Wednesday, October 15, 2008

EVE Ghostbusters!


It's well known that the EVE Online Forums are full of whiners! CCP unleashed a wild crowd of EVE Loonies on the forums when it announced that it would disable the ability to train skills on a suspended account.

This ability is - or actually, was - known as ghost training.

In EVE, characters train in real-time. A skill may take just a few minutes to train, or up to over a month to complete - a calendar month that is! Ghost training players would start to train say a 30-day skill on an account about to expire, then re-activate that account say, 28 days later. They'd conveniently get a free month of training on that character. It seems this practice was starting to look like a revenue-loss for CCP, and so, logically they changed their policy.

No active subscription, no training, thus no more ghost training.

I, along with my fellow EVE bloggers (Kirith, Ga'len, Ebonezer and Karox), agree with CCP's decision on this. Which isn't the case with the EVE Online forum trolls and their conspiracy-theory-lunatic-buddies. But we all knew they'd go banana over this didn't we!

It was about time CCP went Ghostbusters! And if these whiners threatening to leave New Eden over this actually do, I say good riddance!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some ghost zapping to do!

31 comments:

Phil said...

Well that was fairly dismissive of those who don't agree with you.

I've never ghost trained, but I'm saddened to see it go, EVE has one of the highest player-retention rates of any MMO, and I believe that this is due in part to ghost training.

Most people will go through a period of being tired of EVE - back in the days when ghost training existed, those people had an incentive to return, a shiny new skill at level V and a bunch of new options to try out. Now instead, if they were to return they'd just have fallen behind their peers, which is something of a disincentive.

Of course, there were people playing the system so that they were training for two months for every one they were paying for. But almost without exception, those people were doing so on their second, third, or fifth account because almost uniquely amongst MMOs EVE actively encourages it's players to run more than one account (you can only train one character per account, power of two offers, all capital ships needing a second character to, y'know, go anywhere). These weren't cheapskates bilking CCP out of income, they were players already paying CCP more than the average to play their game.

Finally, the community have come up with some reasonable suggestions in the days since the announcement, like clocking up ghost training time for every month you're subscribed, which would still incentivize players taking a break returning while not really providing any benefit for people doing one month on, one month off.

Unfortunately, the timeframes involved mean that CCP have yet to even acknowledge such suggestions, and it's hard not to feel that given this has been in the game for five years, they could have taken a few days to discuss the change with the community, and show some of the engagement with players that the CSM seemed to be a step towards.

At any rate, the change doesn't affect me, not yet, but sometime in the coming months or years I'll yearn for something other than internet spaceships, and this is a change that makes me less likely to return.

CrazyKinux said...

@Phil - I'll agree with you that I may have been a little harsh in my choice of words. I do have a hard time with people who complain for the sake of complaining. I'm just a little fed-up with all these players who threaten and believe the customer is King

The above attack was not meant for people like yourself who are open to discussion. That's the difference I was trying to make, though I may have failed in doing so. I'll give you that.

In the end though, I'm still amazed that people expect a non-active character to gain status while it's suspended. That's like earning interest when you've sold your shares. Makes no sense to me.

Fitz said...

I must confess to being mystified about all the hoohah. Some of these people need a recap of Econ 101. Doesn't it occur to them that they are paying a part(though minuscule, I admit) of the cost to carry the freeloaders? As Robert Heinlein once said, TANSTAAFL. There are plenty of free (albeit limited) games out there.

ReatuKrentor said...

To me personally, the 'ghost-training' was a strong incentive to come back to eve when I would get bored out of my mind and fed up with the balance or whatever FotM reason. I would put on a longer skill and take a break, I've done this twice to my recollection so far in the 4 years I've been playing on my main account, once on another account.
Now this will no longer happen and next time I get sick of eve I won't have a similar incentive to wet my appetite for eve x weeks down the line.
Now that don't mean I don't understand the decision, but I don't have to like it just because I do =).
I do wonder what the longterm effects will be of this particular change on CCP's revenue.
Retention rate might drop quite a bit.

Spectre said...

First off, let me say that I agree with you CK that the people who usually inhabit and lurk around MMO forums are generally way too easily set off and take the games they play way, way too seriously. Every time there is a change it as if *INSERT COMPANY NAME HERE* has intentionally tried their hardest to screw over *INSERT PLAYER NAME HERE* which is rarely ever the case.

That being said, I do understand some of the frustrations being voiced. Here is a mechanic that existed for a VERY long time until now, one that people have based the training of groups of characters around and it is being removed... NOW. There was no warning to the fact that people who had carefully planned out their skills to continue to train on disabled accounts got somewhat screwed.

