Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Monday, May 12, 2014

Zen and the art of monetization

If you've read my blog for a while, you've probably inferred -- correctly -- that I move a lot. In the process of doing so, I've become sort of a family legend at making money at yard sales. This bears on EVE Online very closely but to explain why, I'll have to set this up a little. Bear with me.

Yard sales (variously called that, garage sales, or tag sales in various parts of the U.S.) involve getting together a large pile of the stuff that Americans accumulate after a while. Then you sell that part of it you can live without to other Americans who are also busy accumulating stuff. You put an ad in the local newspaper or whatever, people come to your house, you put the stuff on your driveway or your lawn, and the negotiations for what the stuff is worth begin. The stuff is usually media, tools, unused clothing, bedding, small appliances, small furniture, toys, et cetera. These sales are usually associated with the family moving in or out of the neighborhood.

The problem with most yard sales -- and the reason most yard sales fail -- is that the people running them try to make money.

Now making money would seem to be the obvious goal of the exercise (with a secondary goal of getting rid of unwanted stuff). That's why it's funny that most Americans are so bad at it. The reason they don't make any money is that they try to make money on each individual item. If they bought that toaster for $35, then it would seem reasonable to sell the toaster for $15. That's less than half price, right? Meanwhile, the buyers aren't interested in a used toaster for only $20 less than what they can get a brand new toaster for. Negotiations go back and forth, but both parties are usually wed to their positions and at the end of the day, the guy selling the toaster more often than not has to bring the unsold toaster back into the house. Later, the toaster gets donated to a charitable institution and he makes no money at all. The net result for the rest of the yard sale items is more or less the same, and the yard sale as a whole is regarded as a failure because "we didn't make any money."

Give me the very same toaster and I'll tag it $5. Or $4. And it will sell instantly. I mark all the other stuff with similar prices. And the bulk of the other stuff also sells. And because I do this, the money pours in and I usually have very little or no stuff left at the end of a yard sale. I've never once run a yard sale where I didn't make $750 or more. It hardly seems to matter what I have to sell.

I call this a "Zen yard sale". I don't try to make any money. And because I'm not trying to make money, the universe misunderstands my motivations and I make a ton of money. ;-) As I said, I'm sort of a family legend at this. Family members make me run their yard sales.

What does all this have to do with EVE Online? Glad you asked.

For the last few months now, CCP has been looking for a "Monetization Director", someone to run the monetization strategy for the company. Now, I've never worked in the games industry and I'm likely never going to work in the games industry. I don't know anything about it. But I do know how to sell junk that my family members don't want and I know how to make a ton of money doing it. So let's apply the Zen yard sale to EVE monetization.

We're now 60 days into the ship skin pilot program. For our test cases, we're going to look at seven ships: four Gallente ships with Aliastra skins, and three Minmatar ships with Krusual skins. By default, this is going to be tricky. CCP has not released any public data about how many of these seven ships have been built or used. But we can look at the market data for Jita and that at least gives us a place to start:

ShipUplift     Days     Unskinned     Skinned     Penetration
Maelstrom     24M6024792649.6%

"Uplift" represents the increased cost of a skinned ship over an unskinned ship. "Days" represents the number of days of market data we're looking at. For all ships except the two recently-available skinned cruisers, that's 60 days. "Penetration" indicates the percentage of ships of that type sold that were skinned.

What we see looking at the data is that for the very popular Aliastra line, a bit over 5% of frigates and cruisers sold are being skinned. The Hyperion is doing better, likely due to its use as a solo low-sec boat and its come-and-go popularity with PvP streamers. For the Krusual line, penetration is lower at 3-5% of frigates and cruisers, and only about 10% of battleships are being skinned. The Aliastra Catalyst has been available for months but despite having a comparable uplift to the cruisers, only 0.4% of Catalysts sold in Jita are skinned.

Now, I've made no secret of the fact that I'd like to see ship skins -- ship painting, really -- to become as ubiquitous as rigging ships. We have no data on this either, but I'd estimate that rigging penetration is around 95%: the vast majority of ships are almost certainly rigged, and there are even some ships that are rigged multiple times as they're repackaged and moved around, or as rigs are destroyed to make way for different fits. There's no reason why ship paint can't eventually work the same way.

But of course penetration of ship skins is nowhere near 95% and I know for a fact that that's all about cost. The cost for the ship skins is too damn high. And it's too damn high because CCP is -- unconsciously or consciously -- trying to make money at their yard sale. And because they're trying to make money, they're not making any money! Players refuse to pay their prices.

For a moment, let's ignore the "free" Aurum that CCP has distributed to all players since 2011. Just for a moment, we'll pretend that the uplift represents actual potential monetization income for CCP. By this metric, the most successful ship at making money for CCP is the Hyperion. In 60 days, 687 Hyps have been skinned at an uplift of 40 million ISK each. Extended to a year, that's 165 billion ISK, or converted to PLEXes, a shade over $4100. The average for the other six ships on our list is $1200 per year.

