Friday, 16 October 2015

Skill Training Completed: Living with Pay to Win

So beyond the kneejerk reaction, time for reflection. Firstly thing to say is  I still regard the proposed ISK to Skill Points change as a Pay to Win feature obviously. Now there is no agreed definition on what Pay to Win means so I am not going to debate that point. Free student tip: You could write a PhD thesis about it. I am just going to say what it means to me and work on that basis.  Simply put, it is paying for a competitive advantage, in a multiplayer game. 

As has been pointed out, Pay to Win already exists in Eve Online. Buying Plex gives you access to ISK. Your ship just exploded? Pay for another one and rejoin the battle. Want new skills? Buy a character off the bazaar. So why the emotion over ISK to SP? 

Let us be clear. I would actually benefit from the change in a significant way. The most skill points I have on any character is 25 million and I have made some dumb choices in the past. Selling skill points wouldn't be my priority, but I can now quickly buy my way out of my current situation. And that is the thing. It is the immediacy. Buying a char was a pain and took time. Guzzling skillpoints doesn't. 

For example, I have no PVP skills and can only fly a limited set of ships. Never needed them. If I wanted to bash someone's POS I would have had to hire a merc corp or train for ages. Not now. Instant Oracle and SP, blast away AFK and job done. Then sell the SP and Oracle. Easy instant gratification when you have money. So Pay to Win it is. That there are other pre-existing examples in Eve doesn't diminish the fact.

But ISK to SP changes the game significantly too. I am not talking about CCP now taking an aggressive monetization stance although perhaps in a more refined form that is now their direction of travel. It is a more fundamental point. You will have to play differently and you will have different options available to you.

Another example. I was thinking of training into Outpost Construction to be ahead of the game when the new structures arrive around Spring. Someone has to build Citadels right so why not gamble on the skills you might need and make a profit before others catch up. Well not now. Everyone will just pile in at the last moment once details are known. There is no future reward for taking a risk with skill training now. That saddens me.

There are the benefits though. I currently have two subbed accounts with dual training on one of them. Now I no longer need to sub one of the accounts. Its was basically doing skill queues online to become a rounded Orca pilot, and similarly dual training is no longer needed as I can just buy the Skill Points instead. That saves me £26/$40 a month. The actual costs haven't yet been released yet so this might not stack up but having a live account just to update a long term skill queue may not be the best way to go. 

Finally, pity the poor Corp or Alliance leader. It is only a matter of time before their members demand a free skill pack for whatever doctrine is the current fad. Or alternatively, the stalinist CEO who demands the poor noob buys SP before he/she can join the roam.  

No, the sky doesn't fall down with this change. But Eve will be different because the change is disruptive. My prediction? PVP will become a more secondary activity to PVE because players will be grinding to pay the rising cost of Plex and Skill Packs. Pay to Win games are like that. Eve will be like that. Maybe you want that. I'm not so sure.


  1. This is categorically not pay to win.

    You are not buying Golden Ammo and shield module with 99.99999% resists for all your ships, that also happens to boost your speed, inertia, mass, armour etc etc etc.

    If you have not yet realised that skill points and purple mods do not equate to an I-Win button, then this whole time you have been playing in the darkness.

    Have people been grinding isk to buy characters on the bazaar, therefore meaning less pvp? Show some concrete evidence to support such a theory will mean less pvp and more grind for skill points.

    Honestly, it's just a better version of the bazaar. You and your special skill points that you have accumulated do not make you elite and above everybody else. Jog on.

    1. Firstly, do I get an advantage from flashing cash rather than not spending money? Absolutely. Deny it all you like but people wouldn't do it if it offered no advantage.

      Secondly, I don't PVP. An "I-Win" option for me is to achieve a desired objective quicker and cheaper. ISK for SP delivers.

      Thirdly, people are clearly grinding ISK in NullSec if Gevlon's figures are right presumably for Plex already. CCP Quant said pretty much the same thing at Fanfest. ISK to SP will just be an extension of that.

      Finally, I am not above anyone. Just a solo filthy casual carebear. I'm surprised that intimidates you.

  2. We may disagree about whether this is a positive or negative change for EVE, but I certainly agree that SP packs will become as normal as SRP as a recruitment and retention tool, along with all the alt farming that will have to be done to realistically support it. I can't decide if that's a good or bad thing; my first thought is that more accounts started for the purpose are a good thing for CCP income-wise via more PLEX sales and will probably only minimally impact the actual game since those alts will likely never log in. If it also uses up some of the outrageous reserves of PLEX that are speculated to exist in-game, more to the better.

