CZ Minutes: Terminal

Last week on the CZM™ we talked about what would make us quit EVE. And now for something… quite similar. The favorite past-time of the community this summer has been talking about the ever so (un)popular EVE Is Dying theory. Putting it in very simple terms; some are saying yes, others say no, and yet others claim that it is simply changing due to Crius. The likes of Nosy Gamer, EVE Lost and Found, Declarations of War and (the infallible) Crossing Zebras, along with others, have peppered the community with stats, analysis and all the theories you could ask for. The question has proven to be anything but simple, so we decided it was time to bring it to the CZ Minutes: Is EVE in terminal decline, and if not, why not? HVAC: I don’t think it’s terminal, but it certainly is in a decline. CCP is saying the right things about what needs to be fixed and a lot of the issues that have plagued the game for pretty much forever are in the plan. So if CCP executes their plan and fixes those pain points – Sov, POS, Corp UI, etc. – and does it well I think the stagnation will reverse itself. Niden: Some are saying that the biggest drop is represented by indy people dropping alts, Crius and PLEX prices cited as the main culprits. No doubt that the state of null sov (bla bla bla), the summer slump and the way of doing business in EVE drastically changing (with highsec taking the biggest hit) isn’t doing the ACU any favors but – and I might be a wide-eyed optimist that just hasn’t been worn in (out) yet – what I’m seeing are the symptoms of change – not terminal illness.
– People were so busy that we barely noticed Crius had come.
Meanwhile, like I wrote about two weeks ago, places like lowsec are booming. My main problem when logging in wasn’t finding something to do, it was choosing what piece of the cake I wanted more. Between Huola, Okkamon, escalations (the PvP type), gate camps and roaming gangs of all shapes and sizes there hasn’t been a quiet day. Hell, people were so busy that we barely noticed Crius had come. And all this time I’m noticing a budding small-time industrial culture take form amongst lowsec PvP-ers. The general feeling is that Crius a boon for the little guy in lowsec. If “EVE is dying” means we’re losing a bunch of industry alts, funded by Big Money from null, I’m not that terrified, to be honest.
Mangala:  Is it fuck. The only people who think it is are a) either the demented media shitstirrers who know you cannot attract pageviews with honey, or b) the F1 scrubs who base Eve is dying on their fellow monkeys not having a structure to shoot or a capital fleet to save when Boat fucks up.
– EVE is not dying for me and mine, or indeed anyone we shoot.
People like me, people who (amongst numerous activities) log in to roam, to fight anyone regardless of standing, our little corner of EVE has never been busier. When my own roam for instance continues to go from strength to strength, never lacking for targets – something repeated across all of the communities who share that ideal – then surely EVE is not dying for me and mine, or indeed anyone we shoot. Hell as Niden says in many of his articles – and above – lowsec is not even close to dead, and from my own experience high and null are not either. Yes the available content is different, but hey that just means adapting to variable conditions, rather than simply decrying EVE/x feature is dead and fucking off. To get down off my horse here though, it would be fair to say that in certain sectors activity is not what it was. People are leaving due to factors like lack of visible movement on z feature, or they do not like direction of y feature, or the change to multiple yearly releases and so on – the reason list is as long as a long thing. And the people who only focus on 1 or 2 aspects tend to be the first to cry EVE is dying when their buddies stop showing up for ops, or even logging to jabber to chat shit. Again as with Niden I may be a bit more optimistic than most, but thats because the communities with which i interact are not going quiet, or lacking for things to do. I challenge any of the doom cryers to simply change up what you do in game, find a new outlet in EVE for your spaceship violencing needs, or your trading needs or whatever floats your boat, then see if you still think EVE without demonstrating if you yourself can make your current game experience better first.
