As the first day of the emergency summit between CCP and Eve Online's Council of Stellar Management gets underway today, many are dismissing the meeting as a public relations stunt. And if this were any other CSM, I might even agree. But this CSM is led by The Mittani, possibly the most famous Eve Online player outside of the Eve Online community. Here are some reasons that CCP would be playing with fire if they treated The Mittani lightly.
Former lawyer - Before retiring (or taking a long sabbatical) to Wisconsin for a couple of years, The Mittani made his money as a corporate lawyer in Washington D.C. So he may have some skills suited to negotiating with CCP. I'm pretty sure his background will keep him from being intimidated.
NDA? What NDA? - On 24 June, The Mittani tweeted, "Incidentally, should pay-to-win stuff be implemented over my objections (and/or without CSM notice) I'm outta here." If he is not happy about CCP's plans for The Noble Exchange, he doesn't have to say anything. All he has to do is quit. And given how much time he spends in game, that won't be that big a hardship on him.
Head of Goonswarm Federation - Don't laugh, in this situation that is a big stick. As of this morning, Dotlan shows Goonswarm Federation is the largest alliance in Eve with 6,562 members. With Blizzard dismantling the mega-guilds in World of Warcraft, that means that The Mittani may be the leader of the largest in-game player organization in Western MMORPGs. That gives him advantages on two fronts.
The first is financial. On the special Funky Bacon show on Eve Radio broadcast 24 June, The Mittani not only threatened to leave the game if "pay to win" were implemented, but pull Goonswarm Federation out with him. Could he do it? Goonswarm Federation was formed from a community outside Eve, the Something Awful forums. And apparently it may not take much of a push to start the flood out of Eve. On 26 June The Mittani tweeted, "Welp, a good chunk of my directorate is kicking the tires of Perpetuum now. Apparently their devs are personally greeting Eve refugees." If The Mittain left and took just half the Goons with him, that would be a big cash loss for CCP.
The second is on the PR front. Remember how the critics think this is a PR move by CCP? The gaming press is already siding with the players over this situation. Just think of all the stories the game sites would publish if Eve's largest alliance set up shop in Perpetuum? Do you think that wouldn't impact not only current sales, but draw potential players to Perpetuum instead of Eve?
The Mittani At GDC - In 2010 CCP arranged for The Mittani to give a presentation at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. At the time the move was good publicity for CCP. But if an open break occurs, that is another link that writers can use to show how disillusioned players are about the situation.
Sins Of A Solar Spymater - The Mittani parlayed the attention he received over the disbanding of the Band of Brothers alliance into a column at Ten Ton Hammer, Sins Of A Solar Spymaster. That means that The Mittani already has a soapbox on a major gaming site from which to hold forth his views. He has already done so this week (in a very good read) and will most likely do so again following the conference.
So do I think the emergency CSM summit is just a PR stunt. I hope not. Because if it is, the stunt could backfire. Badly.