There's a word for these numbers: "paltry". Hell, maybe "pathetic".

What will players pay to skin a ship? What would it take to reach rig-style penetration? Put that way, the answer is pretty easy: rig-style prices. Maybe even a little less than rig-style prices. Rigging a cruiser costs about five million ISK. Rigging a battleship costs 25 or so. We could get the skins to those prices by cutting the cost of skins in half. But let's be silly. Let's apply the art of the Zen yard sale to skin prices and cut them by 80%. Skinning a frigate would cost a million ISK or less. Skinning a cruiser would cost two or three. And let's further stack the deck against us: we'll assume penetration for frigates at 75%, cruisers at 85%, and since Catalysts mostly get used for ganks, we'll assume only 25% penetration there.

By not trying to make any money, do we make any money? Have a look.

ShipUpliftCurrent Pen     Current Inc/Yr     Projected Pen     Projected Inc/Yr
Incursus5M -> 1M5.5%$175875%$4759
Thorax14M -> 2.8M5.4%$222585%$7054
Hyperion40M -> 8M26.5%$417995%$2996
Rifter4M -> 0.8M4.9%$123075%$3771
Stabber10M -> 2M3.2%$73085%$3872
Maelstrom     24M -> 4.8M9.6%$96495%$1902
Catalyst14M -> 2.8M     0.4%$61725%$7274

Turns out if CCP didn't try to make any money at this, they'd make triple the money they're making now. And that's just the ships on the Jita market. Doesn't even count the ships players are building and skinning for their own use.

The only change they have to make to put this into operation -- today! -- is to make the current BPCs 5-run instead of 1-run. And with basic skins set at 20% of their current prices, that would give CCP lots of room to grow the market later with more expensive skins costing more. As it is now, they've got nowhere to go. If 95% of players won't buy skins at these prices, they certainly won't buy more expensive ones. As a bonus, cutting the prices of the current skins 80% would make players wild with joy. If there's a downside here, I'm missing it.

Anyway, I am not CCP's Monetization Director. But if I were, I'd have myself a little Zen yard sale.


  1. Heck, maybe you should consider dropping them a application, biggest thing to fear would be that you get the job and become target of the new CSM...which could be funny and karmic in itself^^

  2. Glad to see someone else out there understands how to run a garage sale.

  3. Real reason for Jester not running for CSM 9.... Running for CCP Monetization Director instead!

    1. I'd buy that for a dollar.

    2. One Dollar!? Only ONE lousy dollar?? It's gotta be worth $10 AT LEAST!! Come one man! How about $9.75? =]

    3. I'm pretty sure Jester's real job already pays more than any role at CCP. He'd have to really, really want to move the family to Iceland, with the CCP role being the cherry on the cake ;)

      But that would lead to one hell of a yard sale.

    4. Hehe, TWO yard sales ;)

  4. I don't understand, why would merely decreasing the price cause players to want to spend money, in game or otherwise, for absolutely no advantage? I'm especially curious at the assumed 75 to 85% rate. People rig their ship because it provides an advantage, unlike painting, so comparing rigging with painting is a pretty large mistake.

    In my opinion, they are going about this monetization all wrong. CCP is stuck on a monetization model where the item is disposable, but cheap. DUST does it, EVE's trying to do it, and, frankly, I don't think it works. The thinking is that, because they are disposable, you could theoretically sell infinity of them to customers willing to buy them, and, therefore, there is infinity money to be made without having to expand your customer base.

    Instead, looking at more successful and 'better' monetization models, such as League of Legends, customers would be more likely to pay money for something that never goes away. Ship skins should operate like the Golden Pod, you unlock the Golden Pod and from now on all of your pods are Golden, it doesn't cost you anything extra. If I purchase an Aliastra Incursus skin, I should have the option of making every Incursus I fly an Aliastra skinned one.

    I understand its a technical limitation that currently they can't have a ship with a different skin without making it a different item and that it would make it exceedingly hard to do a personal system. I also understand that a by-product of the disposable ship skins is that they can be traded on the market.

    In the end, it comes down to "everytime I lose this ship, its costing me real money", when it should be "that skin is cool, I'll buy that".

    1. We agree with each other, you're just not seeing it.

      EVE's assets are destructible and as a result for monetization purposes should be MUCH cheaper than non-destructible assets in other games. For instance, a dyed armor in a typical non-DUST FPSMMO is around $1 to $2 but isn't destroyed if you get killed in it. That happens to be the same cost as the Hyperion skin: 40 million ISK, or around $1 U.S.

      CCP is trying to make $1 on a Hyp skin and it isn't happening for them because players aren't willing to spend another dollar every time they lose that Hyp. The "that's cool" factor in this case works just as well in the Show Info window. ;-)

      Therefore, the cost needs to be low enough that the player isn't even thinking of the fact that the item is destructible. EVE players don't think about ammo when they fire it, even when a single volley costs 9000 ISK or reloading costs a million ISK (as it often does). That's the level where I believe ship skins need to be.

