Eve online has come up with a new scheme for monetizing third party applications and websites.
Up to now, Eve hasn't allowed third party applications to charge for the use of web applications or websites that leverage CCP APIs or other intellectual property - like those slick Eve-fonts and graphics CCP hands out. That restriction on monetizing has been the downfall of a number of apps and websites, including the much-loved but underfunded Capsuleer phone app.
The world is about to change. In exchange for $99 and signing a commercial licensing agreement with CCP, you may now can charge subscription fees, receive donations, sell your app in an app-stores. This should go a long way toward making some of the more sophisticated third parts tools more financially viable.
"But Mord," you might say, "Aren't there successful apps and websites like Dotlan and Eve Tribune that already solicit donations in order to keep the doors of their websites open? "
Why yes. You're absolutely right. That loophole will close. Sites like Dotlan that leverage Eve API and solicit donations to pay operational costs are regarded by CCP as commercial sites and will be required to sign up for the program and fork over the licensing fee. Eve Tribune seems a dicier case. They do solicit donations, but how much they use CCP intellectual property is open to interpretation. If they've signed an agreement to allow use of Eve graphics and fonts, chances are they'll be required dig into their wallet in exchange for the privilege of continuing to do what they've been doing for years.
Oh, and sites that take payment or donations in ISK are commercial as well. This would likely include special activity sites like Hulkageddon. Blogs like Rixx Javix's Evoganda, which hosts event's like Death Race that include an ISK based sign up fee (which is used for prizes) may have to sign up as a commercial app, or cease such operation. Even owners of non commercial apps and sites will be required to join up, albeit without charge (for now).
Now, given the number of third party apps out there, $99 is not a great deal of money for a corporation like CCP. So why do this? I suspect the goal of the program is two-fold.
First of all, CCP would like to make third party apps more viable. The ability to monetize a site or app should mean that the better, more innovative of them will become more viable and hang around longer - thereby improving the Eve and Dust514 experience at no cost to CCP. Further, if the third-party developer community thrives and starts making big bucks, this program will leave CCP well positioned to demand its cut of the income.
Meanwhile, the registration process for commercial apps establishes a precedence of CCP maintaining a degree of control over these third party apps and allows CCP to define its intellectual property boundaries. All very important for future lawsuits. It also allows CCP some leverage with regard to content control. If a licensed web site is doing or saying things that CCP doesn't approve of, CCP can simply threaten loss of that license to pull said web site back into line. So, to a large extent, this initiative appears to be as much about control of the Eve and Dust brands and non CCP content about those brands as it is about money.
It will be interesting to see how aggressively and how far CCP pushes the new regime. For many third party purveyors of Eve and Dust514 content, particularly the donation sites, this will be a forced change to their business model. Some of them will prosper under the new regime. Others will fold up tents rather than pay for what has been, to date, a labor of love.
But then, CCP doesn't get paid for labors of love.