Is it fair to suddenly and without warning cause hardships to the people who are paying and have paid a lot of money to have multiple accounts in order to fix what seems to be a minor problem with another group of accounts that were taking advantage of it? I'm not sure but I do agree that it wasn't cool to make a kneejerk change to a long standing game mechanic with very, very little advanced warning.

P.S. I only have one account and I have never ghost trained with it so I am not biased, I swear :)

Veldstar said...

Apparently my browser decided I was supposed to comment today... Let me try and remember what I had typed...

It is apparent that there are many people on the boards that seem to forget that CCP is a company, and that EVE is their product. I cannot expect my cell phone provider to allow me to use my remaining minutes if my contract expires or if I don't pay my bill. Granted with "Ghost Training" people didn't have full access to their services, only to their training.

Personally I believe CCP has always been pretty attentative to their customers. More so then many other MMO's out there. There are a few good suggestions in the forums. Unfortunately it's like a game of Wheres Waldo amongst the complaints. Hopefully CCP will see some of them and get their gears turning.

My only experience with Ghost Training has been completely coincidental. There have been months I couldn't pay for EVE and just so happened to have some time left to train on a skill.

It will be interesting to see if it effects CCP's customer base enough for it to be more financially beneficial to them to reinstate Ghost Training. The financial impact was obviously the prime reason for doing this.

It may be unrelated, however since the current global economic crisis began, Iceland has been hit worse then just about every country. To be honest, I cannot imagine CCP made it through this completely unscathed.

Pegleg Punk said...

"Pay to play, bitches!" Says CCP. Forum trolls respond in unison,"Our tinfoil hats cannot repel an attack of this magnitude!"

If I had a financial interest in CCP, I would have implemented this change much earlier in EVE's history. Have I ghost trained? Unwittingly, Yes! A little over two years ago, I had just started training Learning V on Pegleg. A couple of days later I decided to cancel before my next billing cycle, which terminated at least two weeks before Learning V was scheduled to finish. I did not intentionally "ghost-train" because at that time I had no intention of returning to EVE! However, I did return and found Pegleg was at a skill point disadvantage when compared to new characters and the skills provided at character creation, today (circa 2008).

I'm curious if CCP will institute some form of skill loading or cue now that "ghost training" has been suspended. Time will tell!
A bold, but logical move by CCP.

Logrus Pentarum said...

My epic ghost training career: I had a trial account a few months back. I stopped playing fairly randomly. When I got back, I had trained Gunnery from level 2 to level 3. On an industrial character that didn't need gunnery. I was overjoyed

Scott said...

I guess I'm in the minority here for the blog community Kinux because I find CCP's reasoning and handling of this issue to be attrocious.

Lets get the facts down.

Ghost Training was never a "bug" as it's being rewritten by CCP. It's been a documented (players guide), advertised, and CCP GM mentioned (forum responses) feature within the game for over 4 years.

Only 48 hours notice was given before this feature change was being implemented.

At one time they were going to remove it, but due to the outcry by users, they only changed the Chinese server to prohibit training on unsubbed accounts.

CCP claim's its unfair and this is being done for game balance or performance issues due to db load.

Anyone here with DBA experience knows the performance claim is BS, as well as they fact that was unintended or they couldn't have thrown the switch years ago if they wanted to to remove the feature.

They also said it was due to an upsurge in ghost training. Well that happened mostly due to their removal of the 30day/90day GTC's, with most people taking advantage of their last cheap GTC, or switching over to the 30day credit card subscription and unsubscribing with it in order to ghost train.

All this feature did was allow someone who already paid for 1 month, to set a long 20-30+ day skill they didn't want to wait on while playing the game during a break from the game while they were busy IRL (work, school, vacation, military deployment, etc), or playing on one of their other MANY Eve accounts. In order to enjoy that new skill, they would of course have to resubscribe that account and play it for another month minimum. For many folks this was great if they got bored and needed a little incentive to come back and enjoy a new ability/role in the game after their absence.

This really affects players who metagame EvE by playing 2-4 or more accounts. It's those that run multiple accounts such as a Industrial on one, pvp on another, maybe some freighter, cyno, researcher, capital ship pilot, etc alts spread across them.. while alternating accounts with learning on boring 20-30day pre-req's queued.

The dirty truth is Eve practicly demands meta-gaming with multiple accounts or characters. It also has an insane invested time requirement in order to advance and maximize your enjoyment of the game compared to other popular MMO's. While you can easily max out a single character in 1-3 months in a typical MMO, it'll take you close to a 12 months in Eve for a single role. Ghost training often would only shave off 3-4 months of that total for most players.

