Posted by Corelin
So a lot of people in the media have been talking about the $300 battle. This is both true, and disingenuous. If I were to throw down 300k in cash on Plex, and convert them into ISK, assuming I managed to not crash the market, I would have enough ISK to buy the ships that were lost in the battle. I could not, however, take the ships that were lost in the battle, and sell them for ISK, convert them back to PLEX, and sell them for real money. The mechanisms and rules of the game don’t allow it. I could probably sell some of them for real money, I think we all know or at least believe this to be the case.
Today I heard NPR’s Marketplace interview The Mittani. Mittens does a good job selling the concept of the $300k battle. He mentions that there were people who spent money out of the game to buy ships in game. Now this is not necessarily accusing people of RMT, although he certainly implies a degree of condescension towards the practice of using real money in any way to buy ships, by specifying that he knew that people on the losing side had done this. I think no one even vaguely familiar with Goons would be in any way surprised to find that there were several people in goons who’d PLEXed for ships; and there’s nothing wrong with this. Hell I’ll be doing so later this month.
The Mittani and CCP both have become victims of their propaganda, and the long-term prejudices of MMOs. RMT is bad. This is a very simple, and generally true statement, but not all RMT is bad. EvE has a lot of grinds and the game allows you to buy game time, sell it to other players, and buy whatever they want with the proceeds. This does far less damage to the economy than wholesale, unregulated third party RMT. It does permit “Wallet Warriors” to bling out there ships and do a hell of a lot, but due to the incremental increases in capabilities offered, it doesn’t give massive, overwhelming advantages to people using this (beyond the ability to bring the bling time and again, but frankly that’s just wealth redistribution against the wrong enemies). The only time the advantage does get truly oppressive is when it is played out on the macro scale. Were PL to drop a truly mammoth amount of cash to replace their whole fleet, only more so, and bring in other folks to do the same to tilt the balance, it would certainly be possible to do so, but… well… I doubt how sustainable it would be for them (if they can sustain it, more power to them, maybe they can fund some better expansions). This is the trap of the prejudices of the MMO industry.
EvE has built this article of faith that everything is worth money. That the money in game is directly tied to real money. The connection is tenuous, it goes only in one direction, and it can very quickly change, so that this battle, that today represented roughly $300k in a very indirect way, will next year represent a much smaller figure, and in a few more years represent an even smaller figure. The wars of EvE have a context, and the context isn’t the wealth destroyed, but the bonds broken. The creation and destruction of alliances and coalitions, the betrayals, and the battles. Not the almighty dollar.