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.

Should subscribers who don’t get access to beta get compensation?

This is an experiment with a bullet point style, I think sometimes the logic speaks for itself.

1. mmo-champion is now estimating that Cataclysm won’t be out before December (at the earliest).

2. Lots of players are bored, it has been a long time since the last new content patch (aside from short pre-Cataclysm events)

3. Players who are in the beta test have plenty of new content to explore, even if their main goal is supposed  to be ironing out bugs. Not only that but they will get a significant in-game advantage when the expansion goes live from being familiar with the new zones and content. Many players enjoy seeing content before it has been finalised and extended writeups and guides spread all over the net.

4. Beta players pay the same subscription as everyone else, but get access to the beta as an added bonus, possibly for months.

5. Should there be some kind of compensation for non-beta players, who still pay the same monthly fee but don’t get the same advantages?

The flip side of this argument is whether it would be appropriate to charge for beta access. A lot of players would happily pay (particularly for a Blizzard style beta that goes on for several months) and many of these might be the hardcore players whose feedback is already known to be valuable.

What do you think? Is the lottery system better? How about if the beta testers got shuffled every couple of months?