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...