    2. They could do that, and in another game that might make a lot of sense and possibly more money than a disposable item.

      But Eve has both the general philosophy that everything is destroyable, and much more of an economy to consider than a game like Dota or LoL. If those games introduce new paid content they don't spike the price of an important commodity as a side effect. Eve getting permanent skins for $10 or such would hit the PLEX market hard, but then slack after players had bought skins for their favorite ships.

      Anything tied to PLEX will work best for CCP if it introduces a gradual increase in the average use rate of PLEXes.

    3. Its not quite the same Jester. I'd prefer a system, that I"ve used in other MMOs, where when I buy a costume or whatnot, I have it forever, even if I pay more for it.

      Its all a risk aversion thing, but EVE players are extremely risk adverse. So while lowering the price, reduces the barrier, it doesn't remove it. So they really are two different things.

    4. A standard rifter cost around 400k. If the skin were something like 80k (20%) of that, that is cheap enough that it just doesn't matter. Nobody would undock a rifter without throwing some silly skin onto it, even if just to lose it 2 mins laters.

      As Fozzie said, both the average cost and the expected lifetime of the hull should be taken into consideration when determining the price. That's what we are seeing with the hyperion data above and chances are, there is a price point when even ganking catas wound have skins, especially if we get to a point when players have much more control in the skin appearance.

    5. @anon1:22 @jester: I agree, if skins were inexpensive enough that I didn't "feel it" with each loss I would buy them for every shop I had. CCP would get me over time for a lot of money if they did it that way.

    6. If an aliastra incursus cost 1mil isk *all* my incursii would be aliastra. Done deal. Take my money. :-)

  5. Doesn't this kind of imply though that more than 50% of people will want a different skin? I agree with the general principle of zen selling. They could have used that in the Aura markets as well. Zen selling is also what Steam does. But I have to wonder about your market penetration issues.

    1. Well, I want to see skins replaced with ship paints or dyes so that players can use different combinations on their ships. But I'm talking about the cost of where painting a single ship should be, IMO.

    2. If the skins were replaced with paints and and designs seen on the fanfest video, at the lower price I'd pay to have ALL of my ships unlocked for art scheme's and decorations

  6. As a relatively poor lowsec pvper... hell yes and I just hope someone at CCP reads this. I do a monthly shopping trip to jita then frog it out to my current lowsec base. I would not even consider 25 mil to skin 5 incursi. But if I could take care of all five hulls for 5 mil isk? No question I'd buy them on a regular basis.

  7. As somebody who does two yard sales a year, one in spring and one in fall, I agree with your outlook on a pricing model. (Items I can't move off the driveway inevitably have what I call an "emotional markup." Can't sell it at the price that would move it or the wife would kill me.) Doubly so when the incremental COGS for a ship skin is pretty much zero.

    But I think CCP needs to take another step, as you suggest, and literally view the paint scheme as a rig that can be fitted to the ship. The fact that I have to go through the manufacturing process pretty much stops me from spending anything on it on skins because I don't want to bother with that, and I don't really care if it is easy or not. And since nobody sells skinned hulls out where I live... and I buy pre-fit ships off alliance contracts 90% of the time in any case... guess who has yet to fly a skinned ship.

  8. Garage Sales are a complete waste of time unless you like selling. If you use something like Turbotax It's Deductible to value what you are selling at a garage sale you quickly realize that virtually everything you are selling is worth more to you if donated to charity and written off of your taxes. I don't know many shirts that will bring $8 at a garage sale but they sure will if you give them to Goodwill.

    1. 70% of all taxpayers take the standard deduction. I'm also willing to bet that those same folks are having 90% of the yard sales. For those people they are anything but a "waste of time".

    2. And here I thought the name of the game is to have enough deductions where you don't take the shitty standard deduction...

  9. I'm an eve player of average means. If these skins cost as much as rigs I would never fly an un-skinned ship, except for 2 weeks a year when I mine while watching the alliance tournament.

  10. I think you are on a wrong track about the low penetration. It's not about the money. It's about utility. No, I don't mean "it gives no DPS". Beauty has utility, otherwise Victoria Secret would be out of business.

    What I mean: please look at the screenshot below, it contains all logistics ships and tell me, which one could benefit the most from a reskinning:

    1. Your pic is why I want skins replaced with ship paint. Even if there are 700 little squares on field, if those 350 Goon Domis are painted black and yellow, the players flying them will still get a huge kick out of it, as will the guys making the propaganda videos.

    2. OK Gev, I'll bite...Please give us a break down,if you will, of the total time, in minutes or hours, that you...

      (1) actually spend IN a fight (PvP/PvE) where you NEED to be zoomed out to the tactical level (IE what your graphic shows) in order to have critical battlespace awareness and...

      (2) the total time you spend in any and all other pursuits in EVE where overall tactical awareness is not 'critical' and so you do not NEED to be zoomed out.

