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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Is Perception Anything to Worry About?

Over on Star Citizen Base, a Star Citizen fan site, Jamie from Kent, one of the members, posted a video he found for EVE:Valkyrie and asked,

After watching multiple Star Citizen videos I found this video.
I don't know what to think, are they trying to beat Robert to the punch? I heard owning an Oculus Rift is a requirement.

Now, if you did not know yet, Roberts Space Industries has announced they will support the Occulus Rift in their dog fighting module due for initial unveiling in April. Now, there is no beating anyone to the punch. Both companies have been developing their own dog fight game/module for about the same time and for the exact same reasons. It's good business sense.

That's not what this blog post is about though. This blog post is about some of the comments left in that thread and others I've read. I won't link them as I don't really want to spread their vitriol. But I do need to quote the comment that got my attention. Here is a taste for the opinions of some of those posters, ripped off wholesale from the thread above.

CCP suck as a company. Sometimes it's not about the game but about the people behind the game.

I was a long term multiple accounts eve player for many years, but slowly bit by bit CCP changed the game for the worse, ignored it's core fans, became really money grubby and started focusing on a console game for ps3 instead of focusing on it's original fan base. Because of their really bad mistakes, instead of CCP leadership taking responsibility for their poor choices, they fired 20% of CCP staff in the company.

I would not touch another CCP product with a ten foot barge pole. Horrible company.

I left EVE and CCP a long time ago, would not support them again.

EvE Valkyrie will seem like a hollow shell when sat next to Star Citizen when it's fully complete.

To answer your question, yes this is CCP quick cheap way of trying to get ahead of games coming out like Star Citizen, Elite and others in the Space Game Genre that threaten EvE Online.

Now, to be sure this is a disgruntled former player with an axe to grind. But to me this represents an even larger issue. EVE Online isn't really growing any more. That is not a way of saying EVE Online is dying, it is a simple verifiable fact. Subscription numbers have been flat for a long time. They got a nice bump recently because of B-R, but that's over already. EVE Online is back to flat.

Some say this is because EVE is too hard for most people, and that's why more people don't play it. That explanation sounds too much like wanking to me. The implication of such a statement is that, by playing EVE, we are somehow smarter that other gamers. That's a load of horse shit. Yes, EVE is complicated. But it's not that complicated. Compared to the skill needed to master Starcraft II, EVE is easy in my book. And anyone who plays computer games as even a hoppy has more than have enough brains to learn EVE Online if they really wanted to play. So let's put that explanation firmly into the trash bin where it belongs.

Other people say the problem with EVE subscriptions is the fact EVE is a sandbox and PvP can happen anywhere. You know, I may be one of the most non-PvP centric players alive and I still play EVE Online. It's true my idea of a good time does not revolve around turning someone else's good time into a bad time, but that doesn't push me away from EVE. It's not too hard to accept that PvP happens and that it may happen to me when I really don't want it to. That's part of the price of admission and plenty of folks accept it - and not just in EVE Online. Star Citizen will be the same way. No, it isn't the PvP centric sandbox that pushes people away either.

It certainly isn't the PC technology needed to run the game. That's not even worth another sentence.

So what is it about EVE Online people don't like? Could it be they just don't like the company? Don't buy this? Then follow this link (NOT SAFE FOR WORK) and see how far the hate goes. This hate goes back years. How did CCP get such a ugly reputation in some corners of the world?

Okay, some of this (most?) is just your 'normal' player venting against a game company. We've all seen it leveled at many game producers that do unpopular things. But player angst can end a game... Star Wars Galaxy comes to mind. I don't really believe EVE Online is in that sort of peril. CCP is not that reviled. What I am saying is that a negative perception hurts subscription numbers, and if the perception is bad enough the game can die.

So back to the primary question, what's CCP to do about it? They've tried many things: fan-fests, monuments, charity drives, comic books, CCP Guard. :-) But as you can see from the first response above, the hate is still ongoing and being happily shared. What's your view on this? Do you think a negative image hurts subscriptions? Do you think it even matters? If you do think it matters, what would help repair such a negative image? Can a company stop the haters?


  1. I'd say that CCP has done just about everything they can to ensure that the broadest assortment of people have a place in EVE, without sacrificing the core of what makes the game unique. That's not to say that they've succeeded in every case, but they certainly have put forth the effort in the four years I've been playing.

