End of the free ride for (EVE) money making gaming blogs, guides, and addons

CCP, developers of EVE Online, set the cat among the pigeons yesterday when they announced that they intend to charge a licence fee to 3rd parties who use their assets for profit making activities. (If you run a not for profit blog, service, etc then you just need a free licence.)

They didn’t spin it quite that way, saying instead:

Starting this summer you will be able to charge people for usage of your applications, websites and services for EVE Online.

I’m torn on this. On the one hand, why should people be able to make bank by producing online guides without paying anything to the owner of the IP? That’s not how things usually work. Or in other words, people already are finding ways to monetise (I do hate that word) their EVE blogs, guides, and apps and now they’ll all have to register and pay the piper.

Examples of monetization could be donations, one-time purchase, in-app purchase, subscriptions or ad-supported sites or apps

Note that they have explicitly mentioned ad-supported sites. If you run Google Adsense or have a tip jar on your EVE blog, CCP will also want their $99, thank you.

I have no horse in this race since this blog a) isn’t game specific and b) isn’t monetised (there I go again). But you have to wonder if other MMOs with strong communities will follow where CCP have led – after all, it’s money on the table and if a few bloggers who fancy themselves entrepreneurs throw their toys out of the pram and close up shop, no biggie. (The smarter ones will either find better ways to monetise or switch to a multi-gaming blog.) Would Blizzard do this? Hard to say, it’s a lot of work to police the licensing although doing so would give a dev plenty of clout and control over the fanbase.

On the other hand, if app writers want to charge people for services provided, are happy to throw a sop to Cerberus/ CCP  by paying the license fee and people want to pay, what’s the real problem with that?

If there is a problem, it comes from the increasing reliance of devs on addon makers to clean up their UIs. Effectively encouraging players to pay for addons is letting them pay for an in-game advantage, which is one of the things players have in the past complained about with cash shops for F2P games.

Maybe cracked.com got it right with their 4th most ominous trend in video gaming (“the new model is infinite payment”.)

Caveat Emptor. The bottom line will be whether or not CCP is prepared to go to court over any addon writer/ blogger et al who ignores this. If there is a real likelihood of a legal fight which will definitely cost more than $99 then paying the license makes sense. If not, then it can be ignored.

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20 thoughts on “End of the free ride for (EVE) money making gaming blogs, guides, and addons

  1. What an interesting development. I’d be surprised if their are many sites that earn enough revenue to warrant getting a licence. This move could backfire quite nastily when gamers using ad-supported webhosting avoid writing guide out of fear of being quized by CCP

  2. Can you have a monetized Coca Cola blog without the consent of Coca Cola?
    Can you make money for selling guides to Mercedes cars without the approval of Mercedes?

    Why should computer games be different?

    • Errr. Yes. There are a lot of monetised car blogs out there. No approval needed.

      Companies like Coca Cola and Mercedes know the value of ‘free’ advertising, and they tend to encourage it. Having bloggers write about their products is a good thing. A company will only crack down if the blog starts to damage the brand.

  3. I think it is a smart move. And nobody who runs a smallish blog will run into trouble with this; no matter how much they advertise. CCP isn’t stupid.

    • Unfortunately, you HAVE to go after all infringers (including the small fish) or you weaken your case against the big ones. On the other hand, most small blogs don’t advertise or generate any revenue anyway. I’m safe, you’re safe, Spinks is safe… Tobold’s “buy me a coffee” button could get him in trouble if he posts any more articles about EVE though :)

    • I don’t think that will happen either. CCP knows the value of the small blog in creating buzz about their game. They know the value of gaming news sites talking about the latest Eve banking scam or alliance betrayal.

      They’re not going to jeopardise that by cracking down on a small blog with a bit of Adsense.

      To me it looks like they are just wanting to licence applications and websites got caught in the crossfire.

  4. There are WoW gold guide sellers who have made over $30,000 in selling repackaged IP material, coaching programs, and so on. I have never been comfortable about that sort of nonsense, especially since the EULA painstakingly outlines exactly how much anyone actually owns anything (hint: zero).

    • They don’t own anything in the game, though? They own an idea. They own knowledge. They share said knowledge, whether for free or for profit. It’s like buying a book.

