If you spent any time in the /r/Eve subreddit in the forty-eight hours following the 119.5 release, you probably noticed that opinions about the new changes in PLEX mechanics are mixed (if I put it mildly). The changes in mechanics are a complete overhaul of how PLEX works in Eve Online. The complete scope of the changes was outlined in a March 16th Dev Blog.
I would like to move away from the market impact of the release, and instead look at some of the new and modified game mechanics that accompany the changes.
The New Eden Store
The most obvious and immediate improvement that came with the PLEX changes is the simplification and streamlining of the New Eden Store. Gone are the days of converting a single or multiple PLEX to a set amount of Aurum to buy the item that you want only to have excess Aurum on your account that you don’t have a use for. Personally, I found the Aurum system so cumbersome in the first place that I never even bothered with it. In my opinion, this simplification of the New Eden Store is something that should have been done a long time ago. Better late than never, right?
From what I can see, the changes regarding transferring characters between accounts seem to be the most universally disliked. Following the release, you are no longer able to transfer characters between accounts using PLEX. Now, transferring a character between accounts requires a credit card payment of 20 EUR/USD, 17 GBP or 1199 RUB. Obviously, this is going to affect the Character Bazaar on the Eve community forums. Career character traders are not going to want to pay 20 USD every time they buy/sell a character. However, in a recent forum post, CCP Falcon stated that transferring characters between accounts using PLEX may be reintroduced in the future.
The newly added PLEX vault is an interesting concept. Never again do you have any reason to EVER put PLEX into a cargo hold. It is easily accessible from anywhere and at any time. The PLEX vault is even accessible across the entire account. This means you can buy PLEX anywhere in New Eden and transport it anywhere else in the cluster without the risk of dying with it in your cargo hold.
To demonstrate this, I purchased one PLEX in Delve:
Moved the PLEX from my inventory in Delve into my PLEX vault:
Logged into a separate character on the account that now has one PLEX in the PLEX vault:
And removed the PLEX from my PLEX vault into my inventory in Amarr where it could be moved to the market:
The Problem with the PLEX vault
Now, you might be trying to figure out what is wrong with this. It does seem convenient being able to access your PLEX from any one of the characters on the account. This demonstrates something that I do not think should be an aspect of Eve Online. As of right now, PLEX is still an in-game item that behaves much in the same way as any other item. It can go in ships, containers, and be posted on the market just as any other item can. However, the PLEX vault makes the item completely invulnerable. It makes it so invulnerable that I could teleport it across regions in complete safety. In fact, no one had to even undock for me to move PLEX from Delve to Amarr and the process took less than sixty seconds to complete.
The addition of the PLEX vault into Eve Online takes an in-game item and makes it invulnerable to the point where it isn’t an item anymore. An item in Eve should be able to be carried around and lost in the blink of an eye. A whole aspect of the in-game economy is the risk vs. reward of moving goods through space. CCP has commented that this change is directly related to new player retention issues since new players are often the victim of PLEX related ganking. That is unfortunate, but is de-itemizing PLEX the answer?
I left this as “questionable” because I don’t know the answer. However, I do know that the PLEX vault is not something I ever wanted to see in Eve. The r/Eve subreddit seems upset that “PLEX now feels more like a micro-transaction currency in a mobile game”. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that, but I do think some improvements can be made upon the new system (such as moving the PLEX vault tab out of the EVERY single one of my inventory windows). I have no problem with PLEX being subdivided into smaller units. However, I don’t think the vulnerability of the item should be so limited. I will hope for a future of positive changes. I know that doing nothing but complaining about new systems does nothing to help improve them. But at the end of the day, I guess it’s not my decision to make.