Personally, while I think the prices of those items were wrong, I don’t think the $70 monocle is an outrageous sum.
Let me tell you about fashion
There’s a bar in the city where I live. It sells expensive drinks in an opulent setting. How expensive? Well, the online drinks menu has no prices.
Once you get there, the menu has prices, but I will focus on one small part of the menu: the premium cocktail menu.
Premium cocktails are essentially regular cocktails, but with name-brand ingredients. The Champagne used will be Moet and Chandon or better; the garnish will be air-freighted from Japan that day, and the prices are appropriately stratopheric. The cheapest cocktail is $15; the most expensive, gold-leaf-laden drink is in the order of $500,
Five. Hundred. Dollars.
Even that price is dwarfed by the wine list, where a thousand dollar wine is still in the cheap end. The point is, people pay money for socially-related things based on the status they bestow on the purchaser. A $70 monocle says ‘I can afford to pay $70 for a fashion item that only other Eve players can see.’ In fact, the existence of an insanely expensive item makes everything else appear a lot cheaper, just by its existence at the top.
CCP’s mistake was not that the monocle was too expensive, but that the other items were. If the other items of clothing were a tenth or twentieth of the price, the monocle would clearly be a true ‘ultra-rich’ vanity item, because of the wide gulf in affordability. The fact that it is in the same ball-park as the other items is terrible price signalling; it lowers the status the item bestows below the threshold of being worth the objective price you pay.
This is CCP Business Development’s failure, and it is a massive one.
Where will it stop?
This topic has been further fuelled by CCP’s internal newsletter on the subject, which indicates that CCP’s stance on micro-payments is strongly in favour of being comprehensive rather than decorative.
The article’s strategy implies that World of Darkness and Dust 514 will be full-transaction games, with all three types of items available, namely
It appears that while Power-gaming items are off the table (for now) in Eve, there is still a push towards convenience items – trading Aurum to remove grinding. To be fair, that’s what PLEX does now – you pay real money for Isk, which you can then give to other players for services, such as a faction battleship, forum signature or standings improvement with a certain corporation. Paying AUR for faction standings is, to most players, not significantly different to buying pirate dog tags and cashing them in at a COSMOS data centre.
Fact is, if you can buy it with Isk at the moment, buying it with AUR isn’t substantially different.