In case you're not watching Reddit or the Eve announcements page closely, yesterday CCP announced a series of rewards they’ll be giving to subscribers who remain subscribed between now and the November expansion.
For those who do remain subscribed for this interval (a mere 2-3 months), they’ll receive a Gnosis (hope no one was investing in them…) and a shuttle, and one of the new Society of Conscious Thought destroyers (a guess, based on the available information)
The nature of this giveaway is not random. It’s a deliberate connection to Clone States and what CCP hopes will be an influx of new players through this program.
After all, both the Gnosis and the new destroyer (potentially named the Sunesis, which fits with the naming scheme started by the Gnosis) will be able to be flown by alpha clones.
Now, a lot of folks will no doubt comment about how this giveaway is really no different than the Christmas giveaways that CCP used to do. I don’t count anything past the Geckos, since novelty stuff doesn’t really compare. However, there is one key difference between this November gift and the Christmas items.
It’s being announced two months in advance, and it requires two months’ worth of subscription to earn it. While that doesn’t seem that big of a deal, It makes all the difference. Whereas the Christmas giveaways were an extra that they didn’t talk about beforehand, and which only required players to be subscribed at that moment, this giveaway changes the game significantly. It’s being used as a marketing tactic to maintain subscribers.
And that brings it into a wholly different class of incentive. You could call it a bribe, intended to influence player behavior proactively, rather than a thank-you gift to show appreciation of retrospective behavior.
Now, that in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. After all, CCP is only asking that you be a part of the game to receive incentives within the game. That seems like a reasonable request.
But when you consider it from a different angle, it’s quite concerning: a subscription is no longer sufficient to earn something everyone else is eligible for. Now, you need to pay two subscriptions to receive in-game assets. After all, that’s what these ships are: assets, which can result in isk if you sell them. It’s a kick-back in a way, probably worth about 100 mil when all is said and done.
But it’s not good enough to just be a player for a month. You have to pay for several months in a row. If you start playing again now? Too bad, it’s not good enough. Now that I’ve considered that perspective, it has me worried. When paying your subscription isn’t enough to allow you to participate in a reward being released in a given month… well, that seems to add credence to those who worry about Eve increasingly shifting to pay-to-win. We’re not there yet, but this does strike me as a glaring signpost.
Likewise, think back to the nature of those giveaways. The Gnosis only requires Spaceship Command I to fly it, and I suspect the SoCT destroyer will also have the same requirement. That means alpha clones will be able to fly them.
The Gnosis giveaway, in particular, is telling. CCP just released the skill limits for alpha clones, and already they’re developing ways to work around it. Now, the market will be flooded with battlecruisers alpha clones can fly, lowering the price of them considerably. And when faced with having to scrounge isk for a cruiser or being able to fly the best ship in the game for an alpha, which do you think they’ll do? Surely, they’ll want one. And without a subscription to pay in order to fly it, why not buy a PLEX to sell for the isk to buy a few of them?
Make no mistake. This movie s directly intended to encourage alphas to participate in microtransactions to gain advantages in the game. It’s not pay to win, but it’s clearly a step in that direction, at least as far as alpha clones are concerned.
This incentive is certainly giving me the icky feelies, not for what advantages it conveys now, but for the silhouette of a shape in the distance. And that shape isn’t comforting.
Side note: I’ll be out on a much-needed vacation for the next week, so I’m not sure if I’ll be posting much. I hope everyone enjoys whatever madness is going to happen with the Amarr schism that appears to be launching on Tuesday (resulting in the new white skins I desperately want for my Amarr ships. Have fun, everyone!