This is by far my favorite type of story to cover on weekends: The EVE Scandal! They're fun because they tend to involve big-ass space ships or wads of in-game currency that convert to mind-boggling sums in real life. This latest allegation features both.
So, let's introduce the players this time. (Incredibly, Goonswarm is not involved. Yet.) EVE Online, which puts the "massively" into MMO, has its own gambling site—if it has its own real-world parliament, I mean, why not? Anyway, the site, SOMER Blink, is a player-run lottery operation that offers some really nice in-game prizes (usually ships and other assets) for playing.
Well, a leaked email dated Aug. 20 from SOMER Blink to all employees, says everyone is getting "an Ishukone Watch Scorpion of their own, direct from [EVE Publisher] CCP." The email was obtained by TheMittani.com, an EVE-oriented forum and news site.
This is, more or less, a spaceship that says Bad Mofo on it. It is not available to manufacture in the game, and can only be given out by CCP. "The ships tend to sell for 10 to 20 billion ISK," the game's currency, "meaning that the gift was worth 300-600 billion ISK," writes The Mittani.com.
Oh, what the hell, let's convert that to real moolah. This converter says that kind of in-game value is between $10,000 and $20,000, and that the ship would sell for $350 to $700 individually.
[Note: Dumb error on my part assumed the $10,000-$20,000 was a per ship figure. The headline has been corrected.]
Value is important here because apparently, everyone getting one of these bad boys had to be reminded not to turn around and flood the market with them. "Please do not immediately run to the forums and [sell] the ship," wrote Autumnries Mahm, an alias of Somerset Mahm, who runs SOMER Blink. "30 of them appearing all at once would be weird. If you want to sell it and don't have a buyer in mind, please use a lower-profile [alias] if you would, and wait a little while.
"This is a really unique thing CCP is doing that doesn't directly map to anything they have done in the past, and we dont want to mess up that future relationship."
TheMittani.com, which has much more on the controversy at the link, notes CCP's past uses of Scorpions Ishukone Watch as swag for friends of the company. TheMittani.com notes that a comment from SOMER Blink "seems to confirm that the leaked email is real."
Kotaku reached out to EVE Online representatives to offer a chance to comment; if they reply, it'll be updated here.
[UPDATE] An EVE Online spokesman responds that "The Ishukone Scorpion was created for exactly this sort of purpose—a promo ship for giveaways and special occasions to be used on multiple levels. It has been given out several times already (including some very analogous to this one) and will be given out again in the future for contests, awards, charity-related efforts, 'thanks' and more."
Additionally, despite this spacecraft's unique skin, it is "actually worse gameplay-wise than the regular Scorpion and refines to only 1 Tritanium—so it is little more than a hangar ornament." The reason it's in-game price is so high because of the craft's current rarity. "Yet as more are introduced I am pretty sure the market price will lower based on total supply, as we see after the first few days any ship has been added to EVE."
Community concerns over the use of the ship as a thank-you have been "carefully noted," and the game is "looking into creating a fuller program for those celebrating the amazing EVE community."