I propose Eve Online takes bids for precisely delineated gaming features players pay for.
Step 1 - a player, or an alliance, wants a certain gaming feature - as an example - players want a new subcategory ship implemented. The player or group of players pose a FORMAL request and ask for a price estimate.
Step 2 - CCP - decides if the feature requested has merit, and the game masters can decide
Step 3 - the new in-game feature is at least reasonably implementable, does not obstruct current power mechanics too much, and there is little chance for cost overruns. CCP management decides how long the implementation would take. and provide the requestion party with an educated estimate how much this feature would cost - and most of all a fairly liberal timeline. CCP precisely defines how they would implement by a careful definition on their “debated new feature” page.
Player or player faction (say, a billionaire Saudi sheik) finds CCP’s propsal for implementation acceptable, collects the money and makes a formal request for the feature. The monetary reimbursement is placed in escrow.
CCP hires people or allocated in-house resources to implement the feature.
Feature gets implemented. CCP gets paid.
Khannea Suntzu, player, asks for CCP to implement a “somewhat realistic” twin neutron star system somewhere in Eve Online. The two Neutron stars orbit each other at about 3 AU, and each weighs 1.3 solar masses, which makes for an orbit of less than a month. You can literally see these things move.
CCP design department coughs up blood in abject terror, likes the idea, but is at a loss how to implement it. They decide to create zones where ships are immediately drawn in towards the stellar remnants, zones where tidal effects cause damage to the ship, varying from a bit to immediate torn apart to shreds (include animation of such process. The stars revolving around each other produces magnetic radiation that can be heard as a thundering sound effect - in-game. Around the damage zone is a variable “pull” zone where ships get pulled at certain in-game speed. This speed ranges can be hundreds to many thousands of km/s. Yes, batttleships flying in the gravitational wake of one of these monsters passing by will be drawn along like confetti., and can travel enormous distances across the system. CCP decides deciding this feature does not disturb established status quo, and says they’ll implement it for 50.000 euro. Khannea agrees, her monetary reimbursement is placed in escrow, 4 months later CCP implements the feature, as per agreed upon deadline.
Yes, CCP looks at each proposal carefully that it does not disturb established sensibilities, discusses it with the community, and does not favor certain factions with certain new features - unless everyone can effectively use the new feature, in case it should not be a major nuisance.
Red. - game designer costs about 100.000 a year. Assume that adding a feature might take 3 guys working for 3 months, let’s say all included, office space and workstation, 15000 per guy per month. These are substantial amounts of money, but I can see large alliances having a distinctive wish list and the ability to pay for specific desired features.