EVE Evolved: Does skillpoint trading make EVE pay-to-win?

EVE Online‘s realtime skill training system has been a major point of contention throughout the game’s lifetime, being a boon for those with little time to invest but often stunting players who prefer to work toward goals. While you could grind your way to your first billion ISK and can play the market freely, skill training will slow your progression. The system made a lot of sense back in EVE‘s early life when subscriptions were the only game in town, as you’re guaranteed to make progress even if you don’t have time to play. EVE quickly got a reputation as an MMO that rewards careful planning more than hours sunk into grinding content, and it settled in that niche for quite some time. For new players, however, skills represent roadblocks lasting anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on what ship you want to fly or what role you want to play.

The inability to grind for skillpoints has been a common complaint among today’s prospective players, who believe they’ll never be able to catch up to veterans no matter how good they become at the game. Those complaints may soon be silenced, however, as CCP has announced plans to let players extract skillpoints in unwanted skills and sell them on the open market as Transneural Skill Packets. You’ll be able to respec your character by extracting skills you don’t use and re-assigning their points to other fields, and players who grind their way to riches will be able to buy skillpoints to boost their characters. The player reaction to the announcement has been oddly mixed, with over 150 pages filled with doomsday predictions on the forum but more cautiously optimistic responses from the EVE blogging community and subreddit. So what’s the big deal with selling skillpoints, and does it make EVE pay-to-win?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at EVE‘s skill system, what will change with the introduction of the Transneural Skill Packet system, and whether this makes EVE pay-to-win.

sov20-3Catching up to the veterans

One of my first ever articles for Massively-of-old back in 2008 was a look at pervasive myths about EVE‘s skill system, most notably the idea that new players can’t catch up to veterans. Those who started playing over a decade ago now sit atop a 150-200 million skilllpoint pile, but EVE is not a linear progression treadmill and skillpoints don’t convert directly into power on the battlefield or success in the game.

A new player can invest less than 20% of the training time a veteran has by getting all of the appropriate skills for a task up to level 4 and still have 80% of the veteran’s bonus. That extra level a veteran might have trained will provide a 3-10% bonus to a particular task, module or ship ability, but in actual EVE gameplay that tiny difference is far outstripped by other factors. The outcome of PvP, for example, usually comes down to the number of ships on each side of a fight, the strategies employed, and the actual experience of the pilots.

There’s also a limit to the number of skillpoints that can be actively in use at any given time. If you’re hoovering up Veldspar in a mining barge, your millions of skillpoints invested in other ships, combat drones, and dozens of other things aren’t being used. That means a newbie can pick a particular ship or role in EVE and can “catch up” to be as good as the veteran player in a matter of six months to a year. A 200 million skillpoint character is likely using less than 20-30 million skillpoints during a fleet op, so a 30 million skillpoint character could be literally on par with his adversary despite the several year head start he has. EVE‘s skillpoint system is essentially shallow and wide enough that you can only invest so much in one ship or role, and so what veterans really have is choice between more roles.

side-4Skill packets and the value of subs

Like many players, my initial reaction to the devblog on transneural skill packets was highly negative. If other players can buy skillpoints then all that time and money I spent subscribing when I wasn’t particularly active in-game feels like it was wasted. Realtime progress is the only truly limited quantity in EVE right now, and the idea of getting in now so that you get a head-start on future players was one of the reasons I signed up in 2004.

If you can always buy your way to any goals you have with ISK or cash, then it feels less important to subscribe and train passively. As a veteran player though, I’ve long since run out of useful skills to acquire and now train things I don’t need or throw obscenely long level 5 skills into the queue just so that I don’t waste training time. I even routinely ignore an empty queue for weeks at a time and sometimes suspend my main account and play on an alt because skill training is just not that important once you have everything you need.

