THE ‘FEAR OF FREEMIUM’ FALLACY

Romulus Loches 2019-11-19

When Pearl Abyss purchased CCP just over a year ago, one of the concerns voiced by many Eve Online players was that it would become a Pay-To-Win game with tons of micro-transactions. In essence (no, not the region) this would turn Eve away from the Pay-To-Play and later Free-To-Play model into a Freemium game. For anyone who doesn’t already know what these terms mean, I’ll provide some basic definitions and let people nitpick their exactness down in the comments.

DEFINITIONS

Pay-To-Win (P2W) – The ability to purchase in-game items/benefits/content/cosmetics, with out of game money, that give an advantage over other players in the game.

Micro-transactions – A business model where players may purchase in-game item/benefit/content/cosmetics with out of game money. This is often seen as creating a P2W scenario.

Pay-To-Play (P2P) – A game that requires a payment before enabling game-play.

Free-To-Play or Free-To-Start (F2P) – A game that does not require payment before enabling game-play.

Freemium – A combination of the words ‘free’ and ‘premium’ that refers to the use of a F2P model and micro-transactions to purchase premium content.

THE UGLY TRUTH

Now what I have to tell you may be upsetting. It may make some people scream, cry, and call me a liar. This may even drive readers to post lengthy comments explaining how I’m wrong. Eve Online is already a Freemium game.

MINERALS, AND MODS, AND MORE, OH MY!

Okay I said it, so let me explain why since this isn’t exactly a new thing. When CCP introduced PLEX to the game it changed everything. Players could now use real world money to purchase an in-game item and exchange it for the in-game currency, ISK. This in turn allowed those players to use that ISK to buy whatever they wanted; ships, mods, minerals, etc., thus using out of game money to purchase in-game items.

SKILL POINTS

Now as you take a breath in preparation to claim, “but skill points were still strictly time based, and anyone could purchase those same items,” I’ll explain how that wasn’t really the case. Those same players could also use a combination of PLEX and ISK to purchase characters that other people had trained, effectively getting a pilot that could do whatever they wanted on day one. This was even further eroded by the introduction of skill extractors and injectors which allow skill points to be traded even easier. More skill points means more skills trained which provides increased benefits (does anyone even still use the buy character function anymore?)

UNIQUE CONTENT

Okay, so items and skill points can be purchased with out of game money, but there aren’t any advantages that can only be purchased. In comes the introduction of alpha and omega states which changed the model away from P2P to F2P. Now instead of a trial, (yeah I guess you could play before paying, but only for two weeks) there is an option to buy benefits (Omega) that give you an advantage over players who don’t (Alpha). If you don’t know already, only Omega players can fly certain ships, use specific skills, and all of the other things that Alphas can only sample. The one loophole is that players can buy PLEX with ISK and then use that PLEX to upgrade. But basically people are using out-of-game money to have access to more content.

SKINS

This is probably the simplest part of the whole argument. Various SKINS change the color of ships but have no impact on the game-play itself. (I don’t count trying to create TiDi by massive numbers of people re-skinning in space, though I think it’d be kind of awesome to see it tried.) While some SKINS are dropped in events, there are others that can only be purchased with PLEX. So, once again, out of game money is used to purchase in-game cosmetic upgrades.

PLEX

Well, so all of this hits a small speed bump by a minor technicality. I’m talking about the fact that players can buy PLEX with in-game currency. For some people this will be the wrecking ball that destroys the whole argument out of hand, but let me try to convince you otherwise. Outside of a very limited number of events, PLEX, I’m talking about newly created PLEX, can only be purchased with out of game money. Just because you personally didn’t do so, someone did. The transaction happened. It has been happening for years. Pearl Abyss doesn’t need to turn Eve Online into a pay-to-win game. It already is one.

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Comments

  • Still waiting for the part where it’s a fallacy. EVE has been freemium for years. EVE has been a garbage game for years. Every few weeks we get injector and PLEX sales and new SKIN releases, while actual gameplay problems dog the universe for years at a time.

    Why shouldn’t we fear freemium again?

