At CCP we have been working hard to expand the gaming landscape by applying the knowledge and expertise we’ve built up with EVE Online to create a new experience within the EVE Universe in DUST 514, as well as a new video game franchise in World of Darkness.
During the last few months, as evidenced by our interaction with the community, we made some missteps on that journey.
As we reexamine our outward relations, we are also taking time to reevaluate our internal goals. In doing so, we have come to the conclusion that we are attempting too many things for a company our size. Developing EVE expansions, DUST 514 and World of Darkness has stretched our resources too thin.
If nothing else, the images of avatars chilling while complaining about game companies are getting awfully photorealistic.
You have 14 Days. If after that time the Plane is not properly tuned, I am deleting my characters, and cancelling all of my accounts. The rest of my guild will follow suit, as will several other guilds and people that play Everquest.
To be brief, I did not work my ass off, jumping through your idiotic hoops with my friends and guildmates, so I could go to a zone where only groups of 18 could enjoy the content. EVEN if past these initial moronic events I can finally get my entire guild in to raid with me, F__K YOU GUYS. Seriously, F__K YOU.
I cannot believe this… right now I’m just so pissed off. I am sitting here in the Plane of Time, and 3/4 of my guild is just sitting around while a group of 18 is repeatedly trying to beat one of the mini ring encounters. Don’t you people have ANY F__KING DECENCY? SMEDLEY WHY DON’T YOU STOP COUNTING YOUR MONEY AND START ISSUING ORDERS?
The tragic irony of creating the ultimate cockblock encounter in the form of the Rathe which requires 80 people to defeat and then to limit encounters in the Plane of Time to 18.
14 Days…. after that this site will change from the most popular EQ fan site on the internet to the most popular World of Warcraft fan site on the internet. I’m done playing ball with you useless f__kers… it’s my turn.
Alex “Furor Planedefiler” Afrasiabi
Leader of “Fires of Heaven”, Everquest’s most notorious guild May 9, 2003
…our interactions with CCP’s upper management in the aftermath of the Emergency Summit have shown us that the suits are not treating the needs of the players with the gravity they deserve; our willingness to negotiate in a chill way with the FiS ["Flying in Space", aka the primary Eve Online game as opposed to "Walking in Stations"] teams (which has met with obvious success) is being misinterpreted as a sign of weakness and compliance by the suits.
So the gloves come off. There’s not much point for Goonswarm striving to ‘fix EVE’ by seizing control of the CSM [Council of Stellar Management, Eve's player-elected representatives] and negotiating successfully with the FiS devs if the amount of resources allocated to FiS itself dwindles and the game continues to stagnate. In the coming weeks we are going to be making some extremely loud statements regarding the neglect of FiS, the failure of Incarna, and the need for CCP’s management to pull the game out of this stall. We need something new to do, not something new to wear.
This will not take the form of an incoherent threadnaught (though that certainly got results, last time) but we may seize control of the internet’s dynamic media – Slashdot, Digg, Reddit, and the gaming press as a whole for several news cycles.
We will not stand idly by as an alliance while our subscription money goes to waste, watching the game we pay to play spiraling into entropy due to the folly and neglect of CCP’s management. It is not yet time to start a fire, but get your gasoline ready.
Alex “The Mittani” Gianturco
Leader of “Goonswarm Federation”, Eve Online’s most notorious guild September 3, 2011
So, given history’s inevitable cyclical nature, I suppose we should expect The Mittani to give up his promising career as a corporate attorney for life as a worldbuilder on The Old Republic shortly!
The investment of money in EVE should not give you an unfair advantage over the investment of time. The CSM, under NDA, has been presented with CCP‘s plans for continued evolution of the business model and agrees that nothing they saw breaks this principle. CCP has committed to sharing their plans with the CSM on this front on an ongoing basis.
The Mittani (aka Alexander Gianturco, Eve’s senior politician)
We believe that the situation that has unfolded in the past week has been a perfect storm of CCP communication failures, poor planning and sheer bad luck. Most of these issues, when dealt with in isolation, were reasonably simple to discuss and resolve, but combined they transformed a series of errors into the most significant crisis the EVE community has yet experienced.
Now it’s up to the players to determine if they quit shooting their lasers at statues and resume shooting them at one another.
“There is a pretty overwhelming perception amongst EVE players that these changes are bad. I think they’re brilliant, but our players don’t. We’re going to face an uphill struggle, and the reason many of us never talk about this publically is that we’d be burned at the stake by the players.”