Players can already buy fully trained characters on the Character Bazaar, so all this new system does is make that purchase more granular and gives players control over where the skillpoints go. Where the head-start argument makes sense though is in updates that introduce new skills, as I believe nobody should be able to buy their way to an instant level 5 in whatever new ship class or activity is introduced. This would have been a really big deal back in 2005 when everyone was slowly training toward capital ships, and if something similarly monumental were to be introduced in the future then I’d like to hope people couldn’t buy their way to the head of the queue. As a protective measure to keep the new expansion rush in effect, I think newly released skills shouldn’t be able to receive injected skillpoints until enough time has passed that the skill could have been trained passively.

fcvsfcIs this about helping new players or making money?

Part of CCP’s reasoning for adding skill trading is that it will help new players, but this implementation obviously only helps the rich. Existing players who have made it big in-game will be able to shortcut the skillpoint curve, increasing the gap between mid-level players and total newbies. If new players want to do the same, they’ll need to inject some money into the game by buying PLEX for cash and selling them on the in-game market. The players extracting their skills will also be spending Aurum on the extractors, which they’ll have to either buy directly for cash or obtain through PLEX conversion.

It’s clear that the main outcome of this system will be to increase the demand for PLEX, which is money in CCP’s pocket. I’d also expect subscriptions to rise as people reactivate lapsed alt accounts to use as skillpoint farms. Those are not necessarily a bad things, as we all want to see CCP succeed and we know that EVE‘s subscriptions have dropped lately, but it’s disingenuous to pitch this as helping newbies when it’s really about farming whales.

The one big positive thing this will do is to nullify the argument that you can’t catch up to the veterans, as someone who becomes very good at EVE will abe able to grind their way to the top. Players who have invested cash in their characters may also be more willing to stick with the game in the long term and integrate into the community, so skill packets may increase the barrier to exit. And since the skillpoints have to come from existing characters, it’s a closed system just like buying characters via the Character Bazaar. The one thing I would like to see to help new players is a cheaper version of the skillpoint extractor that just extracts skills into your unallocated skillpoints to let people respec without creating skill packets.

emergence-2Is this a pay-to-win system?

The forum thread in response to the skill packet devblog has reached over 150 pages, and many peoples’ initial reactions there were negative. We’ve heard complaints that this devalues the subscription time spent by veterans, or that it’s a pay-to-win scheme that will ruin the game. The thing is, EVE has always been a hypercapitalistic dystopian universe in which players and corporations can and do buy their way to the top. We’ve even been able to turn cash into in-game money safely and legitimately through game time code trades since around 2006, and sell them on the market as PLEX since 2008.

If buying in-game currency or skillpoints from other players for cash is your idea of pay to win, then EVE has been pay-to-win for almost 10 years. It also follows that Runes of Magic was pay-to-win in 2009, Star Trek Online went pay-to-win in 2011, World of Warcraft went pay-to-win with Guardian Cubs in 2011 and WoW Tokens back in March this year, RuneScape became pay-to-win with bonds, and Guild Wars 2 launched as a pay-to-win game. This is what MMO business models look like today, and evidently western gamers are absolutely fine with it as long as the in-game currency isn’t being generated out of thin air by the dev studio. As long as one real person pays the cash and trades it for another real person’s in-game money that was acquired through normal gameplay, apparently everyone’s happy. The PLEX scheme has been so successful in that regard that other MMOs continue to pick it up and run with it. If you aren’t willing to support a game that allows that kind of trade, your options for a good MMO today are shrinking rapidly.

finalthoughtsbrainminingLike many players, my initial reaction to the idea of trading skillpoints was that it felt like a pay-to-win scheme and could end up sparking off Monoclegate 2.0. When I really thought about it though, I realised that we already have most of this system in place with PLEX and character trades. We don’t lose much by letting people break those characters down into small packets and sell them on the market, but we do get some pretty cool things as a result:

  • We’ll be able to respec by extracting skills we don’t use and injecting the skillpoints for use in other things.
  • We’ll be able to instantly build new alt characters for particular purposes instead of waiting for a month or more of training time.
  • Corporations can start offering recruits skillpoints as rewards for signing up or for fleet participation.
  • Pilots who want to join a fleet but can’t use the alliance’s pre-fit ships will have the option of instantly skilling up in them if they have the ISK.
  • Players will finally be able to improve their characters through active play, not just expand their wallets.

