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Friday, January 6, 2012

CCP is Playing Favorites when it Comes to Incursions

Ripard Teg over on Jester's Trek has been running a series of posts on Incursions. The first post, Caravan of the Heavens, included some very astute observations and recommendation to change how Incursions work in hi-sec. I neither agree nor disagree with his observations or his proposal. They stand on their own.

However, the posts (and the responses) have stirred up in me a desire to put something on the table that has been bothering me since Crucible went live. I almost took it personally, so have waited a good amount of time before spouting off. Still, I may not be objective enough yet but here goes anyway.

We all know that there can only be so much money in an economy. Economies with more money supply than demand experience currency devaluation and hyperinflation. Economies with less money than demand suffer stagnation. I am sure there are others who know more about this than I so I'll leave the details to them. I do know that all the world banks on the planet spend most (all?) of their time making sure the amount of currency in the system is neither too little or too much. The latest buzzword for this is Quantitative Easing but there are many other examples.

In EVE Online, CCP is the Federal Reserve. Whenever they talk about ISK faucets, they are talking about making money. Make too much ISK and prices skyrocket. Players become unhappy as rising water drowns everyone. Too little money and players walk away for lack of reward. CCP knows this so they constantly strive to turn faucets off and on to control the amount of ISK in the EVE economy.

Now to the point of my particular dissatisfaction. CCP implemented in Crucible a mechanism for turning off an ISK faucet in hi-sec. They began imposing a so-called 10% tax on all PI goods moving from orbit. In reality, there has been plenty of evidence that this is really a 250% increase (and worse, see my post The True Expense of PI Tax Rates) in the costs associated with moving PI resources to and from orbit.

Why did they do this? Well, they said hi-sec PI made too much money at no risk. I don't dispute that there is little risk to hi-sec PI. The occasional griefer is the only thing to worry about and that's rare. Was it too much money? My PI line makes six to seven million ISK a day for me so long as I log in every day to keep it going. That's about 2.5 billion ISK a year in gross profits. Costs associated with it (moving extractors, space ports, launch fees, etc.) reduce that amount of course. Still, 1 billion ISK a year is nothing to sneeze at. So, I guess I don't really disagree with it being a lot of risk free ISK.

But their stated reason for doing it smells like rotten Icelandic cod!

If CCP was worried about too much risk free ISK in EVE, why didn't they also tamp down Incursion payouts? It injects far more currency into the EVE economy than hi-sec PI. I've read plenty to indicate that it's by far the best money making venture in hi-sec EVE. Millions (billions?) of ISK get created every hour an Incursion runs. Multiple Incursions run at the same time.There is no risk (unless you're stupid.) I know, I've been in several incursion fleets. Not a ship was lost in any of them. That's pretty risk free if you ask me. I wouldn't be surprised if the odds of losing a ship in an Incursion are about equivalent to being ganked while running PI.

Understanding that, the only answer I can come up with is that CCP is playing favorites. Incursions are extremely popular. CCP would rather piss off a bunch of risk adverse hi-sec carebears than Incursion runners. CCP knows we'll just roll over and take it. They are correct of course, we will. It even makes a certain amount of business sense and I won't hold it against them.

What I do hold against them is lying about it to our face and expecting us to believe it. They must think we're too stupid to know when we're being discriminated against (for good reason or no.) And hasn't that been the problem with CCP all along? They say they value their players, but I'm not sure they've ever really internalized that we aren't young and dumb WoW players who have no RL experience. They need to stop looking at EVE players that way. Be honest with us. Tell us you're turning off our favorite ISK faucet and move on. I can take it. You already know I won't quit. What do you have to lose CCP, the perception that you can't communicate with your player base? That you are dishonest with them?

Now, don't get me wrong. Since the debacle that was Incarna, CCP has made great strides to start treating it's players as the intelligence, middle-of-life people that we are. But the disease is not cured. Some symptoms, like this PI discrimination, still exist. Good work CCP on a good start, but don't stop until the disease is completely cured. You're not there yet.

Fly careful.

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Be civil, be responsible and most of all be kind. I will not tolerate poor form. There will be no James Hooks here. We are all better than that.