– Kristoffer Touborg, from the leaked “Fearless” internal CCP discussion pamphlet
Eve’s current woes are interesting for a number of reasons. Let’s run through them quickly.
First, the Eve playerbase feels both empowered and angry. They feel very much as though they should have a voice in how the game is run. CCP has not disagreed with this, and their “Council of Stellar Management” player advisory council is currently winging its way to Iceland, at CCP’s expense (and knowing the expense of last-minute airline reservations, more than cancelling any benefit from selling virtual monocles). We’ve seen player protests in MMOs before, but this is the first overt player riot – enabled in part by Eve’s own strengths of being a unitary server game so that if, say, someone decides it’s a good idea to shoot up a statue commemorating the in-game NPC leaders as a political gesture, it can get legs.
In-game political ownership, and a sense of that extending out of the game into the game’s corporate management, is not new to Eve – virtual worlds in general elicit that sense of ownership. (See the fury at Star Wars Galaxies’ NGE changes, or Prokofy Neva’s various writings demanding that Linden Lab not be permitted to run their own product without some sort of oversight). Part of the bargain of setting people loose to build your world for you – or more accurately, the social constructs that help build that world – is that those people tend to value their labor more than yours. And they should. Without the value added by its players, Eve is a spreadsheet simulator, Second Life is literally nothing whatsoever and Star Wars Galaxies is, well, post-NGE Star Wars Galaxies.
The NGE is illustrative here as well, in that, like that ill-fated attempt by SOE to move Star Wars Galaxies in a more mainstream direction, CCP appears to have plans for its MMOs that Eve players aren’t very interested in. Eve is a very hardcore, complicated, and most importantly, abstract game. The great majority of Eve players don’t care about monocles, they care about extracting 3% more efficiency out of their missile launcher speeds. The drama about $25 virtual shirts and $60 virtual monocles in the item store is amusing, the “walking in a small room in your spaceship” feature Incarna added to justify said item store is also amusing, but what enrages Eve players is the thought that they might have to pay $50 – or $5 – tomorrow to get that 3% missile launcher efficiency. Or worse, that someone else would. That was the part of the leaked internal discussion/propaganda leaflet that so enraged the Eve playerbase, where one member of the “point/counterpoint” discussion advocated exactly that. And that was why an Eve producer posting to the official blog finally said, point blank, in an attempt to calm the rioting, “there are no and never have been plans to sell “gold ammo”” (contradicting another section of said leaked document which said explicitly that ammunition sales were in fact under consideration).
Still, the fact remains – CCP introduced an item shop to Eve, a game which very vehemently did not need, nor want one. They patched in ambulatory avatars, in a game where most players ever appear only as abstract radar widgets, specifically to support that item shop. CCP is taking their game in places that their players do not want it to go. And the players know this. And they are angry.
To state the brutally obvious: this is not how to handle microtransactions. In fact, this is probably a textbook case in how NOT to handle microtransactions (a story that has been written already, actually). And in a hardcore abstract game such as Eve, I’m not sure microtransactions can even work, at least without alienating almost every player Eve currently has – in other words, an NGE-style extinction level event. And CCP is not a stupid company. They have one of the most successful independently-run MMOs in the market today. They effectively own the niche of PvP virtual worlds, to the point that fans are angry at the realization they have nowhere else to go.
The conspiracy theory one is tempted to indulge in, then, given that brutally obvious fact – is CCP, in fact, intentionally forcing an extinction level event? Do they want to alienate the hardcore playerbase that helped give the company the motto “harden the f*ck up”?
I suspect CCP can still recover player good will and staunch the bleeding of what anecdotally are already a significant number of cancelled accounts – but it needs to be done quickly.
“The most visible example of another game introducing virtual goods sales is certainly LOTRO. It is worth pointing out though that they made almost everything microtransaction based and at the same time removed subscription fees. Because other games with very different communities and very different gameplay styles are able to do something it doesn’t mean we can do the same thing with the same levels of success.”
“More revenue is of course an aim, but making our customers feel like they are being “double billed” to be able to play on the same level as others is just a step too far.”
– John Turbefield, from the leaked “Fearless” internal CCP discussion pamphlet
The Eve player base responded with the calm demeanor you’d expect by, um, literally rioting. The devs responded with, uh, yeah.