The one big thing this doesn’t tackle is the impenetrability of the skill system for new players who don’t want to spend cash on PLEX, but I think that’s a separate problem with the skill system and new player experience that definitely warrants an article of its own.

EVE Online expert Brendan ‘Nyphur’ Drain has been playing EVE for over a decade and writing the regular EVE Evolved column since 2008. The column covers everything from in-depth EVE guides and news breakdowns to game design discussions and opinion pieces. If there’s a topic you’d love to see covered, drop him a comment or send mail to brendan@massivelyop.com!
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93 Comments on "EVE Evolved: Does skillpoint trading make EVE pay-to-win?"

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crawlkill
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crawlkill

I play the EVE trial once a year or so and have a hard time saying which particular feature it is that keeps me from ever subbing. partly it’s that I don’t really dig online communities, which means even when I hear about these friendly corps like Brave Newbies I just…am not motivated to get involved. partly it’s that I’m not a competitive person, and I have no desire to dominate strangers’ internet spaceships. partly it’s that soloing is just so absolutely deathly dull–I don’t know if there are missions later on that are less flaccid, but early on it’s always just “go to a deadspace complex, kill everything that appears in waves, repeat.” and partly it’s that it has no “life sim” angle–everything you do is about progress and industry, so while it’s without a doubt the sandboxiest game out there, I still don’t really feel immersed in the setting, because a real life is more than money and resource control.

the skill system, by contrast, feels kind of cool in the first few weeks. leveling up a skill is a palpable difference to my character. I’m sure it’s frustrating when you just want to be able to fly the damn titan, but.

if CCP really does think they can solve their barrier to entry problem by letting people pay for skills, I think they’re dramatically misunderstanding the problems non-EVErs who might like to be have with the game.

Zennie
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Zennie

Why would you buy the largest ship?

Zennie
Guest
Zennie

Ship quality and skill ranks mean nothing if you don’t know how to use a ship. I’ve died many times to a few weeks old player simply because he was an alt an therefore his PVP knowlwdge was far above me. His ship was worse “class” than munes, his modules and guns were basic.
It doesn’t really work that way.

kgptzac
Guest
kgptzac

The term P2W is such useless word now.  Eve is designed to have different goals for people to achieve that there are so many definition of winning and it ceased to be a thing that can be bought, unless it’s a self-destruct button for an enemy ship.

I’m not faulting for CCP for wanting more revenue at this point… but this system clearly benefits *rich* new players a bit too much compare to those who just want to pay the sub and play normally.  Also as mentioned, it eases existing players to make even more alts, which I consider a problem within this game–people have way too many alts.

unixtimed
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unixtimed

Why not just reduce skill training time if you cared about how new players would catch up to the veterans? Oh, right, gotta make everyone pay subs and buys a dozen of PLEXes.

Defector1980
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Defector1980

SallyBowls1 In my view, the only thing that was keeping Eve from being P2W was the skill points. You can buy the largest ship with real money, but you can’t use it unless you have the skills. Now with players being able to buy literally everything, even experience, it’s pretty much full on P2W. 
Eventually, all games will be doing this, and I’ll just have to put in more time/money into my other hobbies.

Murmillo
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Murmillo

I don’t even care anymore, pretty much all games are P2W now, if you can buy advantages then it’s P2W in my book, and EvE was already down that path.

Other people might have different definitions, like calling it “convenience” items, but that doesn’t fly for me, either it’s cosmetic only, or it’s P2W.

MetaDune
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MetaDune

Tithian MetaDune It’s still all there though, you’ll be surprise how many user’s buy from gold sellers, that’s why it’s a booming business

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

arktourosx Nyphur I am too literal.  But if I earn ISK and buy and/or sell SP modules on the “AH” without ever spending RL$ or going to the the cash shop, I just don’t think that is interacting with the cash shop.  If I did not read OOG, I might not even know how the cash shop was involved in the production of what I was buying.

