business model changes

EVE Evolved: What’s the deal with EVE’s PLEX changes?

This week CCP Games announced that some big changes are on the way for PLEX in EVE Online. The PLEX or “30-day Pilot’s License EXtension” is a virtual item that represents 30 days of subscription time and can be bought for cash and then sold to other players for in-game ISK. This simple mechanic has proven to be one of the most important innovations in the subscription MMO business model over the years, allowing players with lots of in-game wealth to effectively play for free while permitting cash-rich players to buy in-game currency without funding dodgy farming operations that can disrupt the game world. Dozens of games now support some kind of player-mediated currency roughly like PLEX.

The proposed changes are intended to simplify EVE‘s business model by merging PLEX with the microtransaction currency Aurum. Players will also be able to put their PLEX into invulnerable account-wide PLEX Vaults that are accessible at all times rather than having to move the valuable items manually by ship. There’s been significant backlash from the EVE community over the newfound invulnerability of PLEX, plans to delete some microtransaction currency from the game without compensation, and the possibility that someone leaked the announcement to friends early in order to make a profit. So what’s the deal with these PLEX changes, and why are some EVE players going nuts over them?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the upcoming changes to the safety of PLEX, the opportunities that more granular PLEX could have for EVE, and why players are up in arms over plans to delete Aurum from thousands of accounts.

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WildStar’s free-to-play shift: Too little or just enough?

WildStar has taken a drubbing in its first year of operation, and much as I don’t like saying so, it’s deserved it. The game had some really terrible habits that I discussed back on Massively-that-was (which I don’t want to link simply because, you know, that Frankengadget thing ain’t us), and it has watched its market share decrease to abysmal proportions. If there was ever a game that needed a salvation effort, it’s this one.

But I can see people arguing that it might be too little and too late. Sure, I’m writing this before the announcement has gone live, but I already know what’s being asked because I asked the same question. Does it even matter at this point what the game does? Has too much time passed? Is it time to just accept the fact that darn it, this game had promise, but it didn’t live up to that promise, so let’s pack it in and cut our losses.

I think I can answer that question. But to do that, I’m going to have to talk about Final Fantasy XIV.

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