We live in austere times.
Almost regardless of which direction you look the story is one of economic woe, unemployment and financial hardship. It is against this backdrop that CCP finds itself attempting to develop two new titles, DUST 514 (a first person shooter) and World of Darkness (a spin off from White Wolfs ‘vampire orientated’ pen and paper RPG). Both titles will enter into a crowded market place and are aimed at a demographic whose disposable income is shrinking.
Alongside these development CCP has attempted to introduce micro transactions to its flagship title EVE Online. Whilst micro transactions could be seen as very much in vogue at the moment the steep prices of those transactions coupled with some unfortunate revelations regarding $1000 dollar jeans and high fashion cat walk displays has resulted in a rather understandable backlash from CCPs current consumer base.
In short CCP looks completely disconnected from the ‘real world’ pressures that many of its paying (and future) customers are enduring. This, in and of itself, may not be viewed as a total disaster but CCP is also facing extreme competition in its core market going forward. Triple A titles such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Eidos), Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (Bethesda), Guild Wars 2 (Arena Net) and Star Wars: The Knights of the Old Republic (Bioware) are all either released now or will be in the months ahead.
From a personal perspective I would be keen to play any of those titles; being a nerdy geek with a mild obsession with all things sci-fi/fantasy orientated. I would think that a good proportion of EVEs player base thinks likewise.
In straightened times however players are likely to be much more discerning and selective about what products get their money. Does a player crack open their credit card on a monocle for their EVE avatar (to be worn in a single room with no player to player interaction) or buy Bethesda’s latest offering of open world RPG goodness?
Everything has a value, but that value is relative. Incarna’s vanity items hold a proportion of their value in that they can be displayed, flaunted and shown off to other players – or at least that aught to be the case. Except with the door firmly shut that isn’t an option. The decision by CCP to release Incarna and the NeX store before player interaction (surely a staple element of an MMO) was in place and working must be seen as choice bordering upon insanity. It was certainly a monumentally stupid one.
Now CCP is desperately trying to repair the damage done – Dev blue bars abound as CCP Navigator tries to drop a pithy quip or comment into every forum post and ‘ship spinning’ is scheduled to make its return. Will these acts be sufficient to mollify the community? That is hard to say, all I can tell is that my previous corp mates have long since departed EVE. They’re still playing games like World of Tanks, or Dead Island – Steam tells me so: theyre just not playing EVE Online and I really do wonder if any will come back.