      I don't know about you but I LOVE PvP and I live in Wormholes and we actively seek PvP in roams in Empire space and raids on other holes, and I even always use tactical view when running Sleepers or sites.

      And yet, I don't spend ANYWHERE near as much time in tactical view as I do zoomed in.... No, I spend a good majority of my time zoomed in at varying levels and really enjoying the view of my spaceships... I pity you if you don't too... but that's your choice, not a necessity.

      IE Gev, this poor argument, as always, fails.

    3. I spend an awful lot of my game time zoomed in to my ship because I love the sounds it makes. PEW PEW go the beam lasers! VOOSH VOOSH go the ice harvesters! sssshhhhoOOOOOOOOOOMMMM goes the Micro Warp Drive!

      Am I insane? Probably.

      Would I spend a billion ISK on a custom paint job for my CNR? Sure! Would I spend a million ISK on a custom paint job for my PvP frigate? Nope. Custom paint job for my frigate, I value at about 30k. I want custom paint for my PvP ships because it would just be cool to have a fleet of ships sporting corporate colours: especially if corp and/or alliance logos could be visible!

    4. PS: I see scope for different types of custom paint, too.

      For example a "tier 1" paint job would simply take the current paint scheme of your ship and alter the colours. Thus you can change the Myrmidon's silver and green to yellow and black, but the parts that were painted one colour before the skin will be one colour after the skin, the parts that were painted the other colour before the skin will be the new other colour after the skin.

      Then you have Tier 2, which allows multiple colours with a limited number of effects: racing stripes, checks, dazzle, etc.

      Then you have Tier 3 which could allow specific textures, so you can "hand paint" your ship. I say to hell with fears about "TTP" and just accept that it's going to happen, then let people get bored of flying pink & red Thoraxes (because penis ships are too mainstream).

      Thus a Tier 1 skin could be your "disposable" ship paint job, at about 1/10th the price of the hull. Then Tier 2 could be the "premium" paint jobs, at about 1/2 the price of the hull. Tier 3 could be "luxury" paint jobs, at about twice the price of the hull. Thus a luxury gold-plated CNR paint job would be a billion-plus-change while a luxury platinum-and-silver Imicus paint job would be about 1-2M ISK.

    5. Literally the only time I am ever zoomed in for pvp is when burning around navigational hazards (like an acceleration gate or asteroid belt) or manually piloting a frigate in close orbit.

    6. When I'm not zoomed out to see the environment, my screen (therefore my ship) is covered by some window (market, fitting, mail, some show info).

      I can so safely say that I NEVER look at my ship, that I have graphics options minimized (despite high-end GPU), because the rare chance of lag in a crowded situation bothers me more than my ships being texture-less boxes.

  11. It's not necessarily true that no one will want skins more expensive than those currently available. The piloting program is only a proof of concept. I bought a Rifter out of curiosity, and satisfied myself that these aren't the custom paint jobs some of us *really* want.

    Let me pick from a menu of options for a particular hull, though, and apply my corp/alliance logo or other decal work? My money could be had. Once CCP develops the skinning code, they can print money (or rather, unprint it) by selling me something like what I actually want...and it needn't cost much more than you suggest for the piloted skins.

    Because paint being one of the most expensive components of a starship is a really stupid notion. But also because, as you suggest, CCP has only to give up the *idea* of making a lot of money, and they could make a lot of money.

  12. The thing is with me is that this ship skinning system isn't versatile enough to suit my artistic desires. I want something more akin to the skinning demo at fanfest. Have it cost a certain amount per texture * ship size modifier * death modifier (no more than a mil or two for a BS sized ship). And have it save my skins in the ship fitting window so I can load it up easily on a new ship.

    I think this is the direction they are going but, as it stands now, the current ship skins just don't interest me enough to bother getting one.

  13. Bravo!......can't stop laughing ....someone in CCP marketing department should feel a bit humbled now.

  14. If CCP is reduced to the point where Jester is making garage sales analogies, then I'd say that we all better hope SC is as good a game as they are hyping it up to be.

  15. Good post. I have somewhat of a moral issue with shipskinning being tied to a microtransaction right off the bat. It was something the players wanted as an aesthetic choice, a way to customize something they already had and have put a lot of work into (ship and game, respectively). I find it a bit backhanded to immediately tie your beta program into something you try to milk PLEX sales out of. I know I'm in the minority here because people want it THAT bad but it starts us down a slippery slope of allowing CCP to charge us premiums for the simple things we expect as invested players.