  3. Thanks for the comment. From the perspective of Eve being a subscription game it would appear disruptive. That could be considered good or bad depending on one's perspective. I do believe Eve needs some disruption but wouldn't have thought this was approach to take. However from a F2P P2W perspective I can see plenty of opportunities that would benefit me directly. But they are not the reasons I chose to play Eve. Eve was a problem to fix that took time. P2W hands out the solution - at least for my playstyle. That said, ISK for SP is minor in the scheme of things so not worth dying in a ditch over if only because it works in my favour. And besides Eve has become a confused hybrid of the two revenue models now. So we can only speculate on whether this direction it is beneficial to the game as whole. We will have to see. That is perhaps where we differ.

  4. About 2 years ago I sold my main. I hate PVE and only wanted to spend 100% of my time in game blowing up other people's stuff. Since I don't PVE regularly, my choice of ship was a frigate of some sort (and sometimes destroyers). I had all these med weapon skills and cruiser skills I never ever wanted to use. So I decided to sell my main and start a new character focused on frigates, destroyers, and small weapons, etc. What I didn't realize was I wasn't just selling a character, I was selling my identity. 5 years of history and relationships were tied to that name/avatar. If this SP exchange program existed then, I would still have my identity. So many arguments against this have been tied to the relationship we have with our characters but this really seeks to preserve that.

    I honestly think these SP packs are going to be an expensive option. The fact that the extractor has to be bought with Aurum means they are going to be high priced items once they are packed with SP. The cheapest thing in the New Eden Store at the moment are ships skins for 750au. A character re-sculpt costs 1000au. An sp pack is a much bigger game changer than a skin or a re-sculpt. On top of that, you have to include the cost to generate the SP. 500k SP is 10 days (1/3 a month, 1/3 a plex, 333-400m isk). A skill pack is gonna cost at least 500m if not more. That's 1b/1m SP. Toons on the bazaar sell for half that.

    The bazaar will continue to be a lower cost alternative and I highly doubt you're going to see a lot of people taking new characters from 0 to 50m SP over night. I foresee these packs being used when someone gets to a skill like Gal Cruiser V and decides "Do I really want to wait 20+ days to get my Ishtar or can I drop 1b on a couple skill packs?"

    Your example of buying SP to use an Oracle and then selling the SP when you're done seems unrealistic to me. Again, (although this is speculation since we don't know how much the SP packs will cost) I don't think this will be cost effective. Plus when you hire mercs to do something like this you get more than one Oracle on grid for your isk. The job gets done quicker and more efficiently. Second, if it is cost effective and you decide to buy SP and an Oracle to take down a POS yourself, that's awesome. How is this a problem? You're taking care of business, doing something you might not normally do, and creating content for that POS owner.

    1. Again some interesting points. I couldn't contemplate my main but then it has less SP than some of my alts.

      I agree it is going to be expensive. A finite commodity that gives an advantage is going to be desirable. CSMX Mike Azariah's maths might give us an indication:

      But the amount offset by not subbing all the time would partially offset that. In the short term char bazaar may be a better option, if only to asset strip them. But as you say the cost brain sucking gadget will impact that. Longer term, it is not sustainable as Chars are also finite. I don't imagine an active 200mil SP char would need to monetize unwanted SP in anycase. So it will only be people leaving the game.

      On your last point, I think the key value is immediacy. Eve is not cost effective - we burn time and money on it. I am a casual player. I don't get as much Eve time as I would like. So the value to me is to be able to do something immediately would potentially have a greater weighting than the cost. Buying immediate content if you like. The problem I have is I have bought rather than earned the opportunity to turn some poor unfortunate into content. Something they have been striving to achieve for months and who can't afford to level up and bash my POS, I can overturn with a few coins spent. My wallet wins. That is a very different game from what Eve was. You have to play P2W games differently. Thanks for your comment

  5. Paying for multiplayer training doesn't bother you? It doesn't bother me but then again neither does these skill packs.

    Ogb is the worst form of ptw. It actually makes the game less fun to play because you have to drag this immersion breaking alt everywhere you go.

    1. Actually it does. But arrive before I started writing my nonsense. I could easily pay for it exploring and trading but I don't want to put in the time. Its a poor justification perhaps. However, there are things that are pretty much impossible to do as a solo character. And CCP have pretty much recommended webbing alts for hauling in hisec, so I recognise the pain. I get no entertainment for having to do it. I don't like the change because it reinforces the less immersive aspects of Eve, but I will benefit from it. I am trying to be honest about that.