In the past few days, a veritable threadnaught has erupted on the EVE Online forums regarding the recent Team Size Matters devblog, Exploring the Character Bazaar & Skill Trading. Usually, reactions of this sort are reserved for changes that radically alter expensive ships in order to make the game more playable, or monocles that cost more than a large family meal.
In other words, people have lost their minds. From the perspective of an habitual observer of human nature, this both is and isn’t surprising. I can only imagine some of CCP’s staff have been caught utterly off-guard by the reaction, while others are just nodding to themselves and thinking ‘of course,’ because, while a lot of the people complaining about this are dressing up their objections in moral principles, the truth is that they’re wrong. Drastically, hilariously wrong.
Skill Point Trading is Good
Skill Point (SP) Trading is good for me, it’s good for you, it’s good for the game. Why is it good for me? Because I don’t want to have more accounts than I need. Sure, I could be training up skills month by month with two additional PLEX per account, but that takes time. Instead, skills I never use can turn into ISK, or even just turn into raw SP and have that stockpiled for when I need a quick skill jolt on one of the alternate characters on the account that isn’t training right now.
It’s also good for the game. Transneural Skill Packets will allow new players to get skilled up to where they can be effective much, much more quickly. This helps new player retention right away, but in more than just the obvious way. Even the new players who aren’t taking advantage of this have less reason to feel like they can never catch up, because clearly, they can. And that means less of a sense of frustration, and more of a sense of player agency. Those that have the potential to effect change and improve their own gameplay experience are more likely to keep playing. It’s also good for the game in another subtle, but important way: a CCP that has more variety in their revenue stream is a CCP that is better positioned to risk innovation within EVE, rather than betting their future on the success of spinoffs while EVE languishes.
Put Down the Torches and Pitchforks
Those plain and simple truths about how much this stands to benefit the game and the players old and new, of course, hasn’t stopped people from raising a hue and cry. Objections about this idea abound all through the playerbase. They range from ‘I had to grind out the skills, they should to’, to ‘this is going to benefit PL and Goons, so of course they like them!’, and all points in between. By and large, though… they’re wrong.
Skill Point Trading already exists in the form of the Character Bazaar, and there’s been no shortage of people coming out of the woodwork recently to say ‘I never liked that, either’. But they haven’t exactly been up in arms demanding its removal, have they? Have they ostracized people in their own alliances who’ve bought characters? Or sold titan/supercapital pilots after the Phoebe changes?
It’s been here a while. Objections based on the moral principle of ‘you shouldn’t be able to benefit from someone else’s time’ or ‘choices should have consequences’ over something as utterly stupid and tiny as ‘I didn’t realize I was wasting those months learning how to mine!’ is just ridiculous. What do you care how someone else gets their skillpoints? They’re not taking yours, unless you sell them. I know I don’t care how many skillpoints the other guy in the fight has; I certainly haven’t stopped to poll them. Knowing they have more SP than I do isn’t going to stop me from taking the fight if I was going to take it.
Some may say there are other ways to benefit newbies: give them more skill points, or remove fitting skills. But learning which skills you want to train is an important part of EVE. That doesn’t mean a mistake should a permanent anchor, dragging down their progress for the rest of their EVE career. Many players try out a bunch of different niches before they find their place, and should have some freedom and mobility to do so.
Pay to What?
The other big fallacy we keep hearing about is ‘it’s pay to win!’ Please. Pay to win is exactly that: pay to win. No one character, no one player, is going to win based on ‘I bought an extra 100B SP and trained ALL THE THINGS’ even if they lay down enough money for CCP to move Iceland to the Bahamas. EVE is a social game first and foremost, a libertarian societal simulator which would either give Ron Paul priapism or send him screaming into the night when the ramifications of his ideology are made inescapably clear. We live and die by the people we surround ourselves with – even the Solo PVP unicorns of EVE, beautiful little sociopaths that they are.
You can’t ‘win’ EVE by winning a single fight, or even by winning thousands of fights in hundreds of campaigns across half a dozen years. There’s always another threat out there, always someone waiting to cut you – for profit, for fun, just to hear you bitch. No single PVP experience nor self-contained set of PVP experiences lets you win EVE.
Winning EVE isn’t like winning a fight, it isn’t a single moment in time. You win EVE by having a reason to login, by having fun, by writing a story of memorable moments. Is your fun so fragile to be ruined by the mere idea that newbies are having a less miserable time getting to where they can use a given ship or module than you did?