"SHOW ME THE MONEY!" - Jerry Maguire The SOMERBlink fiasco from last summer and then again this summer (link: https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=367505), resulting in the service's ultimate shutdown has opened the floor to the discussion or monetization of services once again. Do you think CCP was right in its reaction? Was SOMERBlink justified in trying to monetize its service via plex sales kickbacks? Was it true RMT or grey area RMT? More generally, where is the line to be drawn when a service attempts to monetize in order to offset costs and/or make a profit? Is asking for donations in Real Life cash too far (I realize CCP considers it unacceptable right now)? Selling non-EVE trademarked goods acceptable? Asking for money to pay for efforts in setting up EVE meetups? Should these all be scrutinized? And should you want to dig deeper, should players be allowed to reverse redeem plex for cash? Does this already not exist in programs like Plex for fanfest packages or video cards? Is it right?The film Jerry Maguire starred Tom Cruise, famous for being a crazy person who plays shallow, selfish characters in movies.
At the beginning of the movie, Jerry Maguire decides that there is a lot wrong with the sports management world and writes a "mission statement" suggesting that sports managers should be more interested in the wellbeing of their charges than themselves. As a result he gets fired, and spends so much time attempting to retain one star performer that the company firing him is able to re-secure contracts with all his remaining clients.
The one star performer (Rod Tidwell) that Jerry retains has a "family motto" of "show me the money." Everything in Rod's life boils down to, "show me the money," an attitude which causes friction between himself and his family.
During the movie, Jerry breaks up with his fiancé, and develops a serious relationship with his assistant Dorothy. As the story progresses, Dorothy considers moving interstate to secure more reliable work. Jerry "solves" this problem by marrying Dorothy. The relationship fails because Dorothy doesn't believe that Jerry actually loves her. When you are too focussed on the money, you lose sight of the things that really matter: people, and more importantly your relationships with them. A marriage based on economic necessity and the desire to control a person is not, to me, a legitimate arrangement.
The betting site SomerBLINK starred Somer, famous for continuing to push the limits of what a player-run site can do to generate income from running a service related to EVE Online. One way that Somer achieved this was through selling PLEX in affiliate links. The involvement of PLEX led some people to ask questions, to which Somer's response was to claim that CCP approved his product and/or service. It is at this point that CCP stepped in and decided that Somer's misrepresentation of CCP's stance, along with violations of the rules about publishing CCP communications, was cause for permabanning Somer's account(s). The relationship failed because it wasn't based on mutual respect.
To turn the SomerBLINK issue into a discussion of RMT (here we briefly visualise Kirith Kodachi yelling "SHOW ME THE MONEY" into his headset during a roam) is losing sight of the things that matter. Heck, CCP Falcon even says as much in the EVE Online forum thread linked in the Blog Banter:
After careful consideration and consultation with CSM9, who have displayed an outstanding level of support in assisting with this issue, CCP has taken the decision to permanently ban the founder of SOMER Blink from EVE Online across all accounts, with immediate effect. This is due to multiple violations of our EULA and Terms of Service.Separate to the misrepresentation issues, Kirith asks about merchandising in order to support a site, and payment for conference organisation. All I can suggest here (having never run a merchandising operation or organised a conference) is that you'd have to ask CCP. I doubt CCP would take issue with Kirith launching a range of merchandise for his own real world business, though previous experiences of players like Rixx Javix would suggest that any merchandise you sell should be devoid of even the merest hint of CCP IP (so no faction logos, no character names, no screenshots of internet spaceships).
As for player-organised events, in Australia we have EVE Downunder, organised by nGR RDNx and Bam Stroker. This is a commercial endeavour, assisted by CCP. I can't see why there would be an issue with this kind of activity: the organisers are making money from organising the event (which is perfectly legitimate: they're not providing out of game services for ISK), and they are only claiming that CCP supports the event because CCP does in fact support it (they had CCP Fozzie presenting last year, where we got a sneak peek at the Nestor). If you're interested in organising an EVE-related event, I'd suggest talking Ned Coker (email@example.com) as per the CCP Events page.
Then even further out into left field, Kirith ponders reverse-redeeming PLEX to dollars. That's an entirely different discussion, which deserves a blog banter of its own. The issues surrounding this include at least taxation, foreign exchange, business impact and player impact. My knee-jerk reaction to PLEX-to-dollars conversion is that it's a poison chalice, that might be ultra-popular but will lead to disaster for the players involved, EVE Online and CCP. Who knows, maybe I'll have time to commit my disorganised thoughts to words and have something for you to read by the end of the week?