Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SOMERblink 2014: Not So Fast

Matters are moving quickly in the case of SOMERblink's latest promotion.  The CSM contacted CCP about the matter at 2am Reykjavik time and received an immediate response from CCP Falcon, EVE Online's community manager, and CCP Leeloo, CCP's liaison with the CSM.  After putting in a 22-hour day, CCP Falcon gave an update on the forums that included this paragraph:
"Given the sheer size of the investigation that we’ll be undertaking, this is going to take some time, as a lot of ISK and assets have changed hands. While some temporary action has been taken in order to keep a handle on the situation, any outcome of an investigation is still to be determined, and I can’t give any further information regarding the process while it’s ongoing."
One of those actions apparently was to tell SOMERblink to stop their promotion.  SOMERblink's site was updated with the following:

As seen on SOMERblink on 18 August 2014
The first of the two hyperlinks contains an email exchange between Somerset Mahm and Lisa Bell-Cabrera, Vice-President in charge of Global Sales for CCP.  Posting that exchange violates point 18 of the EVE Online Terms of Service:
18.  You may not publish private communications from CCP, their agents or representatives or EVE Online volunteers without authorization.
I'm pretty sure CCP did not give permission to post that, so Somerset Mahm is subject to some sort of punishment from CCP.  While the contents of the email exchange are flying around the forums, I'll take the prudent course and not quote from the emails directly.  I'll just characterize the exchange as Somerset was anxious to get his authorization to proceed.  He became impatient with the speed with which the legal department was working and she gave her approval via email.  Interestingly, that was back in April.  The promotion was originally supposed to debut 1 May.

The second hyperlink is for the actual proposal for the promotion.  Apparently affiliate promotions are sent to CCP's legal department for approval.  Here is how CSM delegate DJ FunkyBacon described the document:

The justification for the promotion was very interesting:
"Justification: Blink provides no extra ISK or bonus Blink credit for buying through the link. Instead, we make it easy to sell your PLEX and get your ISK quickly, no matter where you are-- no Jita alt required. This is a service, in keeping with CCP's new guidelines that ETC affiliate link rewards should be service-oriented."

The description of the proposal given to CCP
Selling PLEX in Jita as a service?  Okay, I can understand that.  A very useful service for those deep in w-space.  But the paragraph begins, "Blink provides no extra ISK buying though the link."  That is true.  The extra ISK in the promotion would come from the sale.  Indeed, in point 1 of the workflow, the proposal flat out states that, "... we guarantee we'll give you the best price."

PLEX sales in Jita, 9-17 August 2014

In the proposal, Somerset stated he would give the people who purchased PLEX through his referral link the best price.  But I don't think people really understood what "best price" was.  To add to the confusion, he did not define how he would calculate that best price.  To some, the offer of 830 million ISK for a PLEX on Sunday was the best offer.  But considering that the most expensive PLEX sold for 794 million ISK in Jita on Sunday, some might consider the additional 35 million ISK "extra".

These are some of the basic facts I found yesterday.  I actually intended to wait until Wednesday to write another post on the subject, but the changes on the SOMERblink website were too significant to pass up.  Besides, with the new information available, I couldn't sleep until this post was finished.  Hopefully, other bloggers and news sites will fill in the blanks with some more detailed analysis throughout the day as more information becomes available out of CCP headquarters in Reykjavik.


  1. "The ETC seller just uses the buyback program as a bonus incentive and makes no money from handing out bonus isk."

    If the incentive gets him more customers that normally wouldn't buy their ETC from him, then yes he is making money from handing out isk. Or in other words; RMT.

  2. "I'm pretty sure CCP did not give permission to post that, so Somerset Mahm is subject to some sort of punishment from CCP."
    CCP Falcon has confirmed that the emails were published without CCP's permission. https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=4927923#post4927923

    As for "punishment"; Given how CCP handled last years "SOMERgate" I expect them to receive a few more Ishukone scorpions fairly soon. Or maybe yet another new unique ship to sell off again.

  3. Also take note of Abditus Cularius' recent firesale of hundreds of billions worth in BPOs. I'm pretty certain he has ties to Blink as he often defended it, attacked its competition and occasionally items he purchased were given away as prizes on Blink.

  4. Think of this... He is banned, now how many plex did he have that are now taken off the market? I see the plex market is going to go sky high again. And taking some trillions of the isk market out.

  5. Well its a good thing we got rid of that game destroying rmt wow...well all those player events didn't need extra plex anyway. yeah the community is way better off now.....imo if its not hurting the game its not rmt......oh and is tmc rmt because they pay their writers with isk to make money off ads??? I mean if we are going to start calling everything rmt.......

  6. We can have long discussions about whether or not PLEX resellers are RMTing or not - the important point is that PLEX resellers are authorized by CCP to do so. The more PLEX they sell, the better even, because each legitimately sold PLEX means money into CCPs coffers.

    It was Somer which closed the loop between real money flowing into their wallets (not CCPs), in return for in-game items (ISK in this case).

    In a way it's ingenious: a regular RMT operation has to pay their farmers some compensation for their efforts; the ISK sold by Somer on the other hand was given to them freely.