CCP: The VR Experiment

 

Not more than one month ago did i review EVE: Valkyrie – Warzone, leaving readers in an optimistic mindframe about the game. However, under that jovial but critical writing was a looming shadow of doubt.

Indeed there was a lot to celebrate, both technically and what it meant for the larger EVE universe, but as it turned out the post-release ended up less like an after-party and more like a wake. I had checked Steamcharts, noticing the drooping numbers of players and also picked up on various chatter regarding more bots entering matches and more veteran players demolishing new players due to matchmaking unable to even out the sides. At the moment of release I had asked the devs about their happiness with the initial numbers (156 overall peak on launch night) and, unsurprisingly, I received a “best we wait and see” answer.

We’re now a month in and we’re seeing between 10 and 20 players running the nonVR game on steam. As a point of comparison, Lawbreakers, a huge project led by industry giant Cliff Bleszinski, is widely considered a flop for hosting less than 100 players at the same time.

Pulling the frame back from Valkyrie, we have Sparc, which just released this september to an eyebrow-raising, but otherwise lukewarm reception. Gunjack also failed to garner a huge hit for CCP even if they did go ahead with a sequel.

All in all I can’t help but see all of these as signs for the press release that came out of CCP today.

Using Google translate and some common sense, we get tuned into the writing on the wall made manifest. CCP is putting VR as a whole on the backburner; this is the end of the VR experiment at CCP. Hilmar is quoted showing faith in the industry, but it’s probably akin to my feelings towards VR at the moment: It’s fantastic, I want to see it become a thing, but i’m not willing to shell out 400$ as of yet on a proper VR headset, and for sure I wasn’t going to pay 800$ with shipping way back when.

We have to look at this development in direction at CCP at a larger scale, while also tuning into what’s going on at a CCP high management position.

As Hilmar mentioned, CCP is a 20 year old company. It’s looking to diversify its portfolio and try to wedge its foot into new doors.

We have to be entirely realistic: EVE Online is a stale investment with limited growth. It will never reach huge numbers overnight, nor will any expansion pack even double, let alone quadruple player numbers. And EVE2 is such a huge endeavour and such an unlikely one that it’s not even worth thinking about. EVE is EVE because of the genesis of the community and the shape it took over the last decade and a half, and it’s virtually unreplicable at this moment, even if we were to want to design a new experience and produce it.

So from a company with its interests set in the video game and entertainment markets, it’s not strange for me to image that CCP had gauged interest in mobile previously and is working with Sumo Digital on Aurora to break into China and South Korean marketplaces. That’s not the only log in the fire at CCP as we see it investing in working with multiple developers in China to release mobile games for that area.

We as ‘westerners’ tend to think the world of our Steams and Pubgees but we forget that Tencent, one of the largest entertaniment collosi in China, and Crossfire have been brands in asian territories that have topped charts and numbers for a long while now. And also raked in a ridiculous amount of money too, with Tencent now owning, among other things, Riot Games of League of Legends fame, as well as dipping its fingers in Acti-Blizzard and Epic Games. It’s an extremely rich market and there’s always room for more. 

If I was going to lead my two-decade old company into a financial opportunity-rich territory, it’d probably be mobile and Asia. So let’s return to our neck of the woods.

From the statement CCP is shelving all future developments in the current VR titles. I’m sure the new titles will be put on a barebones structure to keep up already developed titles on life support since it’s relatively cheap to do, and we’ve heard that some staff will be reshuffled amongst remaining CCP holdings.

This post on the Valkyrie forums reads a bit weird with ‘transitioning the ownership of CCP’s Newcastle studio’, which may lead to the entire property being offloaded to another buyer, but even in that case i’m decently sure we’ll see continued upkeep of Valkyrie at least for an interim period.

However, Hilmar did reinforce CCP’s direction in PC, so for Project Nova it’s looking relatively good, and i’m sure we’ll see the same rate of development and upkeep for EVE Online as well that we’ve been accustomed with for the last few years.

I think it’s time we as EVE players divorce our notion that CCP = EVE Online, and stop caring about the overall performance and interests of CCP as a company. We will continue having EVE Online as we’ve been having it, with ups and downs and slumps and highs, and any tangentially-related EVE project should be approached with the same care as we would a new property.

EVE Online as we know it will probably continue and evolve as we’ve grown accustomed to, and that’s all we really need to draw out of all of this.

Tags: Cosmo, eve online, valkyrie, VR

About the author

Cosmo

Cosmo has been playing Eve Online for the better part of a decade, on and off as most Eve 'careers' go, over the span of a dozen trials and over multiple accounts. He's your average every-man player, with no hats thrown in any rings and with enough perspective to not get bogged down in endless threadnaughts on how every new feature will 'ruin' the game.

He loves the concept of Eve and the potential of what it could be more than the actual grimy bits that currently define the experience. "An Eve Online beyond Eve Online" as he likes to put it.


  • “divorce our notion that CCP = EVE Online”
    this. CCP is a unicorn in the industry for having survived basically on EVE Online alone for so long and frankly, it’s good to see they took a lesson from World of Darkness: they took a risk, realized they overestimated their market’s short-term growth, backed out once they broke even on their monetary investment and refocused on new ways to diversify. Kudos to them for doing what’s best for the company and if I read the Icelandic article correctly, CCP offered to move at least some of the affected employees to other (CCP) studios. Also, Falcon did state on Reddit that NOVA development was completely unaffected by this restructuring.

    • Bill Bones

      Well, World of Darkness suffered from terrible management. CCP essentially wasted 21 million $ to develop three alphas from scratch with no idea of what they were trying to accomplish nor how to do it.

  • DireNecessity

    14+ years on EVE Online is looking well-nigh unreplicable. I know over 14 years no other company has come anywhere near producing EVE’s magic. That said, I’m always interested to see what other things CCP are dabbling in and it always makes me sad when those dabbles crash and burn but the world is what the world is. Keep plugging away CCP, I’m rooting for you.

  • luobote kong

    Astonished that I am in full agreement with you Cosmo. East Asia has been the place to aim at/learn from for many years now. There is a dynamism and yes innovation there that is increasingly lacking in the west. There will be more to this story I am sure. Precisely what has the Shanghai office been doing? Not Gunjack nor Nova.

    And to take an Eve centric view- Hilmar’s sort of keynote at EveVegas intimated that new developments for Eve would be trialed by other products in the stable. Well the stable just got cut by a third in workforce terms. That is the grim aspect. Best wishes to those who are leaving CCP and here’s hoping you will find new opportunities in the future.

  • Freelancer117

    The reason why eve online survived for 14 years is because of the community and how ccp interacted with us through the community devs. Now that Hilmar has fired them all, this eve forever notion he personally twisted/re-invented at vegas will fail.