Unlike those other mmo's which quick advancement CCP has been graced with a player base paying 2-4x the same amount of $15 subscriptions, not including the GTC sales. For them to remove ghost training it removes the incentive for many players to keep characters on separate accounts, thus causing them to transfer and consolidate which will further lower CCP's revenue as active accounts drop. CCP's true intention here to convert existing semi ghost training accounts to full long term monthly subscriptions just isn't going to happen.

CCP was rightfully called out on this in the various 50 page, 90 page threads as it being a "money grab" disguised poorly as a altruistic balance nerf.

If they were really concerned about balance they would have eliminated the ability to gain RP's for datacore farming while unsubbed, cancel market buy/sell orders while unsubbed, and cancel production/research jobs. Nobody cares about skill point gain, but care about the in-game economy being abused as it has, especially with the research points. None of that is being addressed here.

As a customer I don't have a problem if CCP needs more money and they come out saying their raising the subscription price. Or if they say hey, were losing revenue due to this feature that we really need and [x] is the best option, but we realize how intensive training has become over the last 5 years, so we'll be speeding up most skill training by 25% for active accounts.. or let you pay $5/mo for an account to train offline with no in-game access, or to boost your training speed.

Or they would have added a much desired small feature with the nerf so it wasn't like they were taking a feature completely away, like the ability to queue a 2nd skill.

At 5yrs EvE has hit it's prime and this is normally when most MMO's start going downhill.

Many players on this issue are just pissed for CCP not being truthful and honest about their motives in all 3 of their posts on the topic.

Anyways, this is getting way to long and I had intended to writeup a post on this later in better detail. I just don't feel it's as cut 'n dried as you make it.

p@tsh@t said...

Wow. Just wow. I had no idea it was a religious "third rail" issue.

I accustomed to paying for services I'm using. Sometimes, even for services I'm not using because I want to continue to support the service provider so they are still there if/when I come back. That's pretty much every gym subscription I've ever had...

Here's a wild thought-- I'd pay $5 a month for limited access to my character to continue training when I otherwise couldn't or had no desire to play.

But seriously, its never been the training times or the subscription fees that have made me leave or return to the game.

Dump me in the what's the fuss category, but I know change is hard.

Manasi said...

I agree with you CK. As for the others I guess too many people took advantage of this, as such I applaud CCP.

@scott come on man when was the last time you could do something so important for free..yes they overlooked it ( admittedly for a long time) but when it became a problem with their game..they fixed said problem.

TC~ Manasi

StrangeApe said...

As i said in the post on my blog today, i have to say i am biased as to this decision. The player in me thinks it's a shitty move, especially when they used to advertise this on their player guide as a feature of the game. On the other hand, from a business stand point i find it's a logical move for them.

Have they handled the situation like they should have? Far from it! I've been working customer relation for over 10 years now and i find that i honestly could've done a better than any of their community relation people in this situation. All of the reasons they stated for the change to be made sound bogus to me.

Did i ever profit from ghost training? You can bet your sweet behind i did. I agree with scott when he says that to have fun in this game, you need to have multiple accounts in order to train in more than one area of the game. We all know you need to be specialized in one area to be effective, unless you plan on flying a frigate, or producing civilian equipment for the first 3-4 months of play. This is where the second account was coming in. I'll take myself for example. I live alone in an appartment, no spouse, i got a car, debts and i can't always afford 2 acounts. I understand that people would get frustrated at having to keep a second or third account active to accomplish anything, but at some point, with the mechanic of Eve, it can put a strain on some people's wallet, mine for example.

Anyway, i'm rambling here. i'll let someone else take the stand for a few.

Scott said...

@Manasi

ghost-training, being a "free" 1 million skill points or so gain inbetween two paying subscription periods isn't much different than free character advancement you see in games like WoW with "Rest XP" or bonus XP. Rewards to help speed up advancement after time away from the game, be it a day, or a month. It's unheard of for a MMO to make advancement slower as it ages, most try to ease and speed up the rate to close the gap between new and old players. Even in this case it was only really used by players with multiple accounts where CCP was making a lot of additional income already for mostly passive characters.

This feature was never "overlooked", they decided againt changing it long ago, and only now given the economic problems in Iceland did it suddenly become an issue that had to be fixed within 48hrs?

Again it comes down to them not being honest, and not offering something to lessen the blow, mine and potshots idea of $5/mo for limited access, say the ability to train a 2nd character on one account would have been perfect.

If I can't spell it out clear enough, there's the 3,000+ posts against ccp for how they handled this, not even necessarily the change itself.

Veldstar said...

It appears they have already changed their stance on "ghost training" in the player guide. A shame it had already changed because I was really curious to see how they had worded it in the guide. From what many people are saying, supposedly in the guide CCP was explicit is saying that 'even if you don't pay us we will still let you train your skills'.

