There have been a lot of articles talking about the SOMER Blink RMT situation, controlled shut-down, and subsequent ban of its founder. Here are just some of them: It Happens While You Blink, Somergate: Lend Me Your Voice, SOMERblink 2014: Closing the Doors, Somer’s Come and Gone, Final Verdict.
And that’s just some of them. Some of those are cute puns. Some of them are update articles with personal opinions on the scandal.
This is not one of those articles.
Quite frankly, this is a PvP blog, and I’m not terribly concerned about writing about RMT. I don’t quite understand all the ways people RMT; there are so many things related to this game to learn, I simply don’t have time to learn about risks I’m never going to take (and RMT is a game-ending risk).
Nor do I care very much whether a bunch of wannabe heroes lose the ability to post “promo blink” in alliance chat as if it’s something that matters to their alliance mates. Have I blinked before? Sure. I even tried it again during ATXII, and won two PLEX for a 400 mil investment. Happily, I cashed out immediately. It’s a fun addition to the game, and I suspect someone will start a similar service after buying the code from Somer (probably for RL currency, ironic…). It’s a nice ornament to the game, but the loss of blink doesn’t really impact my game much.
What I do want to talk about are some of the second- and third-order consequences. And these do affect PvP.
SOMER has supported a lot of player-run initiatives in the past. The New Eden Open comes to mind. SOMER even provided nearly all the prizes for the recent Theomachy event on Sisi, which pitted 400 players against each other in a giant rumble. Prizes totaled somewhere around 100 billion isk in value. Most of that came from the SOMER sponsorship. I believe SOMER sponsored the Syndicate Combat League, as well (please correct me in the comments if I’m wrong), and they’ve done a variety of other things, including sponsoring some alliance tournament teams.
No more. The source of all that funding of player-generated content is gone.
There were many people who hated SOMER well before the Ishukone Scorpion debacle of last year. I wonder if they realized that SOMER had provided all this support to player events. Most of what I read in CCP Falcon’s thread were calls for brutal punishment based on what uninformed players believed, not upon the facts that were verifiably known.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m 100% against favoritism and RMT in theory (again, I don’t know much about the specifics, but I recognize the damage it can cause to the game). I’m a big advocate that no entity is too big to fail, regardless of their value to the gameworld, and I think every entity (player, corp, org, alliance, whatever) should abide by the same rules. In that respect, SOMER’s founder sealed her fate when she posted communications from CCP (a big no-no), misconstrued those communications (another no-no), and claimed CCP approval (a third no-no). That alone was enough to justify a ban, and CCP seems to have taken action on that basis alone (it sounds like the RMT investigation will take longer, and may drag more people down with it). CCP’s hand was forced; they had to maintain order and be seen to apply the rules equally. That’s why they publicized the ban of SOMER’s founder. It was the right decision.
But that doesn’t mean this isn’t an unfortunate situation for the gameworld. While we’re all going around smugly satisfied that CCP wielded the banhammer so decisively and reveling in the universality of the rules, let’s not forget that Eve is poorer for this situation occurring.
Note the phrasing. We’re not poorer for CCP exercising their option to ban. We’re poorer for SOMER choosing to go too far, then losing their minds by making multiple violations and misrepresentations when their actions were questioned. SOMERblink is at fault, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only ones to suffer from their downfall.
Will other organizations step up to support player content like Theomachy, the SCL, and the NEO? Maybe, but if so, why didn’t they do so already? I don’t see an immediate candidate to replace them.
There are no winners here, only a poorer gameworld for the decision of one player.