Back then, preluding the firestorm now known as Monoclegate, CCP Games had mentioned the need for a license agreement for third party developers. The license had a proposed price of $99 for what some described as the “privilege of doing CCP’s work”. Not to mention the announcement was met with a less than caustic reaction from the third party community. I remember blogging and berating CCP Games for what I felt it was a disservice to the then thriving third party community.
After plenty of backtracking (and being overshadowed by the Monoclegate scandal), CCP Games promised to rethink its licensing strategy and present an “improved” version of the whole thing.
I’ll leave it here for us to dissect.
Introducing the Free CCP Developer License and The crest API beta test period
At Fanfest this year, we introduced new technology in our cluster called CREST, that allows us to connect new applications to the EVE cluster in a much more interactive way than the current EVE API. We also announced that we would introduce a Developer License for 3rd party developers for those who want to use CREST in their applications, so that creating apps around EVE would be governed by its own license, not just by the player EULA. You can watch this part of the EVE Keynote with me, CCP Seagull, here: Fanfest 2012, EVE Keynote: CCP Seagull.
This devblog is an update on both of these things – we are publishing the Developer License for a round of community feedback and questions, and we are announcing how beta access to CREST and a first small set of APIs around characters and contacts will work for developers. Depending on results from the CREST beta that will happen on a public test server, we will make a release decision about when we turn on CREST for 3rd party developers on Tranquility. If you are developing tools or applications around EVE, read on – this devblog is directed at you.
Note that everything talked about below is in addition to the existing API and developer tools. There are no changes for existing applications – only new stuff on top of what is already available for 3rd party applications.
A first note is that this license is not forced on any existing applications or developers – it is however required to enter into this agreement to use the new CREST APIs, and if you want to use our new Single Sign On service to authenticate users using their EVE accounts. There are a couple of reasons for us to introduce a license for 3rd party developers that is separate from the normal End User License Agreement for EVE Online:
- Protecting players and our game universe. Applications that we didn’t write that connect to our game can potentially damage both individual players and our game universe as a whole. We need to be able to both close down access for whole applications if they threaten the game, and reach a person behind each appliation.
- Protecting our trademarks and intellectual property. This is a neccessity for any business today, and we are doing it to the extent we need, while still trying to enable the community around the EVE Universe to do cool stuff. App developers using our intellectual property is a very different case from normal player usage, so by regulating it separately we can take those differences into account, and protect our trademarks and IP in the ways we need to.
- Enabling developers to do more. With a license that is explicitly regulating our relationship with you as a developer, we can allow more things without getting CCP into legal and tax problems. Today, the licence explicitly allows for some things like donations, and in the future this could be extended.
The license, and some key license points
Today, we are publishing the license for community feedback. You can download a PDF of the license text here: License For Community Developers (PDF, 143 KB) . You should read the license document itself in its entirety, and the points below are not binding in any way, but here is an attempt at summarizing the main points of the license in a more non-lawyer-human readable version:
- The Developer License gives you a license to create applications that enhance the player experience for EVE Universe games EVE Online and DUST 514.
- There is no fee for the license. You will need to verify your identity by using a credit card, but this is done through a costless transaction.
- Access to tools and APIs are free of charge, and we have no plans to charge for this access. We may however in the future decide to charge for heavy usage of certain API endpoints for example. Any such plans would be advertised with plenty of notice.
- You can take ISK donations and Real Money donations to cover your costs, but you can’t charge outright for usage, access or download of your application.
- You are not allowed to make whole new game products.
- You are not allowed to make an app that if a player uses it, they would break the player EULA.
- If we can’t reach you about a problem with your application, we might turn off access for it.
- You need to put our copyright notice somewhere in your app, and follow our trademark guidelines for using logos and other game materials.
- You can show ads in your application, but they can’t be ads for stuff that’s EULA-breaking, like RMT ads. We also reserve the right to ban other types of ads at our discretion – but this is a right we need to retain to protect our business, not intended to be an arbitrary or draconian ad policy. We just need the ability to deal with this on a case-by-case basis.
- We can’t guarantee any sort of uptime for the services, we might rate limit your access, and we reserve the right to remove any application we think is a threat to players or the game universe.
If you have questions about an application you are planning or already have created, and how it fits with the license, please contact [email protected] with your questions. We are doing this license and CREST because we believe in and want to support the developer ecosystem, so please send your questions and concerns, and we will discuss if and how we can adress them. You may very well come across sections in the license that sound strange to you, as is the case with most legal text where lawyers need to cover all kinds of edge cases to do their jobs well – please read with our stated intentions above in mind, rather than some idea that we are out to mess with you! Signing up for the Developer License is not required for apps that don’t want to use CREST functionality – so all existing apps can continue to function as they are without disruptions. They are still covered by the existing rules and End User License Agreement.
How does it work to enter into the Developer License Agreement?
Practically, you need:
- An EVE account with a verified email adress on it. It can’t be a trial account, but it does not need to be active/paid when signing the license.
- For further identification purposes, you need to have made either a free credit card identification transaction, or have made a payment at some point in time with a credit card, on that account.
- The license itself does not cost anything, and your EVE account does not need to be active for the license to be active.
The license agreement sign-up page is not yet available – as soon as it is, we will announce it. This page will reside on a new set of pages specifically for 3rd aprty developers.
The CREST beta period for 3rd party developers
Lots of things have needed to fall into place for this release to be possible, and it has taken us longer than planned. We apologize for this delay! We are now nearing release of our infrastructure for creating applications that can connect to CREST, and of the first set of CREST APIs dealing with character info, contacts and standings. You can read all the documentation for what the CREST API will contain here: CREST Documentation. To be part of the beta, you need to enter into the Developer License Agreement. Once the license is agreed to, you can sign up to be part of the CREST beta. We will beta test all of the new CREST related features on the public test server Buckingham. You will be able to create applications and have them interact with the game server on behalf of characters. We will take feedback in the Technology Lab forums, and monitor how the beta test works, and then make a decision about when we turn the functionality on for Tranquility. We are aiming to launch this beta test on Buckingham in February, and we will announce the ability to take part in it as soon as it is available. Apart from fulfilling the criteria for the Developer License and agreeing to it, there will be no other requirements for taking part in the beta.
That’s it for now, please give us your questions and feedback in comments thread for this devblog. Below are some sneak peak screenshots of the new Developer pages.
Somehow I can’t shake the feeling for CCP to have ulterior motives behind these proposed licensing changes, but in this occasion it feels more as a move out of necessity than anything else. Granted, clearer rules should ensure a better environment over which abiding projects could flourish in a more streamlined way.