Yes, I know CCP is calling them “Micro”-transactions, but I don’t think I’m being too callous in saying that there is nothing micro about them. The forums are in an uproar both here and across the internet. There’s talk of a mass exodus from one of the Industry’s longest successful and brightest stars. The player-run council for EVE Online is being flown out to Iceland for an emergency meeting with the development staff. In short, this is like the Cuban Missile Crisis for CCP. What I’m sure they thought was a simple addition to their game has amounted to a PR nightmare. But let’s take a step back and look at it from a non-player’s perspective.
I haven’t ever really gotten into EVE as a gamer. I’ve tried it often enough, only to be unable or unwilling to take the time necessary to really understand the intricacies of 0.0 space. Maybe for that reason alone, my temper over this whole thing is a bit more stable. The amount of money being bantered around for simply cosmetic items is ludicrous. I completely agree that $60+ for a monacle on your avatar is just about the silliest sort of cost I’ve ever heard associated with a cosmetic purchase in an MMORPG. But, and there’s always a “but,” shouldn’t we be at least a little bit relieved the item’s purely cosmetic for the game’s new Incarna expansion?
That said that’s what the shop entails “for now”. As far as I know, there hasn’t been official word from CCP regarding the possibility of ships and other gameplay changing items going up for sale, and that’s what’s really driving people to the edge right now. EVE is a very, very competitive game. And while there are some who would claim that you can essentially buy power already in the game, it’s a whole different story if CCP suddenly starts allowing it and taking advantage of this through their own cash-shop.
To add fuel to the fire, the “leaked” inter-office memo about the expensive prices being akin to designer clothing really puts CCP in a bad light. We know these guys and gals at MMORPG.com. They’re pretty much some of the nicest and most open MMO developers you’ll ever find. I suspect, though can’t confirm, that these comments were made as a way of justifying the expenses without realizing just how far out of touch the prices are with the rest of the virtual world micro-transactions. But they really should have taken a good hard look at what other companies charge for their cosmetic pieces. If they wanted to charge more, that’s fine and good… but that much more is just about enough to put the green color of greed on any company asking such prices.
All of that aside, the mass exodus or not, CCP is very obviously aware that it may have just made a huge mistake. An emergency meeting with their player-run council (Council of Interstellar Management) is being held this week in Iceland to figure out how to move forward. In this case I’m betting that the folks up there to the north have heard your complaints loud and clear. Now we just need to wait a bit to find out what they’re going to do about them.