    November 19, 2019 at 7:13 AM
    • Romulus Loches Ganthrithor

      I was referring more to the new wave of fear because CCP was purchased by Pearl Abyss. The fallacy is that people are afraid of the change that Pearl Abyss will bring, which is an unsound argument because, as you said, “Eve has been freemium for years.”

      November 19, 2019 at 7:23 AM
      • Yes and no: EVE had already been Freemium, but that doesn’t mean the extortion and shitty game balance couldn’t deteriorate even further under new ownership / different management priorities. IMHO it definitely ~*has*~ gotten worse since the acquisition, but that seems to be a result of CCP’s own decisionmaking rather than some objective pushed down from above.

        November 20, 2019 at 11:41 PM
        • Romulus Loches Ganthrithor

          I agree that conditions have taken a turn for the worse, I only mean to say that I don’t believe we can hold up PA as the whipping boy in this scenario. EVE has been on this path for a while and people need to open their eyes and accept that.

          November 22, 2019 at 6:02 AM
      • It’s gotten worse because CCP has to focus on hitting the acquisition goalposts like player login numbers and revenue generation. This is why we’re seeing so many “giveaways” that force you to log in for a week straight, and all of these shitty events that force you to do 10 minutes of bullshit like Skilling spree.

        November 21, 2019 at 12:21 AM
        • Hmm. Even if that’s the case, it’s hard to place the blame with Pearl Abyss. CCP could’ve improved their stats by actually improving the game: it’s their choice to focus on stupid gimmicks while simultaneously fucking into the dirt pretty much every game mechanic / gameplay style that people thought was fun. It doesn’t sound like anyone from PA has a gun to their heads saying, “DO BLACKOUT AND MAKE MORE SKIN PACKS!”

          November 22, 2019 at 3:48 AM
          • Romulus Loches Ganthrithor

            I actually don’t mind SKIN packs, I think they are a positive form of microtransactions, especially in the way CCP has handled them. They have zero effect on performance and do not give people a direct advantage, and by being an item in game it becomes part of the internal economy.

            My article is trying to point out that EVE is already Freemium. It’s not commenting on my personal feelings to the various aspects but trying to point out that this is not something that is new and coming from nowhere.

            November 22, 2019 at 6:11 AM
          • I don’t have a problem with SKINs per-say, I just find it incredibly disappointing that CCP only focus on the sexy, realbux-grabbing aspects of development (cosmetics, overpowered new ship hulls with their own skillbooks that are designed to always be incredibly expensive so that people will buy PLEX and injectors, etc) while doing absolutely nothing to resolve the fact that their core gameplay sucks and everybody is leaving the game. My alliance is one of the biggest in EVE and even we have absolutely nothing going on: all our FCs have quit, strategic ops are literally a thing of the past, ice/ore/mineral prices are in the garbage can since almost everybody has quit logging in (so little demand that the handful of miners remaining after Blackout can saturate the market with their twelve remaining Rorquals). Everybody but Pandemic Horde are NIP/NAP’ed. There is literally nothing to do in nullsec right now. And every change CCP make to the game just reinforces people’s decision to turtle harder. It’s pathetic and depressing and a gross mis-allocation of resources.

            November 24, 2019 at 7:42 PM
  • Scott Wilson

    I seem to always be able to find a way to play it and have fun. But heck, I just love big spaceships.

    November 19, 2019 at 7:36 PM
  • Squinty McBlindy

    Yes, you can buy PLEX with cash, sell it for isk then splurge it all on injectors and blingy modules.
    You then undock in your blinged out tech 2 or tech 3 ship them immediately die in a fire because you have no clue how to actually play EVE.
    It’s not so much pay-to-win as pay-to-give-us-all-a-laugh-on-zkill.
    The Summer of Rage and the fallout from that has (so far) prevented CCP from even thinking about special modules or ammo or ship which are only available with cash or plex.

    November 26, 2019 at 11:09 PM
    • Hell-Nico Squinty McBlindy

      Funny how people always use that retarded “buh u di becoz u dun no how to play”.
      GJ captain obvious, but guess what?
      “Pay 2 win” isn’t LITERAL. You never just buy a win, you buy an advantage.
      And guess what? If you do know how to play, than this will make you win more.

      December 7, 2019 at 7:37 AM