Gods, I wish I could walk away for the SOMERblink player-initiated controversy, but I can’t. A blogger I have no small about of respect for has labeled SOMERblink an RMT site. His last two EVE related posts have been all about that. But is that SOMERblink’s intent? I actually got to talk to the owner of SOMERblink this past weekend. I found him to be an earnest entrepreneur trying to run a business. Yes, a business you knuckleheads; just like you all wish you could run. Keeping that site running is not cost free. It takes real world money, or do you also still believe in fairies? That makes it a business even if it is essentially a non-profit.
But back to this RMT charge. In a standard RMT transaction, one party creates ISK through the game mechanism designed for that purpose, and then sells it to a second party for real money. This transaction may involve many people: multiple bot runners, RMT web site managers, as well as the person buying the ISK. But, there is a very clear intent by all those involved to conduct RMT. It’s why the botters bot, the web site exists and the lazy gamer finds it in the first place. Everyone, at every step, knows exactly what they are doing and their actions show it without a doubt. Their intent is to circumvent the game from the beginning to the end. No contract between any party in this chain of events is allowed according to the EULA or ToS.
Now, let’s look at the SOMERblink incident. First of all, there is no clear cut contract connecting all parties to a single purpose. You actually have three contracts in action here for three separate reasons. At least two of these contracts are sanctioned by CCP.
The first sanctioned contract is Markee Dragon selling GMT. That is a contract between CCP and Markee Dragon. It is no different than the contract given all sellers of GMT; ‘nuf said. It is the least controversial segment of this chain of events.
So Markee Dragon asks a site operator with a shit-ton of hits per day to act as an outside sales person for them. This is the second contract and it is done EVERY DAMN DAY in this world. It is not illegal and does not violate the EULA or ToS anymore than syndication agreements between EN24 and bloggers are illegal. I know, I’ve been a recipient of ISK for that sort of thing. Does that make me an RMTer? If the agreement between Markee Dragon and SOMERblink is illegal, so are all those other agreements out there. The fact they all exist argues otherwise.
There is nothing “wrong” with the previous two contracts. They are also distinct and different. SOMERblink does not sell the GMT directly. They are an agent of Markee Dragon, a duly authorized seller of GMT. We all good up to this point? I hope so because there is nothing controversial about these relationships whatsoever.
Now we get to the third contract that has everyone in an uproar. SOMERblink made a decision to entice their users to use Markee Dragon by offering them blink credit. It is possible for the recipients of blink credits to redeem some of that credit for ISK. It is an indirect process to be sure, but it is possible. Now, this contract is between SOMERblink and its users. If the user uses the link on the SOMERblink site to buy GMT from Markee Dragon, SOMERblink will give them 200 million blink credit. Is this RMT? Well, I’ve written posts and received ISK for them so I’m inclined to say no. Others say yes.
But ask yourself this. If SOMERblink did not get paid for the transaction, would they still issue the blink credit for using the link? The answer is yes, they would. How do I know? Because I personally got blink credit for a GMT sale that was initially refused by Markee Dragon. I had to contact Markee Dragon directly to sort it out. Here’s the email thread.
However, SOMERblink still gave me the blink credit on the 11th. No real money had yet been given to them, because I had not reordered yet, but they honored their contract with me. Wish I could prove it beyond a doubt. The 200 million blink credit they gave me has scrolled off the history available on the SOMERblink web site unfortunately. But the fact I got blink credit first indicates to me the contract has nothing to do with actually obtaining real money via the transaction I conducted with Markee Dragon. It is an incentive not unlike the coupons stores offer to get people to buy certain products for which those stores have a special pricing agreement (SPA) with the manufacturing company. Perhaps SOMERblink would have reclaimed the credit if I had not followed up and resubmitted the order. Perhaps I could have scammed the hell out of them. They’ve been robbed before. But either way, calling it all RMT is a hell of a stretch.
And that’s the point here people. We are not talking about RMT when there are three separate contracts being completed, two of them are outright sanctioned, and there is no intent to get ISK for money. Fact: I bought the GTC for blink credit, not ISK. I wanted to play for “free” and not have to use my hard earned in-game money to do it! How in the universe can this be considered RMT? Well, obviously many do. They believe SOMERblink and Markee Dragon are in collusion.
But a charge of collusion requires a huge amount of evidence. Without said evidence the accusation is at best envy and at worst outright libel. Bloggers need to walk a very fine line here. Making such accusations without proof is a dangerous undertaking. So far this does not seem to have affected SOMERblink or Markee Dragon as a business. But if it does, rest assured that the businesses which are SOMERblink and Markee Dragon may have legal grounds to seek compensation. And don’t forget, libel is a civil charge, not a criminal one. The courts are much more lenient on interpreting the term “harm” in such cases. Be very, very careful treading that field. It’s full of mines.
I’ve another concern too. The EVE community is full of ISK for work deals. We all accept those as legitimate without ever questioning them. But are they really ligitimate? If I pay for this blog (I don’t BTW) and accept ISK for the things I put on it, am I not guilty of RMT by the same logic used by all those who want to burn SOMERblink down? I am, after all, using my real money (and time, which everyone knows is money) to get ISK. To use another analogy, Pandora should never have opened that box.
He’s been around the block a time or five. With over 15 years of MMO playing under his belt and a memory that reaches back to pencils and dice, he offers his insights into the not so virtual reality we call Eve Online.