Tithian
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Tithian

MetaDune Gold selling/buying can get you banned, and it’s a shady business that can get your accounts hacked, or your credit cards overcharged/stole/whatever. Thus only a minority of the playerbase does it, because the legit players will be afraid of being screwed over.
PLEX (and its equivalents in other games) pretty much removes all risk involved, meaning people can take advantage of the ‘perk’ (if you consider sinking tons of money into a game, a perk) at will.

tobascodagama
Guest
tobascodagama

SallyBowls1 Personally, I don’t think that a game being pay-to-win is some huge scandal. It’s just a game. Particularly “P2W-lite” games like EVE where the power comes from spending real money on stuff that other players had to grind out the hard way.

That said, the goalpost-shifting around the term is silly. If EVE players are find with PLEX-ISK conversion and the character bazaar and all of that, then fine. Defend that stuff on its own merits. And certainly the ability to fund game subscriptions via this kind of RMT is a bit part of the appeal of EVE in the first place… But don’t get pissy when people rightly point out that being able to drop a bunch of cash to buy a tricked-out capital ship and character on their first day in the game in a game where ship quality and skill ranks are so important is pretty much the definition of P2W.

Gibs
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Gibs

Nyphur Azzura making two servers will only split the community (bad imho) and probably either server will become a ghost town, in time. 

Maybe a skill points reset  for all chars, like brand new beginning tied to some cool in game apocalypse lore….but, AHAHAHAHAHAH, lets be honest, never gonna happen.

JayPower
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JayPower

Nyphur tobascodagama Tithian Ya dude the game’s community is completely in denial and ignorant of facts. Here’s CCP to Reddit fanboys saying this is great! “Keep up the great discussion guys!” Here’s CCP to forum goers and CSMs who say this bad *Crickets Chirping*
Typical game Dev who’s biting the bullet to extract what remaining cash is left out of its players. Will look to positive feedback only to reinforce it’s decision. Will ignore negative feedback because it wasn’t constructive enough. People debate over the definition of P2W. Devs do whatever they want.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

jefreahard Nyphur Subscription MMOs introduced the ability to trade RL$ for in game benefits a decade ago and the two largest, EVE and WoW, allow that.  But nowadays even F2P games have adopted this subscription mentality and allow RL$ to impact ingame experience.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

jefreahard Nyphur Technically, it is more than a semantic argument, it is an economic one.  There are huge issues with inflation and balance if exogenous money can create something in unlimited quantity. That does not change the “moral” argument but does obviate a whole class of game design issues.

SallyBowls1
Guest
SallyBowls1

I almost posted to correct “World of Warcraft went pay-to-win with Guardian Cubs in 2011”   WoW went F2P years before GC when TCG cards/mounts could be legitimately sold for in game currency.  It just hit me, this is the problem with this proposal.

GC did not make WoW more P2W, but made it more visible/convenient; tokens much more so.

PLEX did not make EVE more P2W, but made it more visible/convenient; E.g.: Jef said he left EVE in 2010 due to PLEX but it was just as P2W for years prior to PLEX or him joining.

This proposal will not make EVE more P2W, but will make it more visible/convenient than character bazaar.

SallyBowls1
Guest
SallyBowls1

pakelf And Rift and Terra and Wildstar.  Selling PLEX-like tokens seems to be the norm these days with a few exceptions.  But mandatory subscription games like WoW and EVE are rare as well.

SallyBowls1
Guest
SallyBowls1

While I think EVE is clearly P2Something, I want to discuss “it seems like Brendan is the only person who thinks that EVE isn’t pay-to-win…”

I read a blogger who said one of the reasons <another site> was created was how much EVE players disliked the attitudes about EVE here.  A near unanimity of opinion here about EVE (or WoW or SWG) does not provide a lot of insight into reality; like Obama comments at FOX or Koz 

A Russian Oligarch’s son supposedly spend $100,000 to buy ISK to help his alliance so EVE is clearly not immune to RL$.  But the EVE players routinely defend EVE as not p2w for … reasons.  

Is a game that outsiders think is p2w and the customers for a decade think is not p2w really p2w?  Should a game be considered p2w or fun or grindy by the customers or outsiders?

Nyphur
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Nyphur

Azzura The super-pilot thing is why they’re adding diminishing returns to injected skillpoints. You extract 500k skillpoints into a packet but if you have 80m skillpoints or more then each packet only injects 100k. People will do it though, money has never been an object to EVE’s richest players.

