Just over a year ago there was some controversy and push back from the community over CCP introducing a Starter Pack that was effectively selling skill points to players, something that seemed very much against the grain of past statements from the company used to justify the introduction of skill injectors about the importance of skill points in the game coming only from training.
It’s very important to note here that this means all the skillpoints available to buy on the market in EVE will have originated on other characters where they were trained at the normal rate. Player driven economies are key to EVE design and we want you to decide the value of traded skillpoints while we make sure there is one single mechanism that brings new skillpoints in to the system – training.
CCP was apologetic and promised to change that (and, many months later new packs came out), but did point out that this was aimed at new players and that the starter pack could only be applied once to any account. But it could still be purchased and applied to any account and, doing the math, spending five dollars on a million skill points seemed like a pretty good deal, so I am sure that CCP dragging its feet on removing that starter pack was in no small part influence by the fact that it was selling pretty well.
But the story so far has always included some rationalization.
Skill injectors were rationalized because the skills were all created in the game via normal training along with the fact that you could always buy characters in the bazaar.
Alpha skill injectors, daily skill point boosts for free accounts, were rationalized as they only added as many skill points as they player would have received in a day had they been subscribed, making it a mini, daily subscription.
Starter packs were rationalized as being for new players and being once per account. Sure, you got some cheap skill points, but it wasn’t an unlimited deal.
Which brings us to today, when CCP announced their new Training Boost Bundle.
You get, straight up, 1.5 million skill points and an Expert Cerebral Accelerator, which gives you a +8 stat boost to speed up your training for 12.5 days (1,080,000 seconds).
I guess the rationalization here might be… um… at least these skill points aren’t as cheap as they were in the starter pack?
But it is still a deal if you simply want to straight up pay cash for skill points, especially for older characters.
My back of the envelope, rounded numbers for easy mental math, calculations are that in Jita/Perimeter you can find PLEX for about 2.6 ISK million per and Large Skill Injectors for around 725 million ISK per.
When purchased in lots of 500 PLEX is about 4 cents per unit and you need to sell about 300 to buy a Large Skill Injector, taking into account taxes.
That makes a Large Skill Injector about $12.
To get 1.5 million skill points you need to buy three injectors, which is $36. You have to decide if the cerebral accelerator is worth the extra four bucks, though I imagine it is.
But that is only if you have a relatively unskilled character. You get less skill points per injector the more skill points you have. If, like me, you have characters with more than 80 million skill points, then you only get 150K skill points per injector.
That means you need to buy 10 Large Skill Injectors, which will run you about $120 in PLEX, or three times the $40 asking price.
So, for old hands, the Training Boost Bundle might not be a bad deal… though even that assumes you aren’t earning enough ISK in game to buy your injectors without having to spend any real world cash. I’m not going to spend the money, but somebody will.
Skill points are now well and truly available for sale in unlimited quantities. No need to go through the PLEX to ISK to injectors rigamarole, just buy the skill points directly. It is likely cheaper and clearly easier.
Welcome to free to play, where the inevitable result is pay to win and where whales keep the game running so the cash shop needs to cater to them.
Are you going to quit? Are you going to give up all the effort you have invested in the game over this? Is this the step too far, the line crossed?
Probably not. I think most people will bitch about it… /r/eve is in an uproar as expected… and then carry on. I am not going to quit. Hell, there is finally a war on, the game is good for me for a bit.
So what then?
I suppose we need to mark it up as a life lesson, a reminder that what companies say in a specific moment in a given context will be ignored or forgotten the moment it no longer directly serves their interest. A company’s promise is an empty and worthless thing.
Just remember, when CCP says something to reassure you, like that it is important that skill points in the game should be earned or that asset safety is important because otherwise nobody will keep their stuff in citadels, if they are not actively lying to you in that moment, they will go back on their word the moment it suits them.
Welcome to EVE Online. Know the risks.