Friday, June 24, 2011

The recent CCP fuck-ups

This is a message I posted to CCP, I think it expresses my stance on the series of recent fuck-ups.

[note: There's nice things about the latest release. I like the turret effects, other than lighting it's nice to walk about in CQ, the new NPE & Aura is awesome, the integration for new player recruitment is great and I get reports that it accomplishes its goal.]
Hello CCP,

For the past 3 years as a member of the CSM I've been extremely constructive with you guys, even on things I disagreed with.
I like to think we've been a nice group of people to have conversations with so far, and overall trustworthy (we've had our moments, but heh). We disagree, but the discussions have led to more good results than not. We reach compromises and understand one another after discussing and we helped you both reach better decisions and communicate those better...

For that reason I don't understand the lack of communication to us about a series of things...
I've never had issues defending CCP's position publicly, even when I don't always agree with everything as long as I agree with the plan, I even went so far as publicly defend the objective behind the anomaly nerf, because I was willing to recognize that I may be wrong in the assertion that it wouldn't lead to the desired goal and I agreed with the goal (So far I was right by the way). One thing I don't like is being deceived, lied to, manipulated and otherwise ignored (that last bit is hubris, but forgive a man his ego :p).

The recent strings of fuck-ups fall in these category and each individually would be bad, but the series of it gets me irked.

Let's talk about $99.
When in Iceland, we were presented with a nice program. One that would let 3rd party application developers get access to more stuff than they have now, for a token fee (for a dev, $99 is nothing), and that people would be able to monetize their apps through that license. Then you publish the devblog and it looks like it's going to be mandatory (you didn't mention that), that you plan on taxing fansites who make money through advertising and that there's going to be no extra APIs or stuff. You'd think we'd be interested in knowing that...
There's been Eve fansites for 8 years, so the "IP dilution" thesis doesn't hold water. It can't be money grabbing, so what is it? Are you trying to tone down negative PR that sometimes comes from fansites and partners? I don't get it...

Then there's AURUM.
I don't give a shit about monocles or people having them. I care about you creating an experience that few will be able to take part in. That's both foolish in terms of resource spending and in terms of reception (not even talking about how much money you'll be able to make). First when we talked about it, you called it "microtransactions". Turns out it's MACROtransactions. Relabeling it "Virtual Goods" post facto does not really mitigate the fact that it's a drastic change in direction from what we initially talked about. We ASKED you for pricing values during the meeting in Iceland, you said it was being studied, we asked you to come back to us when you'd know, you said you would... You didn't... I explained my position on the relative value of items in the other thread, so I'm not going to repeat it now. But let me just say this: When you spend so much time and effort developing something, it'd be nice if more than 2% of the population could take part in it. "Have" and "Have nots" is not how you want to go with this. Create expensive items, sure, make them all cost an arm and a leg, not ok... Not for me... You mentionned having a plan. I'm still waiting to see it. Or at least have Dr.Eyjog or another economist come forward and say it makes sense. Because frankly from this point of view, it looks like there's no plan, that pricing scheme was thrown together 2 days before release without consulting anyone. Please show me that it's not the case.


Then there's Zinfandel's saying the CSM approved of the direct AURUM to scorpion conversion when we said the exact opposite. We, as a compromise, agreed that it wouldn't be too bad for 2 weeks. I'm sure it was a honest mistake, after all Rick engaged us quite constructively and meaningfully (thanks Zinfandel, don't stop), but it still leaves a sour taste...

Then there's InCarna part 1 of 2 aka CQ.
The performance is terrible, despite Zulu's assurance that docking would take the same time as it did before. And yeah, I'm aware there's the "turn off station environment" temporary solution. And I say temporary, because that's what Zulu said. This leaves me wondering "will I be stuck with 90 seconds docking time in december?". That would be totally unacceptable, and I'm waiting for an answer on that one. I understand software development, I know that sometimes unrealistic expectations have been set, but a clarification on the (new) acceptance criteria is definitely necessary.
Oh, side note, the lighting is not what it should be. I'll put that in the bug category.
And I'm still annoyed at being stuck with a verokhior character and no ability to change bloodline, as are many others. This isn't going to increase immersion (your stated objective) when people are forced into a character look they didn't pick.

Then, there's the nice PDF document...
The Stoffer/John thing: The point of the exercise was to show 2 different end of the spectrum when it comes to player perception about virtual goods, I get that. Different opinions are good to be able to reach sensible decisions.
What I don't get is how you can, in May 2011, after CSM 5 spent so much fucking time tell you we don't want that shit, plan on releasing "straight aurum to ships" and "ammunition". We told you time and time again SPECIFICALLY we don't want that. We named it, we don't want gold ammo. And the kicker for me is: you agreed, repeatedly! You said you wouldn't do it, then you still plan on doing it? I resent being lied to.

