Navigating the Shifting Sands

So, CCP have put another face at the helm of game direction.

Fair enough, maybe Andie Nordgren will be the perfect EP to take the game forward, who knows.

As always, the question arises as to whether she is now at the helm of a steaming, or a listing, ship.

Hang on, hang on, put the piece of timber down. I said listing, not sinking; I’m not one of the ‘Eve is dying’ crowd.

I cannot perceive of any action from CCP that would bring about the demise of this game, the idea is laughable. Even if the company itself went broke (not inconceivable at all), I would imagine the infrastructure of the company is of very little value compared to the entity which it contains; the game itself.

The demise of this game as it is though; now, that is a different thing altogether.

The dynamic that makes charting Eve’s future course unenviable is the need to retain the current player base whilst succeeding in adding any significant sort of number of new players to it.

The vocal part of the player base is adamant about the retention of the dark, hostile and ugly nature of Eve. Indeed, CCP itself often reiterates that Eve Online is a PVP game.

They want PVP everywhere and recent calls for separation of certain PVE areas, especially in high sec, has fallen on deaf ears.

They have a rather clichéd ‘Niche’ market approach, a dull little term which tends to be as overused and hackneyed as ‘New Age’.

Unfortunately, this same funky, edgy type of mentality is the reason CCP finds itself struggling with new player retention; there’s simply not enough nasty, bitter and twisted people in the world who have a liking for internet spaceships and ruining other people’s fun.

As is usually the case with this kind of thing, the extremes are both vocal and visible. The white knights and criminals are both quite evident in Eve and these are the people CCP views as their customer base. They also seem to me to believe that this is what people want.

I have news for them.

Uh uh.

Maybe that’s the way of things in the land of treeless night, but not out in that vast, mysterious place called “The Rest of the World”.

Our corp is nudging 400 members, probably at least 150 actual breathing subscribers. Still, that’s 400 PLEXes a month, yeah?

This corp is based on fairness, honesty, respectful treatment of others and modesty of personal desires when it comes to game play.

PVP if you want, PVE if you want, make stuff if you want. No compulsory anything, log on when you want, log off when you want.

None of this lines up with the dark, nasty gamer or even the white knight mentality.

No one here has any great ambitions, no great evil plans to bring down the universe or run off with billions from some unsuspecting corp.

At least, if anyone does have intentions towards derailing our corp through theft or awoxing, it’s a waste of their time. The corp has less money than many of our members have on an individual basis, so a loss of ISK would be a minor inconvenience at best. Any ship lost to an awoxer would be replaced by corp mates in minutes. So, as we showed any bad guy the back door, aside from scratching our heads over their sad little mentality, they would be forgotten quickly.

Our corp is popular for one main reason; a friendly, relaxed and drama free environment for casual players who just want to enjoy their game their way with a group of like-minded individuals. It would seem from our growth that there is quite a pool of people already playing this game who don’t fit the dark, nasty, edgy profile.

Now hang on there, some may argue, 400 members is a drop in the ocean of accounts in Eve. How can you say that there is a substantial number of these kinds of people in the game, based on that pathetic number?

There’s a couple of reasons, actually. First, the only recruiting effort we did was when we advertised once, for exactly one week. Our growth from just over 200 to nearly 400 in a few months is not down to a sudden influx of hundreds of members, half of whom leave again, oh no.

It’s due to the fact that nearly all of those who do join us, stay. And that, ladies and gentlemen is called retention.

They also tell their friends (a strange concept to the griefer type, I know, but genuine people have genuine friends, funny how that works), who before long arrive at our door, sometimes with others in tow.

Every corp I’ve been in, the vast majority of people have been down to earth, decent, generous, humorous and wouldn’t actually want to ruin someones breakfast, let alone their day.

I would also point to the pie chart that came out at Fan-fest, showing that of the fifty percent of players who don’t quit after the first month (that’s awful customer retention, by the way), forty percent go on to play solo and only ten percent head into meaningful group play.

Now, I’m personally convinced that many of the fifty percent who leave are driven away by the HTFU attitude. The gankers, the war deccers, the awoxers, the corp thieves, the scammers and the bumpers are to blame for at least some of the appalling loss percentage straight off the bat.

Then there’s the forty percent of solo players. You can’t seriously try to tell me that they are all solo by choice, can you? How many are in NPC corps simply to avoid war decs?

How many are there because their player corp got robbed, or they got awoxed?

Yes, yes, I know. ‘They shouldn’t be in Eve, it’s a harsh environment, they should go back to WoW, blah, blah, blah and so on.

If that is a good counter argument to what I’m saying, if there really is no shortage of individuals out there who wish to role-play nasty, warped and twisted characters who enjoy ruining other people’s days, answer me this:

Where are they?

Why isn’t Eve as it stands able to get significant numbers of new players to not only start playing, but actually stay as well?

Many answers have been put forward, the learning cliff, the woeful tutorials, the long training queues to get into decent ships, the lack of decent PVE (strange, I thought we didn’t want PVEers…) and not to leave out the false advertising that drew in many in the first place (Yes, I know you’d like to be in a big fleet fight like they advertised, but you can’t do that until you can fly a capital at least).

I can’t agree that these are the biggest issues, not in my experience. Not in the experience of many long-term players I talk to, either.

It’s the reason so many of Eve’s oldest players hide out in the relative safety of sov null-sec, screened from all the dross of high-sec, all the players that CCP fete as their ‘Real’ customers, the thieves, the scammers, the gankers, the awoxers and the war deccers.

There’s simply not enough arseholes in the world to fill CCP’s cup ’til it runneth over, and far too many decent, down to earth people out there who want to play Eve.

You can’t have what you want CCP, fancy changing your fetid minds, or are you happier to carry on in the listing ship, bailing as you go?

It’s all in the mind, you know.





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