People have been shocked by the price range in the NeX store, but you should remember that we are talking about clothes. Look at the clothes you are currently wearing in real life. Do you have any specific brands? Did you choose it because it was better quality than a no-name brand? Assume for a short while that you are wearing a pair of $1,000 jeans from some exclusive Japanese boutique shop. Why would you want to wear a pair of $1,000 jeans when you can get perfectly similar jeans for under $50? What do other people think about you when they see you wearing them? For some you will look like the sad culmination of vainness while others will admire you and think you are the coolest thing since sliced bread. Whichever it is, it is clear that by wearing clothes you are expressing yourself and that the price is one of the many dimensions that clothes possess to do that in addition to style and fit. You don’t need to buy expensive clothes. In fact you don’t need to buy any clothes. Whatever you choose to do reflects what you are and what you want others to think you are.
If you do not buy a $60 monocle A LOSER IS YOU. So there you go.
Naturally, we have caught the attention of the world. Only a few weeks ago we revealed more information about DUST 514 and now we have done it again by committing to our core purpose as a company by redefining assumptions. After 40 hours we have already sold 52 monocles, generating more revenue than any of the other items in the store.
Currently we are seeing _very predictable feedback_ on what we are doing. Having the perspective of having done this for a decade, I can tell you that this is one of the moments where we look at what our players do and less of what they say.
Or, as Hilmar The Very Savvy Business Cat says…
But the best/worst part, that makes me really hope for Petturson’s sake that this is some clever troll of a forgery or possibly the work of a very drunk Icelandic summer pub crawl, is this line:
But we have done more, not only have we redefined the production quality one can apply to virtual worlds with the beautiful Incarna but we have also defined what it really means to make virtual reality more meaningful than real life when it comes to launching our new virtual goods currency, Aurum.
I…. what was that, Hilmar The Cat That Leverages Synergy?
One of the reasons we make jokes about Eve being a bad game, or a spreadsheet or what have you, is that it lacks immersion. It’s just talking space ships. And most of the time you’re so zoomed out because of the lag that you don’t even see your space ship. It’s just a little bracket fighting another bunch of brackets, and the overview is a spreadsheet, and then your targeting reticule’s a bracket.
I would like Eve to be a better game. Eve has always been a vision, an idea of a universe, that’s always been poorly realised through the medium of a game client. I almost never log on to Eve Online itself because I run a spy network. For me, Eve Online is talking to people in a Jabber client.
Based in Chişinău, the capital of Moldova, Iskbank.com has been operating in its current incarnation since December of 2009, and claims to have been in operation for three years prior. The owner and primary operator of the site is known as Vadim, although it’s impossible to know if there is any relation to the Eve character of the same name. Records indicate that Iskbank.com has somewhere between 2 and 5 employees, although this is only an estimate. They appear to also operate eveisk.ru, a Russian-language mirror of Iskbank.com.
The RMT shop has a spokesman (really?) who denies everything (really!) but Evenews24 is on the case:
While we can understand why Iskbank.com would refuse to confirm the data we received, EveNews24 staff spent a great deal of time talking to customers whose names were on this list. The vast majority of those we spoke to confirmed that they were Iskbank.com customers. Some of their stories will be told tomorrow. In the mean time, we stand by our story.
Eve’s lead designer (you know Eve, it’s that really hardcore PvP game that we at Broken Toys are honor bound to despise because, um, I’m sure there’s some reason that can be found in any 200+ comment thread on Darkfall) was interviewed by MTV and I bet you can guess the first question!
When you give players freedom to do whatever they want, then you’re going to have these sorts of massive political scandals — and the players really love it. The largest alliance in the game was broken up by a trader on the inside and when this happened we were really worried at first because we were like, “Oh no! Everyone’s going to quit!” And it was really horrible for us.
That was in the morning, but a couple hours later the buzz on the forums was crazy, subscriber numbers were growing, and everybody was really excited. Because everyone was becoming complacent and bored with being the biggest alliance, and then all of a sudden now there’s war and turmoil. People who used to be in the alliance were re-subscribing and everyone was really excited about it so it’s not necessarily always a bad thing when this sort of stuff happens. Somebody on the other side was interviewed, and he was saying “When you beat the biggest raid in World of Warcraft you don’t get an interview in The New York Times but when this sort of thing happens it makes real-world news.”
Lots of folks lose their livelihoods when an empire falls, and players invested in BoB are likely upset that years of work were lost. But EVE is not a game about the height of the Roman Empire. It’s a game about the sacking of Rome by barbarians, so that they can become the next short-lived top dog. BoB existed to be torn down, and anyone who dreams of permanent glory in a game like that should understand that their destiny is to be taken down by the next upstart, in a dog-eat-dog world.