EVE Online, CCP's massively multiplayer space sim, has been wracked by controversy after leaked cynical emails and avatar items threatened to completely unbalance the entire game universe. Players held protests and cancelled their subscriptions in droves ,and CCP opted to hold a real-life summit of the player-elected Council Of Stellar Management in Reykjavik this weekend to discuss the future of the franchise.
To cut a long story short, vanity items will have no effect on gameplay and there will be no balance issues. We have a detailed video statement and abridged roundup below.
The above video lays out a detailed ten minute summary of CCP and the CSM's resolutions - the most important of which has been to state that the in-game store will only ever be used to sell aesthetic accessories:
It is CCP‘s plan that the Noble Exchange (NeX store) will be used for the sale of vanity items only. There are no plans, and have been no plans, as per previous communication and CSM meetings, to introduce the sale of game breaking items or enhancements in the NeX store.
The investment of money in EVE should not give you an unfair advantage over the investment of time. The CSM, under NDA, has been presented with CCP‘s plans for continued evolution of the business model and agrees that nothing they saw breaks this principle. CCP has committed to sharing their plans with the CSM on this front on an ongoing basis. - CCP Senior Producer Arnar Hrafn Gylfason
CCP also admits that their communication should have been better throughout the entire process, and that they've agreed to make future alterations completely transparent.
The CSM are pleased with the accord, though make special note that they were "shocked and appalled" by the level of planning that went into the vanity items update as well as the incredibly cynical leaked memos. You can read both sides of the debate over at the EVE Online Dev Blog.
Right then. Time to get back to our ships... and wait for another inevitable round of controversy when Dust 514 comes out...