Nyphur
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Nyphur

tobascodagama Tithian At this point, it’s clear that we’re all using different definitions of pay-to-win that depend on whether you consider buying things from other community members for cash to be OK or not. Depending on that distinction, EVE is either not pay to win until the devs directly sell power or has been fully pay-to-win since about 2006. The game’s community has previously pressed that it believes the former, and so many games adhere to that scheme now that I prefer to use that definition.

Nyphur
Guest
Nyphur

Pashgan Nyphur TheDonDude This isn’t a matter of policy or pricing, CCP isn’t going to be selling skillpoints and will have very little say in how much they cost. They can set the cost of the skillpoint extractor item in Aurum, but the PLEX that the Aurum comes from and the price of skillpoints themselves will be priced by the in-game free market. If by some miracle of economics they end up cheap enough for newbies, they would cost so little for veterans to buy that market manipulation will drive the price up. This will not be affordable for completely new players, ever.

Nyphur
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Nyphur

SallyBowls1 Nyphur Estranged woolydub That’s a fantastic quote, I’m using that :D

MetaDune
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MetaDune

tobascodagama Tithian anything can be p2w, there should be a focus on these topics because generalizing something that everyone knows about and complaining isn’t going to solve squat and instead just make the players that argue feel good and pat themselves on that back that they made a point with no resolutions

MetaDune
Guest
MetaDune

Tithian you ever heard of gold sellers? Regardless if there’s plex or not, people who want the edge always will turn to gold sellers so in the end every online game is pay 2 win.

That’s why topics like this are ridiculous because anything can be made p2w

woolydub
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woolydub

This comment section has been a fantastic and fascinating look into p2w. i love this site.

Pashgan
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Pashgan

Nyphur TheDonDude > Unfortunately, skill packets are likely to be far too expensive for new players 
I bet it’s not for long, it’s just starting policy to calm down bittervets. And then there will be discounts and lower prices due to “low demand” – which will be actually true considering my EVE buddy invitation program is completely dead since Elite:Dangerous release (new players don’t go past free trial now).

tobascodagama
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tobascodagama

Tithian Judging by the rest of the comment thread, it seems like Brendan is the only person who thinks that EVE isn’t pay-to-win…

Azzura
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Azzura

I think the best thing they could do with Eve to get more people to play is make a brand new server. Let the old members stay on the original server – and new member could all start fresh. SO instead of starting the game today and have people that are 10 years ahead of you in skill points with no hope of ever even dreaming of being close to their ability… start a 2nd server now so people that join the game in a year will only be a year behind them…not 11 years!

The skill gap is a huge turn off to many. The other thing is those that have been around for years and years have alts…I can just see someone combining 3 alts into one SUPER pilot with 40 years worth of skill points! :)

Tithian
Guest
Tithian

As much as it hurts people to hear this, EVE is the epitome of P2W, surpasing even AA. The recent skillpoint-trading is just irrelevant at this point.

Step 1. Cash $$$ into plex, cash those into ISK, buy a character (sanctioned by CCP!) with those ISK from the bazaar, tailored to a specific role you want (i.e. carriers, titans, solo pvp).
Step 2. Cash more $$$ into plex, cash those into ISK, buy ships/goods to support your playstyle.
Step 3. Cash more $$$ into plex, use plex to start new accounts for your alts. And yes, alts in the game give you an insane advantage if you’re doing any sort of PvE, so much in fact that if you don’t run alts you cannot even compete with people running 6-10 accounts cleaning out ice-anoms or rats in record time.

So essiantially, a player that is willing, can spend real money to get immediate ‘veteran’ status, similar to buying a max level toon with raid gear in other MMOs. And people are actually claiming this is not P2W?

