Sunday, December 1, 2013

If

Let's imagine that everyone's worst nightmares about EVE and RMT are true.

What if RMT (by which I mean the trade of EVE's in-game currency, the ISK, for for real world currency) is not only being done on large scale by EVE online players, but has become the primary reason for EVE Online's existence.

Let's just say for argument's sake that major in-game sov-holding entities and alliances, EVE gambling sites, EVE web hosting sites and a parade of EVE services purveyors, both in and out of game, are taking big stacks of ISK and systematically rolling them over into real world money.  And heck, as long we're blue-skying here, let's say that CCP is not only unable or unwilling to stop EVE's RMT trade, but are actually knowing participants and beneficiaries of the trade.  Let's say that CCP is colluding with key RMT interests for a percentage of the take and in order to optimize CCP's RMT yield.

Let's say EVE Online is no longer an entertainment for spaceship geeks of all ages and nationalities. Let's say it merely exists as a money spinner, a machine for generating game world transactions that, in turn, generate real world transactions, thereby making real world money out of thin air.

After all, it's not like this sort of thing is science fiction. It's commonplace in the financial world. Wall Street is chock a block with financial organizations whose stock in trade is turning over transactions that have no point beyond the transactions themselves. The firm takes a small cut of each transaction, adding nothing of value to the item transacted. In such cases, the item and its value (or lack thereof) is not the point; the transactions, not things or services that provide utility of any sort, are the product.

Spinning money, it's called.  Right? OK, so let's say for just a moment that all this is happening in EVE,  and CCP (or key elemens thereof) are hip deep in the trade of real money.

Would it make a difference?

Think about it. Would you stop playing? Go play something else? Would it change the game for you?  Would you be less entertained? At the end of the day, does it matter? And if not, should it?

Just something to think about. 

11 comments:

  1. Yes, it matters, no it isn't happening and hmm, would probably still play anyway if it were true.

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  2. Hmmm. Sounds like you feel it should matter, but it wouldn't matter so much that it would effectively change your relationship with the game.

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  3. Of course this is happening. It is what I rail against all the time, though it is futile, as CCP is working in concert with the null sec cartel leaderships of the Eve universe. There is ZERO chance that really smart guys like the goon money men go to such massive lengths to amass trillion ISK/month income streams, only to watch their in-game wallets grow. These guys could be applying that brainpower to real-life endeavours that would net them some decent coin.

    Now, does it matter? That is the biggest question. IF CCP ever came clean about it, yes it would matter.

    A lot of people, while knowing they pay a tax to the null sec cartels any time they buy a T2 item, (and now with the high sec PoCo taxes), really don't want it thrown in their face how much money these guys are making off the average player's gameplay. If it was ever acknowledged by CCP "yeah, we have been lying to you for years, and the goons really do run the show", a significant segment of the player base would quit. Some would come back, and new players would fill their spots, knowing full well what is happening. But CCP would certainly take a short term hit on subs.

    As for me, I am pretty much disconnected from the game now, because of what CCP's actions over the last 2 or 3 years. I still pay my sub, mostly so I can rail against the null sec cartels and CCP on their forums. It does give me joy to piss them off, and I know I do. mynnna just dropped a 1 billion bounty on my head last week over what I posted on the forums. That is a rounding error to him, but the fact that he actually was pissed enough to do it gives me some satisfaction.

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  4. Complicated questions. A financially secure CCP is critical to the long-term success of Eve, hence I support a financially stable and growing CCP. On the other hand, I believe ISK is to easy to obtain in the current Eve and I would support any steps to stem that tide. And if I had yet another side to my hand, which I don't, I'd also say the conversion of ISK into real world currency is abhorrent to me. And yet, the truth of the matter is that I would still play.

    Cause really. CCP could be a den of alien hive-mind warriors bent on the eventual destruction of mankind and I'd probably still play. Although with some trepidation.

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  5. What we’re calling “RMT” is not simply some nasty virus that needs to be eradicated. It’s actually a primitive system of “international” (for lack of a better word) financial transfers and exchange. It needs to be carefully regulated, of course, lest it spin out of control and the economy of New Eden degenerates into a casino — a potential outcome of which Dr. Gu├░mundsson and other Icelanders should be acutely aware. But for this emergent virtual world to thrive, a certain amount of autonomous, player-driven RMT needs to be cultivated, even cautiously encouraged.

    CCP’s sci-fi sandbox has evolved over the last decade to the point that it has, in many ways, transcended the MMO category. It is much more now than just another entertaining diversion. New Eden has come to resemble a small foreign country, with its own organic cultures and history, a vibrant domestic economy and a durable sense of place. And this is one of those problems that all emerging nations face: how (and how much) to regulate the flow and potential flight of capital across their borders.

    So yes, of course it would matter if EVE were primarily a vehicle for real money transactions, though not in the way that the prognosticators of doom think it would. As long as I can make spaceship explode, I’ll still be playing. And if some guys can pay part of their rent in real life by doing so, is that necessarily a bad thing?

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  6. It's so complicated I would have to write a whole blog about it. But simply, those on the consumer side (i.e., PVPers) should love the endless discounted goods that bots and passive moongoo, etc., generate in the name of RMT income streams. Producers (i.e., miners and industry), even though able to turn a profit, experience artificially deflated prices from the RMT-based production machine. No one should pretend there is no competition between the two for ISK, and that RMT activities have no effect.

    I would only say that there would be plenty of players who play moderately enough that the problems of suppliers and prices aren't a big enough worry to interfere or matter. And like RL, if the prices are stable and reasonable enough, who cares where the ISK profit goes or what questionable activities it may or may not support.

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    1. Do write the blog post. I'd love to read it.

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  7. I think you have missed the point. The reasons that RMT is illegal is that no stable nation will allow it because it:

    a. Dodges currency trading taxes.

    b. Provides and easy tool for drug money launderers.

    Online gambling has the same issue.

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  8. Fiddler's Note: Recommended reading for my erudite audience on this topic includes the World Bank paper "Knowledge Map of the Virtual Economy", which does a nice job of defining gaming's virtual economies and providing a sense of scope with regard to their value.
    http://www.infodev.org/infodev-files/resource/InfodevDocuments_1056.pdf

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    1. It's been years since I first read that paper. Thanks for bringing it up again. I'll recommend one in return. "A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Real-Money Trade in the Products of Synthetic Economies" by Professor Edward Castronova. Professor Castronova wrote the first papers on virtual economies and blogs over at Terra Nova.

      http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=917124

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  9. "Early data on the global online game market is
    sparse, but one major industry analyst firm suggests
    that the global market was around $1.45 billion by
    2003 (DFC Intelligence 2008). In recent years,
    KOCCA in Korea has made efforts to analyze and
    aggregate different sources in order to come up with
    a more reliable estimate. The sources include
    estimates from a large number of industry analysts
    and industry organizations in different countries
    (KOCCA 2010). KOCCA’s analysis indicates that
    the global market for online games was $12.6 billion
    in 2009, up from $8.5 billion two years earlier
    (Table 3)."

    Wow! This isn't to the level of porn revenues but it's certainly up there. Porn, Facebook, and virtual bling --- the internet hard at work. Somerblink was getting shafted, he should have held out for more.

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