      • Rammstein says:

        Yes, I’m aware that blackmarket ISK is cheaper, and I’m aware that people get banned for it but that the enforcement of it doesn’t seem to be at a high priority.

        I will agree that the Aurum change makes EVE more *expensive*, in some ill-defined way, which is obviously not something I’m super excited by, but I’m not sure I can agree that this makes it a little bit less good, in some abstract way. If they’d raised their subscription price by a dollar/month instead, citing inflation as the reason, would we be saying that now EVE is less good? Or instead of a dollar/month, pick an arbitrary number that matches how much they will take in from the new vanity store. We need to separate out the price increase from the method they’re using to increase the price to have a reasonable discussion of this change.

        • Nils says:

          If they raised the sub by $50 I wouldn’t say anything. I have long been a supporter of higher subs. This is not about money. It is about immersion, but I feel I am repeating myself :)

          Just one last thing:
          To throw Tobold and me into the same basket, really, what the hell ? Especially when it comes to microtransactions we have fundementally different opinions.

        • Rammstein says:

          You say it’s not about money, it’s about immersion, but you earlier said “Still, they want a piece of the cake and decide to increase profits with a vanity item shop. It doesn’t destroy Eve, but it makes it a little bit less good.” It’s not really possible to differentiate between the monetary and immersive aspects of this change in two short sentences, so I’m not blaming you for not doing so, but that’s what I was responding to, and I tried to distinguish them myself.

          With the “raising prices” element out of the equation, it comes down to monthly subscription or plex costs 14$ instead of 15$ now, after the addition of the cash shop. I would be wholeheartedly in favor of that change, and so would most other players. Well, I mean that’s one way to look at it, comparing revenue-neutral changes. We could compare adding the cash shop versus cutting development expenditures , for short-term profit neutral changes, etc. Countless variables we could hold constant as a base of comparison.

          You and Tobold seemed to be arguing the same point from the same perspective in his thread on Eve, I definitely wasn’t trying to throw you into any more general basket together with him than that. I’m sure I’d be more insulted by that than you were, were that to happen to me.

        • Nils says:

          Rammstein, I admit that was easy to misunderstand. I don’t care how much money I have to pay (within reason) as long as it is the subscription.

          But I do care that they do something that IMHO diminishes Eve (a little bit) just to make money. It’s not that I don’t want to give them the money. But I do blame them to diminish Eve just to make money. Not because I don’t want to pay it, but because the way they want me to pay it is bad, imho.

          Hope that was understandable. Tobold and me having the same stance on Eve? woah .. whatever ;)

        • Rammstein says:

          If there are any of the vanity items that I want to buy, I’ll buy aurum with ISK on the market, and then I’ll buy the vanity items with the aurum. Totally not immersion breaking for me. Really, there is absolutely no difference to me between this and just raising the price of the subscription 50 cents a month, it’s just a way of marketing it that’s neither miraculous nor offensive, just tricky enough to trick those who are either not regular eve players, or just not that observant. (aurum are bought with plex, this will make price of plex, in isk, go up, just like raising the price of plex, in dollars, would. So, no difference to me.)

        • Rammstein says:

          to clarify: for people that buy plex with isk, this has the effect of devaluing isk relative to plex, so it feels like a minor price increase. For those that pay real money for subscriptions, there is no change. I have a feeling CCP is in favor of this effect. For people that sell plex for isk, they should get more isk per plex due to changing supply in that market, also if aurum are not capturable/destroyable like plex as cargo are, that would make it easier to buy isk in a less location dependent manner, as you could buy a plex, convert to aurum, then convert to isk in different places as desirable. If aurum are capturable/destroyable, that adds an interesting element to the game, especially if different shops offer different mods.

    • Rammstein says:

      To clarify: the post above was a bit accusatory perhaps, let me just say that I’ve played a lot of MMO’s where RMT was disallowed, and I had a ton of immersion breaking activities, whether competing with botters for spawns, or being pestered by illegal RMT-selling spammers. My personal experience is that immersion is broken much less in EVE by the legal RMT than in any other MMO I’ve played.

      “you can buy power in Eve! And many players do.”

      Here’s the thing…we’re talking about immersion, right? If someone beats you in pvp, then you assume they are good at pvp and finance their pvp by…pvping and selling the loot. If you beat them, then you figure they either run missions to replace their ship, or incursion, or mine, or play the market, or buy plex. That’s a lot of possibilities, so you just figure it’s one of them and go on your way. You never ever ever feel like someone is projecting power through legal RMT. I know a bunch of people that pay their subs with plex, and I don’t know anyone that admits to buying plex so–who buys those plex? Maybe a few rich and skilled pvpers, and some bad players who just want to buy shinies. You and Tobold seem to be assuming that it’s more the former than the latter–Why? We all know there are way more bad players than good right? And we know that good players would profit from pvp not lose money doing it, because they are good at it, right? That’s why it’s literally hard for some of us here to remember that you two “play” EVE, it just seems like you don’t based on the implausibility of your arguments. Were you ever in a null sec alliance with a bunch of corpmates that bought plex, even though you held a low truesec status system in SOV and could make billions of ISK with relative ease? If you were, I’d appreciate hearing the details.

