EVE Online is the only game I play. I preface this letter with that statement because after nearly two decades of online gaming I found a game, a passion, which transcends the ones and zeros that is online gaming. I write this letter as a long term loyal customer who has evangelized CCP and EVE Online for many years.
EVE is a unique product that is more than just a game: EVE is it’s own passionate community. It is like an internet-spaceship-nerd Fight Club, where nods of respect (and sometimes drinks) are exchanged when we meet one of our antagonists in real life from within the sandbox.
I’ve invested my time and money over the past seven years into EVE and thus CCP, who made this sandbox we all play in. I have received as dividends, fun and enjoyment. In the time I have spent scratching, clawing, building and destroying in EVE, I have made real life friendships. Friendships that are built on more than just pixel spaceships or an imaginary currency in a wallet. These friendships span the world and if it were not for EVE, I would have never met many dear people I now call friends. I have been made a richer person for these friendships and shared experiences.
Before EVE, I spent vast hours in the competitive FPS world, working with the PunkBuster service back in the days of Team Fortress. The aim of PunkBuster, for those of you who are not familiar, is to isolate those who would cheat and disrupt the fair game play of legitimate gamers. No player should have to compete against another player who has an advantage over another solely on the basis of their ability to code or create outside of the game.
One of the great benefits I saw in my early days of EVE, was the difficulty in cheating as I saw it then, in EVE Online. To this day, like nearly everyone else, every ISK, asset, and in-game item I possess I earned. My performance on the field was dictated by my actions and preparation for those actions. I knew that my enemies worked under the same set of rules. When I killed them or they killed me, I knew we were on a level playing field and that they had put in either the same or more effort in EVE that I had.
The first cat turd in the sandbox, if you will, was the T20 incident. Anyone, barring complete noobs to EVE, should know the story of how a CCP employee secretly gave a group inside advantages. It sickened me that a player and group got these inside advantages. The T20 incident broke the fourth wall of the sandbox. It destroyed the concept of equality of opportunity (note: I did not say equality of outcome). This employee’s actions were not a company decision, but those of an employee who was pants-on-head stupid. Despite this being the actions of one individual, the incident, along with some pants-on-head business decisions/newsletters on the part of CCP, have colored the perception of our game’s makers in the eyes of the player base, the repercussions of which are still being felt to this day.
The very presence of the CSM, unheard of in any other online game, is testimony to that. Now enter the present day controversy and feline “gift” in the sandbox courtesy of CCP’s marketing gurus and their unabashedly biased community site rewards program. I say biased because it effectively hands out billions in ISK to people that run out of game sites. These out of game sites are effectively receiving multiple tens of billions worth of CCP generated assets. We now have to compete in the market, on contract, or in space, with those who have an unfair in game advantage which has not been created through the mechanics of the game.
The giving of unique assets in game for out of game actions breaks the fourth wall in the sandbox and destroys the very premise of the sandbox. So much for the promise of “no gold ships”. . I mean “ammo.”
Does this hunk of cat poo smell like T20 to anyone else? I am blessed to not only count the the current Chairperson of the CSM as a personal friend and corp mate, but the developer of Dotlan, which is quite possibly the most used and useful community site in EVE as a personal friend and corp member as well. I have flown with, ate & drank. . . heck, partied with. . . two of the people most personally devoted to the enrichment of EVE Online. I personally know the value of what our community volunteers create and produce.
Do I think that these people need to be rewarded?
It doesn’t matter if they are purely for the betterment of the community such as Chribba and his multiple sites or Dotlan, and Battleclinic. . . or purely for profit such as EVE Online Hold’Em and SOMER Blink. These sites all add value to the shared experience that is EVE and we are richer for having them. If Hilmar or his employees want to send free game time or solid gold Rifter USB hubs to every fan site, so be it and with my blessing. . .
Do I think these people need to be rewarded with in game items that create an unfair advantage, be it on the field or in the market?
The saddest part to me is the only vote I have as a customer on CCP’s actions is to either continue to pay my subscriptions to a company I have long respected as unique in the online gaming world and remain a part of it’s vibrant community that I love, or to unsubscribe and give my money to companies I detest and who’s games suck.
This not about rewarding a profit driven community site vs a non profit site. This is about receiving assets solely and directly from CCP itself vs earning them in game like everyone else. CCP can reward whoever they want to, how ever they want to, outside of game. as long as I don’t have to compete with the creators or benefactors of these sites at a disadvantage in game due to them having been given that advantage by CCP.
CCP executives must get a rein on their marketing and community development teams and tell them to stop breaking the sandbox. CCP, stop leaving cat presents in my sandbox and be more creative in rewarding those groups who work hard outside of game to support the only product you are making money on.