– PLEXed accounts have been dropping like flies
Joran: To Niden’s point, as one of the people with multiple accounts, my PLEXed accounts have been dropping like flies because of the increase in prices. I really feel that is a huge part of the decline, although I am a bit biased. Simply because of this reason I don’t feel like Eve is dying at all, I doubt people are actually leaving the game in droves, it’s an Eve economy issue, if you want to consider it an issue. I’m not sure how CCP would actually view it, because they are obviously going to be getting the same income no matter whether the PLEXes stay in a trader’s inventory in Jita or whether they are sold and applied to an account. Subscribers doesn’t mean a lot in the context of a system like Eve’s. plexstore-hdr Niden: Someone on DoW (Aleks?) stipulated that it was the bursting of an economic bubble, to strengthen that point, a natural reaction to Crius. It would certainly explain why the people on the ‘ground’ aren’t seeing any signs of the “dying”, while the industry world is undergoing massive change. I’m just too dumb to understand why the PLEX prices rose, however. I dunno, Crius is the first step towards fixing many of the worst pain points in the game – stuff that players have been demanding for years – but instead of HTFU-ing and looking to the future this will bring, I see a bunch of babies crying because mummy ripped the plaster off and has to clean the wound so it will heal. “It new and hurts right now, therefore it must be bad”, you know? Do people want change or are they addicted to their ISK and bitterly refusing to learn to ride the bike again? On the other hand, I don’t have billions invested in an industry scheme, either. To put it in other words; is Crius to EVE what the revolution was to France? Tarek: I have long held the theory that EVE has become more and more vulnerable to small groups of players leaving because of the constant inflation of alts. Of course we all don’t have the numbers, but I have a strong suspicion that a significant part of growth throughout recent years was in subscriptions rather than players. When such a system is hit with a change that dissatisfies a number of people in a player bracket saturated with alts, the amount of subscriptions will drop disproportionately with the numbers of players leaving.
– Draw new players into the healthy and dynamic parts of the game
The most effective reaction would be to draw new players into the healthy and dynamic parts of the game and work quickly on improving the stagnant ones. I have the impression that CCP is doing the latter, but I am worried about the lack of the former. When sovereignty and corp/alliance management are fixed eventually, there will be some who dislike the change. They will leave and again take a disproportionate amount of subscriptions with them. The question then is, who climbs up the ranks to replace those long-term players? My main concern about the sustainability of EVE as a game which – more than anything – relies on players to make it immersive, is the slow haemorrhage of burnt out bittervets and dissatisfied major players who can not deal with established structures being meddled with. As long as nothing offsets that and really grows the playerbase in breadth rather than depth (through multiple subscriptions per player) I do worry slightly. Niden: Your solution, drawing players into healthy and dynamic parts of the game, is in fact exactly what I think CCP are doing (whether by design or per chance), or at least attempting to do. Kronos delivered improvements to the already thriving lowsec, making it not only a better place for those who call it home, but an excellent vacation spot for those fed up with waiting for null sov to improve. The question becomes if the community is ‘advertising’ it enough on its own or if CCP should help promote it further.
– People have been saying that EVE is dying for 11 years now
Over all, I believe in the roadmap CCP Seagull presented at Fanfest and think the whole “EVE is dying”-mantra is a knee-jerk reaction to fundamental change that has to be seen through. People have been saying that EVE is dying for 11 years now (yes it’s even documented) and it’s testament to the core qualities of the game that it has survived the doomsayers, bad press, bad management ideas, and bad investments for so long – and will continue to do so if history has taught me anything. Things that are just bad don’t survive for 11 years, but the ‘good’ in EVE is taken for granted to such an extent by some people that it appears almost invisible to them, so no wonder they’re surprised the bitch won’t die. Bad news sells however and those of us who manage the media sites that cover EVE know very well that a piece with “EVE is dying” in the title gets people interested, wheres a piece named “All is well in EVE” would only get decent traffic if people assumed it was sarcasm. Although it unfortunately perpetuates the idea of EVE’s (seemingly endless) terminal state to an extent, it is the only realistic way to get a foot in the debate and remind people not to mistake change for slow death. Change is painful, some people will run for the hills, but EVE is not dying. 