Qualitative Easing

Following the recent publication of the minutes from the  latest CSM/CCP summit much of the community is in a state of uproar / depression as it became clear that CCP was not going to back down to the ‘pursuit of excellence demands’ being made by the CSM.

For those who need a bit of back ground, the general premise is that many of EVE Onlines current features (Faction Warfare, Null Sec Sovereignty, Low Sec etc) are essentially either unfinished or becoming seriously frayed around the edges.  CCP however appears steadfast in its decision to focus its efforts over the next 18 months on 2 new features – Incarna (Walking in Stations) and DUST514 (a console base FPS).

Herein lies a difficult path.  Recognising there are only ever a limited set of resources do you;  spit, polish and improve on the existing EVE Online game with the intention of retaining your current player base and hopefully attract a few more OR develop entirely new routes to market – essentially targeting completely new demographics whilst accepting the chance that some of your existing players may fall away?

CCP have decided to throw the dice and gamble on the latter –  and its a big gamble.  There is no guarantee that either DUST or Incarna will attract their own playing population, or even a playing population from those already within EVE.  Attracting current EVE players seems nonsensical(they already pay their subs for EVE Online, ergo they wouldn’t be ‘new’ revenue) so by default both Incarna and DUST will not necessarily appeal to the current player base. Or, in short, these features are not for you.

However, if the gamble pays off CCP will have a wide and diverse subscriber base across a breadth of platforms and game types.  Arguably this might indirectly benefit the classic EVE Online MMO as CCP’s revenue increases and this may be ploughed back into hard ware and personnel to improve the EVE Online MMO.

Such a bold move is not uncharacteristic for CCP who’s flagship title EVE Online was launched on much the same premise, against significant odds for success and amidst a equally large and vocal group of detractors.  Should CCP be able to pull off the dual coup de grace of delivering both a successful FPS and the immersion of a 3d avatar experience there will be a not inconsiderable number of forum naysayers, pessimistic blogers and angry CSM reps looking astonishingly stupid.

Unfortunately for CCP it will almost certainly have to rely upon these very commentators to declare its new features a success (or an epic lulzfail) and right at this point in time few of them are sounding all that generous.

CCP of course still has plenty of time in hand to mollify some of its critics and spin up enough positive press to sow the seeds of future plaudits for its new features – but its likely to be an up hill battle saddled with a marketing department that will surely be viewed with grave suspicion by even the most ardent fanboi. As it stands now the sense of disillusioned players on various forums is palatable – some no longer even able to muster the strength to emo-rage preferring to sit despondent and beaten.

CCP has chosen the brave, arguably foolish, ‘all or nothing’ route – it’s greatest danger though is that its previously loyal customers may well chose the same.

C.

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3 Responses to “Qualitative Easing”

  1. Kate Yeats Says:

    What you paint is a very one sided few that applies to the minority (sorry) of Eve players.

    Incarna is sounding more and more like adding a more social aspect (“be a bartender, make clothes!”) to Eve online, which given the majority of players live and work in high-sec is something that should appeal to them, as well as attract many other players who want no part of the ‘pew pew’.

    DUST is again, an attempt to to capture a user base currently turned off from Eve, frustrated at the slow pace and percieved lack of action (my wife insists on describing my beloved game as ‘like Excel in space’).

    CCP conduct exit surveys, they know what user base they lose and why and they’re taking steps to provide other avenues to capture those players.

    To say these features won’t appeal to current users is fantasy, no-one ‘needs’ PI, yet the massive planet rush showed all players are desperate for new things to do in the game. With DUST being tied to sovereignty and the large number of console players in the alliances (Goons had a huge number of gamers) there’s no doubt that player base will be there to protect and fight for their interests.

    Sure, FW, Null and low sec are broke and need love, but the truth is the majority will never discover this because they hug empire.

    I find it oddly ironic that the same people who are telling miners to HTFU after crying that CCP fix the game because they can’t play the way they want are the same ones bitching and moaning for the same reasons. ‘Waaaa the way I play is broke, I demand you fix it’

    If CCP did stop and focus on quality for the next 18months, they’d turn into Blizzard and everyone would be complaining about the lack of updates, expansions and new content.

    • What I hope to say is that the vocal element of EVE (albeit a potential minority) is it’s “pvp core” – at least that’s how I sense they would define themselves. They are vocally pro ‘game polish’ and anti Incarna/Dust (which doesn’t appeal to them at least in general). The trouble with a vocal group is they can often define how a game is perceived externally or they can create a “bandwagon” momentum.

      Don’t misunderstand me – I personally think both DUST and Incarna have the potential to take EVE to a new level of game play; but choosing this route is not without its risks and CCP must know it is taking a gamble in doing so.

      C.

  2. I think its an unnecessary risk. I detailed this in a post in GD (later moved to Jita Park) – but I think that CCP can have the best of both worlds if they’re willing to deliver 80% excellence *now* instead of 100% excellence in a few years.

    And ultimately, it’s very unlikely that Incarna/Dust profits will be plowed back into the Eve-O MMO – they’re much more likely to be plowed back into their own products or into new products.

    -Liang

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