      • SynCaine says:

        This sums up a lot of what I don’t get about others talking about EVE. What Alliance that controls 0.0 space funds their fleet off PLEX? I doubt those who talk about it have seen it themselves, but maybe they heard it somewhere?

        Or, is it the themepark mentality being applied here? “You can buy power items? Well then everyone must be buying items and getting ahead!”. Yes, that works and happens all the time in F2P trash games, and is now possible to a lesser degree in F2P games like LotRO.

        EVE is different, and all the blog theorycrafting about how it “might” work just falls ridiculously flat when someone takes just a moment to check out what really happens in-game.

        • SynCaine says:

          But but…

          You can buy POWER in EVE. Blogs told me so! Buying PLEX = winning, people who have sorta-kinda-but-not-really-played say so. How can they be wrong…


        • sid67 says:

          Just so we are clear.. all other things being equal, are you honestly trying to say that buying PLEX isn’t an advantage?

          Because in my mind.. that’s not true. You take two very avid players that are deeply involved in 0.0 space and the one buying PLEX has a distinct advantage.

          If playing the economic game, it’s in getting more working capitol that can be invested. If playing the PvP game, it’s in having more ISK to use towards replacing destroyed ships.

          Saying that PLEX is not POWER is akin to saying that having ISK is not POWER. I don’t think many corps would turn away some guy who wanted to help get them a Titan even if he was using PLEX to finance it.

        • SynCaine says:

          No no no, of course having more ISK is good. That’s one of the things EVE gets right. ISK is always important, having more is always good. So the theorycraft behind PLEX does suggest that buying PLEX = buying power = winning.

          In-game that’s not all that true, as the linked blog very clearly shows to an extreme. On a higher level, people who don’t sell PLEX do more than just keep up with whoever does. This is where the theorycraft falls flat, and blog posts about the evil of PLEX sound silly to those who actually understand EVE.

          Selling PLEX = ISK, true.
          Having more ISK is always better, true again.

          Between that first part and the second however, is an important step that the theorycraft fails to consider, and that’s why PLEX has very little if anything to do with cash shop games, despite, from the outside, looking so similar.

        • sid67 says:

          Easier to argue that PLEX works in EVE because it’s integrated with the overall economics. PLEX doesn’t ‘create’ ISK or in-game items. It simply transfers ownership of these things for something of value in real life (game time).

  3. Torcano says:

    Right. Name another game with even CLOSE to as realistic and immersive a world as EvE.

    Its like saying the UI and your keyboard break the barrier between real and virtual worlds too.

    Also, you seem not to understand that there is a difference between having a cash shop with every ship/etc. and the PLEX system. PLEXes are based off subscriptions, and like every other item their market value is determined by the player economy. In a world where gold farming crushes economies and where gold-selling will always exist, is there possibly a better system than to have it automatically regulated, and generating revenue for the company instead of 3rd parties?

    Nitpicking that a vanity shop or the ability to trade subscriptions on the open market break immersion but having any of literally countless elements in traditional MMOs (for example quests, arrows guiding you around, fast travel, terribly unintuitive, ridiculous, and ultrafake combat…the list goes on) don’t?

    My question to you is, which game overcomes more of these immersion breaks than EvE? Its economy is second to none and proves that a living economy is the lifeblood of a realistic WORLD. EvE has an actual believable immersive world that is second to none. And the fact they have simply incorporated RMT in a very natural and elegant way is icing on the cake.

    And even things like the UI, fast travel, combat can be very easily explained due to the future setting. If you can un-brainwash the standard MMO formula of 1-1-1-2-3-2-3-4-5 and move out of the fire, do your dailies, DING!, etc. out of your brain, you will either enjoy the game immensely if only to experience its world, or at the very least acknowledge it is by far superior to any other.

    • Nils says:

      Torcana, what the hell? Why do you assume that I consider other MMORPGs better? Eve Online is a great game. I think it is one of the most immersive, if not the the most immersive on the market.

      And that’s exactly the reason I mourn anything that diminishes immersion. If WoW introduces another sparkle pony, I couldn’t care less. They are beyond hope, anyway.

  4. Random Idiot says:

    thanks for writing about Eve, for once we are playing the same game…

  5. sid67 says:

    Uhh… I don’t really understand why this is news.

    For all practical purposes, EVE already had a cash shop with the existing PLEX system. Spend real $$s for in-game stuff via Plex. Need a new Drake outfitted with Level 2 tech? Buy Plex and sell it for ISK. $$s for Power and everything.

    I’m not a big fan of that type of thing but even I can admit that the EVE implementation of it is about as well done as you can do it.

  6. defconquell says:

    The point is this:

    Plex is fine since it balances the players with more game time/skill vs. players with more meatspace time/skill. CCP makes the same amount of money either way, and gameplay doesn’t suffer.

    Aurum is bullshit since it injects more money directly into CCP’s wallet with cosmetic gimmicks. Developers could be improving the game instead of making sparkle-monocles.

    One suggestion is making exploration more fun. For example, if you scan down cosmic signatures in a dozen solar systems in 0.0, it would be nice to actually discover something worthwhile for hacking or archaeology.

    Wormholes are great, but they are often camped with a native POS gang and require extra mechanics of getting your combat vs. salvage ships in/out before the wormhole closes.

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