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Furious Over Microtransactions, EVE Online Community Explodes with Rioting

Illustration for article titled Furious Over Microtransactions, emEVE Online/em Community Explodes with Rioting

I don't pretend to understand the culture of EVE Online, but when a fiasco gets a Downfall-meme video, that's a kind of visual Esperanto for "this shit is officially fucked." Our tips box has been exploding with reports that EVE's culture is on the verge of collapse over publisher CCP's decision to sell microtransaction items at macrotransaction prices, with "literal" rioting (pictured) taking place in the game.

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EVE, the science-fiction MMO, prides itself on being more than a game, and when pirate raids destroy actual real-world goods, and virtual bank heists pay off in actual currency, it's a legitimate claim. Now comes word that thousands of EVE players are demonstrating in the game's two main trading hubs, angered by CCP's opening of a vanity-item marketplace whose prices are (and whose merch is) truly insane.

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"At the main trading hubs of Jita and Amarr, people in their thousands, (seriously, thousands) [are] firing upon a memorial statue in rage, locking down the trade hubs and crippling the in-game economy," writes one EVE-playing Kotaku reader, who supplied that picture above. " I can't help looking at this like a virtual geek version of the 'Arab spring' of late."

Sounds a bit extreme, but to many, the sale of $68 monocles, however ridiculous, portends a "pay-to-win" model in which virtual items with real in-game applications are put up for sale.

As with any community riot, there are allegations of bannings, forum censorship, human sacrifice, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria, etc. This probably is to be expected when a CCP internal newsletter debating microtransactions, entitled "Greed is Good?", is leaked to the public. (CCP is definitely upset over this, telling the community it was an internal document sent for purposes of debate, and lamenting that so much hatred has been directed at those whose names are on it. "Seriously, these people were doing their jobs and do not deserve the hate and shitstorm being pointed at them.")

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Like so many things in capitalism, this comes down to growth versus sustainability. EVE's community—so dedicated it has a frigging parliament that meets in Iceland—has invested millions of hours of time in making it "more than a game," and also a virtual environment with its own government, economy and justice. EVE's maker is, like all video game publishers, a for-profit business, and it doesn't matter who it is or how much goodwill they have, that means one thing and one thing only: Make more money this year than last year.

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It's disillusioning for EVE players to discover that; it's painful for CCP to have it laid bare. But at least both sides understand each other perfectly now.

Illustration for article titled Furious Over Microtransactions, emEVE Online/em Community Explodes with Rioting
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An Explosive Players' Reaction [EVE News 24]

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DISCUSSION

CosmicMuse
CosmicMuse

"writes one EVE-playing Kotaku reader... 'I can't help looking at this like a virtual geek version of the 'Arab spring' of late.'"

Maybe he couldn't help looking at it like that, but you could have not posted his comment, since comparing virtual rioting about a video game to real-world protests about human rights that have had casualties is horribly insensitive at BEST.

And while I'm at it, you missed the point of the conflict. The underlying problem is not that CCP is a for-profit business. Gamers aren't 12-year-olds, they understand how an economy works (EVE players perhaps more than most). Hell, many, if not most MMOs have adapted micro-transactions in one form or another with minimal complaints. But this conflict is coming from a lack of respect for the customer. From what I read, the company asked themselves "How can we rob our players blind?" Players, understandably, don't want to be robbed.

(Oh, and the point of a for-profit company is to make -A- profit. Not ever-increasing profits.)

As far as the article goes - I'm on the side of the players, with a warning caveat: if they ignore you, you have to be willing to actually FOLLOW THROUGH on your threats to leave. If Blizzard actually lost a subscription every time they heard "These changes suxx0rz, I'm out", WoW would have died faster than Tabula Rasa.