Rather than "harsh", it's all about consistency.
The problem is that mentally, this item has a real dollar value attached to it - because $35 -> 2 of these, each worth 280,000,000 in-game-currency.
But in reality, people lose ships worth 280,000,000 isk every day. In reality, this item isn't special, despite its real world implications. It's worth about the same as a "rare-ish" (mid-level rarity) shield booster, and worth 1/50th the price of the most expensive non-unique in-game module. But no one has the same feelings if they lose a ship fitted with a "Pithii C-type X-Large Shield Booster" like they do if the lose a PLEX; that's what CCP is trying to change. See the dev blog:
plex? in my space? it's more likely than you think.
reported by CCP Zulu | 2010.07.09 14:40:56 | Comments
We're planning on making some changes to the behavior of the PLEX (Pilot's License Extension) in-game item and, at the same time, the redeeming system. I wanted to take a minute to explain what is being done and why so that we can give everyone a chance to digest the changes before they go public. There is no TL;DR version of this, so if you're interested in this subject please take the time to read the entire blog.
A bit of history
When we introduced the PLEX item there were serious (and legitimate) concerns that this new item would be so volatile in the players mind that it had to have certain boundaries. So we implemented a few restrictions on this one item that made it behave differently from all the other items in-game. The biggest one of those was the fact that you couldn't undock with PLEX in your cargohold. It was in fact bound to the station you initially redeemed it in, only available to put on the market there (or use or whatever). We also restricted PLEX from courier contracts as they couldn't be couriered to anywhere anyway.
These safeguards were entirely valid and necessary for PLEX's introductory period--so that we could test the waters, so to speak. Since then we've been very vigilant in monitoring the status of PLEX in-game, its usage and potential. We are at a point where we've been looking at the pool, measuring the depth, estimating tactics and now it's simply time to dive in. Therefore we'll be removing all the special casing surrounding the PLEX items and have them function and behave as any other regular item. At the same time we're changing the behaviour of the Redeeming system a bit so that items can be redeemed in any station (you could only redeem items in NPC stations before).
What does that mean specifically
* We will remove the restriction on undocking from a station with a PLEX in your cargo hold
* We will remove the restriction that PLEX cannot be put into courier contracts
* We will remove the restriction that items (including PLEX) can only be redeemed into NPC stations
* We will remove the restriction that items (including PLEX) can only be reverse-redeemed from NPC stations
* We will remove the restriction that ETC can only be converted into PLEX while inside an NPC station
If you blow up a ship that happens to be carrying PLEX, it may drop the PLEX as loot or it may be destroyed in the conflagration (much like any other item in a ship's cargo hold). The refund policies for PLEX will not be any different from any other item.
What did not change?
* If you redeem a PLEX into a station and then reverse-redeem it back into the item redeeming system, the PLEX is now locked to that that particular station. Every time you redeem it, it will only redeem into the same station.
* You can only sell or give away PLEX while they are redeemed into a character's inventory.
Are you crazy? Do you know how many people will emoragequit when they're ganked with PLEX in their cargo?
Maybe we're a little crazy, yes, but we truly think the benefits outweigh the risks here. One of them is to combat the perception that PLEX is a more valuable item than others in the game which, of course, it isn't (anyone who has lost a titan/carrier/T2 BS/etc knows this full well). Among the risks of course is that people will start losing PLEXs' en masse and cancel their subscriptions. We will be monitoring that extremely closely as well as all other aspects of PLEX trade/usage patterns. Remember, we're not forcing anyone to undock with PLEX, in fact we're making things a little bit safer (if people choose to use the option) by allowing redeeming of PLEX to all stations instead of just NPC stations. The choice and risk is always at the discretion of the player, just like it should be.
No really, why?
Well, really, we don't like items having "special status" in the game. Their value should be determined by the player demand (isk bid price) at any time. Placing artificial restraints on any item automatically makes it more special to people so we're removing those.
The changes are planned to go live next Tuesday, July 13, 2010.
And then we sit back and wait. Your feedback on this is appreciated and I'll try to answer questions that arise.