Now I'm sure it wasn't worded exactly like that. However if someone has a copy of what they said, I would be interested in seeing it. I fail to see the logic in ANY company ever saying that we don't mind if you use are service and don't pay us for it.

Quite frankly it is their right to ask money for their property. Heck, my ISP promised me a monthly fee of $59.99 that would never go up. Today I pay $79.99/mo only three years later. I don't send them hate mail.

On the topic of "hate", can people really be so outraged at CCP over one tiny aspect of the game that they had tweaked in their favor, to actual quit or boycott EVE? Some of these posts are outrageous.

I say go CCP for a smart move benefitting the community as a whole and to the naysayer's, WELCOME TO CAPATALISM.

(Promise, my last comment on this post. Don't want this to turn into an EVE forum. Seriously though, if anyone has a copy of what CCP had originally said in their guide on this topic, please send a copy to me soldierfella@hotmail.com)

Havohej said...

This should've been done a LONG time ago.

StrangeApe said...

i'd just like people to clarify one point that has come up often in the replies i've seen. How does that change benefit the community? What was the impact of Ghost Training on the community, or on the game as a whole? I don't mean to sound harsh, but to me, this argument doesn't stand as i don't see the impact on the game that such a thing create. Could anyone please explain it to me?

Cozmik R5 said...

I totally agree with CCP, and not just from a financial point of view. It's the way video games are supposed to be: you don't play the game, you don't get better. Period. End of story.

Scott said...

@Veldstar,

Here's a screenshot I did the day of the announcement. I highlighted the relevant text with my cursor.

http://dl.eve-files.com/media/0810/skill_training.jpg

Wygg said...

When are they going to go after Ghost Researchers, though? I posted a few comments on Kirith's blog about it and got slightly dismissed.

Basically my position is: What if datacore miners are driving invention/BPC creation and T2 manufacturing? Removing these elements from the game could cause temporary to long-term inflation in the in-game market until the small-scale industrial complex catches up with the large-scale miners. Sound far fetched? It might be, but a quick Google on "datacore earning eve" finds this as the first hit:


What's the venture about?
Using multiple new accounts I intend to harvest Datacores with R&D agents.

Current status?
I started a month and a half ago with seven new trial accounts. I completed the trial period (14 days) and set a Learning skill to train another 14 days. I took advantage of the Wingman offer at the time and when I activated the seven accounts with GTCs (~1B isk invested) I gained an additional 14 days with each account, Cergorach gained 7x14 days of free time. I've spent an additional 700M isk on skills and implants for these seven characters. Around the end of June the first characters on the accounts will have an almost optimal skill set for Datacore production, I'll then set Research Project Management to train to level 5 when the subscription time runs out (not a very effective way to spend time, but it's effectively free). It'll take 40 days to train, after that the accounts will be activated with 30 day GTCs to train the 2nd character on the accounts. The intervening time will generate roughly 75% of the required isk for the 30 day GTC.

I'm currently raising the standing of the seven characters. I miscalculated a bit how corp standing works with new characters, I expect to run an additional 10% mission to compensate.

Where did all the money come from?
I traded a LOT of Mechanical Datacores and was able to dominate the market in Jita for a couple of weeks, that made me a decent amount of money. Since then I've moved away from Jita, as the market PvP is moderately time consuming and I currently don't really have the time to spend on it.

The future?
It's going pretty decent so far, and with my trading I'm getting a decent amount of income. If all goes well I expect to create another batch of characters at the beginning of July.


Sounds viable to me.

CrazyKinux said...

I've got to be honest, there are some good arguments being thrown here by both sides.

From what I've read and understood, there's a general consensus that the removal of ghost training was a smart business move by CCP, though the way they handled it was far from the most appropriate one.

On that I've got to agree.

The few days they gave the community to respond to this and have it self heard, was really too short. I think we can at least agree to that. They should have given something like a "by the end of the month" or "30-day" notice. This way people would have had time to adjust.

Putting blame on CCP because of the fact that they used to allow it, and now don't, is a moot one. It's their game, their business and allowing non-paying customers to enjoy some of the benefits of paying customers, makes no sense whatsoever, however you look at it.

I'd rather see CCP being profitable with a small player base, than seeing them in the red because of poor business decision.

Speaking of which, I believe that there's an opportunity here that may have been overlooked by CCP. Two have been mentioned in the comments above ($5/month for training on a second character, or paying a fee to reactivate a ghost trained character) and more could be thought off.

Maybe this is where a mutual ground can be found between developer and player, where both win.

Time will tell.

YoMma said...

