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.
There's always a disclaimer for patches and expansions on test servers that things can and will change over the course of their stay there. This is proving true for World of Warcraft's Patch 7.2 this week, as the devs have decided to get rid of an order hall upgrade that would award relics with bonus traits.
"In the next PTR build, you’ll see that we’ve replaced the final order hall research (which caused relics to gain a second trait at random) with one that grants a chance for artifact power rewards from world quests to be doubled," the team said. "We’re doing this for a few reasons, the largest of which being that we simply weren’t satisfied with the current state of the system."
The build has several other adjustments to the formation of 7.2, including another pass at the new Nethershards currency system, tweaks to artifact traits, and a few buffs and nerfs for class skills. The devs will be focusing their efforts on play testing the arena over this next week and invited the community to join in with them.
The Elysium World of Warcraft private server community is in total meltdown, so popcorn at the ready.
Most MMORPG players would probably have never heard of Elysium but for Nostalrius, the WoW emulator that was C&D'd by Blizzard last year and then went on to agitate for official vanilla servers, blowing its momentum after BlizzCon by handing its source code and characters over to Elysium to run from the Ukraine, only to then change its mind last month and ask for the code back.
Elysium agreed to Nostalrius' requests, but things have gone south for its own game this past week when an emu YouTuber and concomitant agitators accused the top echelons of the Elysium team of everything from manipulating loot tables and unbanning hackers for under-the-table cash to participating in Chinese gold selling and botting schemes and being shadow-run by (former) network partner Crestfall. They probably also did Watergate, I don't know.
(Incidentally, Crestfall has already cut ties with Elysium as of this afternoon, citing "strong evidence of corruption in high-ranking members of [Elysium's] staff.")
In a new interview with Glixel, World of Warcraft Game Director Ion Hazzikostas opened up about the creation and use of WoW Tokens in the Blizzard ecosystem, especially in light of last week's expansion of the tokens' functionality. Hazzikostas said that the demise of Diablo III's RMT auction house paved the path for WoW Tokens.
"One of the original purposes for the token, and something that it’s served very well, is undercutting the illegal gold selling market that exists within the game," he noted. "The way that gold is acquired is by compromising the accounts and using various methods that are harmful to players. Anything we can do to make those things harder is a net gain for us."
Hazzikostas said that only a small segment of World of Warcraft players actually buy or sell tokens: "We were very satisfied with the fact that it was harmless, that it was not having any negative external effects on the economy or the game, and was just making people happier."
Lockboxes have become a hot topic over the last couple of years. Last month, both our writers and readers crowned SWTOR worst business model of the year in part over its lockbox shenanigans. And several business model and lockbox-related articles made it into our list of most-commented-on articles of the year, including the Daily Grind on lockboxes and gambling.
So where do we draw the line between gambling and hobby gaming? Why are lockboxes acceptable? Are they really something MMO developers should continue to use in order to monetize their games?
I've done some research and even gotten some expert legal opinions about this based on American law (and some international), and I can't say I'm entirely happy about my results.
It's been another busy year for sci-fi MMO EVE Online, and an absolute roller coaster ride for both players and developer CCP Games. On the development side, we've had two major expansions with Citadel and Ascension and a significant business model change with the introduction of a free-to-play account option. Fan events EVE Fanfest 2016 and EVE Vegas 2016 brought us some fantastic insights into the future development, including a peek at some amazing work on future PvE gameplay and an all-new EVE FPS codenamed Project Nova.
Proving once again that the players in EVE are the most engaging content, this year brought us the political twists and turns of the now-infamous World War Bee, which became the largest PvP war ever to happen in an online game. We also delved into some absolutely crazy sandbox stories, including one player using $28,000 worth of skill injectors to create a max skill character as a publicity stunt, and the controversial banning of the gambling kingpins behind World War Bee.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look back over all the biggest EVE stories of the year, from the political shenanigans of World War Bee to the surprise free-to-play option and how expansions have changed the face of the game this year.
One of the fun things we implemented on the site this year is a database of quotes from developers (among other entries) that are relevant to the MMORPG industry. In the spirit of the end-of-the-year posts that we've begun rolling out, today's Massively Overthinking is a simple but fun one: I asked our writers to submit a favorite or memorable MMO developer quote from 2016 and explain why it matters. When we're done, we invite you to do the same in the comments! (And yes, the best ones will be chucked into that widget for posterity!)
We're back with our second part of an interview retrospective of Mythic Entertainment's early online games with CSE's Mark Jacobs. Last week, we talked about the formation of Mythic, its roster of titles during the 1990s, and how titles like Aliens Online and Silent Death Online helped to push the studio toward its full-fledged development in the MMORPG genre.
