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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Friday, November 1, 2013

Cash out

First, CCP has said absolutely nothing official in public about this that I've seen.  We may or may not ever see an official CCP statement about it.  But wheels are turning and turning, what's happening is public, and the time to keep quiet about this has passed.

A few days ago, CCP gave all ETC retailers and sub-retailers 10 days to stop offering in-game incentives for purchasing them.  As you almost certainly know, the most successful organization giving incentives for the purchase of ETCs is SOMERblink.  They have traditionally offered a 200M ISK in-game incentive for purchasing 60-day ETCs through them via Markee Dragon.  There's anecdotal -- but reasonably reliable -- data that SOMER has a $50,000 U.S. annual business selling EVE time codes.  Whatever the actual size of the business, though, CCP is non-anecdotally strangling it.

Of course, it's possible that people will continue to buy their ETCs through SOMERblink without any sort of incentive.  It seems unlikely... but it's possible.

In the meantime, this morning, SOMERblink changed the incentive from 200M to 1000M.

They still have until November 7 to fully comply with CCP's order -- and they say right on their front page that they intend to do so.  But in the meantime it seems pretty clear they're cashing out.  There's also widespread speculation this morning -- best expressed by @GamerChick42 -- that SOMER might be using this final push to build up huge stocks of ISK in preparation for the biggest in-game theft in EVE history.  Even if that's tin-foil, whether SOMER can even operate at its current level without the cash income provided by ETC sales is also the subject of a great deal of speculation.  All the SOMERblink site has to say about this is "we'll be investigating other options to cover the server expense after the GTC money runs out."

Finally, let's do some math.  All amounts in USD.  Here are two options for paying for EVE play time.  Today, right now...
  • Markee Dragon is selling 60-day ETCs for $35 U.S.  For eight months, that is $140.
  • CCP is selling six PLEXes on sale for $95, or about $16 each.  For eight months, that is $127.
Through the SOMERblink one billion ISK offer, if I buy four 60-day ETCs through them, in addition to eight months of play time for $140, I receive five billion ISK in SOMERblink credit.  That effectively means that I am buying the same amount of play time as the equivalent number of PLEXes and that credit is costing me $13, the difference between $127 and $140.  Again anecdotally, the average for SOMERblink players is an 80% return on investment.  Let's say you're incredibly unlucky like I am and you only get a 40% return.  40% of five billion ISK is two billion ISK.

That means that you can effectively buy two billion ISK for $13.  Four billion if you're "average."

Today, a $16 PLEX is worth a little under 600 million ISK.

Am I making a recommendation here?  Nope.  Just sayin'.  But apparently enough people have come to this same conclusion that Markee Dragon ran out of ETCs this morning and is having to get more from CCP.  Assuming that goes well, if you follow this plan, I would cash out in the next six days.  You know... just in case.  Have fun!


  1. 4 GTC bought, got a nice cashback of 8 Bill all in all. They paid out within 60 seconds or so. Inhumanly fast service. B)
    Now to watching Plex prizes like a hawk.

  2. Well on the plus side its encouraged one retired, blog reading, eve player to purchase a 60 day ETC and dive back in - 800M 'extra' over and above the 2 plex was the poke in the back required - ultimately CCP gain an extra 2 subs for at least 1 month

  3. So if it wasn't clear that Somer was RMTing before, isn't it painfully clear now?

    Is CCP going to stand by and do nothing? I thought RMT was a one strike and you're out offence?

    1. "Is CCP going to stand by and do nothing?"

      Yes, I think they are going to stand by.

      You expect them to ban Somer after more than three years of operation, after devs have endorsed the service in public, after they gave them previously unheard of amounts of swag? You expect them to neg-wallet and temp ban tens of thousands of accounts? No? But they'd have to go after the customers too, as this is their standard practise in RMT cases.

      I don't think they have any "good" options to clean this up and besides:

      Posting a lot in a "Blink hate" thread on Eve-O, claiming you represent the entirety of the playerbase, does not actually make you represent the playerbase at all. It's just pompous and arrogant.

      Anyway, I personally get a good laugh out of the "discussion" and I hope it keeps on going for a while.

    2. CCP doesn't have to follow any of their own rules, and doesn't have to apply them to anyone they don't want. So they don't want to apply them to Somer? What are you gonna do about it, quit the game?

      It sucks, but your only option for retaliation sucks even more, especially since it really doesn't affect you in any way if Somer is given a free pass.

    3. I rarely post on EVE-O, and haven't about this issue.

      Giving Somer a free pass has no affect on me? Sure it does. All RMT does, the details of which are easy to find online, so I'm not going to regurgitate them all here. CCP apparently agrees with me, as they've been fighting it since the game launched.

      If someone found an exploit and abused it for years with no one the wiser, should that give them a free pass? That's basically what we have here.

      All I want is for CCP to fairly apply their own rules, especially when they don't like it. If having integrity was easy, it wouldn't deserve my respect.

    4. Yes, SOMER has been engaging in unauthorized RMT (I thought differently at first, but I was wrong) - but in such an indirect way that it took a few people like Nosygamer, DNSBlack and Katarina to connect the dots. It might very well be that even SOMER didn't realize that their incentives amounted to unauthorized RMT.

      Hence, it would be hypocritical for CCP to punish that behavior because even they didn't know that in the end it was against the EULA/TOS.

      No EULA/TOS (or for that matter, RL law) is perfect, nor are the interpretations of those. It takes time and people pushing and/or crossing the limits to really solidify them. That means that sometimes certain activities are deemed illegitimate/unlawful after the fact, in which case usually grandfathering clauses and grace periods are invoked to shelter those who acted in good faith.

      Of course, SOMER taking advantage of the 10-day grace period to up their incentives (definitely breaking the spirit of CCP's ruling) now opens the floor for all kinds of speculation. They might be setting the stage for one of the biggest theft in EVE history (as Gamerchick suspects), or they might just be gathering as much RL cash as possible to weather the inevitable drop in affiliate fees.

      It's going to be an interesting month.

      Disclosure: I have never bought a GTC through SOMER nor Markee Dragon. I am tempted now, but purely for the gambling experience. I neither need the game time nor the ISK such a purchase would represent.

    5. Actually, they have always complied with their own rules.

      But now they are - because of the response - changing those rules. You should - if I assess your direction correctly - be happpy about that. They are closing that particular loophole.

      But they have contracts with GTC sellers, so don't think they can just declare all of that null & void over night. So there is a deadline and yes, it is getting abused. Can't be avoided. And it'll be over come Nov, 7th.

      What would your solution be?

    6. EVE is a long term investment. It's taken me months to meet all requirements to get into my current corp. For some career paths in EVE, it might take years to get there. It seem like asking CCP to keep a level playing field and to be consistent in the way they apply their own rules shouldn't be too much. If they can't or won't, quitting is the only answer. I'm not going to play a game where I'm required to drive GTC sales or be friends with developers to get ahead.

      On the other hand, banning SOMER and every player who ever bought a GTC there simply isn't practical. I say just make the SOMER model legit. Let anybody who wants to go through the trouble of selling their in-game assets via GTC commissions do so, leave SOMER be, and move on. It's not like there isn't authorized RMT in the game already, plus CCP gets to stop looking like an inept version of Casablanca's Captain Renault.

  4. Yes, but in this case CCP Ok'd Somer's business model. They can't ban Somer if Somer was operating in good faith.

  5. Am I seeing right that the "storm in the teacup" SOMERgate is heading straight torwards nuclear meltdown?

  6. This whole debacle just demonstrated the laissez faire attitude CCP REALLY has towards RMT. They can scream every year, and post numbers about how many people they caught, all which can't be corroborated, but they NEVER give names and specifics, hiding behind "privacy concerns" when the EULA indicates the ISK belongs to CCP anyway.

    Right now, the largest exposed (so far) RMT operation in the game's history is running at an accelerated rate, for another 6 days, with the endorsement of CCP. And it is pretty clear that anyone BUYING the ISK from an acknowledged RMT site will not have that ISK removed from their accounts.

    So now that CCP's credibility on their war on RMT is completely shattered, how many other RMT operations do they choose to ignore, because those operations are far more circumspect and CCP deems those operators "doing good for the game".

    I bet the goon RMT operators are looking at this and just smiling, knowing that CCP will never touch their operations, since they are far too smart to let it go public.

    1. what? that assumes that ETC reselling is illegal. lulzwot?

    2. Unless I am seriously misunderstandig here, CCP is closing down this avenue and Somner is abusing the loophole to the hilt in the last days of its existence.

      That last bit is hardly CCP's fault. They aren't endorsing it. And I don't know how they would stop it as I am pretty sure all GTC sellers operate on contracts they have with CCP. I doubt Somner is violating those, just twisting it beyond what the whole deal was intended to do. Maybe CCP might have legal actions here, but I doubt it.

    3. What do you want them to do without digging a bigger grave then?

    4. Dinsdale, go make your own spaceship game and then you can stampede the players however you like. Se how that works.

      This is grey area soon to be black area. CCP have virtually no good alternatives here, except maybe limiting Markee's supply of GTCs for the next few days. Even that is questionable.

  7. Just a small nitpick - an 80% return on investment would leave you with 1.8x your initial stake. What you mean is a -20% return on investment (or an 80% expected value, since gambling jargon is more appropriate here than investment jargon).

  8. I also would like to see more of the "discussion" on this matter be more precise with regard to gambling jargon. Casinos boast in their ads about the percentage payout on their slot machines. For argument's sake, let's call it 80%. You start with 100 dollar coins and pump them all into a slot machine one at a time. After you've put all 100 in, with an 80% payout percentage, now you've got 80 dollars in the tray. You scoop them up and run them all through the machine again. When you finish you find 64 in the tray. And so on and so forth. After 18 times through your stack you've got no coins left. Your "gain" at that point is -100 dollars after a total of 481 pulls on the lever.

    It's all about something called "expected value". The "80% average payouts!" is just a marketing ploy aimed at people who don't understand math. In the long run, you lose everything no matter what the payout percentage is. And that's where somer is a bit different, because you have to play your "blink credits" in order to have a chance to realize any value on them at all. You can't just pick up your coins after the 4th pull and walk away with real money (or isk) in your wallet. And let's face it, for every blink winner there are many more losers. Nobody ever plays blink just once. They play day after day after day and the percentage of people who ultimately lose more than than they ever cash out has got to be in the high 90s. Just like in a real casino, the number of jackpot winners is infinitesmally small. Calling that a "community service" is patently absurd, even if the thrill of gambling is enough to make it "worth it" for some people who don't mind losing their entire stake.

  9. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but didn't the end to Somer taking a slice off the top to cover server costs come about in the first place because THEY approached CCP and asked if what they were doing was still cool? I'm having a hard time believeing tgat CCP turned to Somer and said "you can't do what you're doing... but chill, no ones gettinf banned and you have a week to fix it up"

  10. Also. Fuck 'media buzzwords' in online gaming blogs. If I read RMT used to describe something other than isk farmers one more time I'm fucking leaving. Ask any (intelligent) aussie what they think about 'boat people' or 'megafires' or the use of the word 'controversial'.

    1. It's not a buzzword. RMT stands for "real money trading" or "real money transaction" and refers to any trade where real life money is used to acquire in-game assets. Some types of RMT are legitimate (CCP's own ETC system, cash stores in F2P games, etc), others are prohibited. Gold farming is one common example of illicit RMT, but it's far from the only one. Also, see "SOMER Blink".

  11. I'm more interested does this changes the thing that they(Somer) were suposed get those ships for prizes especialy those unique wariants of new SOE cruisers ???

  12. I'm on a 3 month subscription for $12.95/month (I assume thats US$), 60 day GTCs are $35, so it's $5/month more for 400 million/month (at 80% payout rate). While that's cheaper than a plex, plex always struck me as expensive anyway. So I guess its worth it, but I don't really feel any need to take part.

  13. i dunno...looks like it's 1b blink credit (not isk) and according to a quick scan of the FAQ there's no way to 'cash out' the 1b. nah, i'd rather buy 3 months worth of game time for the same price

    1. It is 1 billion bonus Blink credit with Somer, IN ADDITION TO the 1.2 billion real isk you get from selling the ETC (2x Plex) on the market as per normal.

      You cash out the 1 billion Somer isk by buying all the tickets in a Blink to guarantee a win, then you sell that ship you won for real isk.

      For example, if the Blink is for a ship worth 800 mil, there will be 10 tickets each worth 100 mil. You buy all of them, spending your 1 billion Somer bonus isk, Somer takes his 20% cut, and you win a 800 mil ship.

      Now you have 1.2 bil from selling the ETC/2x Plex, and 800 mil from selling the ship - 2 billion isk for the $35 you paid for the ETC.

      If you bought that ETC through anyone else, all you would have is the 1.2 billion isk. That extra 800 mil isk you end up with is the incentive Somer offers for you to buy the ETC through him.

    2. How to "cash out" your 1b Blink credit:

      1. Buy GTC, get credit, etc
      2. Start a blink where the buy-out is just shy of 1 bil
      3. Buy out said blink
      4. Get winnings paid out in ISK

      You won't get the full 1bil back, especally if you're slow to click, but you get back something.

    3. 1) Take Blink credit
      2) By all of the tickets in a blink costing 1B (you would have to do mutliple blinks)
      3) Win ship by default
      4) Ask for ISK instead of Blink Credit or Ship
      5) You now have 800m ISK in the game.

      Congratulations you have just RMT with help from Somer

    4. Ah, but there is an easy way to cash out, with the 80% ROI Ripard mentioned. Buy all 8 tickets on a blink, you're guaranteed to win. (How to buy all 8? Either wait till the site slows down, or write a script for it.)

  14. The numbers are somewhat different if you're an european player and forced to pay for subscription in euros. Instead of $12.95/month, you're forced to pay €12.95/month (which currently is $17.83). For us, buying GTCs from an US reseller is *cheaper* than subscribing 3 months. Any additional incentive is bonus.

    I've never liked SOMER (I've an inherent dislike for gambling), and their business practices definately look shady to me, but at least they don't rip off half their player base by charging them 38% more than the other half.

    1. I've never understood how internet payment processors get away with this sort of scummy behavior. We wouldn't tolerate a brick and mortar shop charging different prices based on someone's nationality, there would be a crowd with torches and pitchforks.

    2. "I've never understood how internet payment processors get away with this sort of scummy behavior. We wouldn't tolerate a brick and mortar shop charging different prices based on someone's nationality, there would be a crowd with torches and pitchforks."

      Actually, that's exactly what happens with brick and mortar stores. If I go to a chain store near my home, and then go to one in another state (let alone another country), there is a very good chance that the prices will be different. This will be due to a variety of reasons including differences in the local market, operating expenses, taxes, local real estate value/building costs, etc.

      However, since a company whose business is solely internet-based and offers a virtual product can essentially operate globally from a single location, it does not incur most of these variations in cost (with the possilbe exception of local taxes and regulations for online services). As such, it should be able to offer the same product worldwide with very little (if any) difference in price.

      In short, your point is valid (internet business should charge the same for virtual services globally), but your reasoning is incorrect (brick and mortar store prices don't vary by location/nationality).


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