Indeed there are several good points raised by those against the removal of "Ghost Training" and it is a fair point that CCP did pretty much support it up until 2 days ago...

However, in my mind, it remains that with or without CCP support, Ghost Training was an unfair system. Fine, those engaging in it were paying for other accounts but the fact remains they were getting something for nothing by not paying for an account that's training a long skill. To me, this is unacceptable. Yes EVE does promote meta-gaming and multiple account usage but...you should have to pay for those unless CCP comes up with a better solution (eg. the cheaper training option or the split training mechanic)

I agree with the Ghost Trainers however that CCP really should have approached this a bit better and in reality, they should have removed this back in the beginning.

However at the end of the day, they allowed you to have free training for this long, and really it shouldn't come as a surprise that this would eventually be taken away - in no way is it profitable for CCP for people to be not actively paying for a period of months and as a company with bills to pay and the need for profit as a business demand, it would never have been sustainable...In fact I'm surprised it lasted this many years!

Mynxee said...

It's no secret how rabid the player response can be to CCP's less popular decisions, so surely this particular decision was well-considered before they announced it. The abruptness is surprising but perhaps it ties in timing-wise somehow to an as-yet unannounced skills-related feature in the next expansion.

If indeed the decision is financially motivated and it will give CCP a stronger bottom line, I'm all for it. Whatever they need to do to ensure EVE thrives is fine by me. I wouldn't even bitch if they raised subscriptions a bit. I realize I've worked a couple of decades longer than many EVE players and am in a better financial situation, but the monthly total of $25 that I pay for my two accounts is a bargain compared to the pleasure I get out of the game. In the bigger picture, it's also downright cheap compared to my other hobbies (riding, arts/crafts, gardening). I do not feel the relative pittance I pay entitles me to make threats or demands such as are being spewed on the forums. Some of the behavior I see there is just sad; many of the opinions seem ridiculously short-sighted or unreasonable given we're talking about a business and not a charity.

CrazyKinux said...

Fin Kename had trouble posting his comment (MacOSX issues with the captcha phrase), so I'm posting it on his behalf instead.

Fin Kename said:

Personally, I don't have much of a vested interest in ghost training or not. The reaction on the forum ultimately has less to do with people whining about the change and more to do with the way in which it was handled. The majority of the negative posts are from people who felt like CCP was "pulling a fast one" as it were.

I think Winterblink actually captured the essence of the conflict in his recent interview with Massively where he talks about communication. He highlights some of the failures of CCP to communicate early, clearly and consistently as being the driving force behind many of the PR/forum conflicts that CCP/EVE faces.

My personal solution suggestion would be fully allow ghost training to continue, while at the same time adding the cost of the inactive time used to train a skill to the cost of reactivation [perhaps at an "inactive rate"]. I didn't write that very well. If a player was inactive for 60 days and for 30 of that was finishing up Battleship V, reactivation would include the 30 days of skill training. Everybody wins. The client gets his training, CCP get paid.

PsycheDiver said...

I didn't know this was allowed until they said they were getting rid of it. Viva la Ghostbusters!

Veldstar said...

@Scott,

Thanks.

Wow that is pretty crazy. I'd have to agree with people's complaints about the short notice from CCP. However, I still back the business decision made by CCP.

Shiro Ichida said...

Hi,

Sorry, just a new person around here, and I'm kind of wondering why everybody seems to think it's a good business decision? I mean, I do get that they need more money, and this is why they did it - and I do really hate the way they went about doing it - but why is it a good idea?

Also, forgive me if this is kind of disjointed. Hopefully I'll lay out my logic so you can follow it, and then tell me why you think it's wrong. ;p

First off, I don't use it, so it's not like I'm trying to save myself money here, but it seems sort of counterproductive.

The first time I found out about it was on Vam Hemlock's blog, where he said that skills you set training would continue training even if you unsubscribed, and mentioned that it was nifty of CCP to do that and it offered a nice re-incentive to sign back up (kind of like a bonus!) which made me go "Wow, CCP's a pretty cool company to let that happen!" And, it'd also offer a nice incentive to sign back up after you left - you take a break, unsubscribe for a few months, and then come back, and you've got a nice new skill waiting for you. Kind of like a bonus. It just seems like a nice thing to do, and a good way to keep leaving players coming back. This will get you money (possibly not a lot); stopping it will decrease the number of those people, and thus, decrease revenue (again, possibly not a lot - figures aren't out).

So, the idea behind taking out Ghost Training is to get people paying for their accounts instead of Ghost Training on them, right?

