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EVE Online

CCP reach for the skype

CCP called a couple of press conferences last night to go over all the recent fury and protest over Incarna, vanity goods prices and whether CCP’s future microtransaction strategy is as dominated by greed as might have been suggested by leaked internal communications. I know this because I was listening to the first conference, which was for us community media types, while the second was for the proper games journos (*sniff* they grow up so fast *sniff*). Both skype-assisted events were set up largely as a means to reiterate the points made in last weekend’s devblog/video release, but that’s not to suggest they weren’t revealing or useful in any way.

While CCP conveniently ran out of time to cover the more awkward questions about the defiant and injurious tone of the CEO’s email and the lack of transparency during the CSM/CCP summit meetings, the so-called defining question over the future of virtual goods sales in EVE was given plenty of breathing space. Both CCP Zulu and the interjectious CSM Mittani (who delighted in warning against the perils of taking vitamin supplements on an empty stomach) were able to tackle the fundamental difficulties with proclaiming a never-never stance on “gold ammo” items. While it may seem a cop-out to suggest that it is impossible to define what is and isn’t game-breaking, it is true that perceptions of what’s potentially damaging have changed over the years. CCP Zulu pointed out that PLEXs were initially fiercely opposed by many players on the basis that they allowed time-starved, cash-rich players to buy their way to success. That was and remains fundamentally true, however, Zulu was quick to emphasis that just because sales of certain items might become acceptable to the game-playing public at large, it doesn’t mean CCP is going all out to capitalise on rising hemlines. “PLEX is now not accepted as game breaking – but we’re not moving a line,” he said.

On most other subjects that were brought up, nothing new was divulged. The remaining Captain’s Quarters should be ready for August, the new super-space backdrops will be “ready when they’re ready” and cheaper items will be appearing in the NeX store fairly soon, with more to follow from now until the end of time. As for ships in space, there was mention of significant re-balancing efforts going on with one type of ship or other, but I was distracted and can’t recall what it was. Maybe it was destroyers.

As a means to get the more vocal and influential members of the EVE community direct access to developer thoughts, the conference itself was a better statement of intent than anything that was said. If the last two weeks have taught us anything, it’s that while communication between CCP and the EVE community hasn’t been exactly lacking, the bulk of what’s been said has been overblown on one side and seemingly ignored from the other. Regardless of how slowly CCP proceed with virtual goods sales, if they continue to actively court the community in these kinds of frank discussions over the future of EVE, it will be a very good thing for all concerned and would be a lot cheaper than having to ship the CSMs to Iceland when they’ve barely recovered from their previous visit.

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