I suppose it is a bit odd to being doing a post about monetizing EVE Online in the shadow of all the various controversies going on, but I haven’t got anything else queued up for today, so why not?
Cosmetics items, especially SKINs, seem to be non-controversial as a cash shop item in EVE Online. Yes, there are people who hate them and that wish CCP wouldn’t bother, but I don’t think anybody finds them game breaking.
CCP also seems to have some problems of its own keeping the SKIN gaming going. We had those Ghostbird SKINs up in the shop for close to a year, giving Caldari pilots some nice choices while the other empires were left mostly wanting. The Ghostbird SKINs are gone now, but the holiday weekend did bring back some old SKINs that had been retired from the store. But once the time runs out on that we may be back to a dearth of options.
So leaving aside current convulsions and CCP’s famine and feast cycle with SKINs, what else could CCP apply their SKIN talents with?
Most of these are ideas I have heard elsewhere, so I make no claim to originality even if I cannot remember where I heard them first.
Here is a big obvious one that people have been asking for, structure SKINs. This one seems like a gimme. Yes, we got corp and alliance logos floating around structures, but these place are just begging for giant splashes of color. Do you think Goons would pass up something like a Hazard Control SKIN, with bright yellow bee stripes? They most certainly would not.
Who doesn’t want to paint on that canvas?
The catch here is that, unlike ships, structures don’t have a single person controlling them the whole time they are in space. There would have to be some mechanism for the owning organization to apply a SKIN. Also, how do you sell and manage such SKINs? If you buy one, do you get to apply it to all structures you own, or just one? If so, they probably have to expensive. If not, if they attach to only one structure, then they can be cheap and make up the difference with volume.
There was at least an implication that we would be getting something like this back at EVE Vegas 2016 when they were showing off the new, easy to use, SKIN creation tech. We saw them run with an Apocalypse with all sorts of SKIN options created off the cuff. (A gallery of them here.)
Apocalypse battleship with some pattern and color variations
Some of us walked away thinking that custom SKINs for corps or alliances could be a thing, maybe via an interface like the one for corp logos. Now, nearly three years later, CCP seems somewhat indifferent to the SKIN store. Still, we live in hope.
As with structure SKINs, this would most likely require some code to go with it. When you join a corp or alliance with a custom SKIN, you then get access to it for the appropriate ships. Maybe. The big stumbling block is making a corp/alliance SKIN that can be applied to all ships. Still, people have asked for this before.
And idea I have seen come up once or twice, the idea of a SKIN that the fleet boss could apply to all the ships in the fleet. This suffers from similar issues mentioned above, like having SKINs that could be applied across a variety of dissimilar ships. In addition, there is the possible issue of people getting annoyed at having somebody else apply a look to their ship. This wouldn’t be a problem in a group like Reavers, where we like to play dress-up, but on main fleet I could imagine some complaints.
Going on down the list of things you could sell to null sec alliances, special decor for gates comes pretty easily to mind. I know that gates now have flags and logos, but what if you could make them extra special? Like so much, there would have to be an alliance interface for this no doubt, but it seems doable otherwise… at least in Delve where we have Amarr gates that look like they were made with leftover Apocalypse hulls.
I was thinking about maybe SKIN-like kits for lasers… you could have a Pride month Abbadon rainbow laser pack… but the color of lasers actually tell you what the enemy has loaded, so that is probably a no go.
But a cyno… you just have to sit and look at that thing for minutes at a stretch after you light it up.
Normal and covert cynos burning
So why not a pack of pretty cynos SKINs of different colors, just for variety? Again, there is the question of creating a UI for this and, of course, if this would even be worth the effort. There would probably be a pretty limited market for this.
Now exiting what we might consider SKINs and heading into something only slightly related, but why not?
Ships have two sorts of explosions, the orange one and the blue electric one. What if you could buy something that would give your ship a different or more spectacular explosion. I know, that might be somewhat defeatist, but it could still be fun. We all get blown up once in a while, why not go out with a bang?
And the upside of this is that, unlike some of the other ideas, I think you could do this without any UI work. Just sell an item in the New Eden Store that, when present in your cargo hold, triggers a special explosion when your ship goes up. Seems doable… once the art team creates some new explosions.
And, just to go completely off the reservation, let me just put in another word for hats. Things are better since I last complained about the lack of hats. We now have hats. We have baseball caps and berets. They aren’t very good, but they are better than nothing I suppose. Still no Viking horned helms or, for Jin’taan, cat ears.
Of course, having seen how the hats we have now work, I am pretty sure Jin’taan is going to remain unfulfilled in his desire for cat ears. CCP went the easy(-ish) route for hats where, like in many games, you can have a hat or you can have hair, but not both. I tried this on a female avatar with long hair and, as soon as she has that Permaband hat on she has a shaved scalp.
Still, we could get better head covering hats. Just no cat ears I guess.
Anyway, those are some ideas. Not all of them are worthwhile, but there has to be some money in it for CCP for a couple of them, enough to be worth the effort.
What else should CCP SKIN that won’t break the game or be more work that it is worth?