3aa4d_eve-blocking Tarek: I don’t see a concerted effort by CCPs marketing department to attract new players by emphasizing highsec or lowsec PVP and playstyles. Marketing still relies heavily on nullsec as the carrot they dangle in front of potential customers. I consider that a grave mistake. No new player who isn’t part of Something Awful or the EVE reddit community has the slightest chance to get into nullsec these days. Kronos did not come with a trailer, the release page for Crius didn’t even feature a link to subscribe for a trial but rather a reactivation link. Marketing should be out there having developers interviewed in the gaming media to present the stepping stones CCP has created to get new players quickly involved in the game. Optimistic community blogs will not compensate for that. Who reads those if they are not already playing EVE? I reckon TMC is the only EVE related site that gets readership from non EVE players, and they focus way too much on nullsec too. These days it’s lowsec and the NPSI crowd where the old “Every Rifter Counts” slogan still applies. Niden: Some very good points indeed. The reason null is promoted over lowsec is because it’s a lot easier to do. Big ships, big numbers, and lots of fireworks are an easy sell – for both CCP and the likes of TMC or other sites that cater to a wider crowd – compared to constant small gang PvP, no matter how much fun it is or how much bang for your back it gives. So, assuming your thesis is correct, the question becomes: how do you promote it in such a way that an outsider is compelled to check it out? How do you sell content instead of bells and whistles? Tarek: I do see potential. Launch a marketing campaign that emphasizes the impact you can have by participating in small conflicts. CCP even did that in the past through trailers like Butterfly Effect and Causality. That is the way they should keep marketing EVE and emphasize it more. Today you may be fighting in a frigate, tomorrow in a cruiser, soon in a HAC and one day you might be part of a massive powerstructure if you feel like it. That last qualifier also needs to be there. It should be clear to a new player that they do not have to feel bad if they are not flying a supercap in a major battle two months from subscription. There needs to be more emphasis on the fact that there is more than one endgame to EVE. For some that may be the role of FC in a sov war, for others it might be the spot as best frigate solo PVP pilot and for yet another player it could mean defending a wormhole system successfully. The diversity of the game sometimes even escapes older players, how should newbies be able to grasp it? Hibbie: I’m in the EVE isn’t dying camp – much like HVAC, I think we’re going to see a slump, and maybe over a longer period we’ll see EVE move into a noticeable, periodic cycle of ups and downs. Extrapolating a generalised downward cycle from that would be more telling as to the continued life of the universe. We all know that burnout is a real problem,  but EVE has this magnetic draw that keeps unsubscribed retirees engaged, for the most part, so we can hope  there’ll be conversions down the line.
CCP’s marketing department appear to be making advertisements for the players these days. At fanfest this year, in a room full of hungover, sweaty nerds, I saw that new trailer for the first time and was really, really excited. When combined with Seagull’s plan, which I believe and trust in (apart from my lingering concerns about timescale), I’m really hopeful and excited for the future of the game.
– We need more ‘I was there’ inspirational advertising
However, they shouldn’t be making adverts for the people who are spending money to go to Iceland – I’m already fully engaged with the game and it’s universe, and so are a lot of the player base. As Tarek says, we need more ‘I was there’ inspirational advertising, and a more public view of the excitement EVE can offer anyone, not just the retirees in coffins. Looking at Cruis, there’s been a surge of interest in industry in my peer group – I’ve spent a lot of time teaching people the basics of building, researching and inventing everything. People seem genuinely excited for a moneymaking opportunity that isn’t ratting, and a new challenge in the game. If CCP can keep generating that excitement with new mini-expansions amongst the existing subscribers, it will inevitably trickle down to the shobon newbie who joins and we can only hope to see a continued playerbase which is more diverse and engaged than it is today. Of course, if this hits my profits from moon goo and t2 hull production, I’ll be assmad and quit, taking all my accounts with me. Xander: Eve isn’t dead or dying but it is in a precarious position I would suggest. Things aren’t great right now for the game. That said, I think CCP are making the right decisions at the moment. I think this new six week release schedule makes for more dynamic Eve development and I think CCP Seagull will make an amazing Executive Producer.
– The next 12-18 months are vital for Eve’s future
The next 12-18 months are vital for Eve’s future as far as I can see it. I think by the end of that period, we need to see a nullsec that is considered ‘fixed’. I know ‘fixed’ is a fairly non-specific term and that it isn’t ever going to be perfect for everyone but I think people need to see sizable, demonstrable quality of life improvements in 0.0 in that time frame after the promises CCP have given. I’ll also add that I’m not sure we’ll see Eve sharp increases in subscriptions any time soon. That CCP haven’t announced subscription figures in a while is telling and I think we will need things to plateau and stabilize for a bit before we see things start improving again. The next year or so is going to be tough for CCP but I believe Eve will come out better at the other side. Joran: To be fair, I think employing hyperbole is a very common human trait. Most assuredly it is overused when you are eager to have your voice heard. Eve may not be dying, but I think Xander has the right of it, in that Eve’s extended future will be decided in the short term. There’s plenty of armchair game designing, it’s what we do best. I certainly think CCP is capable of making the changes needed that will increase accounts and making logging in worthwhile again.  
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About the author


12 year EVE veteran, Snuffed Out scumbag, writer, graphic artist, producer, Editor-in-Chief of Crossing Zebras and the second most influential player in EVE, according to EVE Onion.