Skillpoints, Cash & New Players – An Update
Yesterday, we released a new paid DLC starter pack for new players containing the following items:
- 1,000,000 Skill Points
- A skill & damage booster
- A bundle of frigate SKINs
- A selection of Blood Raider apparel
The pack was released with no account age restrictions, meaning that although it was designed for new players, any pilot could buy it once per account and claim the skillpoints within.
Even though these skillpoints come in the form of a non-transferrable item that cannot be moved off the account that claims them, the pack received significant hostility from parts of the EVE community.
Given our previous position on the sale of Skill Points for real world currency, the anger that some of our pilots expressed when talking about this DLC pack is understandable and after reading many of the threads and comments discussing it, I thought it would be good to give a more detailed explanation of the aim of this pack and why it was released that explains in more detail than the response posted yesterday.
Aim of the pack
The aim of this DLC pack is to give new pilots a head start in their training without having to commit to the full price of a month of Omega time. It’s also intended to give an immediate boost in training with a bunch of Skill Points that new players can use to get into competently piloting their first ship beyond their starter corvette. The pack is an alternative to waiting for several weeks in order to accrue the skillpoints within it, giving a quick route to immediately training initial spaceship command and weapons skills.
Given that EVE Online is now approaching its 17th anniversary, one of the most common barriers for entry is that new players feel they can’t catch up with the years of training that many veterans have. This pack was also designed to assist with breaking down that barrier a little should new pilots want to do so.
We’re very aware of the community’s concerns regarding “pay to win” mentality and microtransactions that would take EVE in that direction. Let me be abundantly clear that this is not the intention.
While skillpoints are an important part of EVE, ironically, they don’t make a more skilled pilot. They simply open a wider range of options to explore in terms of fitting, piloting and playstyle. Giving new players that option is what we’re exploring with this pack as part of experimentation with first steps in New Eden.
Sadly, I know this myself as a player from beta, and I’m aware of the humiliation of flying a 300 million skillpoint character and having my ass handed to me by a three-month-old character with orders of magnitude less Skill Points in their head. This is a fact of life in EVE and the reality that a younger pilot with such an age and skillpoint gap can compete with more established character in combat is a great thing.
We’re also very aware of the community’s concerns regarding this kind of sale being a cash grab. For reference, historically the sale of these DLC packs makes up less than 1% of our daily revenue. That’s not conjecture. It’s rough math, but that’s the number that these types of packs bring in.
We see them as a service to our new players, not a way to make money.
4.09% is also a hard number. That’s the percentage of new players that have stuck around in EVE after 30 days during Q1 of 2019. We’ve already talked a little about the challenges that face new players this year at both EVE Down Under and EVE North.
Experimentation & Fallout
We understand that we made a misstep with this DLC pack by not restricting it, and we’re sorry for the confusion and anger that it caused – it’s not our intention to disrespect the years of training that our veteran pilots have put into their characters.
We also should have spoken with the CSM regarding this pack before we released it. That one’s on me, and we’ll make sure that the CSM are looped into this kind of discussion going forward. We’ve been offering packs like this (including skillpoints) via Steam for a while now, so it was assumed that offering them via the secure website would be received in the same way.
Maintaining an open, candid, two-way dialogue with the community is always at the forefront of our minds. We pride ourselves on the close relationship we have with our players, even if it comes around to bite us now and again.
We’re working on improving our early player retention numbers and part of doing so means that we’re going to keep experimenting with various ways to make a new player’s life easier and their first steps in New Eden clearer and more streamlined.
It’s going to mean different DLC packs, it’s going to mean collaboration with new player organizations in EVE, and it’s going to mean changes to the way we do things and how we incentivize and assist new players who are diving into EVE for the first time so that they have the best chance of sticking around.
Our goal is to allow more players to enjoy New Eden. More players means more content, which ultimately means a better universe for us all (and a more target rich environment in which to hunt).
Future of the pack
Right now, we’re working on moving this pack to be part of our contextual offers that are sent to those who create new accounts and are classified as new players. This means that soon the pack won’t be available to the wider community via the DLC page on secure.eveonline.com and will only be offered to new players as part of the account creation and onboarding process.
This will remove the option to buy the pack unless it’s presented to you as you go through this process.
Hopefully this explains the reasoning for the pack and why things rolled out the way that they did.
As always, we welcome open discussion, so long as things remain civil. If you’d like to comment on this blog, feel free to head on over to the comments thread on the official forums!