    Take the CSM as one example. I'm generally apathetic when it comes to the elections and the day-to-day function of it, but I have to acknowledge that it's a pretty remarkable institution among the constellation of "community management" structures other gaming companies have used. Even if you think the CSM is impotent, or inadequately representative of the player base, or whatever, I can tell you that I've seen implementations across scores of games that are much, much worse, few that are equal, and none that are better.

    I think the core problem for EVE is that some players -- whether they've played for days or years -- just stop having fun at some point. And some of those who ultimately quit end up blaming CCP for not "fixing" the game to make it fun for them. The basic truth is that EVE will only ever appeal to a limited demographic, and in order to appeal to an even broader range of gamers, it would have to become something other than EVE.

  2. You can't stop negative people or "haters" from loving to hate on CCP and/or Eve. What you can do is generate the kind of positive word of mouth and endorsements from fresh voices. This is the problem with a flat lined subscription trend. There just aren't anymore fully fresh voices articulating what Eve is and what the future holds. One of the advantages Blizzard has with WoW (a game with comparable longevity) is that regardless of how screwed up an expansion was or how negative the "bitter vets" got that each new patch essentially took everything old and "reset" the game entirely. Along with fresh people always coming in it meant that the complaints of last year could easily be ignored and negative opinions could never drive attitudes beyond a short length of time. Eve suffers from not having fresh voices and also the fact that many of the "bitter vet" complaints of even 5-6 years ago are equally valid today (POSes, Corp management, etc...). In a game where nothing ever resets and all the setbacks a player experiences (whether CCP's fault or not are always remembered), then the natural state of things is for that negativity to build up over time.

  3. Dinsdale PirannhaMarch 4, 2014 at 2:13 PM

    Sorry, but the biggest problem with Eve IS the fact that CCP revels in the fact that it's hardcore player base does eat it's own. The reason that the spike in player activity is leveling off is directly a result of all those new players getting exposed to the sociopathy of the minority of the player base that CCP embraces. When assholes can run amok in the rookie channels, and NPC corp channels, spouting complete lies about game mechanics (don't know how many times I have seen people asking about the 10M "license" the New Order demands) and running scams on new players, and CCP tacitly accepts this behavior as the core game, the game will never grow beyond the level it is at now. There are only so many evil people in the world that play video games, and they have all gravitated to Eve over the years.

    Frankly, I can't wait until another space game does challenge CCP. I don't know if Star Citizen is the game that does. But a strong alternative to Eve is the only way CCP will see the light and do something to curb the rampant sickness in Eve.

  4. I wouldn't say it's completely gone. From the looks of it CCP picked up another 1k solid peak logins per day. That's probably 3k-ish new accounts still playing from B-R. Eve plays the long game on accounts in a way no other MMO does. The number CCP bandies about is 3 months. If they can keep someone playing for 3 months that person will be a long term resident of New Eden, and they'll normally start buying Alts after that point. That 3k-ish, if they can hold them for another month, will turn into 4-6k paying subscriptions, possibly more. And CCP will hold all of them for about 2 years, when they start trickling out. And those are the types of numbers all other MMOs but WoW would kill for. If you ever read some of the articles on the subscriber and business side of Eve it's kinda weird. Eve's numbers straight up don't conform to any of the logic the entire rest of the video game industry uses.

    So trying to ask this question is kinda hard. If the subscriber base of Eve already doesn't follow any of the normal rules, who's to say any of the other rules apply? The only people with any data on it is CCP, and they aren't talking about it. Personally though, CCP has a better relationship with it's players than any other MMO I've ever played.

    Could you imagine the head of the creative department of say.. Ubisoft or EA.. standing up on stage and using "Time to Penis" as an actual metric they use? Then going around and saying similar things in multiple interviews? Neither do other game companies own up to mistakes anymore. They've done the research, if they put thier heads down and are silent about their mistakes it'll go away faster than adding fuel to it by commenting. Nor do I get huge write ups from the head of other game's Hardware Team explaining in detail why something bad happened. I'm not saying it's all sunshine and roses, far from it. But CCP's always been among the more open game developers, and that goes a long way toward the good will category with me.

  5. Maybe you should make an interview with (CCP) Mintchip, I guess she has some expierience with haters. And no, ccp won't get rid of haters. No one will ever get rid of them. The www is just too secure to bitch around and some will do that just for fun.

    Personally I think CCP does an OK job for there publicity and public perception. But the universe of eve faces the same problems we have in RL. If something bad happens it is all in the media, but the thousands of good things, real friends playing together and enjoying the game is wildly unmentioned.

    Good writers like you can change that a bit by profiding insight in there friendly gameplay.


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