  16. I think they are missing a different part too. I am a highsec player. I play cautiously. I Omni tank my BS, and make quite sure it can take a beating (fit not linked to help protect from ganking) That ship represents a sizeable investment ( 4 to 6 bil) It is t2 rigged, and those rigs alone represent large amount of isk (when purchased 50 to 100 mil each) If i were fitting an entirely new ship i would be more than willing to spend isk on the skin, but since I expect my ship to last the better part of a year if not more and the rig investment would be lost if i tried to skin an existing ship I am not gonna do it until its time for a new ship. It also doesn't make sense from a physics point of view.... I should be able to apply a new coat of paint without wrecking my rigs. It makes sense that it is not something that is forever. You paid some crew to paint the ship, want it painted again, gotta pay the crew again. Fix that one issue and i would be all for these skins.

    tldr: should be able to paint a ship without destroying the rigs... how $*%(ing incompetent are your painters to not be able to accomplish this?

  17. I can't fault CCP for trying to find new revenue streams and microtransactions are perfectly fitting for cosmetic stuff. I don't see an issue here.

    If those skins were cheaper I'd definitely make use of them, especially when carrying corp or alliance logos/decals etc, as others have said.

  18. Meh..I play Eve zoomed way out, sound off. Not really interested in ship spinning.
    Guess I am in the minority...or maybe, I am not.

    Buy any way you cut it, Ripard is correct on this one.
    The skins are way too high in price, even I was interested.

  19. In a 400ish sized company, not one person (in a decision-making position, at least) have the faintest idea what optimal price point means.

    It is the $1000 jeans mentality all over again, forever it seems. They are light-years behind Steam in terms of sales strategy.

    "If there's a downside here, I'm missing it."

    They are afraid that the half dozen people that already bought at these prices would rage uncontrollably. Ask Steam if they dropped any sweat by tagging a 50% discount (no joke) at "Dark" of "Guise of the Wolf" a couple days after initial launch. As I said, light-year behind.

  20. While I agree with you in general there is one aspect that you are not taking into account; your analysis only holds if skinned ships are used in the same way as unskinned ships. If on the other hand they tend to become hangar candy then because the skin means another ship was bought and effectively sunk out of the economy (and effectively, CCP is getting a higher price for the skin), the value-maximization curve may have two local maxima.

    1. True words, but - oh man - isn't is just really sad if CCP aims to make all skinned ships hangar candy? When was the last time we had 1000 guardian vexors Vs 800 Megathron Federate Issue making it to general media?

    2. Again, the main point is to lower the cost of ship paint to the point where there's no reason not to paint your ship every time, as routinely as filling in all the slot or rigging it or putting ammo in it.

      It should be routine to paint a ship, something done every time.

    3. In a theoretical standpoint, the argument does have some merit. He is saying there are two strategies to achieve local maximum, diametrically opposed in fact. The first is the one you outlined, where people buy and lose everyday and it is so cheap nobody minds it. The other is when people adopt a "gotta collect 'em all" attitude because they are too expensive to lose with any kind of regularity.

      What Trebor may not have realized is that it is extremely unlikely that both maxima have the same value (profit), one is likely to be higher than the other. In an MMO, I know in which one I'd place my bet.

    4. What Anonymous may not have realized is that it is entirely unclear (based on public information) what the most profitable strategy is, and if the current strategy happens to be profitable (at some level), unless you can reduce the uncertainty (by proper testing) the "bird in the hand" principle applies.

      It's easy to make a bet when it's other people's money; harder when it's your own.

      That said, I would not be surprised to see a few ultra-cheap skins released to test the pricing strategy.

    5. Trebor! Your post surprises me, and not in a good way. Bird-in-hand mentality is one of the few thing that should not be allowed to happen during a pricing pilot program. If that's what we are seeing, it means CCP's problem is in an entire different level: petty avarice; recurrent, no less, just look at the clothing in the Nex Store.

      The ENTIRE point of the exercise is to adjust the values while putting at risk only a fraction of the total worth, both in effort spent and possible future profit.

      Moreover, it makes me significantly concerned if you, with four years of privileged contact with the company, are implying the decision-makers are that much spineless. "Oh my! Oh my! Let's NOT fiddle with our ship skin test program. We might lose a $10k/y revenue stream. The tragedy!".

      Then they make a simple linear projection 10hulls -> 200hulls, get to a $200k/y figure and give a no-go to the entire enterprise, concluding it's not worth the investment. We end up with the mess currently in front of our eyes, because :bird-in-and:.

      All the while, the company lose the opportunity to make adjustments like the ones outlined above, increasing profit by 200% and, by the same projection, get to $600k/y.

      Great, they strangle the $10k/y bird and miss the opportunity to catch the $600k/y one.

      It's Nex Store dejavu. Pathetic.

    6. A Steven Wright joke went something like, "I bought some used paint. It's in the shape of a house." Only in EVE would it be seriously proposed that we manufacture and purchase paint in the shape of a ship. Painting should really be a hangar service, akin to repairs, and perhaps not available in all stations.

      It's only if we insist on keeping players in the production loop that we have to force it, hilariously, into the blueprint/run model--and that goes against Jester's proposal in which painting could become an afterthought.

