Disclaimer: The following article is an opinion piece written by Seraph IX Basarab, readers’ discretion is advised.
The title you read is correct. This is not an exaggeration in any way. No tinfoil needed either. You too can steal from CCP and get away with it with these three easy steps.
Who could I possibly talking about? Why INN of course, the Imperium’s propaganda “news” arm. The Imperium has its moons nationalized. The ISK is used to pay INN staff. INN staff in turn churns out content for Eve readers. INN gets a lot of pageviews by promoting its content to the Eve community, particularly its own coalition. In turn Mittani uses these metrics to sell ad space to other gaming companies as well as making deals to promote said games. Some examples might be H1Z1, Planet Side and Hearthstone. (You can get your own Imperium flag and “his regards knife” in some of these games oh boy!) Mittani makes actual money from promoting these games through his Eve audience. How much? The only people who would know are either Mittens himself or the people high up enough that they are bound by their NDA agreement making it illegal to disclose those specifics. As thinking people we can speculate. People that have contributed to the furthering of the Imperium are flown out to events for example. As far as we know The Imperium/INN is a full time job for Mittens.
The key point to remember here is that however much money is made and for whatever it is being used, this is simply RMTing but with extra steps. INN is literally an ISK laundering tool converting in game ISK to real money by using CCP’s property (according to the EULA everything in Eve belongs to them including your in game name, assets, etc) to promote the games of other gaming companies.
But wait! Don’t other sites provide Eve material for real money? People make logos and for Eve alliances and provide comms services. What’s the difference?
The difference is all those things “keep things in house” meaning everything done is centered around Eve. You can make logos and art for Eve alliances. What INN is doing is using the Eve player base as a promotional populace for other games. INN is using Eve property to sell Eve players non-Eve games and raking in profits for it. It can be 10 bucks, it can be 100,000, it doesn’t matter.
But wait! EN24 has ads too! They’re doing the exact same thing! What’s the difference?
EN24 does have some generic ads. For example the one I just had pop up was for a car company and car insurance. So yes these ad’s do generate some revenue. However, this income simply goes back into paying for the site itself. EN24 other ads and it’s primary revenue generation is through its Corporation and Alliance Ad Program. When you compare INN and EN24 there is a significant difference between what we do and what is being described above by INN. EN24 generates 100% of its ISK (for paying writers) through the aforementioned corporation and alliance advertising which is significantly different in comparison to the “Nationalized Moons” that funds INN. Our income is used to pay our writers and staff in ISK and only for providing content that is 100% related to CCP Games and EVE Online. We do not write for, review, advertise, or support any other platform or game. Furthermore our income stream of ISK is voluntary for services provided and as a result our customers can withdraw their ad’s and ISK at anytime. Members of the Imperium can only watch as the moon’s held by the Imperium (that they are required to defend) is used to support a “real life” business/media. It becomes even more egregious when one realizes said business uses ISK made by Eve players to pay writers to write stories and content about games other than Eve Online.
To be clear every time a member of the Imperium defends a moon in Delve the ISK they are protecting is going right into supporting a site whose loyalties at times conflicts with the interest of CCP and to generate money that goes into someone’s pocket.
But wait! EN24 got money from those damn RMTing casinos! Hypocrites!
This is exactly the argument INN/Imperium people will make. But again this ignores the fact that even if a couple casino bankers from IWI were RMTing that does not mean everyone there was. Even if someone that was RMTing was donating ISK to EN24, that does not make the ISK ‘dirty.’ Casinos make ISK. They don’t need to buy it so none of the ISK given to EN24 from there can be “RMT ISK.” Guilt by association is not an argument. Hypothetically speaking if your own space dictator was kicked from the club for groping people, that doesn’t suddenly make everyone in said alliance complicit or guilty of their actions. That’s for them to deal with it. This defense which WILL come up is a red herring and ignores the points addressed above.
But wait! Why do you even care Seraph? Why should any of us care?
If you’re reading this it’s very likely you’re an Eve player. You enjoy Eve, the community, your friends, and the gameplay itself. I write here because it’s a hobby. It’s fun and I enjoy enriching the experience of Eve players with what is essentially a sort of lore. We want what is best for Eve and CCP. Businesses like INN are designed to convert in game assets into real money by promoting other games and offering only a very thin layer of “Eve content” in order to leverage numbers for clicks to get better ad deals.
CCP you are letting INN promote other games on the backs of your labor.
So what can CCP do about this? Anyone can point out problems, but what’s a solution? CCP could enforce its EULA rules which state that all Eve content, names, etc is owned by them and have INN pay a cut of their promotional profits to CCP itself. This way INN’s “siphoning” can go back and help the player in some way by giving CCP more funding. However, this establishes a precedent of “well you can RMT if you place enough steps between in game assets and the real money (like INN) as long as we get a cut.”
The more suitable option would be to enforce the same EULA rules and simply forbid INN from promoting non-Eve games. Mittens can have another site with non-Eve gaming content all the same. But using the Eve player base as a promotional platform is clearly running into some conflict of interests issues. Former CSM member, Sion Kumitomo was already forbidden from running for the CSM again because of his business ties to INN (at that time TMC). Mittens has skirted some ethical lines while butting heads with CCP in the past most notably perhaps threatening CCP employees to use his “real life media contacts” to get them fired when he doesn’t get his way. It remains to be seen if CCP will actually step up and put an end to this thinly disguised RMT operation or if some will finally “bend the fucking knee” as Mittens has for so long wished.