CCP: The VR ExperimentCosmo
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.