Loopstah
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Loopstah

pakelf What exactly are you winning?

arktourosx
Guest
arktourosx

Nyphur I mean anyone who’s spent a bit in a game like World of Tanks knows there’s competitive tiers/brackets you simply can not play in without cash shop ammo.  You quite literally, not figuratively, have to pay to win.
While I agree the lines can get murky I just see that as all the more reason to clearly keep the definition to the literal.  As MetaDune brought up there’s a lot of other people who muddy the P2W topic with nonsense like, “I can buy this outfit so I’m winning the war on fashion!” these days.  Reality is they just don’t like the cash shop and rather than just say they don’t like a cash shop they instead throw out a label like “P2W” which is guaranteed to get people riled up.
In your “short circuit” scenario I’d still label that as P2W because you’re forced to interact with the cash shop in order to compete even if you do so through farming ISK in game to buy PLEX then convert to AUR.  Because the definition is based on cash shop interaction to remain competitive it doesn’t matter how you interact with the cash shop but rather the fact you are doing so in order to compete.  Once established if something is P2W or not you can then have a discussion on how “reasonably” P2W it is.

Nevid
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Nevid

dorn2 not like this place is free of it.

Polyanna
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Polyanna

This should be a bit of a boost to traffic in the character trading market, since any character now will have “salvage value” equal to its accumulated skillpoints, even if they’re in stuff that was nerfed or obsoleted.

Besides that, this doesn’t make the game any more or less P2W than it already was thanks to the legitimate character selling channel that CCP set up long ago. It already was P2W, and this only makes SP trading more efficient.

In the end, the benefit of having huge amounts of SP is not in raw power but in adaptability. As long as CCP sticks to their pattern of nerfing the shit out of entire classes and races every six months or so, low SP characters always will struggle to avoid being left in the dust for months or years until their chosen specialties come back into vogue again. Meanwhile the bittervets who can fly everything at all Vs keep right on trucking and obliviously telling everyone else to “adapt or die.”

Adaptation is easy when you can do everything equally well. But after one or two cycles of spending six months training something only to see it nerfed into the ground the day after your done, the game starts to get real old, real quick.

It also could indicate some more big changes ahead, by which CCP might be intending to obsolete a lot of deep SP investments people have made in favor of new things. With this in place, it will be a lot easier for them to yank the rug out from under people that have invested lots of SP in certain things, since they can always “just respect” or “sell off your SP for profit.”

pakelf
Guest
pakelf

All games where you can buy subscription time and sell it in game by whatever are PTW. Looking to you EVE, looking to you WoW,…

CistaCista
Guest
CistaCista

jefreahard Nyphur P2W trades is not a problem for a sandbox, it is in fact crucial for the sandbox economy. There is no succesful sandbox (and no, SWG was not a sandbox) that has not been P2W.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Nyphur Estranged woolydub An EVE quote I read is that if you are in a fair fight in EVE, someone miscalculated.

LeafyVegetable
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LeafyVegetable

No because eve was already pay to win since they allowed time code sales waaaay before plex.

MetaDune
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MetaDune

Nyphur arktourosx I agree p2w is so generalize now that almost anything that even helps noobs people will call it p2w

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

dorn2 May be a new meme – just saw a troll in SWTRO do a this is how WoW… game dead.

schlag sweetleaf
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schlag sweetleaf

Just went to the EVE forums. Lotsa angry subspace chatter over there about these proposed changes.

TheDonDude
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TheDonDude

Nyphur TheDonDude I think your idea of some sort of newbie skill boost is a good one.  I’m hoping EVE will be able to find the happy balance between skill points being a barrier to newbies and skill points gained over time still being valued.

jefreahard
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jefreahard

Nyphur jefreahard Eh, that’s a semantic argument as to whether or not the company is or is not a gold trader. They allow (and profit handsomely from) the exchange of real money to in-game money or items, do they not? Sounds like gold trading to me.

Regardless of how you label the behavior, it effectively offers players a shortcut around the mechanics that developers themselves designed and which therefore renders moot the point of playing an economy-based virtual world game without using a cheat like outside cash. 

Sure there are different levels of “winning,” and in a game like EVE, winning can even be subjective based on a number of different player goals and possible outcomes. But the basic requirements for p2w — the introduction into the game of outside elements that improve a player’s ability or enjoyment — is there.

