Tuesday, May 01, 2012

[Eve Online] Is PLEX Cheating?

Gevlon wrote a post saying essentially that PLEX was cheating. PLEX is essentially a a game card for 1 month of game-time, that is purchased from CCP for real money, but can be sold in game for virtual currency. Gevlon was promptly jumped on by Eve loyalists in the comments. However, I think he is sort of right.

Though, "cheating" is not precisely the right word.

Rather, I would say that PLEX is against the spirit of Eve Online. Eve is a sandbox game, a virtual universe inside which one builds a virtual existence more or less from scratch. Allowing outside transactions to affect transactions inside the virtual universe seems to cut against the whole sandbox idea.

It kind of comes back to the notion of inconvenience. It is certainly convenient for, as an example, PvP pilots to buy PLEX to fund their games. But there is a price for that. Those pilots don't have to work, to participate in the game economy, for those funds. If PLEX did not exist, they would have to do something, produce something of value, before they could get to what they think is the fun part.

Maybe they would take up mining, maybe they would become pirates. Who knows? But not having to do that does distort the economy in some small fashion. It weakens the notion of Eve as a self-contained sandbox universe.

But maybe PLEX is a necessary evil. Maybe its existence spices up gameplay, and makes the economy more liquid, with more and larger transactions moving around. Maybe the alternative is those players quitting Eve instead of continuing to play. Maybe it means that CCP would make less money, and not be able to fund development as Eve deserves. Maybe third-party ISK sellers would fill the void, leading to the same result, but with a lot more unfortunate side-effects.

Ultimately, inconvenience is what makes a world a world, and not just a game. PLEX is convenient, but makes Eve less of a world, and more of a game.


  1. As I am arguing in the comments of Gevlon's post, the distinctions being drawn are arbitrary and nonsensical. Why is PLEX an "outside transaction" and hundreds of guides/blogs not? Look at the Goons, whom would not exist in-game without their out-of-game formation. No sandbox is self-contained, and doubly so when said sandbox has a cash shop already.

    Time is as much an outside currency as PLEX.

  2. "Maybe third-party ISK sellers would fill the void, leading to the same result, but with a lot more unfortunate side-effects."

    Third-party ISK sellers infest EVE even with PLEX, but I feel that the existence of PLEX ameliorates their impact.

    Everything that Azuriel says is incorrect, as usual, but it's not worth the time to argue with him.

    Gevlon is incorrect mainly because his statement: "
    Getting ISK in EVE is anything but trivial. " is a bit laughable. His own experience in EVE shows that he was able to make tons of ISK within weeks of joining. I'm a new EVE player as well, I mine/mission/trade, never get ganked, and trading is uniformly profitable. If someone is really stupid, and making ISK actually is difficult for them, than buying PLEX isn't cheating in a meaningful way, as they are stupid and are therefore irrelevant (as PLEX doesn't provide enough advantage to make a stupid player relevant)

  3. > Maybe it means that CCP would make less money, and not
    > be able to fund development as Eve deserves.

    That would only be the case if more PLEX are sold by CCP per month then PLEX are used to pay for the monthly subscription. Is that the case?

  4. Kring, that is the case by default, because the PLEX exists as an in game item, which is subject to the whims of the in game rules. If a ship is destroyed with PLEX in its hold, there's a 50% chance that the PLEX are outright destroyed. Ships have been destroyed with dozens of PLEX going down with them before.

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  7. I think PLEX has a split personality. On the one hand, as you say, it gives people an instant injection of ISK they would otherwise only be able to get by engaging in the game. I agree that easy money via RMT can ruin the game for you and, in people I have seen do it, makes you stupid as you have no investment in the currency. You have no sense of what it is really worth and often spend it stupidly.

    On the other hand, PLEX is an incentive for others. If you work hard enough, you can pay for your subscription in-game! How cool is that?

    So it is a double edged sword... and as such, seems to fit perfectly into EVE Online.

  8. PLEX doesn't add any currency to the game; it only moves currency from one player to another. The net effect of PLEX is to move currency from high- to low-wealth characters. It's your choice as a player to earn ISK via time, or via money (which is really just an aggregate of labor, so time again). Gevlon has decided making ISK is the point of playing EVE, so people who get their ISK for real money seem like cheaters to him, because they circumvent the work he's put into making ISK. It's a BS claim based on broad, unfounded assumptions and egotistical, narrow minded, self-serving interpretations of the choices available in the game - but this is the guy who said people who like to blow up space ships would also enjoy carjacking and murder, so I guess it's par for the course.

  9. Please stop insulting Gevlon. It is impolite to do so on my site, and accordingly I will delete such comments.

    Make real arguments. If all you've got is "Gevlon is stupid", say goodbye to your post.

  10. I would argue that PLEX is a quintessential reflection of what you call EVE spirit. EVE is a dangerous and unfriendly world that rewards cold-blooded efficiency. Buying PLEX is the most efficient way of earning ISK for players with real life means. Therefore, how could it be against spirit of EVE?

  11. It definitely affects the game as an economic simulation. If people had to think about how they'd cover the cost of their ships before they throw them into PvP I think it'd tend to play quite differently,, but possibly not in a way that was as fun for as many people (because in that case, people would pretty much be forced to become indentured to rich corps if they wanted to fly fighters a lot).

  12. PLEX is not inserted into the game "free". At some point, someone paid CCP real money to get extra PLEX which they then injected into the system. No unit of PLEX is in the game without it having made CCP some money at some point.

    The idea that EVERYONE can just work hard and pay for their subscriptions with ISK is ridiculous; CCP would quickly be unable to afford running the servers or paying their maintainers. ISK isn't a real world legal tender, you know!

    Trying to claim that PLEX is considered "cheating" strikes me as highly silly because at SOME end of the line, a person HAS to be buying some. You can't claim that the percentage of people who are actually directly supporting the company are somehow partaking in activities negative to the nature of the game itself.

  13. As someone in the game for over 4 years I have to say that the overwhelming response of the community to the introduction of PLEX was positive. You will be hard pressed to find any veteran players in the game that have any problem with players buying PLEX from CCP.

    Plex is used by people with more cash than time ... The key difference between WoW and EVE with regard to this form of RMT is that PLEX is integrated into a real player driven economy.

    PLEX is an attempt (and a successful one btw) to turn RMT away from a net social loss for the game and an economic loss for CCP and actually make it a positive for both. Players in a position with the time to invest in the game that would normally be burning out can buy in game PLEX to reduce their cost to play --- keeping them in the game and the community for years longer than any promise of a new expansion would. At the same time those accounts are being paid for by those players looking to reduce their own need to spend time in the game doing tasks they don't enjoy and don't personally benefit from. This is the definition of a successful market -- bringing different parties together to exchange value. IT IS NOT ZERO SUM as it is with bots/gold sellers in WoW or other games precisely because all parties to the transactions gain value ... the PLEX buyer, the PLEX seller, and CCP.

    The only threat to this form of RMT is that bot programs overwhelm the ability of individual players to meaningfully participate in the market. Eliminate the bots (as CCP is doing) and you have a successful market that brings value to everyone and is one everyone can participate in.

    Direct RMT, like the Aurum introduction are vehemently opposed by the entire player-base of EVE. That form of RMT is true threat to the long term health of EVE if CCP were to go ahead and allow the sale of "golden ammo". The "Summer of Rage" that caused CCP to totally reverse direction last fall was specifically about RMT, PLEX never figured into it. Learning the difference between those two is fundamental to understanding the RMT issue in EVE.