Well.. looks like me and the CSM are of the same mind… and the answer is a respectful, “HELL NO!” While there is a clift notes version of the CSM meetings that happened recently in Iceland, I think everyone should review the full summary here: http://www.eveonline.com/council/transcripts/2010/CSM_CCP_Meetings_11-12_10_2010.pdf
For those unfamiliar with what Micro-transactions are, it essentially is the process of buying either items or services for very, very small amounts of real money. If you have ever played any Facebook or Myspace games.. particularly those from Zunga, then you have seen the essence of a micro-transaction model. The concept appears to originally been formed back in the 1990s, and Wikipedia has a nice little write up on it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micropayment
That being said, aside from the fixes to the Minmatar projectiles, this top has me most proud of the CSM and how well they are representing having a good (balanced) Eve. CCP seems to have gotten it in their heads that micro-transactions is FOTM and they gotta have it. From the sounds of what happened in those meetings, the CSM asked them good reasonable questions regarding it. And while CCP was (and still sorta seems in love with the idea), they could not come up with any good answers as to how it would benefit Eve or even CCP. The thing that worries me is the phrase:
“CCP responds that it needs to be tapping into everything, CCP needs to do new things to survive in the business.”
This is what I like to call a “bullsh*t” phrase. The “needs” word is the clincher. That is especially true since they weren’t able to qualify this and even directly said it wasn’t about the money. So, why introduce anything like this at all? Well, CCP hinted at providing more “services” for Eve players. You can already pay to have your portrait changed. It would be game breaking to change your name. “Vanity” items, if introduced with micro-transactions will form another economy and this could potentially be game breaking as well. There isn’t anything beneficial to this, and having played online games for years in various genres, I cannot think of anytime in the past where something like this would NOT be hazardous to an MMO game in the long term, and it is usually game breaking in the short term.
Hopefully either a CSM or a CCP higher up might be looking at this, so I am going to provide for them a real example of not understanding your own game:
A few years ago, Sony Online Entertainment got the rights from LucasArts to make the first Star Wars MMO. You may have heard of it.. Star Wars Galaxies. I personally played that game religously. Like with any MMO game, it had glitches, and they were constantly working on improving the content, and always had issues with balancing, but the game itself was amazing. It was huge, it felt like Star Wars, it had a good PVP/Faction warfare aspect to it, it had a crafting system that was excellent, you had a wide variety of combat and non-combat professions, a strong sense of community, and most of all.. it was fun. It also was making money.
However, one day, Mr. George Lucas saw his son playing WoW instead of Star Wars Galaxies and decided what he had wasn’t good enough. So he directed.. well, DEMANDED that Star Wars Galaxies follow the World of Warcraft model. The New Game Experience was unleashed and sure enough.. it felt, played and looked just like World of Warcraft..
.. which is what no one who played Star Wars Galaxies wanted.
Now, Star Wars Galaxies, several years after NGE, still has not recovered from the fiasco and many players like myself (who would probably have never played Eve Online had NGE not happen) will never go back. SWG had to merge servers and and even with the Hoth expansion and the additional additions to the game have not brought back very many players. In fact, when people compare Star Wars Galaxies to other games, they usually as for features that Eve Online already has or gameplay that Eve Online already does.
CCP has made a GREAT and UNIQUE game that has been around long enough that it can no longer be duplicated. True, it does need bug fixes, new content, etc. But no other game even comes close to the fact that only CCP has been able to make a sci-fi online game that sits at nearly the perfect balance between real life and a game life. It has an online community that is mature and has a vested interest in keeping the game on the cutting edge.
CCP, you need to do QUALITY things to survive in the business because, in the MMO business, “Quality” is the true “new”.