It cannot be denied that Eve Online is a game in decline, numbers wise. It would seem, upon reflection, that there are a raft of reasons for this. The aging player base has an attrition rate, undeniably. 30Plus flies in the face of the idea that Eve is something that older players don’t want to play, however. The corp continues to grow, with plenty of people still logging in.
CCP has brought the numbers down themselves, on more than one occasion. Changes to policy regarding use of ISBoxer saw many multi-boxers either reduce their accounts or leave altogether. A similar thing happened with the introduction of changes to jump ranges, with cyno alt accounts also disappearing. FozzieSov then swung the axe on many a botting account, as the quieter areas of thinly populated null-sec fast became untenable for the massive rental entities to hold any longer.
CCP have caused themselves a major problem at the front door, too. Something that, up until now, has not been a huge issue due to the loyalty of the existing player base; new player retention. I’m not going to waste any time on discussion of the ridiculous ganker supporting mentality in high-sec. I’ve done that before, but the vikings are adamant that the HTFU policy in high-sec is working for them. At the end of the day, their decision to keep Eve Online a tight niche game is fine with me; I wouldn’t go to high-sec anyway.
I believe there is another reason that Eve Online is seeing itself in decline, and it’s not for any of the reasons the 8% keep whining about, either. It’s the fact that Eve is not slotting in well with the changing world around it. More and more angry young men are playing video games to vent their testosterone-filled hatred of reality. But, those same people have very little time in which to do so.
Games that offer quick, blood spattered violence in a snack food format are dime-a-dozen. Many Eve players play those games as well. I for one have always had a casual game on the back-burner. In my case, it’s been Wargaming’s titles. These games offer a quick burst of guaranteed action, with immersive graphics and sound, no real consequences and the chance to generate some rage in chat.
Where the problem lies for Eve is that, as time goes by, more and more people want direct action, quick fights and plenty of angst from their victims. Some roam low-sec looking for that elusive gudfite, some get in fleets, and some get their jollies by ganking PVE players. Every option brings with it the prospect of kill-mails, which is what the 8% live for. After all, those kills represent real loss; and time that victim must spend replacing that loss often yields good tears. However, any of those aforementioned activities have a very high time spent to fun gained ratio. And the ever-increasing demands made on people’s time mean that Eve, as a way of gaining tears, is slipping down the ranks, and at a pretty good clip, too.
I’ve noticed something, though. The antics of these angry young men that have bruised chests are taking on an air of desperation, and with good reason. CCP, in recognition of the fact that their PVP oriented minority is, in fact, not only a minority but a shrinking one at that, has changed things around to make PVE players a required thing to hold space in their end game. Not only that, but space with PVE players in it is also extremely hard to affect, now.
True, The Imperium had an effect in Providence, but Providence isn’t exactly good space, is it? Mittens never intended to take it, anyway, just test out some theories. The infrastructure was replaced in no time, thanks to the constant PVE done across Providence and the fat wallets of those that live there.
The use of the Stratios as a ganking ship is testament to how desperate some have become. It is an expensive ship, with the wrong tank bonuses, that can only kill a completely unprepared ratting ship, or a mining ship. I mean, a Stratios will melt in seconds to an Ishtar. Sometimes, we kill them by accident, while making a coffee. Rats point them, or their momentary disbelief is enough to cost them a ship. They now wander around our space, skittish as all get-out, probing and prodding at the odd isolated ship in the hope it’s not got a cap battery and isn’t tanked slightly against EM.
Some of us offer to turn off a hardener or two in local, to give them a fighting chance. Don’t get me wrong, these guys get plenty of kills. There’s no end to the supply of stupid people in sovereignty null-sec. But, those kills require a lot of patience, probing, and, most of all, TIME. Allied to that is, outside the deluded people like poor old Gevlon, these guys realize that these losses count for nothing. The Ishtars that these people kill are an expendable item, in the eyes of those who happily lose them. They cost the alliances nothing, and the individual pilots who lose them have way too much ISK to care about losing one or two.
So, the very type of player that CCP is alienating, the already minority PVP player, is where the growing market is. But, Eve Online is a game that offers the wrong type of game-play to these denizens of a growing player-base. Long training times, long waiting times, lack of any real significance of loss anymore, lack of real purpose to PVP, and bucket loads of time to invest for very little return. They all play a part in the shrinking player-base.
Right now, CCP is in a confused place. On the one hand, the game is turning its back on PVP oriented players, albeit with good reason. However, their entry portal for new customers is still ravaged by PVP oriented players, in the one place where genuine tears can be harvested.
There are many possible reasons for this twisted turn of events. But utilizing Occum’s Razor, we arrive at the most logical conclusion; CCP wouldn’t have a clue what they’re doing.
They need to make up their minds as to their target market, and orient the whole game to reflect that. The current thinking of making New Eden a great place for all is a fool’s dream; pleasing all the people is something that never ends well.