Friday is the first day of the next SOMERblink. In the end, CCP labeled their blink credit for ISK bonus program as RMT; a violation of the EVE Online EULA and ToS. And though I am now officially on the losing side of the controversy, I am unbowed. I see this as a tragedy for EVE Online and the community, not a victory.
In the other posts I’ve made on this subject, I tried unsuccessfully to argue CCP should not consider the business model as RMT. But the definition of RMT is as hard a rule as any I’ve seen. Boiled down to its essence, no one, anywhere, for any reason, is allowed to make real money by giving ISK, no matter how convoluted the process, except CCP – period. I see now it was a mistake to try and debate this with people who consider the definition black and white. I was doomed from the beginning because the definition is intractable.
I understand the RMT rule is there for a very good reason. Botters who create ISK by the literal boat load just to offload it through RMT damage the economy of EVE Online in ways only Dr Eyjólfur Guðmundsson probably understands. CCP gains nothing from it, nor does the community. We could lose everything because of it. The history of MMO economies succombing to RMT bares this out.
But that’s RMT which provides no value to the developer, the game or it’s community. It’s traditional RMT. It is destructive because it takes and does not give anything in return. It is a parasite, and a dangerous one to be sure.
But not all parasites are dangerous. Some parasites form a symbiotic relationship with their host, which benefits both species. Your gut is full of beneficial bacteria without which you would die of malnutrition. Now, if they get out of control they can, and do, cause harm. But when in balance they are as necessary as the food they help digest.
SOMERblink is like those beneficial bacteria. How many of you reading this have played blinks? Did you have fun? Did it enhance your EVE Online experience? Was it something you’ve never seen done so well in any other MMO? Was it best in class? If you answered no, I submit that is a personal bias. SOMERblink is all those things though it may not be for you. It adds value to our community through the enjoyment thousands of other players, myself included, get from it every hour of every day. It may be an RMT scheme, but it is a beneficial RMT scheme to the community as a whole, and CCP still get’s their payment from it courtesy of the GTC fee. And since CCP can control the supply of GTC, the damage to the game is controlled. What SOMERblink managed to do did no more damage than $5 PLEX on Amazon or all the buddy programs CCP has run in its entire existence. It’s a controllable process, and I say anyone who simply yells, “it’s killing the game!” because it’s RMT are doing more harm through their intractable bias than SOMERblink.
In their hatred of all things RMT, they gleefully lit a bonfire and cheered as it roared. Those who resented the success of SOMERblink fanned the flames. Were they the illicit competition, or merely those malcontents who lacked the vision, skill and dedication to do it themselves? Regardless and by damn, they weren’t about to let anyone else do better. Their black and white interpretation of the EULA and the ToS was the fuel firing their incendiary diatribes.
And what’s more the pity, others took up the torches they provided and followed them. They focused on the narrow black and white definition and failed to see the greater good in it. “It’s RMT, kill it!” they cried. That’s all they cared about. But did that particular parasite have a beneficial or destructive relationship to the host? They did not care.
So CCP killed it. Like a broad spectrum antibiotic, the EULA and ToS cannot tell the beneficial from the harmful. That needs to change. If CCP wants to grow the EVE Universe as they say they do, they have to understand and encourage the beneficial while only killing the harmful. They have it within their power to not only do this, but also to control it. We do not live in a black and white universe. We only harm ourselves by insisting we do. There needs to be a mechanism that encourages our community to extend themselves and develop sites like SOMERblink. If you think doing something like that is easy, you are wrong. It takes more than a pound of proverbial flesh and people deserve compensation for that flesh. Without a real world reward structure, such first class sites will not happen and we as a community will be lesser for it.
CCP has a choice, as CCP has always had a choice. Keep all the marbles for themselves and the self-limited benefits that come with them, or broaden their PLEX system to include GMT referral marketing, the like of which SOMERblink used, and have a more healthy, vibrant community. That’s the reward for the effort. Such a system must be selective, and sites deemed unworthy should be excluded. Sites deemed worthy should possibly have to pay a fee or even submit to auditing. The system also needs to take into account the reason for the site’s existence. Is it for the benefit of the community first? If it isn’t, does the good outweigh the bad?
This is not an easy thing to decide, and will undoubtedly create more controversy. Overcoming that will require fortitude and a vetting system rational players will accept. Perhaps the CSM would be the best panel of judges to determine if a community site qualifies for referral privileges. They will need guidelines though, and as in all things, that is CCP’s purview. But it is an attainable goal. Once complete, when accusations of RMT arise again, perhaps we can then judge by a measure of enlightened self-interest, rather than abdicating reason to benighted black and white definitions.