      I don’t think CCP deserves to charge people for the mod-making. The modders make tools that help EVE, and if they want to charge for their work, I don’t think CCP should be able to charge them. CCP isn’t losing anything (hell, they’re gaining something) and the mod authors don’t have to pay some absurd fee. Why they can’t just give away the commercial licence on an application rather than commercial basis is probably due to them not giving a shit and wanting to make a quick buck, but it makes far more sense. If people are going to make tools that CCP are too lazy to make themselves, then CCP deserve nothing.

  5. CCP is still bound by international copyright laws. Fair dealing applies and there is no Eula agreement with a third party website owner.

    So Tobold can carry on blogging about how terrible Eve is while asking for readers to buy him a cup of coffee because it’s criticism, a permitted activity under fair dealing. I suppose CCP could send him a cease and desist notice but he’d win if he fought it (or more importantly their lawyers would advise them not to because of the risk of losing a court case).

    It’s exactly the same as how newspapers and magazines can comment on someone’s intellectual property without paying royalties each time.

  6. I suppose CCP is learning a few tricks from Apple. You want to sell your apps in the appstore? Apple takes their cut, hell they might even copy your entire app if it’s selling .

    I’m just not convinced this model is as good in a niche community though. It might potentially turn potential developers AWAY from the idea entirely. You very well might end up having a bunch of free crap quality mods and the high quality developers moving onto a different platform with less red tape . [Kinda like an Android vs. Apple thing, if you know what i mean]

  7. Pingback: CCP App Monetization | Why it’s good for gamers

  8. Very few people seem to think this is a good idea, but I’m thrilled by it. CCP’s move is clearly aimed at app developers – third-party apps are explicitly called out in the original dev post by CCP Atlas, and CCP isn’t going to go after fansites that use screenshots without a license. That’s rubbish.

    Instead, CCP’s motives here seem pretty obvious – create incentives for people to make apps for EVE. It’s a brilliant move. While EVE has a great app developer community, it’s still pretty small, and populated by “do-gooders” – people who create apps because they love the game. That’s a fantastic motivation, but isn’t enough. With financial incentives, I think you’ll see even more 3rd party developer support, which in the end, is good for everyone.

    What am I missing? It works for Apple? :)

      • Most of them sell something. Time cards for EVE or hosting for Killboards.

        Those apps maybe free, but it’s to gain loyalty for other services that are not.

    • without a decent sdk to make such application i very doubt it ccp say in a dev blog the api is not offcially supported and is given as it is.

      so if you pay for a licensing you will want you have a decent SDK with official support like apple does, besides they want to harge $99 for people who get isk donations, wich is stupid even if you buy plex with isk plex is an in game item created when some one pay RL money to ccp and that money never leaves ccp hands so you dont actually make any money from it and isk doesnt pay the bills and for the saving stuff well the subs is around $19 lets do the math $19 (that some one else pay for the plex) x 12 moths= $228 of saving now $228 – $99 (for a commercial license with no sdk kit or official api support) = $129 of savings per year……. wow is amazing im saving $129 by just buying plex that somebody else pay with RL money plus my $99 for the license….. how that make money for me i ask myself, now what programmer in his sane miind is going to value 1 year of his work in just $129 because there is no way you can get RL money for isk unless you brake the eula and start selling isk to players for RL money like a lot of websites.

      And lets be real who of us actually donate a single buck to the guys who make apps? no one and the ad websites are free because they put ads on your website.
      Now if they want to make something like apple well they need first createa full SDK for devs who want to make apps for eve, give full and offcial support to the api, create an ingame app store where you an buy the app and be able to lauch it inside the game. if they are going to do that then they may deserve the money.

      but no they put in the dev blog the api is give as it is a take it or leave it and no official support. tsk tsk. nop bad for bussines.

      now i bet ccp is feeling the economical cost to run their bussines the way they do their player base is not big enough like wow or like apple far i know are around between 300, 000 users and usually only 50,000 are online ,so maybe they need to start to run the sandbox on other serves like WoW or other MMOS to increse their player base and make more money either way the eve universe is too small for so many players.

      now WoW dont ask you to pay a license far i know just to make an add on, i have no idea if curse.com zygor or dugis pay any royalties or a license to because they sell a service maybe they do maybe they dont, but Blizzard is not asking people who take donations to pay a comercial license.

