Monday, 18 January 2016

Skill Trading Because?

So CCP have faced the harsh reality that it really is a new year and have knuckled down to work. Today they got to "S" on the must do list. Skill Trading in New Eden. The dev blog doesn't offer much more in the way of changes from that proposed before Eve Vegas. A slight appeasement to the vets to allow them to monetise more of their brains and we also now know it is going to be released in February. 

What we also got was An update on the roadmap and the start of 2016 from CCP Seagull which is always refreshing to see. I'll come to that in a bit.

Now I am no fan of the Skill Trading proposition as I have said before. On a personal level I would actually benefit from it - insta cyno alt or something like that for example and I would probably be able to outbid a Newbie for the skill points, which kind of defeats one of the arguments put forward for this feature. So it is not as if I would feel disadvantaged by this being in the game. But that isn't really the point of discomfort I have about it. I'll try to explain why.

Fundamentally, it is not clear to me Skill Trading is needed - or more specifically why this has been given such a priority. CCP_Seagul gave a passionate explanation about the reasoning for it at Eve Vegas which you could possibly accept at face value and leave it at that. But to my mind it didn't explain the priority given to it and the resources it must be consuming when there are so many big changes happening. What we are not hearing is Devs singing its praises and certainly players weren't clamouring for it before it was announced. It is hard to see it being a huge revenue stream, so the return on investment is also hard to see. You can only surmise this has to be a strategic decision coming from above for some unspoken purpose. What would that be?

I can only speculate so tinfoil caveat massively applies, but today's video, welcome as it was, did not describe anything beyond the end of April if you assume that is when the Citadel expansion lands. It wasn't a road map update. Just additional information to what is already known. Cynically I would say it was citadel eye candy plus some recent features to sweeten the Skill Trading message. Nice but begs the question what happens after April and why sweeten the message because the idea has not had universal disapproval by any stretch of the imagination. Put the two together and there must be a phase 2 to this Skill Trading feature later this year would be my thinking.

My guess is that Eve will adopt the free to play (F2P) model later this year. That would be the phase 2. It is the only thing that seems to make sense. Subbed/Plexed accounts will become premium accounts and F2P accounts will have to pay for training either though the market or Aurum would be my first guess. I have no way of verifying this obviously and could well be wrong. It is a big and likely controversial undertaking if it were to happen so the development silence would be appropriate. CCP does need to refresh its user base and it is an established business model so I am not necessarily against the idea (but I do have reservations). 

What I would be strongly against is CCP misleading people with one feature when in fact it was a precursor for another. People could make gameplay decisions based on the Skills Trading feature that might disadvantage them when the full enormity of a F2P came to pass. That would be switch and bait and wouldn't do wonders for the player trust they have built up recently Obviously, I could be totally misreading the tea leaves here. But then ask yourself why has CCP_Seaull pushed this so hard and why is next year's roadmap such a mystery? Interesting times perhaps. Anyway, back to the asylum... 

6 comments:

  1. It is interesting to see this idea embraced when any previous post proposing skill re-assignment was met with hostility or derision.

    What I do predict is a significant "gold rush" as the existing player base will customise their existing skills to a perceived ideal. Then a drop as character bazaar offerings are purchased and rendered for SP.

    The primary question remains - would you use one? I have not decided myself. I might like to increase some skills to alts for R&D agents, PI and research slots. (ie passive generating income abilities). But only if the gained income covers the cost of the SP purchase - or will repay within a given time frame.

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    1. To be clear, I do hate the idea but it is going to happen anyway and in itself it is not a show-stopper by any means.

      The cost of the skill extractor has yet to be defined so that could impact on the desire. I think a month's training is about 2000000 SP depending on your mapping. So that is a plex worth. If he price is less than that it will be viable unless time is important to you.

      Would I use one? I certainly wouldn't extract SP because the largest amount of SP I have on a single toon is 25 mill. I was duel training up until the SP Trading feature was originally announced. I stopped at that point. I have no urgent need for SP and I am prepared to wait. I am in no hurry to win Eve. But if in-game the price was right I would certainly consider it.

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  2. I'm not a fan of skill trading either but maybe it leads to something refreshing. I am too far away from any customer market to have an idea what will lead to more players, what I know is that eve COULD use a lot more players. Last time I checked the subscription section of my account I recognised some check marks what this subscription enables.

    Combined with the info on skill trading, I can imagine a split in subscriptions, where you can either pay to just play for say 5$ or have the account also accumulate SP, which costs 15$. In my opinion such a change could bring a whole bunch of old characters back into the game as they don't have to pay that much any more for skills they don't need anyway. And if you don't pay for SP accumulation and need something you buy a skill injector.

    Simple and logic? How would the player base react to that? Would retired players come back?

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    1. I am inclined to agree with you. You can't blame CCP for trying to mix things up and the idea you have might part of the answer. My biggest issue is solely that CCP give the appearance of being disingenuous by not telling the whole story. Or alternatively if it is the whole story then it is a strange priority given all the other things they could have chosen to do. The positive is CCP are not sitting back and that has to be a good thing.

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  3. Free to play would wreck havoc with industry and mining. I know several people with 4-5 accounts for mining and doubt they would keep paying for all of them. IMO:
    1> New player retention. Skill trains can be boring. If it was up to me, give every new player a free T2 cruiser skill after two months (opening the road to T3 and a lot of fleet comps).
    2> The new force auxilary carriers require a new skill. Players will raise a stink that they cannot possibly do triage unless their racial carrier V is changed to force auxilary V. Ignore them and subtly hint at the skillpoint option.
    3> Money grab by CCP. Don't like it, but hey, they have to make a living too.

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    1. Yes it would be interesting to know if you can convert a premium subbed account into a F2P unsubbed account in this scenario.

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