Previously, on MinerBumping... Everyone gathered 'round to hear the Saviour of Highsec speak truths about CCP's plan to sell skill points.
IV. Some new players are more fortunate than others.
For the past few years, virtually every change made to EVE has been justified on the basis that it will help new players, improve retention rates, and boost CCP's revenues. This time, at least the lattermost should be achieved. To buy or reallocate skill points, a new item called an "extractor" must be purchased from CCP. No one (not even CCP) yet knows how much the extractors will cost, or how many skill points they will absorb into "packets". However, since we do know that the purpose of the new system is to make money for CCP, the extractors ought to be cost-effective enough to encourage lots of players to buy them. Demand will be high, since everyone will find them useful and because there are no alternatives (unlike isk, which you can grind rather than buying with PLEX).
As for helping new players and improving retention rates, we'll see. If you're new to EVE, buying skill points has obvious appeal: You can get into fancier ships more quickly, and you can become more competitive early on. However, the most important thing to realize about new players--which has been almost entirely overlooked thus far--is that there are two types of them.
(No, I'm not talking about Goofuses and Gallants, though that wasn't a bad guess.)
In ancient times, there was really only one kind of new player. He would join EVE and struggle mightily with its learning cliff. He might leave highsec and seek the fun of PvP, or he might fall into a pattern of boring isk-grinding. If lucky, he would find his way into a good corporation that would help him enjoy the game; if unlucky, he would join one of the countless highsec industrial corps featured on MinerBumping.
Regardless, this kind of new player would be made to recognize that he had no chance of influencing, or likely even participating in, the grand wars occurring in nullsec. Player-claimed space was ruled by the elites with their advantage in wealth, experience, and skill points. More and more, the elites banded together rather than competing, to ensure that they could never lose a war.
Then Remedial created Goonfleet, as recounted in Part 1. Once Remedial proved that swarms of low-SP/isk/experience players could achieve results on the battlefield, everything changed. At least, everything changed for the Goons. The rest of EVE despised the Goons, and they rejected the idea that newbies could matter. They would continue to do so for years, until the Goons achieved victory in nullsec. Even then, the rest of EVE admitted the lesson only grudgingly.
Because Remedial understood the potential value of even the greenest EVE players, he began a massive recruitment campaign. Of course, no EVE organization can throw open its doors to everyone. But the Goons' policy of allowing virtually everyone from the SomethingAwful forums to join their crew was about as close as it gets. The Goon recruitment philosophy was completely the opposite of all others in nullsec; everyone else prided themselves on their skill point requirements.
Thus was born a new type of newbie. Rather than scavenging scraps in highsec and clawing at the learning cliff, this fortunate new player would immediately be drafted into an organization that sought to help new players. They received isk, useful advice, and most importantly, an invitation to participate in grand nullsec PvP battles of all kinds. Instead of being told they were worthless for at least a year, the new brand of newbie was told that he mattered on day one. He was taught to believe that he could be useful in combat, even in a tech I frigate--which was more true then than it is now.
Remedial's spymaster and closest friend, The Mittani, ultimately inherited the organization built by Remedial, and his legacy. The Goons' galactic dominance inspired Redditors to copy their example, and many others modified their recruitment philosophies. There developed a new way for newbies to play EVE. The new newbies, a more fortunate breed, were all the children of Remedial. They don't know his name, but they owe everything to his vision.
V. A tale of two newbies.
The ability to buy skill points will have a drastically different effect on the two breeds of new players. To begin with, buying skill points will require isk or money. We don't know how much yet, but whatever it is, it will be more isk than any genuine newbie has. But the newbie who joins the Goons, for example, can be given isk; the independent newbie must use real money. In addition, unlike characters bought through the Character Bazaar, new players will need skill books to make use of the skill points. This, too, costs isk. Or if you do not belong to a newbie-supporting organization, more real money.
As an aside, it will be interesting to see how this changes the outsider's view of EVE. Will people tell potential players that they need money for their subscription, plus PLEX for starting isk, plus more to buy lots of skill points? If the perception is that new players need to buy a lot of stuff with real money to join the game, the system could repel potential customers rather than attract them.
Then comes the question of where to apply the newly purchased skill points. The Character Bazaar mostly sells ordinary characters whose original owners presumably followed some kind of plan, or at least didn't train skills randomly over the years. By contrast, the new player who buys skill points must figure out how to allocate them. In that sense, the new system will be less user-friendly than the Character Bazaar.
Once more, we see the distinction between the ordinary newbies and those who are supported by the Goons or others. Regular newbies have little idea of the skills they need. They may not even know what ship they should get, much less how to fit it or train for it. On the other hand, a new player drafted into Goonswarm can be instructed on all of those things. They'll probably be directed to a Wiki telling them exactly what they're supposed to get, based on doctrine ships and fittings. Skill book "bundles" may be distributed at their headquarters.
Think back to your first week in the game. If you had been handed millions of unallocated skill points, would you have had any idea where to put them? Neither will the clueless, independent newbie. Meanwhile, the more fortunate newbie will be supplied with good advice from his alliance (albeit tailored specifically to a doctrine ship).
VI. The New Order's mission to help unfortunate newbies.
In highsec, we won't encounter too many of the fortunate, organization-supported newbies. They'll be kept busy in nullsec. Our job will be to assist the most helpless and clueless newbies. If we find ourselves in situations where they ask for advice on allocating their shiny new SP, we can refer them to a list of gank-oriented skills.
Most of the time, however, we will encounter newbies who have already allocated the skill points they bought. Those newbies, I fear, will be afflicted by a heightened risk of bot-aspirancy--just like their predecessors who are using PLEX as a shortcut. We have seen the blingy ships and anti-tanked loot piñatas flown by misguided PLEX users. The new system will allow clueless newbies to indulge in such things at an even earlier stage of their EVE career than ever before. On their first day in the game, even!
Carebear apologists tell us that we must protect the highsec newbies at all costs. In the New Order, we do it and do it well. But unlike the theme park advocates, we understand that the only way to reach a carebear is to shake him from his routines. Someone must make him lose access to his precious ships, modules, cargo, asteroids, ice, and implants. That gets his attention. Then the carebear will listen and embrace the Code (if he be a Gallant), or cry and make death threats (if he be a Goofus).
Our Agents stand ready for the changes brought by the new skill point system. We can expect to see new players in greater need of our services. Happily, new gank alts will be able to input their gank-related skills with ease! The Code always wins, after all. Always.