Decline

Our corp has moved, from the deep south, right back to the deep north. Our tenure in the drone regions, though, had enlightened us all to the wonderful logistic possibilities of wormholes. Thus it was that I found myself, on an out of corp alt, in Amarr. With 88 in local. Sorry, what? I thought.

Out of curiosity, I logged my Jita trade alt in. 756 in local. Good grief.

Yes, the decline is real. We had thought as much, most of us. My previous posts outlined the data, but reality painted a picture no more rosy than the bar charts revealed. Then, I read a missive from Sion Kumitomo this morning. It’s a biggie, but the curious may find it here.

Now, one must take that post with a few spoons of salt, due to the obvious jabs being sent in CCP’s direction by those who resent losing an empire. However, I had to agree with a lot of it. The saddest part is the knowledge that, just as I previously posted, CCP has set its heart on VR as the next big thing. One of our members splashed out the spendies for a VR setup recently. He played it for a while, and was pretty impressed with the level of immersion. Then, he got back on Eve with us, to rat and chat.

Could it really be that CCP doesn’t understand the value of its own product? Do they honestly still not see the potential this game has? It’s sad, and that’s the truth. It’s all about the people, the sense of property, the sense of belonging, and the sense of achievement, that made Eve such a hard thing to walk away from.

Still, they couldn’t see the wood for the trees. Thousands upon thousands of written words from people who cared passionately about their universe had no impact at all upon the ten inches of bone that underlies the foreheads of the Vikings. They clung desperately to the darkness that repelled so many. They shoved aside their own statistics that showed 50% trial losses within the first 2 hours. Stolidly they ignored the pleas from the very council they set up to ostensibly listen to.

They wasted millions of dollars on one fruitless side venture after another, only to then wander off towards the seductive call of the VR psirens.

It may well be too late, now. Layoffs, office closures, staff cuts, budget cuts, and a PCU that screams, ‘last one out turn the lights off’. What a senseless waste of such a work of art.

Still, I’ll play until they switch the servers off, as will many others. We’ve ended up back up in Branch, where we were before, right down to the same constellation. Our role sees us looking after indices, manufacturing, and shooting anybody who wanders by. The core group of players who made 30Plus the best 2 years of my Eve life are nearly all there, and the laughter and madness flows freely every day.

Comms is a riot, once again. But, if I’m to be honest, Eve is now just one of a few games we mess around in. There’s always a group in New Eden at any given moment, but I remember a time when we were all there, all the time. No, it’s not what it used to be, not at all. Then again, nowhere in Eve is what it used to be.

It’s emptier, less dangerous. The neuts still wander through, but there’s less of them, and they are much more cautious than they used to be. Sadly, this drops the enthusiasm level somewhat. We moved out of the drone regions because, seriously, there was nobody there. We got camped for a few days once, but he left when we made it plain we didn’t care if he was there or not. Other than that, there was nobody at all. We thought the move to Branch might see more ship related violence, and perhaps even a new war with our old lords and masters. Sadly, it would seem Goonswarm are headed elsewhere, according to some, at least.

So, we are collecting more of the old gang together as the days pass, but I personally wonder whether this is an Eve corp, or a gaming group. It’s certainly an unusual corp, that’s for sure. Trying to explain to our new alliance’s leaders that I was CEO simply because a) somebody had to be, and b) I was the one who hated the idea the least, was interesting, to say the least. No rules, per se, outside of the requirements of the alliance, of course. Common sense, a community held respect for one another and our alliance-mates, and a family-friendly atmosphere; that’s it.

It’s interesting, really. With no requirements to participate, one would expect everyone to do whatever the hell they want, but no. The guys have all consulted the ADM map, and set out to push the military to 5 in every system in our constellation. Once they’ve done that, then industry will get a shove, along with PI and so on. Plus, our first day back in Branch saw us all on a gate and taking part in a little pop the interceptor.

This is the way I remember it, too. People joined in on the home defense simply because everyone else was doing it. No need to push anyone at all. All in all, it should be a fun time ahead.

Unless the Vikings stuff the game completely, that is.