This is where I'm confused. Is the rationale that if a person is Ghost Training his account now, he will, after it's discontinued, start paying for the account? That doesn't seem like it would happen, because first off, the person will feel slighted by CCP's abruptness and general bad PR, but also because it would require more money, and EVE is a leisure activity. The people most affected by this are

a) People who already spend a lot on EVE, as they have many accounts
and
b) People who have taken a break

For the people that have taken a break, see above for my reasoning that it's a bad move.

The outcomes for a person who has multiple accounts and Ghost Trains are:
a) Pay up, and train all of them
b) Discontinue the Ghost Training account(s) and whine about it
or
c) Throw their hands up and leave

For me, it seems that b) or c) would be most likely, as they are already paying a lot of money, and likely feel quite shafted by what is easily seen as a money-grab (not to mention the terrible PR, which is likely to be seen as dishonest). Thus, CCP would not be getting any increased revenue, they would also be while removing an incentive for players who take a break to return, and making them seem - well, not as nice a company, thus lowering goodwill.

So, can you explain to me why you think it's a good idea, and where my reasoning seems wrong?

CrazyKinux said...

@Shiro - Ghost Training has been taken to new limits by some players, to the extent that they're paying a lot less than the 'normal' full-subscription players to get more of less the same thing done.

The idea of being able to continue training a skill even after you've left (that is stopped paying your subscription) as an incentive was allowed in the past, as it did lure back old players.

The problem is that the ones that started to take advantage of - to abuse would be a better word - this 'nice gesture' by CCP already had accounts and were using Ghost Training to enhance their gameplay.

They're the ones to blame here. Not CCP for saying enough is enough, you play you pay. Neither the burn-out players wanting to take a break, with the possibility of returning to the game eventually, knowing their character would have a new skill trained.

So in the end, it's a good idea because it forces the players abusing the system (and of using CCP assets for half the price) to either pay for a full subscription (more money to CCP) or stop doing it altogether (which would be fair to those paying the full price for the same benefit).

Additionally, there's the possibility for CCP to get new revenues if it intends to charge for inactive character to still train skills. But at the time of this writing, this is simply a speculation on my part.

Hope this helps you understand our reasoning.

Cheers!

Zombiefly said...

Wow! CK you continue to amaze me. Just a few words put in a congo line and you get responses that are longer than your post!

I don't think the removal of Ghost Training makes everything fair. I pay for 2 accounts and train on 2 accounts. It isn't fair, to me or CCP, that they get to train on one account for free.

David said...

Thanks for the update on this CK.

I regret to see this happen though.
For almost half a year now I've not been actively playing EVE because I lack the time and also somewhat lack interest I guess, but I'm still paying for three accounts to keep them training for better days to come. A large reason for my doing that is that I know I can keep them training if one account is running out for a week or two. Guess I'll have to see where I'll take this now, most likely I'll just have more money for a different hobby now. And I have a hunch there's quite a bunch of people who feel the same.

So, the tally from my point of view:

CCP: less cool, less money.
Me: less enthusiastic, more money.
(People who abused the feature: boo!)

Guess I'll get to buy that recurve bow after all. Or maybe CCP will ruin my career as an archer diletante by implementing a training queue. Bitches.

Thomas said...

"This ability is - or actually, was - known as ghost training."

Sorry, no, it was never known by that name. the name was invented by CCP when they decided to nerf it.

"...players would start to train say a 30-day skill on an account about to expire, then re-activate that account say, 28 days later."

That was the rare case. 30-day skill steps are not common. Nor would it be necessary to reactivate 2 days before the skill completion. Before or after made no difference.

"They'd conveniently get a free month of training on that character."

Not quite. They'd get completion on one training step already bought and paid for and for which a subscribed account and being logged in was necessary to start it and later to get any benefit from it. Since training in Eve is not a process and is unrelated to game play, but merely a completion date on the out-of-game calendar, there was no "service" being provided by CCP.

"It seems this practice was starting to look like a revenue-loss for CCP..."

Uh, no. If it looked that way, the view was incorrect. The "practice," an acknowledged feature of the game since release, was a powerful draw to bring back lapsed accounts and obviously increased the rate of reactivations and thus increased revenue to CCP.

"I, along with my fellow EVE bloggers ... agree with CCP's decision on this."

Then you agree with CCP shooting themselves in the feet and seeing a decline in subscriptions and revenues.

"And if these whiners threatening to leave New Eden over this actually do, I say good riddance!"

That's a commonly expressed viewpoint from people who don't have any responsibility for bringing money into CCP or managing their budget. Businesses do not benefit from loss of revenue.

"...and this is a change that makes me less likely to return."

That's the point exactly.

"I'm just a little fed-up with all these players who threaten and believe the customer is King."

