Can Eve live without non-vanity goods?
"Eve can survive pretty much anything."
Despite reassurances made after the emergency Eve Online summit, the question of whether the space MMO will ever sell non-vanity items (those that affect gameplay) for real-world money still lingers.
Was the infamous leaked 'Fearless' newsletter a warning that CCP is buckling under the financial pressure of developing three games: Eve Online and unreleased MMOs Dust 514 (PS3) and World of Darkness (TBC)?
Neither Eve Online senior producer Arnar "CCP Zulu" Gylfason, nor Council of Stellar Management (CSM) chairman Alex "The Mittani" Gianturco, were willing to slam the book tightly shut on the idea.
"Can Eve survive financially without [non-vanity micro-transactions]?" mulled Gylfason, answering Eurogamer's question at a press conference last night.
"Eve can survive pretty much anything.
He added: "Game-breaking virtual goods sales - that's not something we plan and Eve survives very well without them. Eve survived very well for a length of time without alliances, and Eve survived for a length of time without having Incursions, without having planetary interaction. Eve can survive a lot of things.
"It's really a question of progress and evolving the concept that is Eve. Eve survived without having the CSM for a substantial amount of years, but that doesn't mean we should not have done it - it's a step in the right direction."
"Saying never - that puts me in an awkward position. "Arnar Gylfason, senior producer, Eve Online
Just as it wasn't possible years ago for CCP to know how Eve Online would evolve, can the developer really categorically rule-out the inclusion of non-vanity goods at some point down the line?
"Saying never ..." Gylfasson paused. "That puts me in an awkward position.
"Eve has been running for eight years now. I'm hoping if we do our jobs right it's going to be running for 80 more. I don't really want to put the person doing my job 80 years from now into a position where I've promised something.
"But I don't see [non-vanity micro-transactions] as part of the core philosophy. Being able to buy unfair advantage with money - that's not something I see working for Eve."
Alex Gianturco revealed there were similar money concerns among the player-elected Council of Stellar Management, and so the CSM "tried to independently determine the state of CCP's financials". Apparently Eve Online attracts lots of professional types with backgrounds in accounting, so Gianturco "put out the call" for people to "go over" CCP's public reports.
"My impression is that CCP is primarily doing the micro-transactions in Eve not as a revenue creation metric at all," concluded Gianturco from the independent research.
But by adding the Noble Exchange store, he added, the "capacity" to exist via micro-transactions will be there should CCP need to lean more heavily on it.
"Many other MMOs are starting to do micro-transactions for vanity items, and CCP is doing it not to make money but just to learn and to get the capacity to do it such that they aren't left in the dust as the industry changes," said Gianturco.
"The industry is shifting towards micro-transactions one way or another. I don't think they're going to start taking the players money and have that be a primary source of income for Eve."