  21. Just my 2รง...

    Make ship skins a "copyright license" so the player acquires the right to paint any ships with that paint job, rather than a blueprint to manufacture an actual object. Anyway, as someone must paint the ships, that would require ISK each time a ship was painted (using rig rules: paintjob is lost if packed or removed or when ship explodes). Think of it like RL blueprints, knitting patterns or partitures: you buy the right to use that design, but it still takes matherial investment each time you use it.

    That way, CCP would get money each time someone felt the need to owe the latest vanity item (as long as CCP kept them coming), Ordinary Human Beings Mk1 wouldn't be afraid to lose an actual item, the economy would get a new ISK sink (ISK Sinks Are Good) and PvPrs sitll would get a higher reward by killing a painted ship over its vanilla version.

    Whatever the player buys with real money, it must be undestructible and permanent as long as it provides no advantage ingame. But using it (not *owing* it, *using* it) should have a cost so the players don't being cool have an advantage (more ISK in their pockets and more expensive kills in their KB's) and the ones "being cool" pay for it ingame.

    By trying to sell destructable vanity items CCP is reinventing the wheel as usual, and failing miserably at it as is usual too.

    1. I don’t really think that ccp figures that most of the people buying these things are doing it directly using real money. that it is a way for plex to be used changes some of the use case. Ccp seems to intend that players will either buy these for isk off the market, or buy blueprints with converted plex, not primarily the same person doing these actions. In that way it’s the same as a plex. a mode of people turning their RL assets into isk for game use. In a game so centered on ship loss to combat inflation this is the only way it makes sense. This isn’t WoW where they can see the pet to 4 million people and have paid for the art investment so many times over. To be successful (as a cash source for ccp) they have to sell it to 200 thousand people hundreds of times.... All this talk of "it must be permanent" is a non starter. They made the golden pod permanent because it would be so hard to get. They can’t plan a revenue stream on the kind of volume permanence brings.

      In the end if you wouldn't pay real money for the item don’t. There will be plenty of people around converting plex (either bought on the market or with cold hard $) to buy them and sell them to you for isk.

      finally... indestructible… undestructible is not a word.

    2. As I said, using the unlocked skin still would require ISK, and so CCP still would get their share out of it once unlocked for a higher price point than a pure consumable.

      Painting your ship should be a no-brainer -no industry expense, no need to use more AUR, just click a button. Click it a thousand times, or a million times, and CCP gets their share. Then inject some good old planned obsolescence into the system and it becomes a cash stream.

      F2P games rely on it -pay 3, 4 or 5 euros to buy the newest vanity item, which you never lose, but in EVE it takes some ISK to use each time you hit the "paint it" button from your fitting screen.

      Vanity consumables sell poorly at best (as only whales buy them), and destructable vanity consumables are mostly dead on arrival. Expensive destuctable vanity consumables which will destroy your rigs while you shift them are the kind of deranged genius only CCP could deliver...

    3. While I would love the convenience of click-and-paint, perhaps there should be ways for capsuleers to pursue this as a career or sideline.

    4. AO. you still miss the point. that art asset costs real money to develop. CCP needs to make back that real money investment. they could care less about the isk sink in this instance. They require the cold hard cash to pay off things like employee's time, any other costs iwth dev and then you know turn a profit. CCP cant magically turn ISK into real world cash. The key to this is you dont have to buy the vanity item for cold hard euros/dolars/etc buy it for isk on the market. the whales will continue to pour plex into the market to fund their adventures. none of the other rare painted ships (interbus catalyst etc) are indestructible, and people crave them.

    5. @teg: Maybe you're missing a couple points.

      - unlocking a skin costs RL money, either directly or through PLEX->AUR.
      - painting a ship costs ISK, which are removed from the game (ISK sink), thus those ISK must be grinded back or relocated through a PLEX. In both cases, they increase CCP revenue the same way as destroying assets does.

      As for the RL cost of developing one of such skins, it is easier to recoup by selling perpetual rights of use than through selling destructable useless items.

  22. I completely agree.

    The same thing applies with their 'clothing line' (aka Space Barbie gear) - currently, there's a wide selection of terrible stuff, but an abundance of unreleased cool stuff.

    The last reason I saw given on the forums for not yet releasing them, was that they hadn't agreed the 'price point' - it's been nearly two years, for what should've taken a lunch hour.

    All the cosmetic stuff, be it ship skins or even clothes should be destructible and so cheap that no one should be scared of losing them.

    CCP (seem) to be playing to 'not lose' at monetization, instead of playing to Win.

    1. What you paid for should be indestructible. Using it, though, should have a cost.

      "You lost it and now you can't use it until you buy it again" is a terrible propositon for a vanity item, no matter how low is the price point.

    2. We can agree to disagree.

      I don't think a pair of spectacles should cost more than a kestrel... or boots that cost more than an stabber... dunno why... ;)

      But as a primarily low - sec pvp'er (when I do actually play), if I have a certain 'look' for my guy that I like, and get podded from time to time, I see no problem at all buying X of each item as a backup - you should see what I waste in modules... ;)

    3. And just to add to that...

      If skins were cheap enough *all* my ships would be skinned/painted... Who cares if I lose them?

