Friday, May 04, 2012

[Eve Online] Plex and Cheating, Part III

This will be the last post on the PLEX issue.

I still think PLEX is unfair. All the arguments for PLEX have sidestepped the basic unfairness issue, and pointed to the good effects that PLEX has. But at it's heart, Eve permits one faction of players to skip content for real money, but does not do the same for other players. It weakens the fidelity of the economic simulation that is Eve Online.

However, as Voltaire said, perfect is the enemy of good.

PLEX has lots of positive effects. It induces liquidity in the markets, causing ISK to be spent instead of hoarded. It decreases the effect of unsafe third party RMT in Eve. It allows the producers to avoid spending money on subscriptions. It allows people who don't like the "work" of producing to concentrate on the fun, and keeps them in the game, and paying subscriptions. It provides excitement for piracy and shipping. Killing an enemy carrying PLEX seems to be one of the great delights of Eve PvP.

On net, PLEX is probably a necessary evil for Eve Online. But it still has a cost, and that cost is the basic unfairness.

To annoy Wilhelm, I will make yet another analogy. PLEX is like the designated hitter rule in baseball, or shootouts in hockey. It's legal, it's in the rule book. It's popular, the crowds enjoy it. It might even be necessary for the continued health of the game. But baseball without the designated hitter is a purer form of baseball, as is hockey sans shootouts.


  1. "But at it's heart, Eve permits one faction of players to skip content for real money, but does not do the same for other players."

    Or, from another perspective, Eve permits one faction of players to earn real money by doing their favorite content, but does not do the same for other players.

  2. Okay, as far as analogies go, the DH rule isn't that bad. I don't buy into the fairness argument (I think the PLEX buyer, by his actions, enables a feature for those who do opt in, and thus balances things out), but an argument about purity I can accept.

    And like the DH rule, it is something I used to be quite passionate about (pffft, American League pitchers are not REAL baseball players), but which I have grown to accept. The DH rule has been in place since I was 9, so I have gotten over it.

    I imagine it is a function of getting old.

  3. EVE does seem to find itself in a strange bind. Ephemeron has a point certainly. If I am correct he is pointing out that pirates and such generally don't make much money while miners do. Though I think CCP has looked at that problem before and they found the same issue...adding profit to piracy means it becomes more common and moves players away from non-pirate activities...that spirals things. I am not an economist but I was under the impression that a large reason of why EVE even works is because of the necessity of mining and such. The way I saw it, more pirates meant fewer targets...even if targets were worth more, the increased number of pirates and decrease in non-pirates would eliminate that gain.

    I think the idea of PLEX is a necessary evil...the economy is part of the draw of EVE (even if you don't take part in it), it is a major factor of what keeps the game going. The alternative to PLEX is gold-sellers which CCP I think understands it can't beat. Rather than going the WoW route and making the economy not really matter, they tried to offer the alternative. It may suck, but I see it as a necessary evil. Because CCP controls the dollar price of PLEX they can keep some level of economic control over it (though I do wonder if the switch to PLEX existing in game caused anyone to move to gold-sellers again).

  4. It's all been said before, but I just see things quite differently.

    It's all about what you care about and what you are good at that determine whether something is "unfair" or merely "newbie casuals wanting everything given to them"

    It's not fair that someone who is financially constrained to use a 4YO laptop with integrated graphics is playing against people with bleeding edge gear.

    The faction standing grind is not overly fair for people with limited time to grind away.

    And of course the most obvious fairness is in skill points. How is it fair that someone who has been paying for 5 years gets a structural advantage? In real (non-MMO) games - e.g. Chess or golf or poker players would never accept that unfairness. CCP could give every player, be it 9 minutes or 9 years, a fixed number of skill points to allocate. Suggest that on the forums and see how popular the idea of fair is.