When CCP's dev blog coasting the idea of players being able to sell/buy skills came out yesterday, I had an instantly negative reaction. I found it difficult to express why. The rationale given in my EVE O reply that it would undermine the investment we feel in our characters and cause mindless character churning and a change in the connection we feel to our own and other characters feels logically weak even if--for me--it is emotionally on-target. Sugar Kyle's blog post yesterday and the subsequent comments express better than I myself can some of what's bothering me about it.
After thinking about the matter all evening and this morning, I realized that a big factor in my negative reaction is the fact that the second half of my CSM5 term (2010) was relentlessly focused on micro-transactions and their impending appearance in the planned Incarna release. We spent a 3-day emergency summit in October that year in frustratingly unresolved discussion with CCP on the matter and the frustrations continued through the end of our term. To say that that experience left a bad taste in my mouth for the New Eden Store is a understatement; I think I've looked at the store twice, spent the free Aurum that was given out on ship skins, and continue to have little interest in the overpriced goods there or the Aurum economy.
A grungy pale pink Astero skin is literally the ONLY thing that would ever entice me to buy Aurum.
But...looking at the proposed change after putting the CSM5 factor aside (which takes remarkable effort), my thought is that yes, it will probably encourage new players who buy SP to stick with the game longer for two reasons: they can do more sooner and will have a bigger financial investment in the game earlier than is currently practical. Both of those are key factors in subscription longevity. In the current marketplace, anything that encourages a player to stay longer is probably a good thing for EVE Online. We do, after all, want our beloved game to persist for another dozen years, right?
Will this change have a negative impact on the big stories of the game, the rise of personalities who become space famous, or the tendency of players to develop their main characters lovingly? Heck if I know. But you know what? It won't affect MY game or how connected I feel to my character. I play a social game focused on exploration and culture building with slight overtones of roleplaying.
So go ahead...let new players buy SPs all day long to shortcut their way to being able to undock in ships they don't know how to fly well. Let them explode and buy PLEX to sell for ISK to replace those ships. Let the plex cartels and the deep-pocketed alliances fund SP packets and SRP for their newbros to field more robust fleets. These things won't affect me in any negative manner. I can even see value in using SP packets as rewards for corp members, e.g., those who do do significant work to benefit their corp/alliance. (EDITED TO ADD: SP packets would no doubt be used by corps/alliances to entice new members join and become as common as SRP ... and yes, alt farming to support that would likely happen.) Meanwhile, CCP could see a welcome positive impact on their bottom line and that can only be a good thing for EVE Online and its sister products in light of looming competition for players' attention and wallets.
Meanwhile, I'm determined to maintain my preferred laissez-faire attitude about EVE Online. I am happy to take the game casually, adapting to the environment as it evolves, with blinkered rose-colored spectacles firmly in place. That allows me to remain positive about EVE Online and not succumb to bittervet syndrome again. It's a lot more enjoyable to feel upbeat and to interact with the devs and the community on that basis. The tedious whine of the "Eve is dying" crowd adds nothing useful to my game experience anyway and upon reflection, is most certainly overblown with regard to selling and buying SP that has already been trained on one character or another.
For an opposing viewpoint, check out luobote kong's initial blog post and a follow-up on the subject.