Monday, 1 February 2016

CCP Stopping the Press... sort of.

Billy Brag - a British singer/songwriter, used to have an interesting approach to writing a love song. He would try avoid using the word "love" as he thought it was a lazy way to describe something that as we all know is profoundly complex and dammed confusing. Were this made compulsory I can think of a whole raft of terrible songs that would simply disappear in a puff of logic. Sadly this will never happen. I say this to help illustrate a problem. How to write about the CSM without mentioning the actual word. I am struggling but I am open to suggestions. But here I am with another clickbaity post on the topic and I can't just help but feel a little cheap and dirty. This isn't another grr CSM article. Been there, done that,  read my Crossing Zebras piece. I shall take some solace in that.

However the latest catastrophising around the CSM does raise some interesting questions. For those that don't know - and that will be most people I guess, CCP changed the eligibility conditions for CSM candidates. Now CCP are perfectly entitled to do that. The CSM is their creation, they pay for it and they claim it has a purpose that is 'useful', even though they have not spoken to it for 6 months. Maybe they can write it off against tax.(I know, I should just let it go). ANYWAY, the most contentious change is that owners and paid employees of gaming media sites are now barred from being on the CSM. Originally is appeared to be more wider in that even a sad little blogger like me who earns nothing (I don't monetize) would be regarded as an existential threat to CCP's business, but it has been refined in that this now impacts only sites that cover other games. So as long as I don't do a paid review of Tetris I am safe. Assuming of course I was barking enough to actually want to be on the CSM and deluded enough to think that someone would actually vote for me.

You can see the sense in the new rule. If you are paid to work under an Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) for a gaming site as well being a CSM under a different NDA for CCP and the site boss demands you provide some inside knowledge to justify your wage then what are you going to do? Feed the kids or enjoy a nice trip to Iceland? There is obviously a conflict of interest and hungry kids make a lot of noise.

So on that level, it is not an entirely unreasonable rule change but of course that is not quite the whole story. The process as to how the rule change came to be is not at all transparent. The White paper that contains the change was originally presented to the CSM to assure. However the version they saw did not contain the change. It was added later. Quite who decided to add it and why they chose to do it deliberately without consultation. My speculation is that it originated from somewhere other than the CCP Leeloo or CCP Falcon. If it did come from one of them then it would have needed sign off from someone higher up in CCP. Either way someone decided to intercede at a late stage with wording that was so initially ambiguous that it would have excluded most of the space famous applying for the CSM. The later refinement that resulted from the outcry may have helped clarify the intention in part but it also then highlighted those to be excluded. Which in effect turned out to be one person - Sion because he receives money from TMC according to The Mittani in tweetfleet slack. It could also have effected Chance Ravinne and Uaxdeath if they were still standing.

Not unsurprisingly, because of the way it has turned out and the way it was executed, The Imperium feel they are being (or are at least portraying they are being) victimised for a variety of reasons. Even if it is not true, the shambles leading to this point makes it a plausible spin opportunity. In their position I would likely do the same. Their actual response we will leave to the drama department and will probably be forgotten in 6 weeks or so. Quite where the refreshed kickstarter appeal sits in this now is hard to see. To me this crystallises the point that is being overlooked. Why should gaming media sites not be represented at the CSM table? Yes the NDA obviously, but put that to one side for a minute. Why wouldn't CCP want feedback from gaming media sites? TMC, when all is said an done, provides a lot of Eve coverage. Others could do more if incentivised to do so. If CCP wants to promote Esports as a new growth area as it has said it does, then it is going to need them and the coverage they bring. So while there is degree of sense in the new rule (if not in its clumsy implementation) for the CSM, there is a legitimate need for a forum where gaming media and CCP can engage. It would also bring some legitimacy back to the CSM as being solely a player council. Although it might just be easier to get rid of the CSM altogether. But then I've said that already (sorry).


  1. I always like your writing, and this is a good article. I too am trying to write this reply with using the CSM term, but it is hard. You make a great point here
    "Feed the kids or enjoy a nice trip to Iceland? There is obviously a conflict of interest and hungry kids make a lot of noise."
    Perfect reasoning behind the change in the whitepaper. The drama department will be hard at work on the Imperium yaught.

    1. Yeah. But it was badly handled by CCP when all is said and done. The CSM doesn't come out looking more credible and CCP come out looking a little more sly by some and showing favouritism by others. That is not a desirable place to be for a community team. They should avoid becoming the story if possible.

  2. The thing is, goon or not, Sion was a really good CSM member. He was one of the few tht really pushed CCP and really did what the CSM was designed to do. People are cheering that a goon is banned, but the reality is that goons will just get someone else in his place and will barely notice, while players in general will see a reduction in the amount accomplished by the CSM.

    1. Certainly he will be replaced by another from the Imperium block. Sion was definitely one of the more active CSM's. He could still run in theory if he left the employ of TMC. Whether he was the best or worst or somewhere in between, we simply don't know because the NDA hides any accountability. This applies to all the other CSM's too. What we do know is ALL the CSM have been less productive this year simply because CCP dropped contact with them before EveVegas. The assumption is this was in response to the claimed leak. But it might not be just that. It could come down to personalities too and there are clearly tensions between some CCP staff and some CSM members. Again, the NDA hides any possibility of an objective insight so the blame game doesn't really help.