For Stoffer's sake, I'll address some of his points:
I already have controlled spending, I have a *SUBSCRIPTION* I already pay for the stuff. You want to add that kind of controlled spending you're talking about, then remove the subscription and go full retard. One thing you'll find out is that spending may increase, but playerbase will decrease. Income isn't everything, if I play a game where 30,000 people each spend 200$ a month, it's not a game I want to play, because unlike World of Tanks or LOTRO or DDO, Eve is extremely competitive and puts players against one another in a permanent world, as opposed to players against the environment or repeats of matches without consequences, and, let me repeat, has LASTING effects (that's one of your marketing points as I recall, you leave your mark on the world).
And no you're not going to be burnt at the stake for talking to us. Some go ballistic, but haven't we been able to hold constructive discussions in the past when we first talked about microtx? Haven't we given you ideas about what would be well received and what wouldn't?
Stoffer mentions "and if you don't like it, you can just buy a PLEX". Well, can you check the ISK income growth of the 30% of the playerbase who buy PLEXes today? How many of them can afford to buy more than one.

I think PLEXes are brilliant, they give an opportunity for people who are time rich and real money poor to play the game, and they do, and those people participate in making Eve a vibrant place with lots of people in it interacting. I'll repeat my point: $ income isn't the only metric. Would you think it acceptable to lose 50% of the playerbase if the remaining 50% pay twice more? I wouldn't.

I don't claim to have the answer to every question about these topics, these are my perceptions, maybe they're right, maybe they're not, but at the very least they're not gut reactions. As I told Kurt about something else, I'm willing to wear a pink tutu and post a youtube video apologizing for being wrong, but given how little I like tutus, this is not likely...

Now that I've expressed why I'm pissed, would you please be so kind in the future to at least talk to us and present these things before they have a chance to provide more and more drama, because one thing is certain, we may not be economist or game designers, but when it comes down to gauging player perception (at least in the short & medium terms), you suck, we don't...

Edit: And my stance with regards to pricing is this:

On the positive side, the items are nice looking and the store works fine. Now...

Where's the magic strategy? What data have you used to back it up? Why haven't we been consulted?
How do you expect to justify price differences between random items when, for the average player, it's going to be a case of "default clothing" vs "vanity clothing", and not a case of "this vanity clothing" vs "that vanity clothing". In essence you're not going to be able to justify a price difference between the items because the perceived value is "has one" vs "doesn't have one".
I don't give a rat's ass about a monocle costing $70, it could cost $200 and I wouldn't care, the problem is you put the barrier of entry too high, and there lies the problem with creating perceived value for your $70 shit, because too few people are going to participate.

It's supposed to be MICROtransactions, not MACROtransactions ffs. At least that's what you presented it to us as initially, renaming it "virtual goods" does not alter the fact.

This, compounded with the mischaracterization of our stance with the scorpion (I'll attribute it to oversight rather than intentionally trying to have us rubber stamp something we don't approve of) makes me really unhappy about the whole current situation.

You may have better ideas as to what the economic reasoning is behind this but if so I'd *LOVE* to hear them...

Another CSM member whose opinion is worth reading: http://seleenes-sandbox.blogspot.com/

8 comments:

  1. Kick them in their proverbial nuts CSM, I voted for you guys for a reason.

    Massive subscription cancellation going on at the moment. I'm going to be interested in the actual numbers from CCP if they publish that at all.

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  2. Good post, Meissa. I tweeted a link for you, hope a lot of EVE folks read this.

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  3. Linked to your post on mine.

    http://kantlavar.blogspot.com/2011/06/i-felt-great-disturbance-in-force.html

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  4. I may have been pissed at you for sending mass mails during your campaign (it was quite annoying) but I'm glad you got chosen anyways, you and the other candidates are doing a superb job regardless of whatever CCP is doing to hinder you

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  5. The vanity clothing in there now is far from vanity level. Why the white women's shirt is 1200 aurum more than the olive is beyond me.

    Also, the monocle dev blog mentioned the reason for what their pricing would be was because they disn't "have enough wonka's". How about tinting every article they came up with 30 different ways and sell them for 1/5-1/3 the current price? Guess what? People would buy more of them and the two hours of overtime you have to pay that wonka would be made up for in no time.

    I guess public spaces are far off, but they really need to get this issue squared away.

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  6. I dont like getting into the politics of EVE, but I read/understood/enjoyed your entire post. Seems CCP needs to stop worrying so much about their money and more about their Subscription holders.

    Thanks for breaking it down for the simpletons.

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  7. "People have been shocked by the price range in the NeX store, but you should remember that we are talking about clothes. Look at the clothes you are currently wearing in real life. Do you have any specific brands? Did you choose it because it was better quality than a no-name brand? Assume for a short while that you are wearing a pair of $1,000 jeans from some exclusive Japanese boutique shop. Why would you want to wear a pair of $1,000 jeans when you can get perfectly similar jeans for under $50? What do other people think about you when they see you wearing them? For some you will look like the sad culmination of vainness while others will admire you and think you are the coolest thing since sliced bread. Whichever it is, it is clear that by wearing clothes you are expressing yourself and that the price is one of the many dimensions that clothes possess to do that in addition to style and fit. You don't need to buy expensive clothes. In fact you don't need to buy any clothes. Whatever you choose to do reflects what you are and what you want others to think you are."

    src: http://www.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&bid=932

    No thanks very well, we are on a game and not IRL
    We don't want to buy our life on eve !
    It's not eve that educate us, it's not eve that making friends (or maybe not, well...), it's not eve that making food for us, it's not eve that give us a job!

    Fucking AUR and fucking iconomy T_T

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