But seriously – is EVE’s PLEX cheating?

EVE Online is one of the few games to have built currency-buying right into its system – but is it still cheating?

With the flood of new players into EVE as WoW hits its pre-expansion doldrums come new ideas and new debates in the blogosphere. This week, EVE veterans and newbies alike have been looking once again at PLEX, the real money for EVE credits exchange system, and asking one question – “is this cheating?”.

It might seem that this particular debate would have been settled a long time ago, but in actual fact, there are a lot of interesting arguments coming out on both sides – with ramifications for more than EVE alone…

Rohan of Blessing of Kings is really driving this discussion at the moment, as a new player getting to grips with the EVE economy. Today, his post divides the EVE world and looks at the ramifications of PLEX on both halves of the equation – consumers and producers

“Some people are producers. They enjoys earning ISK, either by harvesting resources or trading or producing goods. They dot not enjoy being attacked by other players. But they deal with that inconvenience, and adjust their gameplay to defend or mitigate against that possibility.

PLEX buyers are consumers. They enjoy expending ISK, often on attacking other players. They do not enjoy earning ISK.

However, unlike the producers, the consumers don’t have to deal with their inconveniences. They don’t have to adjust their gameplay to compensate. They can spend real money to skip the part of the game they don’t enjoy.”

This is a really interesting point, and one that any game with PvP and RMT will have to consider very carefully. Whilst people spending $100s in EVE – which many people can easily afford to do – may be good for CCP, are they good for the game?

On the “Old Veteran” side, The Ancient Gaming Noob argues that in actual fact, the EVE universe is both more complex and more interconnected than that

“There are lost of people who just like the industry side of the game. And there are, I am sure, people who just buy PLEX to turn pirate and hunt other players. But in between?

What of the mission runner who focuses only on the mission reward and thus optimizes his efforts to completing them as fast as possible? He never loots, he never salvages, and he certainly never stops to mine any tasty ore that might show up in a mission. He merely consumes the mission content, adding to the market place approximately the same as the person who buys PLEX.

And what about me? For the last four months I have been in null sec, I have ratted a little bit for bounties, but have pretty much steered clear of the economic sphere. I have been in coalition fleets for battles, and when I lose a ship my alliance reimburses me the cost of my ship and sells me a replacement at a very good price, thus subsidizing my play. How does that differ, in terms of economic impact, from the buyer of PLEX? My choice has essentially opted me out of the production aspect of the game as well.

Second, the consumption side of the does, in fact, add to the economic sphere of the game. Nothing keeps the production people going like some pirates out there blowing up ships. The so-called consumer is in fact a very important aspect of the producer’s life. Without him, the producer is done.”

TAGN also offers an interesting counter-argument to Rohan’s “immortality pod” analogy, although I’m not 100% certain it’s as much of a slam-dunk as he says.

I’m sure this debate will rage on for a good while – and I’ll be interested to see what points come out of it in future!

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