Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Has Eve pulled an Allods?

The latest EVE patch brings with it an item shop full of cosmetic items. It took a little while for folks to work out how much things cost because EVE now has four different "currencies". There is good old cash, then there is ISK, then there are PLEX and now we have Aurums. The conversion rules are complicated but effectively exchange rates exist between every one of these currencies except that the only one who can get cash out is CCP. 

Anyhow items in the cash shop are priced in Aurums and when you acquire those Aurum's for cash (via the intermediate stage of PLEX) it turns out that a shirt costs about €20 while a humble monocle costs almost  €50.Cue nerd rage and when it comes to nerd rage no one does it better than EVE's hardline community.

A couple of years back Allods online was widely praised during beta and had built up a growing cohort of followers who deserted almost overnight when the cash shop was opened and prices were deemed to be a rip off. Many of the complaints have since been addressed but the bad publicity generated still hampers the game.It is hard to believe that any any mmorpg company who adds a cash shop to their game could not be aware of the Allods debacle and the risk of being perceived to "rip off" customers.

EVE is not Allods. The game has a large cohort of loyal players who have stuck with the game through tough times in the past. The vanity items themselves are not required for gameplay.  Given that CCP has always come across as being the most clued in game company when it comes to economic issues (they have an economist who studies their in game market for example) it is hard to believe that they didn't know exactly what they were doing in pricing cash shop items.  Nevertheless I don't profess to understand it myself. EVE's cash shop prices put the items way outside normal "impulse purchase" thresholds which has to severely limit the total revenues.

All I can think of is that the initial high prices are designed to drain the in game economy of a glut of plexes that have been built up by the games wealthiest players. Once this glut has been dealt with then CCP may lower prices to a revenue maximising optimum. The only problem with this strategy, if it is true, is that CCP takes two major publicity hits: one now because of the perceived high price rip off and a second later when they slash the price of items that some folk have paid through the nose for.


Nils said...

I wouldn't want a universe full of people with monocles. This makes perfect sense. Wealth is distributed exponentially in real life. Some $100 are a joke for many people.

Look, I don't like RMT and f2p and microtransactions etc. But if you like them, don't complain about the price.

About the Allod: Allod stuff was required for (reasonable) play. Eve stuff is pure vanity.

mbp said...

I agree that this monocle has no impact on gameplay and I suspect that the fuss about it will probably blow over Nils but I am still a bit surprised at the pricing strategy. I doubt very much that €50 is the optimum from a revenue point of view because I can't see many players making a €50 impulse purchase.

Zoso said...

$68 monocles sounded a bit weird, but in the context of cash/ISK/PLEX/Aurum make a lot more sense, perhaps as a mechanism for adjusting the value of the other currencies. Dangerous game, though, as you say.

@Nils "if you like them, don't complain about the price" is just silly; if you prefer subscriptions, can you not complain if you think £500/month is too high? It's quite possible to generally be in favour of non-subscription models but take issue with specific pricing or implementation.

Stabs said...

I actually bought one with the intention of flipping it. It's on the Jita market for a fat markup.

Velocity appears to be close to zero at the moment so all the monacles are just sitting there. I do think that they will sell in time. At least I hope so - or I might end up having to wear it.

mbp said...

Interesting move Stabs. I'd like to see how it turns out. Did you have the plex to hand or did you have to pay cash?

Nils said...

Zoso, in fact I have often argued for (much) higher subscriptions in the past, so that sub-based games become competitive with f2p games.

If sub rates were way too high I wouldn't buy the game .. I don't complain about Porsche being expensive, either.

What's really important to understand is that 95% of the revenue a f2p game does comes from the top 5% players in terms of real life money. .. And some poor souls who can't actually aford it.

95% of all Eve players don't regularly buy PLEX. It's the 5% that buy it.

Stabs said...

I had the isk. Normally I play the market with my spare isk on much safer commodities, I usually get tempted around patch time to invest in the new shinies.

I should have known better. Last time I bought a Noctis BPO which didn't quite pay for itself.

If there's one thing I've realised, or should have realised, it's that obvious patchday profiteering is rarely profitable because there are always too many people doing it. Besides I had a much better idea this time around too which would have been a better way to spend this isk.

Still it's 2b out of about 20b so not really a big deal - and I will eventually get the 2b back with 20% profit.