With Phoebe about to land, CSM Minutes now out, and more of CCP Seagull's vision from Eve Vegas it appears CCP has a bold roadmap, is making big changes, and is willing to take a hit in the short-term to see it through. What do you see as the measurable signs that will tell us that they've succeeded? What outcome will we see as players? Is it concurrent player count or something else?
CCP is in a war. Long the only Sci Fi MMO on the market, that status is coming to an end. We've Elite Dangerous just around the corner with a projected release date of next year. And looming in the now not so distant horizon is Star Citizen with a persistent Universe alpha release looking like it'll be late next year. And before you go all rant on me and start yelling about how those won't be MMOs, let me remind you that in fact they are persistent universes and yes, they will compete with EVE Online for the hearts, money and, most importantly, time of those people who love Sci Fi computer games where they can fly Internet spaceships. And believe you me, you can fly and Internet spaceship in both those upcoming titles.
So what will tell us if CCP will be successful in this war? Well, I certainly hope it's not concurrent user counts. Star Citizen already has more people signed up to play than CCP has ever had. I just went and looked at the RSI web site, and there are 640,735 Star Citizens who've pledged money and will be allowed to play the game once it releases. And like me, there are 500, 142 pilots in the UEE fleet flying Internet spaceships against each other (or the Vanduul Swarm) right now. From a raw numbers point of view, CCP has already lost the war if we use any sort of player count. So what will be the measure of success?
In war, you measure success by the taking and the holding of objectives. Let's look at some of these objectives in a simple Q and A format.
Q: Can CCP change EVE Online to compete with what's coming?
A. Yes. They are very capable programmers and have shown time and again they can make EVE Online better.
Q. Can CCP create a more inclusive game?
A. Yes, they can. To what degree is yet to be seen. My opinion on this subject is well-known to any who've read my EVE Online posts over the years. Telling a new bro to go find a corporation under whose skirts they can hide... I mean to fly with and learn the ropes from... XD ...isn't what I think of as über helpful. But by and large, CCP has made EVE Online more accessible to new players.
Q. Can CCP create a new EVE Online that is hard and fun and exhilarating and all those things people who play EVE Online love about the game?
A. Yes. Derp.
Q. Can CCP Compete with this?
A. Actually, yes they can, if they are as aggressive and risk non-averse as they say they can be. CCP already has Dust 514 with orbital bombardment. Eventually, with Project Legion, I feel CCP will integrate FPS into EVE Online at least for planetary action.
Q. Can CCP compete with this?
A. Yes, because EVE Online is fleet oriented and not ship oriented. That appeals to a different sort of Internet spaceship pilot. It is more strategic in concept whereas the up and comers are tactically oriented when it comes to flying Internet spaceships. Their Internet spaceship vision is FPS. CCP's is more MOBA. In fact, you'll find no larger MOBA out there than EVE Online. Think about that for a moment. Those gigantic Internet spaceship battles (and the smaller ones too) are run by a handful of fleet commanders on either side. Isn't that what a strategic MOBA looks like? FPS does not compete with MOBA. We see that in the industry all day long. And I've not mentioned EVE Valkyrie at all. If CCP can integrate that into EVE Online, they'll have their cake and can eat it too.
Q. Can CCP compete with this?
A. No, CCP can't. Certain elements of the player base killed that plan in 2011. With no thought toward the future, and no concept of what lay in wait a few short years later, some long-time change-averse players decided to extort CCP into canceling Incarna. CCP is now behind the proverbial eight ball on that score. That will be the most difficult area for CCP to compete against Star Citizen. When Elite Dangerous decided against that sort of game play it was actually a win for CCP. But RSI is coming fast and hard, and from what I've seen CCP needs to be worried. If they aren't, they are fools. And I don't believe CCP employs fools.
So CCP has a potential score of five out of six objectives. That's pretty good. If you think about the two developers they're at war with, Elite Dangerous can, max, get five of the six objectives. But they are not pursuing a walking around stations capability. That eliminates another possible objective they could take, meaning CCP wins - probably. There's always that proverb about not counting chicks before they hatch. But all in all, I don't worry about Elite Dangerous unseating EVE Online. No, the real danger comes from Star Citizen. RSI just passed the $61,000,000 funding goal. They have not only shown legitimate, hardcore, in development content, but they have a damn decent dogfight game going in Arena Commander 0.9.2. I know. I play it several times a week.
And there's a rub in that. Star Citizen is supposed to be F2P. They've stated they will make money on micro-transactions. They've certainly already shown people will spend insane money for ships they can't even fly yet. That business model looks damn valid to me. What does CCP have? Well, they have the their store. Will it be competitive? I know 61 million reasons it isn't. Only the future can tell for certain. We don't know for true if Star Citizen will be F2P. But CCP does need to worry about that possibility. If Star Citizen comes out as F2P, CCP's subscription model will have a negative effect on those looking to fly Internet spaceships.
But back to the original question, what will be the measure of success for EVE Online going forward? Honestly, it's the same as it's always been: CCP's ability to create black ink on their balance sheet instead of red ink. According to the objectives as I've laid them out, CCP is actually in a pretty good position. Still, there are a lot of variables that can affect profitability. In the end, profit will be the only measure that matters. Let's all hope CCP is as good with RL economics as they are with Internet spaceship economics. As for the course CCP has chosen, just don't forget Rule of Acquisition 62. Carry on CCP Seagull, carry on.