As to why most people are ok with it, I think it has less to do with the fact that someone made the gold via normal gameplay and more to do with the fact that people are impatient and have no qualms about circumventing MMO mechanics with money if it allows them to get their progression hit quicker than they can via gameplay. And ofc the people who grew up playing MMOs now have more money than time, and they have no qualms about spending money to get some semblance of their old MMO high regardless of the effects that their behavior has on the validity of the game or the game economy.

Nyphur
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Nyphur

Estranged Nyphur woolydub Granted, that’s possible, but it basically never happens in actual gameplay. Even when you go on a solo PvP roam, you’ll mostly come up against small groups or stragglers and the outcome is usually determined by which party catches the other at a disadvantage. You know what you can and can’t take down, and you hunt the weaker prey while avoiding the bigger fish. Hell, turning your ship to get getter tracking on an enemy ship or accurately keeping an enemy within your ship’s operational range matters more in a 1-on-1 slugfest than that 10%.

Estranged
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Estranged

Nyphur woolydub My issue with this is that equally skilled players would have the battle determined by this 10% in which you speak in a 1 on 1 situation.

Nyphur
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Nyphur

TheDonDude Though I didn’t write it explicitly, I hope that I demonstrated through sheer absurdity that this is clearly not a pay-to-win scheme and that nobody cares about PLEX trade or character sales. I think the vast majority of EVE players recognise that new players getting more skillpoints would be a good thing, because skills really are just a road block in front of content.

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

dorn2 WoW gold enables one to buy some auction house gear, but gear is recycled or becomes useless on the vertical progression scale quickly.  Buying a WoW character doesn’t make you a good player, just helps you skip content. In contrast, EVE has been about buying permanent power and this just reinforces the concept.

TheDonDude
Guest
TheDonDude

Seems to me that EVE players can’t have it both ways:

1.  Don’t worry, new players, veterans having more skill points doesn’t make them better than you
2.  Oh crap, you can buy your way to to more skill points!  Pay to win!

Either more skill points are win or they aren’t.  Can’t have both.

Nyphur
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Nyphur

arktourosx I like this definition of pay-to-win because it makes a fairly clear distinction between what the general MMO public has already decided through their purchasing habits is OK and what they will not accept. I’d argue that something is truly pay to win only if you can buy something for cash that gives you an advantage and you can’t reasonably get that item through normal gameplay.
The troublesome short-circuit for this argument though is that any game with a microtransaction currency that can be exchanged for in-game currency or that you can grind for is automatically not pay to win. They could sell a literal win button that you push and your enemy explodes, but since you can grind for it too the cash payment is actually a shortcut. That’s why I include the word “reasonably,” because if a game is designed such that it’s not competitively feasible to get such an item except by paying cash then it most certainly is pay to win.

Nyphur
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Nyphur

jefreahard Nyphur That’s not entirely accurate, in the PLEX situation and the various copycat schemes in MMOs today the company isn’t being a gold trader. It’s other players who are supplying the gold or ISK, PLEX / Gems / Bonds / WoW Tokens are just part of an approved mechanism for that trade. The difference is that ordinary players can’t extract cash directly from the game using those mechanisms, only spend it on things that the token can be spent on. Before PLEX were introduced to EVE, that was a huge loophole with the permitted game time code sales, and I cashed my fair share of ISK out of the game during those years.
Restricting what you can spend the money you get from selling gold might not seem like a big deal, but it turns it from an industry farming gold for profit into a community selling each other game time. It also doesn’t support account hacking and all those other dodgy things that go hand in hand with RMT as you’re dealing with real players, and you can be sure that the gold/ISK was earned by someone somewhere through normal gameplay. That’s why people are OK with PLEX but wouldn’t be OK with a company directly selling gold for cash, even though the effect to the end user is that the game is effectively now in some regard pay-to-win.

Nyphur
Guest
Nyphur

Quincha Nyphur Again, we don’t need to prove that GW2’s progression is the same as EVE’s in order to claim that it falls under the same pay to win arguments. The fact that you can spend cash to get progression at all makes it fall into the same category. This argument started with the premise that “buying in-game currency or skillpoints from other players for cash is your idea of pay to win,” and it’s true in both cases regardless of whether you can reach an end goal.

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