      Now to compare apple with CCP well there is no point of comparison Apple is a multi national company with MIllions upon mILLIONS OF USERS and CUSTUMERS an incredibly big and high value for 3rd party companies to make apps for ipad ipod iphone, they ask a 30% or the sales of your app i think, they give a full supported SDK software and you can register for free has a developer.

      CCP has Eve online, a MMO with around 300,000 player base who dont give a Full supported SDK software, they give an api wich is given has it is and is not officially supported, and ask a fee for a developer License of $99/yr
      to people who make apps for and income, for those who charge isk a fictional currency for any in game app service (the worst scenario you pay the $169 subs plus $99 just to be able to charge isk for ingame apps? $268 more than if you pay a month by month subs) those this have any value to actually develop software for the game? call me crazy but i dont see any.

  9. I think many of the above posters seem to think this is mainly a problem for bloggers which doubt CCP is really all that concerned with. I think those that don’t play EVE may not understand how many outside resources that EVE players use.

    Battleclinic will be the first to go into a full out nerd rage (I haven’t gone to the forums in a while, but I’m sure its not pretty right now). From EVEMON to the their entire loadout forums that any player outside of a month playing uses, they have provided for years for free, just for the chance that players come buy their timecards from them. Which is still money going to CCP. We are talking quality programs (that we all use) for years for no other gain other than that.

    It’s seemingly a giant slap in the face to those that have been keeping the outside structure of making CCPs game what it is today by doing this. I hope CCP plans to provide these services if worse comes to worse.

  10. People rarely tip for services. It requires a proactive gesture on the part of the user to voluntarily give up their money. It also goes against human nature; people aren’t inclined to tip because they don’t want to be the only sucker footing the bill for something they use. That’s why employees at places like Starbucks stuff tip jars with their own $1 bills.

    I love EVEMon, but do you know how much I’ve donated for it? $0.00. Am I mean guy? Not at all. I actually have a “donations” category for my monthly budget, and it goes to a few charitable organizations and causes I care about. I don’t pay for EVEMon, because it’s offered for free.

    Is that good for the folks at EVEMon? It’s fine if you develop that product and treat it like a hobby; a few people will donate and you’ll make a few bucks to cover hosting, distribution, etc. But you can’t count on recouping your costs, or make a living out of it.

    Today, you can’t charge someone for an EVE app. Being able to actually charge for it will give developers *greater* incentive to produce than they do today. Maybe it backfires on CCP. But to me – it seems like good reasoning to give the folks who make your game better a means to make money doing it. I know there are altruistic souls in this world, but for most people, money motivates. $99/year to turn your app into a profit-center is a great deal, if you’re an aspiring developer.

    Even if you don’t want to charge your end users… if you run advertising on your site – even something crummy like AdSense … it’s not going to be hard to recoup $99/year. That’s Monopoly money.

    • “Today, you can’t charge someone for an EVE app. Being able to actually charge for it will give developers *greater* incentive to produce than they do today.”

      As a reformed developer of one lonely (but moderately popular) wow addon, I heartily agree.

  11. “CCP will license 3rd party developers to create commercial applications and services created using the EVE API, In-Game Browser, Static Data Export, Image Export and Eve Image server.”

    This isn’t about Joe Average’s Ad-Sporting EVE Blog. This is targeted at people who are serving EVE’s (copyrighted) game data on the web — whatever the EVE equivalent of wowhead is, for example. And if you want to resell that data, you can now do it with CCP’s blessing for a modest fee. Which seems pretty reasonable to me.

    The only thing I don’t like is the “license” for non-commercial use. Even if there are no CCP-side shenanigans around that, it would still be a pain for some guy who just makes a spreadsheet.

  12. Yeah, agreeing with others here, I can’t see anyone getting popped for a virtual tip jar.

    If you popped them, how are they much different than a gaming magazine with [gameplay] tips? At least in the US, isn’t there a pretty clear free speech protection?

    This would seem much stronger in the case of guides, etc, but even then, I wonder. Can Microsoft sue you for your book, /Introduction to VB.NET/? I guess it comes down to the EULA, but that’s a fight I hope someone has — 1st amendment vs. EULA clicking.

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