March 6, 2014

Get yer Whoop Whoop here - the future of Eve?

We've been teased about it for a while, but now it has been disclosed. CCP is piloting a program for alternative ship skins. First off the block is the famed Federation Navy Comet. How much would you pay to give your ship that Whoop Whoop Space Police action?  And did CCP make the right call on the ships for this pilot program?

The Program

First off, here's a link to the DevBlog if you haven't already read it. Here's the important part for this: "The Police Pursuit Comet blueprint will cost 3,000 CONCORD LP and 3,000,000 ISK and can be purchased in any station with a CONCORD LP store."  Note: This does not come with sound effects.

Second, so what are the costs?  This special skin blueprint will be applied to an existing Comet.  So the base cost there is about 18M ISK (Eve-Central).  Then the skin blueprint let's generously price at 6M ISK (3M in ISK and 3,000 CONCORD LP at 1000 ISK per LP).  So you will be increasing the cost of your Comet by a third.

Third, what happens when my Comet dies?  It dies.  The skin doesn't stick around.  This is Eve after all. Hmm - what if there was a chance the "skin" would drop, represented in game logic by salvaging the outer panels and special accessories (police lights).

The Analysis

So I'm predicting there will be two customer use cases long-term for this:

PVE ships.  Many people will be willing to spend 30-40% of the hull cost for a PVE ship.  First, your ship is expected to have a longer lifespan than a PVP ship.  Second, the skin cost will be small compared to the nice modules and rigs you're going to put on the thing.  On the other hand, nothing is going to scream "gank target" like showing up on the overview and D-scan as being a reskinned ship.

PVP ships flown by the space-rich.  Some people won't mind throwing away 30% on their PVP ships because they have so much ISK.  These may be the people who also don't mind putting deadspace modules on their PVP ships.  So once again, the skin is a target, an invitation to "Come At Me Bro."  For some of the top-end solo players, this might be an advantage.  I expect people may also quickly learn that Punisher Kador Edition means Bait Punisher.

Now long term CCP is saying that these skills will be available using Aurum and they show nine pilot program ships - four frigates and four battleships.  So in the short term "space rich" will also include people who have Aurum from years ago that they didn't spend on monocles and pretty blouses for their avatars.  I would have guessed that CCP did this analysis and was picking the frigates as the PVP case and battleships as the PVE case, but if so I'm a bit surprised at the battleship choices.  If you wanted PVE battleships I would have expected to see a Domi, for instance, rather than a Hyperion.  I'm not as familiar with what the ratting choices are for the other races.

We'll see.  I enjoy flying the Comet, but I think the only reason I'd get the Police Pursuit skin would be as a one-off if there was a themed roam.

Edit: Given this analysis, I'd argue that CCP would have been more successful if the small ship target had been Assault Frigates, but the skin cost was the same as we're seeing for the Comet.  People probably could accept a 10%-15% additional cost better than a 33% cost.

The Future of Eve

The most interesting part might be the end of the DevBlog. I'll quote here:
"If this pilot program reveals that the painting of internet spaceships is indeed popular and we are able to gather enough data and thoughtful feedback, we will put some very eager programmers and designers on the task of creating a system that allows us to change the skins of ships without us having to create a new TypeID to get a different color variant."

That expansion of the structure of Eve is potentially hugely powerful.  Don't think about just the skin, but what flexibility it could mean from there.  Today a TypeID 587 object (Rifter) has a fixed set of attributes.  If tomorrow a TypeID 587 object could vary in attributes then we open the door to thing such as custom manufacturing that I've discussed before (last paragraph of this blog entry).  That could be a very different, much more expandable Eve.  If skins are a means to open the door, I might be more than willing to spend a few million ISK (or Aurum) to encourage it.

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