  23. Jester you're a genius.. and you're right!

  24. I agree. Though I feel that a ship paint job should cost no more than the high slot weapon you would normally fit.

    Frigate = 700K
    Cruiser = 1.2 million
    Battleship = 2.9 million
    Dread = 50.5 million (maybe cheaper on this one)

    1. I would skin every ship I own for those prices. Well provided we had more skins.

      Skins either need to be super cheap and destructible or pricey and something you can buy once but apply lots of time. I imagine as a revenue stream cheap and destructible would work out better in the long run.

    2. I too would skin pretty much everything. Rifters included.

  25. I'll chime in and agree: If skins were dirt cheap, I'd buy a lot more of them.

    To say it again: They need to be so cheap that I don't even think about how much money or isk I am spending. Like that pack of gum in the check-out aisle. Or that bag of chips at the corner ghetto store. Chump change.

    After all, Coke, Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Wrigley's and others have all made billions off selling things that can be as cheap as 50 cents. And I rarely stop and think, "can I really afford this 75 cents bag of Doritos?" before I bought it.

  26. Another problem is that skinning a ship is a manufacturing job and I have favourite ships that I don't lose often. They are of course rigged, often T2. I have no interest in buying new hulls and rigs just for the new paint jobs.

  27. I won't even discuss or debate the actual merits of your ideas, for I just want to say that this was an awesome and fun post. Such a great connection to make to Eve.

  28. I don't get why more people don't understand this. The key to selling small things, like junk at a yard sale, or toys in a computer game, is volume. Ideally your customer shouldn't have to think about the item they want to buy. They should look at it and see a bargain, something that even if they don't need, they want. Something that if they want, is cheep enough that they'll fork over the money without having to think about whether or not they can afford it.

    The comparison with rigs is both apt and at the same time flawed. Many fits actively need rigs to function at optimal efficiency. Ship skins on the other hand add nothing functional to the ship. This is why I agree with you completely, ship skins and ship skinning need to be -much- cheaper than they are presently. When making a decision to fly a painted ship or not too, price should hardly even be a consideration.

    ...You should apply for the job. Worse case scenario, you get it.

  29. Jester,

    Your best blog post ever. Hit the obvious nail on the head with this. If CCP ever listened to anything you have ever said this is it.


  30. To be honest I would love colors on my ships .. best part of the Homeworld saga was that your fleet had your colors. And to be honest .. I don't buy that we are imortal Demigods as writen in source etc .. and we canct paint our ships ?? Sorry but if I would be such an powerfull being . .I WOULD for sure pimp my ride .. like every knight did with heraldic etc .. you have to show your colors. Why would I fly in the paint job the ship came in, that are the colors of the navy etc .. It makes no sense lorewise not to paint your ship .. sorry art team but ........

  31. Awesome post Jester,

    You have written exactly how i feel about the price.
    If i had a nice button to click "Paint Ship" then a small dialogue asking for 3 million to paint my cruiser i would click before every fleet. I understand this whole manufacturing bit but i want on the fly pimping.

  32. The only place I've ever heard them referred to as "tag sales" was in Connecticut. I think you can safely remove that term from your lexicon without being in danger of confusing the 0.0000001% of your readers who otherwise would not understand what you were talking about.

    As an aside, you always struck me as the Stamford/New Caanan/New Haven/Orange/Glastonbury type. As opposed to the inferior Bridgeport/Hartford/Waterbury type. Heh, I value my privacy as well so no need to reply to that :) Not looking to dox you, just interesting that someone whose blog I read on a regular basis lived in CT for a time. I always thought it was a pretty strange place.

  33. I love the idea of everyone dressing up their space barbie, ie spending hours painting a ship for the rest of us to vilolence. What I dont want is CCP ADDING MORE CRAP to an already OVERLOADED server. We cant have fights with more than 2500 people in system without the whole damn thing coming to a screeching halt (I know its called TIDI) while the server chugs along alike a fat kid in the swimming pool. What the hell do you think will happen when that same OVERLOADED server has to load your own personal ship skin? Or even an alliance mandated warship paint scheme? Again as i started I want everyone to paint their ship's, BUT LETS FIX THE BASICS OF EVE FIRST! Please!


  34. @Anno 2:44
    Easy fix : Just don't transmit colors in TDI .. no server load

    1. I don't even think it's necessary to transmit it at every tick. It is possible to implement a lazy load that sends the data after the grid is loaded, once the server can spare the processing power.

      Heck, maybe it is even possible to load it from an entirely separate "ship skin node".

      The biggest load increase would likely be on the client's GPU, IF you are not zoomed out.

  35. Rigs affect performance, skins do not. As long as that's the case, temporary skins will NEVER see a 75% market penetration - even if you offer them for free. It's just not how people think.