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A Disturbing Question Arises

Our TS3 channel is not the sanest of places at any time. Topics range from one end of the spectrum to the other, most of it inane, but also hilarious.

However, yesterday one of our most esteemed members asked a question which brought our usual light-hearted banter to a resounding stop. The question was this:

“So, what MMO are we going to when this one finishes?”

Now, ordinarily we laugh at anyone rolling out the ‘Eve is dying’ mantra, which is as old as the game itself. The problem was, this member is no idiot, and he was serious. Two statistics had caught this persons attention, which, in his experience as a businessman of no small standing, spell unavoidable collapse for CCP.

The first was the number of people logging in, which, if you go here and select the 5 year chart, does show a wee bit of a downward trend. However, figures can be made to show all sorts of things, and that wasn’t the point that really got us thinking. The second thing was that peak logged in players have dropped from 60k to 30k over the last 2 years. His opinion was that, if a business he was dealing with showed a 50% drop in customer interest in 2 years, it was time to put a new resume together.

It’s one of the oldest mantras in business; grow or die. Added to this are the rate at which new characters are being created (new business) and player retention rates (repeat customers). New character creation (down the page on Eve Offline) shows a corresponding downward trend. Then there’s the figures that CCP released a couple of years ago, which showed player retention rates. I can’t find the chart, but the figures are etched into my memory; within (I think) six months, 50% of new players leave, 40% stay in high-sec, and 10% go to wormholes/low-sec/null-sec.

None of the above is good, is it? The bright side for us, as I pointed out to our worried member, is that MMOs tend to wither on the vine very slowly, so we may have many years left before the servers go dark for good.

It’s worth a ponder though, as to how a product so unique, so unusually hard to put down, and so open-ended, could possibly be so small a niche game after all this time. How do CCP management still consider themselves as even competent enough to shine shoes for a living?

When you consider their stock reaction to any form of criticism – ‘go to the forums and post your complaint, you’ll find plenty of other players eager to work this out with you’ (no, that’s not a quote, so you can’t ban me, I’ve never petitioned CCP’s innate retardation-level management policies myself, I have a blog, so bite me) – it’s easy to see the crux of the problem.

CCP themselves are completely, and blissfully, unaware of the reality of their situation. To ask complainants to visit the forums is nothing short of a troll, as they know damn well anyone complaining about anything on that turgid sewer of inanity is going to be on the receiving end of a trolling that is quite likely to see them leave the game. Hardly the course of wisdom when you’re already bleeding customers at an impressively hemorrhagic rate.

One has to conclude that they simply don’t care. Why not? Betting on VR? Risky business, that. For a small company to bet on a percentage of the next big thing, they either need a mind-blowing product (nope), or a backbone product to supply the cash they need until the big bet pays out. And that backbone product would be Eve, which makes the logic a wee bit circular, doesn’t it? I do hope any financier looking to help CCP’s push into VR has a good, hard look at the performance figures for Eve. With their glasses on. And preferably while they’re sober.

In fact, one only has to return to Occam’s razor to discern the reality of the situation. CCP are, collectively, dumbasses. That’s it, in my humble opinion.

I mean, think about it. Here is a company who openly encourages people to remove others from their customer base. They have mechanics which put the griefer in a win-win situation in almost every aspect of their universe. Then, when victims complain to them, they actually send them to the forums for their resident trolls to finish the job.

The problem is, most of those complainants are not unreasonable in their griping. High-sec war-dec mechanics are so broken it’s hilarious, bumping mechanics ditto, laughable bounty and aggression mechanics, undock camping, cloaky camping, gate guns in low-sec, nullified and armed interceptors, OP T3 destroyers, botting-friendly PVE ships, giggle-worthy sovereignty mechanics, and I forget how many other problems that are so stupid its breathtaking.

Not only this, but CCP has been told about all of these issues for years.

So, even the most loyal of customers, still in love with the Eve universe, are slowly driven away by the company’s obvious disdain for any part of their customer base bar griefers.Where will this lead?

I shall close with a quote from a very ancient source:

YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW.