When it comes to MMOs, the word Microtransaction has been sacrilege to the average gamer; it’s definitely been the cause of angry gamers since Bethesda and the horse armor  debacle. Couple this with the fact that MMOs have been a pretty good cash crop for the last few years, and you have a recipe for success, right? Despite Activison-Blizzard’s seemingly infinite money tree known as World of Warcraft, games like Lord of the Rings Online and EVE Online have been doing pretty well for themselves; the latter breaking record after record for most concurrent players on a single server cluster, and the former seeing a huge boost in the active population since Turbine changed their business model from pay-to-play to free-to-play with a paid option. Well, as CCP found out, microtransactions and pay-to-play are a bad combination, especially in the eyes of EVE players.
Here’s the basic rundown so far, as I understood it, piecing data from various sites together.
1) CCP announces their “Ambulation” or “Walking in Stations” expansion sometime in 2006. Some people get excited at the prospect. Others bitch at how this takes away from real game issues, and how there are more important things to take care of.
2) Teaser after teaser for the expansion gets released over the years. Gameplay systems and bugs get fixed, lag is patched over and over, and more interaction is added to the EVE universe. Among them, players can conquer sectors of space, mine for minerals on planets with special equipment, run deepspace instances, explore wormholes, create new items and train new skills. During this period, “walking in stations” is seemingly vaporware, save for an update to the character creation engine late last year, seemingly in preparation for the update.
3) In May 2011, CCP holds the first ever EVE Fanfest, which according to their website “…brings together players in a massive celebration of the virtual world of EVE Online.” It seems to be a huge success, bringing CCP and the community together like never before.
4) Less than one month later, this all falls apart:
a) During a tournament, CCP shows a new gold colored battleship, available from their new microtransation store, the aptly named “Noble Exchange.” People rage at the implication of being able to buy a ship that took others months of saving to get. More rage at paying $50 to buy a ship as easily destructible as any other battleship.
b) Days later, a developer posts about a fee to post third party apps for EVE Online on an “App Store”. The words “monitization”, “small fee” and “$99 dollars” are used in the same paragraph. People rage more.
c) Somewhere around here, an internal CCP newsletter is leaked with the title “Greed Is Good?”. People get even more pissed off.
d) Incarna launches. Clothing items including the infamous $68 monocle cause things to go into overdrive.
And that brings us to a few days ago…
All that’s missing are the $50 glowsticks.