One of the subjects that often swirls around the EVE media around the time of the elections for the Council of Stellar Management is war decs. The war declaration system provides a way for player groups in EVE Online to place a PvP tag on each other, so they can fight in high security space or avoid gate and station guns in low security space. The slight twist compared to other MMORPGs is that the tagging in the vast majority of cases is non-consensual. The situation often leads to entire groups of players just not logging into EVE for a week at a time. A game system that encourages players not to log into the game is sub-optimal and in need of change. Yet, that is the state of affairs in EVE today.
While many believe that the war dec system is an affront to those who prefer player verses environment play, another system currently is Asia debuts in North America and Europe this spring. Bless Online, a PvP-centric title once eagerly awaited in the West, will limp onto Steam in May. I could go into details such as the game failing in South Korea or how during the western localization process the number of classes dropped from 8 down to 5. Instead, I will focus on the business model of the game and its direct impact on those who do not like to PvP.
Neowiz, the developers of Bless Online, last week announced the game will be a buy-to-play game with a cash shop. Pretty basic stuff. One of the items, however, quickly grabbed my interest and I did a quick search of the internet to make sure the information was correct. Part of the business model is to make players pay real life money if they wish immunity from PvP.
In my nine years of writing about MMORPGs on The Nosy Gamer, I don’t recall ever seeing the Pay-to-PvE model implemented before. I imagine the model resembles boiling a frog by slowly raising the temperature of the water in the pot. At the lowest levels, players will run around in zones worry free. Once past the newbie zones, players can obtain a consumable which grants some sort of PvE flag that lasts a limited amount of time, like 10-15 minutes. Players obtain the consumable either from the cash shop or a source in the game. Finally, once the player reaches the level cap, the PvE buff is only available through the cash shop.
I can’t honestly state the idea of players paying to exempt themselves from PvP shocks me. A couple of years ago I came up with an idea for changing the war dec system that allowed players and corporations to pay a fee to an NPC that would grant immunity from war decs within a certain area. Knowing EVE players, a small percentage of the player base would wind up paying for war dec immunity by whipping out their credit cards and purchasing PLEX to turn into ISK.
I should add that CCP does charge players a fee of 11% on all bounties and mission rewards for staying in NPC corporations are immune from war decs. Still, the chutzpah of the developers at Neowiz charging players for the ability to engage in uninterrupted PvE in a PvP-centric game is astounding. In the case of EVE, players just receive a reduced ISK payout for PvE activity. I much prefer a system in which a corporation could somehow immunize itself from war decs by not building structures than by purchasing immunity with real world money. But what do I know? Maybe charging players to engage in PvE is the new normal. And perhaps pigs can fly.