The announcement of changes to the Eve end-user licensing agreement came down today, and the big story is the banning of isk gambling sites. Eve-bet, IWantIsk, etc. are all going to be going away as of Ascension.
Well, not quite, IWI and another group I've honestly never heard of are being fully banned as of today, with all assets confiscated. Both of them were involved in widespread RMT operations, apparently.
For the rest, though, finish up your bets and cash out. It's over, folks.
This has sparked a lot of discussion already among the blogging community, and I have to say I'm disturbed by the turn of some of these arguments. For instance, Wilhelm Arcturus of The Ancient Gaming Noob and member of former CFC alliance TNT referred to Eve gambling site revenue as "ill-gotten gains".
In considering it, you've got to separate the way isk is generated from how it's spent. I'm not sure I understand how a house cut of isk gambling is ill-gotten in and of itself.
Previously, I defended IWantIsk against the brutal and incredibly specious assault by members of the CFC on them. They tossed out wild accusations because IWI financed the war that put an end to the CFC. Following the brain drain that left them weak shells of their former selves, they were incapable of dealing with the coalition of enemies that wanted their blood, so they turned to meta attacks against the financiers, IWI, to try to stop the assault.
At the time, we saw no definitive evidence. They claimed they turned evidence over to CCP, but I doubt it, since a CCP investigation buoyed by clear proof wouldn't have taken eight months. At the time, the only reasonable reaction of anyone who claims to favor "innocent until proven guilty" was to assume IWI was safe until CCP told us otherwise.
Yet dozens of CFC mouthpieces who clearly never saw any of this supposed evidence were lighting the torches and grabbing their pitchforks. Let's even say everyone saw this proof; they still didn't have access to server-side info that would validate or refute it. Only CCP can really know what happened. This bandwagon condemnation was the sign of a desperate attempt to protect their crumbling empire and revealed the hollow ring of their ideology. Nothing more, nothing less.
The first time anyone in the Eve blogging community could know they were RMTing with any true certainty was with CCP's announcement earlier today. IWI and this Eve Casino were RMTing in a widespread nature. They're guilty; CCP has confirmed it with their bans.
Yet that doesn't change the fact that anyone declaring them guilty prior to today was doing so based on belief, not fact. That's okay; you can act based on beliefs. But there's a world of difference between "I believe IWI is RMTing," and "IWI is RMTing". You jumped to conclusions, but those conclusions simply happened to be correct. I hope you're never on a jury on a case involving me.
Nor does the guilt of IWI or Eve Casino mean proceeds from Eve gambling are "ill-gotten gains". You have to separate the generation of the isk from the distribution of the isk. Providing a service in exchange for isk isn't an inherently "ill-gotten" means. Does it matter what that service is? I'd argue that it isn't.
The long and short of it is that CFC pilots were upset that a group retaliated against a theft by using its isk to destroy their empire - an empire that everyone else in the game desperately wanted to destroy, and which (many would claim) was richly deserved. Should we consider ratting ill-gotten because World War Bee was partially funded by ratting proceeds? What about market trading? The generation of the isk and the spending of it on WWB is not related to the RMT they did.
Even though it's no doubt tempting for any player to RMT when they have trillions of isk, having trillions of isk isn't "bad". As humans, temptation is greatest when accompanied by great gain. Thinking you can shut down the means for a person to accrue X amount of isk as a way to limit RMT isn't feasible or fair. To do so sends the message that CCP will punish success.
By all means, punish those who violate the rules. Feel free to carefully scrutinize those who have developed the means to earn massive amounts of isk. But punishing success, or assuming those with a lot of isk will naturally RMT it, leads to very dark places.
Now, all of this is academic, of course, because the UK decision about Valve that Nosy Gamer has chronicled so carefully changes the game entirely. His read on this emerging situation and the way it might affect CCP was very much on-point.
Anyone who thinks this purging of the eve gambling sites was caused by anything but the possible implications of the UK decision is deluding himself. CCP is taking this action to avoid finding itself in Valve's situation. Full stop. The mere existence of a "cash out" in the form of RMT - even though it's condemned by CCP - is the reason why eve gambling sites are being shut down. Without that means of closing the loop - pulling money out of the system and profiting in real life - the UK would have no stake in the matter of in-game currency gambling. Yet, regardless of whether RMT violates CCP's policies, it isn't illegal in regards to real-world governments, and is thus considered a valid way to put money into something, gamble with it, and pull out more than you put in.
Doesn't this also mean alliance lotteries to raise funds for different in-game projects are not illegal as well? Don't doubt - the UK's decision to go after Valve is going to leave the Eve community weaker as a result. Most of the prizes for various player-run tournaments, for instance, came from the Eve gambling sites. As of now, there are no RMT bans for Eve-bet, for instance, who helped put on the first weekend of AT coverage and supports nearly every in-game event there is. That isn't going to happen anymore.
Let's not get into the habit of moralizing because of our in-game political allegiance or a witch hunting about RMT. It's possible to run an Eve gambling site without RMTing - the orderly wind-down of some of the other betting sites proves it. Those who condemn the service type entirely either reveal their bias or are engaging in moralizing, both of which are tedious at best, and negligent at worst.
IWI was clearly engaged in widespread RMT activity that violated the TOS. They deserved their fate, and I'd like to believe their bans would have come regardless of whether the UK decision on Valve happened or not (I'm an optimist!). But in the same way that every energy provider shouldn't be punished for Enron, I don't revel over every eve gambling site being taken down. Take out the corrupt, but keep the clean.
Disclosure: Eve-bet is an advertiser on my site (the image in the upper right corner). At no point have they asked for or I provided the content of any of my articles for review. The subject hasn't even been raised. I also have frequented multiple isk gambling sites in the past, and am generally an advocate of consensual gambling. I believe gambling venues provide a service and take a cut as payment for the opportunity to utilize the service; nothing more, nothing less.