So as the heading says the planned changes are out and CCP are seeking feedback. Take time to read them because they will impact everyone. I sort of covered this in my CZ article back in November.
It seems I wasn't wrong. While the figures might change a bit following this consultation, the thrust is the same as it was in November. CCP have decided to press the nuclear button and force players out of NPC stations. The crowbar CCP are choosing to use is to make NPC stations stupidly expensive. CCP has thus thrown down the gauntlet. I am not a fan. After all the player interaction it basically boils down to financial bullying. Play Citadels or else.
The headline lunatic proposal you will hear is it will cost of 5 million ISK to operate a jump clone from an NPC station. The justification is this is the cost of the service the citadel owner will face so in order to force you to use player owned citadels. This is so dumb it must surely change. But there are other planned changes that continue in the same vein.
Offices: Unlike NPC's, there will be no office limit in Citadels so this contrivance allows NPC's to be undercut.
Medical Clones: Remarkably stay the same for NPC's and Citadels
Jump Clones: To be 5m ISK in NPC stations to enable them to be undercut by Citadels.
Reprocessing: NPC taxes are being revised and Citadel owners can undercut them.
Compression: CCP are planning to merge this service with the reprocessing service module.
Market: The line goes: "To create an environment more competitive for Citadels, we plan on increasing the transaction tax to 2.5% and the broker's fee to 5-6%. Players trading in citadels will still receive the transaction tax, but the broker's fee will be at the complete discretion of the owner." So another contrivance to make citadels look good. And of course, only groups that can afford L or XL citadels will be allowed to run a market.
So the carrot is firmly aimed the large groups because only they can afford the L and XL Citadels. They rightfully will also dictate who can and can't have access to their services. There will be only a tiny proportion of players that actually get the full benefit of this - namely, the small population of citadel owners. The stick? Well, the only way a 'normal' player can compete is to 'play' with (by joining an established alliance) or get permission from the Citadel bosses. Solo players or small emerging groups (who will now remain small) are being left to hang.
I personally would hate the scenario where I am coerced into a situation where other players can effectively dictate how I play Eve. CCP are asking for feedback so things might change. Let's hope they do. But so far, the whole top down approach to this design process completely fails to acknowledge the little guys. The Spring Citadel release is increasingly playing to a very small gallery and there are some rather awkward consequences coming CCP's way if they fail to wake up to that.
Final thought: While I might be unimpressed with the direction Citadels are going in, this is just a small aspect of Eve. People make Eve what it is today. Devs certainly play a role, but players and the communities they participate in give it life. When times get hard we have been known to rally round and help each other out. In that context, you might be aware that Rixx Javix is in a hard place right now. He has certainly given more to Eve than most. If you feel you would like to understand more and help him out then check out his blog.