Quick. You want to check the price of an item available for sale on the EVE market without having to log in. What do you do? If you said, "visit EVE Central or EVE Marketdata", you get one point.
Bet very few of you said "wait for market data provided by CCP's statistics team", but sure, you have that option, too. A little-noticed devblog posted a couple of weeks ago gives you this option: CSV- or SQL-formatted data of several months of market data. CCP's Research and Statistics unit is talking about producing similar data periodically after a "reasonable delay", "one month, two weeks, several days?" being the listed options.
It's not real-time data, of course, but neither is EVE Central, whose data is produced through filtering cache file data from the game and then using an automatic uploader installed on a player's machine to upload that data to the website. As a result, the data is only as good as the players that use the uploaders, but quite a few of them do. A number of players have market alts who sit in the markets all day long, and the auto-uploders cheerfully pull the market cache data for thousands of items on the market to fill EVE Central's database.
Next, let's examine one of the reasons for the recent $99 commercial license debacle. CCP indicated that some sort of fee was reasonable to ask because many "commercial" applications of EVE data -- kill boards, skill point trackers, and the like -- use data pulled from the EVE server APIs to operate. CCP felt that it was fair that producers of such data-pulling applications should pay a nominal fee to CCP because of the extra load and bandwidth need these applications place on their servers.
Finally, let's look at a recent post to the older EVE Online forum by CCP Sreegs in CCP's security team. Sreegs is leading the fight against bots in EVE Online. He says:
We're going to be discussing what constitutes a bot and what doesn't in an upcoming devblog to clear up any ambiguity. I will note as a word of caution that we provide the API as a gateway to obtain the information we want you to be obtaining and that this is not the purpose of any of the files which are delivered as a part of the client.(Scroll way down to the bottom of the page if you're not taken directly to his post.)
What do these three things have in common? Interesting question.
It's totally paranoid, of course, but suppose CCP banned the use of auto-uploaders to pull cached data? A literal interpretation of Sreegs's post above could easily be used to call these auto-uploaders "bots". This would put EVE Central, EVE Marketdata, and all similar sites instantly out of business. But of course, such sites would no longer be needed because CCP would be providing the needed market data... right?
Or am I connecting the dots to reach a totally paranoid conclusion? What do you think?