Flash bulletin: the customer is king. The threadnaught at Eve is not filled with whines, but with complaints by people reducing what they pay to CCP. Money talks, as CCP will find out.

"In the end though, I'm still amazed that people expect a non-active character to gain status while it's suspended."

The training system in Eve was designed to work that way. So you're also surprised at all the "free" benefits that other businesses give to their paying customers, such as 1-cent sales, happy hours, two-fers, zero interest financing, etc.?

"That's like earning interest when you've sold your shares."

No it isn't. Unsubbed training was of no value except to paying customers. They had to pay to start the training and had to pay to get any benefit from the training. It was a customer-friendly benefit to paying customers.

"Doesn't it occur to them that they are paying a part(though minuscule, I admit) of the cost to carry the freeloaders?"

Wrong. CCP doesn't delete inactive accounts and "training" completions in inactive accounts present zero server load.

"Now this will no longer happen and next time I get sick of eve I won't have a similar incentive to wet my appetite for eve x weeks down the line."

Exactly the point.

"It is apparent that there are many people on the boards that seem to forget that CCP is a company, and that EVE is their product."

No one forgets that. They are free to do what they like, and we are free to disagree and to withhold our money from CCP.

"I cannot expect my cell phone provider to allow me to use my remaining minutes if my contract expires or if I don't pay my bill."

Your cellphone and landline will still work for 911 calls even if you don't pay. Isn't that a freebie you shouldn't have?

"Granted with "Ghost Training" people didn't have full access to their services, only to their training."

No, expired accounts had access to nothing, not even training. Unsubbed training simply continued the current step, even to "completion." There was no access, and no way to start another step or get any benefit from the completed step without paying to reactivate, and without logging in.

"There have been months I couldn't pay for EVE and just so happened to have some time left to train on a skill."

That has been the most common case, not the coincidental exception.

"The financial impact was obviously the prime reason for doing this."

They finally admitted in a dev post that it was done "for business reasons," which usually means money. But any such decision in the expectation of getting more money to come in was made by clueless suits unfamiliar with the game and ignorant of the dynamics of player use of the feature.

"It may be unrelated, however since the current global economic crisis began, Iceland has been hit worse then just about every country. To be honest, I cannot imagine CCP made it through this completely unscathed."

CCP has stated that since they get their revenues from other countries in good currencies, they are not impacted by Iceland's problems, except that beer now costs half what it used to cost.

"If I had a financial interest in CCP, I would have implemented this change much earlier in EVE's history."

And you would have shot yourself in both feet as CCP has now done.

"I'm curious if CCP will institute some form of skill loading or cue now that "ghost training" has been suspended."

They have said they are not inclined to do so. In any case, a training queue was never prevented by unsubbed training. There's no relation between the two.

"A bold, but logical move by CCP."

A bold, poorly thought out, even stupid move by CCP.

"My epic ghost training career: I had a trial account a few months back. I stopped playing fairly randomly. When I got back, I had trained Gunnery from level 2 to level 3. On an industrial character that didn't need gunnery. I was overjoyed."

That's typical. It made you feel really good about CCP and Eve even though the skill you got was not needed. Char farming is a myth. Anyone who claims there is widespread char farming has clearly not tried to do it. Most benefits of unsubbed training have been incidental.

"I guess I'm in the minority here for the blog community Kinux because I find CCP's reasoning and handling of this issue to be attrocious."

Minority here, but these are not serious Eve players; some obviously do not even play Eve.

"Anyone here with DBA experience knows the performance claim is BS."

Quite so. Zero server activity and zero database activity.

"They also said it was due to an upsurge in ghost training."

Wel, duhh.. but they never gave any indication they had researched the "upsurge" in any way. In fact it seems they failed to recognize the season (ppl returning to school) and the worldwide financial crisis affecting may decisions about discretionary spending. Inexplicable removal of 30d and 90d GTCs was also a factor.

"CCP was rightfully called out on this in the various 50 page, 90 page threads as it being a "money grab" disguised poorly as a altruistic balance nerf."

The threadnaught has reached 188 pages containing 5,624 posts.

"I accustomed to paying for services I'm using."

Unsubbed training involved no service except in a completely virtual, abstract sense. Training completions are out-of-game calendar dates -- waiting periods -- not server processes. Training completions are recognized the next time you log in, which you can only do with a paid account. Until then it doesn't matter whether the servers are running, or even exist.

But to your point... I suppose you pay explicitly when you use the rest room at a restaurant? The parking lot? The free valet parking increasingly common at medical facilities today? You refuse the Happy Hour discount at bars and clubs? You insist on paying full price when something is on sale, or a second item is offered for one penny more?

