Neural remap, PLEX and the way forward

You've probably all seen or heard about the changes that hit the test server last month where you could buy a neural remap (redistribution of attributes) with a PLEX. The ensuing community discussion and a whole heap of Council of Stellar Management discussions we had, both during their visit to CCP earlier in October and, through the magic of the internet, has led us to revisit that specific change and helped us form a holistic strategy for virtual goods sales moving forward.

Phew, that was a long sentence.

There are two things we want to communicate in this blog, in response to all the discussion that's been going on:

First, we've decided to shelve all the changes to neural remaps we had planned. We now have no plans to change things from the way they are currently on Tranquility. No PLEX for remaps, no ISK for remaps, nothing. All code has been reverted, no new code has been written. Nothing will change.

Second, we wanted to explain our thinking a little more. It‘s always been the intent of CCP to continue diversifying EVE Online's business model and we‘ve been looking at various options to do so. This started with the introduction of PLEX, which was an innovative way for players to exchange in-game assets for subscription on a fully player driven marketplace. Since we introduced the PLEX item we've monitored its trading, price and velocity closely. It's now time for us to take the next evolutionary step.

It‘s clear that it‘s the will of the community to keep virtual goods sales outside the spectrum of what we classify as the "merit economy". That refers to skills gained over time or items that have a gameplay impact. So after discussions, designs, brainstorming and all sorts of processes we‘ve come up with a strategy that we‘ve already polished with the help of the CSM and would now want to present to the larger community.

Virtual goods sales in EVE Online will evolve through sales of vanity items, first in Incarna but later in-space features. The scope will be (and there‘s no design has been done around this, we‘re just talking strategy now) that anything that doesn‘t affect gameplay directly can be, potentially, sold for PLEX or other means. Ideas that have come up include Incarna clothing and furniture, logos on spaceships and swapping out portraits. This is by no means a comprehensive list, nor is it a commitment that said items will be available for sale, I mention these as an example for what type of items we‘re thinking about.

It‘s important to clarify that virtual goods sales isn‘t an arbitrary - or particularly greedy - decision. There is a constantly decreasing number of MMO‘s out there that don‘t incorporate virtual goods sales at some level. - games that aren't responding to this trend are dying out. Diversifying the business model allows us to offer our players the services and features they desire in ways that are conducive to how they wish to spend their entertainment dollars. The result is that we provide a wider range of options to our subscribers which, in turn, leaves us better positioned to react to future seismic shifts in the market.

If we don‘t react to the wishes of the market we will simply become the dinosaurs of the industry. And everyone knows what happens to dinosaurs. God makes them disappear. Through MAGIC.

CCP Zulu