The various online gambling casinos run by EVE Online players are finally being targeted by the games’ developers, CCP, officially in lieu of the upcoming shift to a free-to-play model.
For 13 years, EVE Online has operated on a pay-to-play model, with subscriptions typically costing about $20 per month. Coming November 2016, CCP is switching to a free-to-play model, which the company hopes will boost the game’s population.
In EVE Online‘s preparation for the switch, and likely due to a major war funded by a gambling conglomerate, CCP has started cracking down on the various player-owned gambling casinos utilizing the EVE Online’s ISK currency. Incomes from these EVE casino’s netted some of the conglomerate members enough money to bankroll fleets of pirates and mercenaries so powerful that one of the game’s top factions, Imperium (also known as Goons or Goonswarm), lost massive amounts of territory, resources, and allies.
“‘That advantage of exploiting the gambling addiction of players in the game is so extreme that it unbalances the entire financial and resource based aspect,’ said TheMittani” in an interview.
The EVE Online EULA, which originally seems to have outlawed the operation of the virtual casinos, has since had a phrase specifically designed to combat whatever loophole was being used.
“You may not use, transfer or assign any game assets for games of chance operated by third parties. The buying, selling or auctioning (or any attempt at doing so) of characters, character attributes, items, currency, or objects, whether through online auctions, newsgroups, postings on message boards or any other means is prohibited by the EULA and a violation of CCP’s proprietary rights in the Game.”
So why has CCP, which traditionally has allowed players massive autonomy in economic manipulation both within and without the game, now actively intervening to cut off one of the more profitable grey-area enterprises?
In the last year or two, virtual gambling, whether on sports or video games for for real or digital currency, has taken off. Recent scandals regarding DraftKings, CS:GO skin gambling, and other online such sites have raised concerns over the legality of these types of transactions.
One of the issues EVE Online has which most games due not is the conversion of real currency to game currency. It’s an indirect method, where a player can purchase “Plex” for real money (30 days of game time) and sell it on the in-game market. For players like those operating the casino’s, their income from these third-party sites means they can avoid paying a subscription very easily.
However, that is not the problem. The challenge comes from avoiding involvement in actual gambling which could be federally regulated. These virtual EVE Online casino’s operate very much like their real-world counterparts, feeding on the gambling addictions of the players. Due to the Plex system, a player can convert real-money in to ISK, which can be used to gamble on these sites.
Thus, EVE Online‘s developers, in order to head off any legal battles which could arise from 3rd-party gambling, is shutting them all down. Two of the biggest offenders, iwantisk.com, and EVE Casino, have been shut down, with all in-game assets and currency seized as well as bans being issued to a number of players for violation of the EULA.
According to CCP, iwantisk.com was investigated and evidence brought forth regarding “large-scale Real Money Trading” which is banned in all but a handful of mmo’s. Significant numbers of the leaders in the player factions hold high-paying jobs, and as was mentioned earlier, the use of real money in a game can lead to a potentially game-breaking imbalance. Such games are commonly referred to in the internet community as “pay-to-win” games, many of which lose players who tire of being destroyed by people with large wallets.
So what do you think of CCP’s recent action in shutting down the third-party EVE Online casinos? Is this a good move, or will it detract from the EVE experience?