There are all manner of conveniences offered as parts of many businesses, usually to paying customers, to promote business or encourage repeat business. To put unsubbed training, only of benefit to those paying both before and after the unsubbed training, in a special category is, well, just silly.

"Dump me in the what's the fuss category, but I know change is hard."

No, being lied to is hard, and putting up with an ill-conceived change that benefits no one, not even CCP, is hard.

"I agree with you CK. As for the others I guess too many people took advantage of this, as such I applaud CCP."

No one knows that "too many people took advantage of this," and no matter how many did, it was no skin off CCP's nose. It cost CCP nothing, whereas most additional benefits provided by other businesses actually cost them money, but bring in more than they cost.

"come on man when was the last time you could do something so important for free"

It wasn't for free.

"On the other hand, from a business stand point i find it's a logical move for them."

Then, like CCP, you haven't thought it through. A logical move would be one that improves their subscriber population and revenue. This move will cost them subscribers and money.

"Heck, my ISP promised me a monthly fee of $59.99 that would never go up. Today I pay $79.99/mo only three years later. I don't send them hate mail."

Uh, so you tolerate being lied to and being victimized by consumer fraud? Amazing.

"On the topic of "hate", can people really be so outraged at CCP over one tiny aspect of the game that they had tweaked in their favor, to actual quit or boycott EVE?"

It's not a question of "hate." It's an issue of a destructive, unnecessary change and being lied to. I don't know about you but I don't like sending money to a company that abuses my trust and patronage.

"I say go CCP for a smart move benefitting the community as a whole and to the naysayer's, WELCOME TO CAPATALISM."

It was an exeptionally dumb move. And capitalists can spell "capitalism."

"I totally agree with CCP, and not just from a financial point of view. It's the way video games are supposed to be: you don't play the game, you don't get better. Period. End of story."

So you think it's good that CCP will suffer loss of subscribers and money? Btw, Eve has never been designed to conform to your idea of "the way video games are supposed to be." You should confine yourself to games that suit you, and refrain from useless comment on games you don't understand.

"I've got to be honest, there are some good arguments being thrown here by both sides."

You are not usually honest? But I disagree... those who support the nerf generally don't understand the issue, and grossly misunderstand the effects it will have.

"From what I've read and understood, there's a general consensus that the removal of ghost training was a smart business move by CCP..."

Then you obviously haven't read any of the significant threads on the subject in the Eve Online forums.

"I'd rather see CCP being profitable with a small player base, than seeing them in the red because of poor business decision."

Since unsubbed training never cost CCP a dime, and since it was self-limiting (completion of only one training step) and since it was a powerful draw to bring ppl back into paid status, there was never any possibility that this would put CCP into the red. As for a smaller playerbase, I think CCP stockholders would disagree that fewer subscribers is ever better.

"Maybe this is where a mutual ground can be found between developer and player, where both win."

Devs don't make these kinds of decisions. Devs write the code that designers and suits tell them to write. This is between suits and subscribers. The subscribers have the money; if they withhold it, they win and the suits lose.

"However, in my mind, it remains that with or without CCP support, Ghost Training was an unfair system."

Utterly false. It was unfair to no one. It was a feature, and many present accounts only exist and many returned players only came back because of it.

"...really it shouldn't come as a surprise that this would eventually be taken away..."

Oh? Would it come as a surprise if they took away your ability to undock a ship? To fit weapons? To use an afterburner? What would surprise you?

"...in no way is it profitable for CCP for people to be not actively paying for a period of months..."

It was profitable because it increased the rate of reactivation of accounts and increased the numbers of accounts, on average, that ppl were willing to pay for during the year. What don't you understand about that?

"If indeed the decision is financially motivated and it will give CCP a stronger bottom line..."

It won't. I'm an example: nine fully active accounts going down to 2-4 on average, and to zero if they continue to offend me.

"The problem is that the ones that started to take advantage of - to abuse would be a better word - this 'nice gesture' by CCP already had accounts and were using Ghost Training to enhance their gameplay."

You don't know that. The only statement CCP made was that they noticed an increase in unsubbed training. With the removal of 30d and 90d GTCs, the season of students returning to school and the worldwide financial crisis causing ppl to reevaluate discretionary spending, I'd say that's a big "Duhh!"

"It isn't fair, to me or CCP, that they get to train on one account for free."

They didn't. You don't understand how unsubbed training worked.

"Guess I'll get to buy that recurve bow after all."

Yeah. And I will buy a lot more audiobooks with the money I'm freeing up by reducing my Eve subscriptions.

Anonymous said...

I think the PLEX's had a part to play as well, as now you can much more easily pick up an extension on your account via market...

Now if only the prices drop more.