The following is a summary of CSM activity over the last few days regarding the SOMER Blink promotion.CSM8 Chair Trebor Daehdoow gets CSM MVP of the week honors here for the writing of the statement, though I have to give myself credit where it's due as well. I was the one that came in as CCP Navigator's statement was being drafted and pointed out that just changing the prizes only addressed one area of concern, and then I noted the others. Those became the five concerns that are at the core of the statement, and after I'd listed them, the CCP employees we'd been working with (fortunately, and to their credit) admitted that all of them were factual and valid.
The CSM was not consulted in advance about this promotion, so it was just as much a surprise to us as it was to the community. Our reaction was broadly similar to that expressed in the forums.
On Thursday the 26th, we received an update on the situation from CCP Dolan after our regular Stakeholder meeting with Team Five-0. Later in the day, we got a second update from CCP Dolan and CCP Manifest.
During those meetings, we outlined five areas of concern that we felt CCP's response should address. These were:
CCP Navigator's announcement on Thursday of changes to the prize structure has addressed (1), and details of the method of selecting winners (which we urge CCP to make public) leaves the CSM reasonably confident that the actual drawing will be fair, addressing issue (3).
- Reintroduction of historically important or unique ships.
- Favoring one community fan site over others.
- Trusting a community fan site, and more particularly, a player, with the task of selecting the winners.
- Forcing players to use SOMER Blink in order to enter -- which may have legal consequences in some jurisdictions.
- Providing direct benefit to a for-profit gambling fansite.
Issues (2) and (5) are business decisions that CCP has the right to make. We think they are a mistake, and hope that the uproar over this issue will cause CCP to re-evaluate these policies for future promotions. Supporting groups that have a clear educational/public service focus in-game is one thing; supporting a group that is distinctly for-profit -- and one that can use the ISK it generates to secretly support in-game groups -- breeds distrust for CCP in the community.
However, the requirement that one must be a member of SOMER Blink in order to participate remains, and for a lottery with such significant prizes, is very troubling to us. Furthermore, the structure of the lottery, which encourages and rewards extensive use of SOMER Blink, may raise legal concerns in some jurisdictions. For example, in the United States, commercial lotteries cannot require the purchase of a product or service in order to receive an entry.
For this reason, we strongly suggest that the entry mechanic be adjusted as follows:
We further recommend that procedures be put in place to sanity-check future promotions to ensure that they are acceptable to the community.
- Members of SOMER Blink are automatically entered into the lottery and receive one ticket, regardless of how much they use the site.
- An alternate method (such as posting in a particular thread) be used to allow people to enter who do not wish to become a member of SOMER Blink.
On Friday morning we sent this statement to CCP for their comments, and on Friday evening David Reid (CCP Pokethulu, CCP's CMO) replied to us as follows (reproduced with permission):Thank you for your thoughtful feedback, and for the opportunity to review your statement in advance of publishing it to the community.The CSM will endeavor to keep the community informed as there are further developments in this issue, and as always, your input is most appreciated.
We acknowledge that we rushed this event, and we are certainly learning from it now.
Your statement strikes us as factually correct and appropriate to publish, and there are a few further details we want to share with you also.
First, we are developing a program to allow all 3rd parties the opportunity to apply to participate in these kinds of events and promotions with CCP support, and we will have news on that shortly. In general, we believe CCP should foster the activities our players enjoy, and it is clear these kinds of activities have a lot of support in the EVE community, much like we see in other games.
That said, we recognize it is imperative for CCP to remain impartial with respect to which 3rd parties receive CCP support for these kinds of activities. To that end, we will develop a clear policy on how we plan to conduct future events, including how we will determine which 3rd parties and which events will receive CCP support, and we will develop that policy in consultation with the CSM.
We also want to assure you that we are working closely with CCP's legal team to ensure all legal concerns resulting from this event, and future events like it, are addressed.
If you wish, it's fine to let the community know in your statement that CCP has informed you we are working on a clear 3rd party program for future events and that we will consult with you on this program as we develop it, but there's certainly no requirement for you to include this in your statement.
Thank you again for your feedback here and we welcome your further thoughts.
The Members of the 8th Council of Stellar Management
So this isn't over yet, though it's not stopping the SOMER Blink giveaway. CCP will just hopefully have to get this right for future giveaways. I myself expect to be issued a Jester's Trek branded Talos or Vindicator to give away to a lucky reader, since my love of "green and covered with blasters" is well-documented. CCP, take note. ;-)
Two interesting things about CSM8's handling of this compared to past CSMs:
- We made it clear to CCP right from the get-go that we were going to issue a public statement about this and exactly what it would say. At each stage, we shared the text with CCP executives and were clear about what was going out and why.
- And those same CCP executives did an absolutely terrific job of staying in communication with us, responding rapidly to our e-mails and our concerns both through that medium and Skype.
Gods, do I hate slapping CCP's hand so hard on this. Because in theory, CCP working more closely with their community sites over the last year has been really really good. You don't have to look much farther than the Syndicate Competitive League to see that, for instance. But it really illustrates that the brains behind this promotion really should have checked it with more people. The situation this past week was totally, completely avoidable. And it did a terrific job of disrupting what should have been a CCP victory lap day -- more about that in a couple of posts.
CSM, working for you, et cetera et cetera. Stay tuned.