CCP released a DEV blog to discuss their planned introduction of a Vanity Store. The suggestion is that you will be able to purchase clothing, ship coloring or logos, and station environment upgrades. These will cost Aurum points, a new form of currency. They can be purchased with PLEX, which in turn can be purchased for Cash or ISK.
In other games I have played that offer in game store purchases, the options come down to access to extra content or character options, mounts, guilds, homes, clothing, and boosts to your development speed or loot drops. Here CCP is limiting it to vanity items – so you should not be able to gain an edge in game play.
Some would ask why bother – but there is obviously a market for such things (given their popularity elsewhere), and I can see how it might help some have a more immersive experience. Mord had a much better financial reason that he discussed here – http://fiddlersedge.blogspot.com/2011/05/aur-and-super-carrier.html – which is basically an ISK sink and extra profit for CCP.
Up until this point I thought it was interesting but easily ignored. Then I read that these items could be traded between players. Wow. In other games store items tend to be locked to your character or account, and you often lose them if you upgrade an effected item. I assume in the long run that forces people to spend more money, but here CCP is in effect allowing people to be wearing second, third, fourth hand clothing etc.
I assume you will buy an upgrade, and the clothing item or furniture for your quarters will be available in every station you dock at. However – what if you can carry these upgrades in your ships? I like the idea of such items dropping from wrecks – can you imagine the hodgepodge clothing a pirate might end up wearing in station? A fallen 0.0 station might end up with contracts for shag pile carpets and Roman furniture at bargain basement prices.
I take a simple view – these changes might increase the number of players and CCP’s profits, which is a good thing to my mind. Would I purchase vanity items? That very much comes down to price or function. If you are running a Corp and want a recruitment office open in a station, sprucing it up might be of value. If there is a perfect accessory that just polishes off the image you have of your pilot that might be justifiable. Unless they were brilliant however, I personally doubt I would spend more than the equivalent of $1 – $2 of real currency on an individual item.