Today, Jacobs will take us through a discussion of the challenges awaiting studios trying to make online games in that early era, the communities that formed around Mythic's titles, and how one MUD called Darkness Falls would be the catalyst that set off Dark Age of Camelot.
Cutesy anime sandbox Tree of Savior isn't gonna be one of those MMORPGs that lets Thanksgiving slide, oh no. IMCGames says the game's Harvest Festival, which runs from November 14th through December 6th, is meant to "set the mood for the holiday season."
Characters level 50 and up will be able to pick up event seeds from the in-game notice board, once per day, then either use it immediately for a sweet experience and movement buff or plant it at a farm in-game for a prize instead. "Planted prizes can be collected by anyone as soon as they are ready to be harvested," the studio warns. "Please note that you alone will be responsible for keeping your harvest safe as we will not be providing help with lost harvests."
In other Tree of Savior news, the developers have explained the thought process behind some rather dramatic trade restrictions, like the one that holds cash in the auction hall for an extra two days after a sale.
If you've been reading the gaming news this week, you may have heard about the enormous amount of wealth that was recently removed from EVE Online
's economy when the players behind EVE
gambling website IWantISK were banned for real money trading. The figure was initially rumoured
to be around 40 trillion ISK, but the only sources for this information at the time were one of the banned players himself and a third party using guesswork. With the release of CCP's latest monthly economic report
, we now have a verified primary source to work from.
Digging into the CSV records attached to CCP Quant's October economic report, we were able to see that on the day of the ban (October 12th), total ISK supply dropped by 24.85 trillion ISK overnight. Accounting for the average upward movement of ISK over the previous month gives us a figure of around 25.77 trillion ISK that was likely part of the ban wave. This amount of ISK could currently buy you around 20,295 PLEX game time codes on the in-game market, which have a real world value of between $303,000 and $405,000 US depending on the price paid per unit.
Keep in mind that these figures account for only the liquid ISK in the banned players' accounts. The value of any assets frozen on those accounts could bring the total even higher, but the frozen assets can't be verified at this point. The bans came after intensive investigation of the accused players for real money trading offences, and happened on the same day that CCP announced that all third-party EVE gambling websites would have to shut down.
It's been a crazy, drama-filled week in EVE Online
, starting with a controversial change to the EULA that will ban all gambling sites using in-game currency or assets when the Ascension
expansion arrives on November 8th. The move comes alongside the banning of high-profile gambling kingpins Lenny Kravitz2 and IronBank, the two players who famously funded World War Bee
using the trillion-ISK profit fountains of a casino empire.
The gambling ban is expected to be a serious blow to player-run events, charitable organisations, and even some blogs, all of which have been funded in part by gambling sites for several years. With its main benefactor now banned, charitable organisation Care 4 Kids has come under renewed pressure from players questioning its profit-making activities and political motives. Over the past year, the group has erected a massive citadel structure, gained territory in nullsec, and even hired farming corps.
In this in-depth edition of EVE Evolved, I look at why the gambling ban was necessary, the impact that ISK from gambling has had on EVE, and the recent drama that's bubbled up around the Care 4 Kids charity.
If yesterday's CCP crackdown on gambling and RMT in the EVE Online universe
wasn't enough drama for you, order some more popcorn for this one. An EVE
player says he's putting up a $75,000 US bounty
on a particular alliance.
"I'm giving away IRL money through a paypal contract link to pay for the IRL time for gamers to participate in evictions," Redditor holder2k told Reddit last week. "The event will be Total Payout of: $75,000 USD for Hard Knocks Eviction. [...] The amount is based on total payout, so the more people the less individual payout. Doing the math on HK if we get 800 toons, it's $94 per toon, if we get less the payout goes up."
You'll note that this deal would seem to violate CCP's new EULA, and indeed official forum threads on the topic have been shut down. PC Gamer has printed both Hard Knocks' claims about the identity of the player (which ironically lend legitimacy to the payout) and holder2k's claims that members of Hard Knocks are harassing him or her in real life. Even if this is just the usual EVE Reddit trolling, no doubt the timing will ensure a juicy EVE Vegas.
Changes to EVE Online's
EULA coming in November with the launch of Ascension and the free-to-play conversion
will effectively outlaw gambling, which has been a popular and lucrative in-game pastime in EVE
for over a decade.
"You may not use, transfer or assign any game assets for games of chance operated by third parties," a new line in the document will read.
In conjunction with the ban on gambling, CCP says, it's shut down two gambling organizations and permanently suspended the accounts of everyone involved in them based on an investigation that allegedly shows they were involved in other illegal activities, including RMT: