Tuesday, March 9, 2021

EVE Online's Expert Systems: Opening Day Details

Today marks an interesting chapter in EVE Online monetization. From today's news article in the launcher.

Pricing from the cash shop

Brand new Expert Systems are now live in EVE Online! These are designed to help rookie Capsuleers discover and experience new activities by providing specific virtual skills and skill levels for a limited time that cannot be extracted through the use of Skill Extractors.

For a 7-day period per Expert System, you can taste the dream of a particular profession in EVE without having to commit to the skill training required by that path of progression and waiting for it to complete.

The first batch of Expert System products will focus on exploration, mining, and the core skills required to operate spaceships in EVE (commonly referred to as the ‘Magic 14’). You’ll be able to purchase Expert Systems that allow you to fly a Tech 1 exploration Frigate – either the Heron, Imicus, Magnate, or Probe – for 7 days, one that will allow you to operate a Mining Barge for 7 days, and one that will boost your essential flying skills for 7 days.

So new players can rent skills while they train. But are the terms good. Let's take a look.

White Squares Are Skills Already Possessed

I'm going to lump four of the six available Expert Skills packages together as the only difference is the racial frigate skill included. The skills displayed in white boxes are from an alt I created back in 2009 and never trained. New characters may differ.

I think this package is squarely aimed at Alpha players. For the free account players, training is not only half-speed, but each character is limited to 20 million skill points. In this case, renting the set of skills for a week for $1.99 may make sense. I would need to create an alpha account to confirm, but I believe a player could remain an alpha and use most, if not all, the skills, listed in the package. The package contains 561,305 total skill points, although that includes skills a character has already trained.

From first-hand experience, I know a player can remain in Alpha status and effectively probe down data and relic sites. With that in mind, a new player looking to purchase all the skills in the exploration expert skills would only have to purchase enough PLEX to purchase a single skill injector off the market. That might be the $9.99 package, although with the falling price of PLEX, a player might have to resort to the $19.99 package. A more sure bet money-wise might be the Bronze Pack (250,000 skill points, 60 PLEX, SKINs and clothing) combined with a 5 pack of Alpha skill injectors that sells for $4.19. That does take a little longer to train, as only one Alpha skill injector can be used per day. But if cost is an issue, it is a viable alternative. Check the in-game markets for PLEX exchange rates to get the best deal.

Trying to convert Alphas into Omegas

The Mining Barge Operations Expert System rents a package of 567,765 mining related skill points for the low price of $3.99 per week. I think the package is aimed at converting the F2P Alpha players into paying Omega accounts, as Alphas cannot normally fly mining barges. Once I realized what the developers intended, I chuckled. Veteran players try to lead new players away from mining and here CCP is trying to lead them into the activity.

In addition to convincing players to pay a subscription, I think the EVE monetization team is hoping players will then purchase the Silver Pack from the cash shop for $22.99. Not only does the package contain 30 days of Omega time, but also 250,000 skill points and 110 PLEX. Converting the PLEX to ISK can really help improve the fitting of a ship. And if a player really gets into mining, purchasing one of the lower end PLEX packages in addition to the Silver Pack is a distinct possibility. My guess is that the $9.99 package would be a popular seller amongst the new miners who chose to rent the mining barge package.

The Magic 14 Skills

I'm not sure who first chose to call the core skills "The Magic 14", but the phrase is definitely catchy. The Core Ship Operations Expert System I think is Alpha friendly, meaning all skills are usable by F2P characters. The $4.99/week cost of the package provides a character up to 1,743,295 skill points the character may not already possess. The package, in my opinion, is just present to encourage newer players to buy skill points. Yes, having all these skills makes a big difference not just in ship performance, but in the way a ship can be fit.

I'm sure CCP would love to see players purchase the $39.99 PLEX bundle and use the proceeds to purchase 3 large skill injectors off the market. But I also think they would love to see players who had used the Core Ship Operations Expert System to then go on and purchase the Training Boost bundle, also for $39.99. The bundle contains 1.5 million skill points and one Expert Cerebral Accelerator for additional rapid training. Then, of course, is the offer Wilhelm received via email to buy 1.62 million skill points for $43. Assuming the market test of the package pans out, we may see that in the cash shop soon.

The patch notes also indicated two additional points of interest I did not see either on Singularity or this morning on Tranquility.
  • Players can extend the rental period of an Expert System by 30 days.
  • Expert System recommendations for ships can be found in the following locations:
    • Ship Tree
    • Show Info for Ships they are designed to unlock
    • In the Requirements tab in Ship Show Info
    • Inside the Market for ships
    • Ship Tooltips
I'm sure we will soon see on the official forums and the EVE sub-Reddit complaints about more advertising being spread out throughout the UI. But that is a whole other issue. Hopefully this post will make a little sense out of what CCP is trying to accomplish. Or at least, what makes sense to me.

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