Over the weekend, it was revealed that back in August, CCP -- via CCP Navigator -- gave 30 of the rare Ishukone Watch Scorpions to the "employees" of SOMER Blink. Navigator, as you know, is the Community Manager and most often is the Community representative that works with EVE Online Community Fansites (such as the one you're reading now) and other EVE-related websites. His intent in giving SOMER this gift was to thank all of the people that make this website work for the hard work they do for the EVE community.
First things first: all of this happened before the Somer Blink giveaway a few days ago. As I said, this happened back in August. Second, this is not the first time that CCP has given these ships to a group of players that provides a community benefit, nor will it be the last. Third, the gift was given to SOMER employees in secret.
As you may or may not know by now, this has created a mini rage storm about continued CCP favoritism, a potential conflict of interest, and disgust over CCP giving gifts to the members of an organization that takes in billions in in-game profits. It also created a (now 36-page) threadnaught about the matter. But I couldn't help but notice that there seems to be a good deal of jealousy in the threadnaught, as well as a lot of accusations directed at CCP Navigator personally (with a few people flat-out accusing him of going "t20").
Accuse me of white-knighting CCP if you must, but this is one of those situations where while I understand player discontent over this matter, I don't agree with it.(1)
Mike Azariah gets credit for the title of this blog post, and for reminding me of an amusing analogy. Early in the first book of The Lord of the Rings, a birthday party for Bilbo Baggins takes place. The inclusion of this scene in the book caused J.R.R. Tolkien to devise an entire set of customs around hobbit birthdays. One of the key customs he devised is that the hobbit celebrating a birthday -- if he or she is old enough, rich enough, or well respected enough -- actually gives gifts to those attending the birthday party. The size and nature of the gift is the choice of the hobbit celebrating the birthday, as is the list of people who will receive the gifts. But in the case of Bilbo's birthday (and the fact that he doesn't care for one of the guests), this creates a situation in which one of the hobbits invited to Bilbo's birthday party decides she wasn't given a nice enough gift.
So she goes scrounging through his house looking for something she'd like better. And this causes people who didn't receive gifts at all to follow her into the house to correct this obvious miscarriage of justice and so to take something from the house too.
Let me make my position clear on this situation: CCP has the right to reward any community site they choose to. They also have the right to reward the site with nearly anything they choose to, as long as it doesn't break the lore or history of the game in some way. In this case, the Ishukone Scorpion doesn't. Hell, the ship has but one and only use: to be given to EVE players as a reward for doing something. If any mistake was made here, it was that CCP decided for whatever reason to keep this gift private.
And yet some people are freaking out about it and it's hard not to feel like they think the hobbit should have given them a gift too, and a gift at least as nice as the one SOMER Blink got. It's a hobbit birthday in all its glory.
All that said, I myself would not have given SOMER Blink this gift. While I do recognize the enormous benefit they provide to the community, in terms of their donations to a dozen or more community events, they are also a for-profit site that receives tremendous rewards (as well as massive advertising) from the community for their service. But that was not my choice to make. CCP had a choice to make, and they made it, and I respect their right to reward the community sites that they choose to. As Marlona Sky put it in the threadnaught:
Oh calm the hell down. You really should do some fact checking before sperging out things like 'SOMER doesn't create content for EVE'. They are constantly donating to events such and RvB Ganked nights, all my events as well as countless others. Those sponsorship help those player events actually become a reality. Somer is not the only site that sponsors player events either. Many do.Yes. But mostly the first bit. So SOMER Blink's employees got some rare Scorpions out of this. They weren't the first, they won't be the last. Anyone who is trying to generate a scandal out of this, in my opinion, is barking up the wrong (party) tree.
(1) And for the record, no, I have not been given an Ishukone Scorpion nor any other in-game gift by CCP.