    1. Why do you say people won't think that way? If what you said was true there would be absolutely no clothing being sold in Eve. From my limited knowledge, there is a special edition shirt sold for well beyond a billion isk.

      Well I for one would like cheap ship skins. And I think this is a really great post by Jester as well.

  36. Good post Jester. I agree with the pricing. Make it cheap and destructible and many will use it on a daily basis and it will even get exploded on a daily basis.

    To the Mechanics: Please dear other commenter stop complaining about the "its a manufacturing job" IT IS A PILOT PROGRAM.
    Just the most easy way to get it into the client without working long on it. A full featured ship skinning mechanic will (most likely) not rely on this "pre pre pre alpha field tests"

  37. tufyMay 13, 2014 at 3:38 AM

    I cant agree more. Dont care if they cost 1isk, its just extra clicks, and time fitting for an internet spaceship thats doomed to die, apart from mission boats that might last a bit longer, but in that case I only need 2-3 a year.

    the only way to get me to paint a ship would be if a red ship flew 1% faster (cos everyone knows red cars drive faster), or a black ship had a sig radius 1% less than normal (becuase everything stealthy is black), but thats a terrible idea, so I'll never paint, and I'll never buy an expensive pair of shoes in game, and I know a lot of people who think the same.

    The only ships I spent time zoomed in on in flight, are ships that dont blow up very often, so not pvp ones, so I do 99% of my up close looking at 5% of my ships, so would never need to paint the other 95% of my ships.

  38. Speaking of which, I'm really close to the Veterinary world IRL, and there's this little story running from when the career started to make a presence in my little town. Two veterinarians were talking about prices charged to owners when treating hoof injuries to horses. One vet asked to the other how much did he carged and he said: I charge 50. The first one started on a rant on how cheap it was given the risks of injure from horse kicks, tetanus, time consumption, and material cost, and he said he charged 500 for them because of this. The last one said, in a rather naive fashion: Oh don't worry about me, when you make one treatment I make 10 and I catch up to you, and in the process I've made 10 friends that are more likely to hire my services again and pay me a little more than your single one client is of hiring yours.

    I just love the way you treated this article Rip, please make more to follow!

  39. Jorge TueroMay 13, 2014 at 5:52 AM

    But vet 2($500) has as much cash as vet 1($50) while taking 1/10 of the risks and has given himself the time to explore other business opportunities, or enjoy life.

    It is 10 times more likely that vet 1 will get kicked in the face and be off work for 3 months, while he'll earnt nothing, vet 2 will then do 9 $500 jobs and be on his merry way back to the golf course (assuming a 2 vet situation).

    When the people vet 1 treats for $50 want him to do something else on a normal day, but he can’t because he's too busy doing $50 jobs, they'll go to the $500 man.

    As much as overpricing your work is a bad idea, under valuing your own time and skill is just as bad.

    1. Or do an extra 50$ treatment on a cow, since he's at the farm already.

      But yes, you're right. These picturesque examples can only go so far anyway.

  40. If ship skins were actually paints and priced in the same neighborhood as rigs, every single one of my ships would be painted version (hopefully a tasteful antique pink with copper and rust accents, just sayin'). But at current prices, screw it. Just as I often didn't rig any but my most expensive ships back in the day until prices came down. Now I rig everything--and don't give second thought to trashing rigs if I want to change a ship's fit. That's exactly how cheap the skins should be.

    Apparently the previous lessons of the NeX have not yet sunk in.

  41. smoke and mirrors. Yes cheaper prices work (your yard sale) but also giving people what they want works too. For example would you pay 10 mil for your alliance colors and badge on your ship? How about your corporation? What about some killer bomber art? I can just imagin paying an extra 20 mill to put shark teeth on a rifter. or 50 mil to put the milk girl on my thorax

  42. Jester, a comparable example of this is World of Tanks and Microsoft's Flight Simulator that failed...Microsoft in both cases is over charging for game items. Example: buying a tank in WoT's costs between $10-30 real world dollars. While it's not destructible as all things Eve, you can't use the tank in every circumstance (in fact, somewhat on the side of rarely), and the extras you get with it expire after a few days. In the Flight Simulator game, they wanted us to pay between $5 and $25 per plane! Not to mention, you get one starter island for free and then pay over $20 to add the rest of the Hawaiian islands.

    The problem is that people are smart. They see these price tags and realize like in your toaster example, they can just spend a little more (let's say $60 bucks) and get a full featured game. So, have I spent any money in WoT? Nope. In Flight Simulator? Nope. Yet, I liked both games and would happily support them. If they priced the tanks at $2, I'd buy all of them plus a few extra features, and they'd get $30-40 bucks for it.

    What you did at the yard sale was create true micro transactions. You set your price so the purchase didn't feel like it hurt your wallet. People don't think 5 bucks will make a dent in their wallet and they can still enjoy a nice lunch later. But, 15 bucks will make a dent. The interesting thing is that they will still gladly spend the same 15 bucks for 3 items. It just feels right.


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