Pay To WinLet's get this one out of the way first. The suggestion here is that if I have a friend (let's call him Adam) started playing Eve two years before me, then it is somehow Pay to Win if I am given a way to catch up to him in skill points. Let me say that another way: simply pulling up even to an older player is considered Pay to Win? This isn't golden ammo, this isn't using a credit card to get an advantage in PVP that can only be countered by another credit card. This is younger players being able to catch up to older players. I can see why the older players might consider that threatening, but that's clearly not Pay To Win. We don't even need to break out the existing Character Bazaar topic to see that, right?
Options for New PlayersIn the Dev Blog, we see Team Size Matters floating a concept with a very steep curve of diminishing returns. This is clearly set up to get players into the 50M to 80M SP range, with only a truly massive level of expenditure making this worthwhile for those over 80M SP. As someone who is sitting at just under 80M SP, I think this is a good limit. We have prominent examples of Kil2 and Gorski Car who both starting playing Eve and went to the character bazaar in order to get a character with competent PVP skills. This gives other players that option without the much more dramatic step of buying an entire character
I hear a number of comments in the meta about how people want to maintain the emotional connection to their character. This mechanism allows players build up the character that they've been playing, rather than have to discard it. If anything, people who want that person connection should be thrilled at this new mechanism, if only they can think on this from the perspective of a newer player.
As a new player, you don't have any other options to get skilled up. In other games where skills accrue from your actions, you could be a really intense player and grind out the levels or skills. In Eve, there is nothing you can do but pay your monthly fee. In fact, maybe the best way to get started in Eve is to buy six months of subscription, line up your training queue, and then don't log in except to add in a skill you just cleared the prereqs for. Is that really what we want to tell a person who is considering playing Eve and wants to get in and be able to compete in at least cruiser-level PVP?
Options for Older PlayersAt the same time, what if you're an older player who has trained your main into a space coffin and you're feeling trapped? This mechanism means you could sell that Titan, extract those supercapital skills, free yourself from that obligation and fund yourself for capital and down PVP for a long time. Get back to enjoying Eve, which is what the game should be all about. This is also true for older players who don't see any skills that they really want to train anymore, not wanting to get into that space coffin. We're hitting that for a lot of older players. Does it make more sense that they should train skills that they will never use? Is that a decision that adds to the game?
I agree that there may be a lot of supercap toons that are unsubscribed now which might be re-upped for the sole purpose of stripping them down for SP. The market could be flooding with people taking advantage of this to cash out. I don't see that as a bad thing at all. If people aren't having fun with those characters, there is no advantage to the player, to CCP, or to the Eve community to have them sitting around unsubscribed. I'm sure that a lot of people would not cry if there was a sudden drop in the total number of super-capable hotdroppers in New Eden either. Maybe Eve would be a healthier place for that. (Now of course we'll see what Eve Vegas brings for capital and supercap rebalance of course) I don't buy the "protect players from themselves" flavor of these arguments. Eve is Not a Nanny State.
Blood Raiders on the coattailsOne must wonder if the Dev Blog on skill trading was intentionally positioned to start the controversial fire right before the Blood Raider event was started up. Against the backdrop of the SP Trading, I haven't seen a single person (even on reddit) claim that the Blood Raider Cerebral Accelerators were "Pay to Win." But why not? After all, this allows the same catch-up mechanism as skill trading by breaking out the credit card.
There is an important difference in that this approach is not instantaneous. Even doubling your learning speed 24/7 still means that I'd need a full year just to catch up to someone two years ahead of me. This is not a solution to the "I need all the skills to fly T2 tank and guns in PVP" problem. But is this an intermediate solution? If people are not okay with instant skill injection, would they be okay with the injected skills being applied over time? Consider a mechanism where I inject one TSP of 500K SP and thus double my rate of learning until they are gone. Consider if stacking was allowed so if I really want I can inject 9 TSPs and learn at 10x rate for a while. Now an would-be Kil2 can speed through the core fitting skills while getting into frigate PVP, quickly moving into the cruiser range but without jumping in one credit card transaction.
One way or another it's going to be a brave new world out there. With any change like this, there are going to be people who resist it either by general conservatism or because it undermines their personal advantage. If Eve is going to thrive for the next decade, I think we need bring in mechanisms like this.