EVE is Dying?

 
EVE is dying they say. The recent doom and gloom in the community lends this previously scoffed at (and age-old, mind you) expression creedence. From rumors to graphs; all point towards a decline in the population of New Eden, the annual summer slump is hitting a new low according to sources. Numbers don’t lie and indeed many are prophesying that EVE is entering a dark age. Meanwhile, lowsec didn’t get that memo.

Another world

Pilots in lowsec wake up each day to news and omens of decline and inactivity. Then they undock and can’t help but wonder if the doomsayers are indeed talking about the same game. Fleets are out and about, pilots are logging in and new recruits keep showing up. Faction Warfare is even heating up in some places and indeed the summer slump feels familiar and mild. The notable absentees amongst the usual suspects are those with teams in the alliance tournament, now deep in training. Other than that, it’s business as usual. Barring of course when the world cup was on, good luck getting a fleet to undock then. There is a disconnect between the mood in EVE media and the day-to-day life of lowsec. As turns out, there are reasons for that.

Numbers don’t lie

At the center of this hot topic in the community are the numbers. There is no denying that all signs point towards a decline in active subscriptions, with average accounts logged on each day back to 2008 levels. So for the sake of this article, let’s assume that as fact. The next task becomes to determine the nature of the hemorrhage. Is it across the board from industrialist to PvP-er, from young to old, from highsec to null? The evidence is the numbers, and they tell an interesting story. Back in 2011 nullsec saw more action than lowsec, beating it by 53% in kills. Since then the numbers have changed and lowsec now has the lead by 39%. When studying these numbers another interesting fact presents itself. Both nullsec and lowsec are currently on the curve of kills when comparing to last year, even slightly above. That is to say that both areas of space are killing just as much as last year, if not more. kills per year null ls comparison 2011 to 2014 If EVE is dying it’s certainly not showing in the PvP. We keep killing each other more each year with lowsec taking a clear lead. So if subscriptions are down but PvP is healthier than ever, the leak must be elsewhere.

The old world burns

It is arguable that a significant portion of the loss in subscriptions comes from veteran nullsec players previously sporting multiple accounts. Disillusioned by sov mechanics and stagnant null politics they may have lost their hope for the future and don’t see Crius as doing them any real favours. They may keep a couple of characters in the game for PvP, but unsubscribe most of their alts, a large proportion of which operate in highsec. PLEX prices being what they are, alts have become an expensive investment to begin with. With B0tlrd firmly in place the blue doughnut remains strong and winter isn’t coming. Alternate accounts are not as common in lowsec. The average lowsec denizen is younger (in character age) and predominantly involved in PvP. If lowsec is synonymous with PvP, the graph above suggests that low security space is thriving. While bittervets in null may have lost faith, Kronos saw improvements to lowsec; strengthening player retention with novelty and opportunity as well as addressing a key pain point for Factional Warfare that sounded the death-knell for plex farming alts (reducing the number of active accounts further, but improving the quality of PvP). As things stand now, lowsec reigns in blood, and the carnage shows no sign of slowing down. The fact that nullsec remains on par with its PvP performance from last year (speaking in terms of kills, not ISK), assuming the above is true, suggests that the nature of PvP in null has changed in character, but remains strong. No great narrative may be driving the fights, but the fights are still had. Indeed nullsec may be taking a page from the book of lowsec with smaller gangs, younger, more enthusiastic players, and fighting for fighting’s sake.

The news, fair and balanced

The EVE media of today is addicted to nullsec. Indeed, much of what we as EVE players consume via websites, podcasts and blogs comes from a view centered around null. For good reason; nullsec is home to some of the most dedicated and enthusiastic players EVE has ever seen, people who have built empires from scratch and taken part in wars and narratives that affect all of New Eden. But the old guard is bitter and tired. Stagnation and broken mechanics leave only the community to keep their passion for the game alive, and even that cannot hold them for ever. They yearn for enjoyment and fun but have had faith beaten out of them with structure grinds and stalemates, feeling like little more than statistics and relics of times gone by. No wonder there is somber mood in EVE media of late. No wonder subscriptions are down.

Wish you were here

Meanwhile, in the so-called ‘kiddie pool’, the party is in full swing and someone just put Slayer on the stereo – drowning out the sound of the news that no-one here cares about anyway. Subscriptions may be down, but PvP and lowsec are doing better than ever. So is EVE dying? No, EVE is killing. The bash is downstairs and everyone is invited.
Tags: lowlife, lowsec, niden, pvp

About the author

Niden

11 year EVE veteran, Snuff Box lowsec scumbag, writer, graphic artist, producer, Editor-in-Chief of Crossing Zebras and the second most influential player in EVE, according to EVE Onion.

  • rixxjavix

    Preach it!!

    • Niden

      Oh you know I do 😉 Amen.

  • Forlorn Wongraven

    2011: T1 ships are bad and no match to T2 ships, FW was in a terrible condition due to broken FW mechanics. 2014: T1 ships are awesome, people are less risk-adverse as they don’t need their pirate hulls/ HAC’s as they used and FW mechanic works. You have to put numbers in context.

    Also 5 out of my 12 chars are in poor land, and I see famous low sec pilots all day. It is not alive as you want it to be.

    • diessa

      Low sec is active, but it is a (relatively) small group of highly active people who contribute to the large numbers of kills. I agree that it is not as alive as it ought to be. One issue I have with low sec is how one-dimensional it is for small gang PvP: targets are at a complex or not. It can get dreary after a while.

      • Niden

        Given the content plexes provide daily it is indeed a small price to pay. Besides, with large plexes in regular rotation we’re seeing a shift in the meta.

        • diessa

          I agree that complexes are a substantial net positive to low security space. I’m happy that large complexes are allowing the meta to change. However, I most enjoy fighting at asteroid belts and other celestial objects, so I do resent those goodly complexes, sometimes!

          • Niden

            Oh I hear you, so do I on occasion. Love a belt fight, reminds me of the times I was probably the worst belt pirate in EVE 🙂

          • diessa

            Fighting someone is an isolated, quiet belt is one of the better things in Eve for me. I wish that feeling could be recreated. They tried, I think, with special spawns, but those seem to be tied to downtime; as a result, they seem to encourage highly cloaky, isolated play. I guess you could still hunt, but it would be above the paygrade of a newer player. Hunting haulers as they go to POCOs is another awesome thing, as well.

      • Kamar Raimo

        Lowsec PVP is way more complex (pun intended) than that. There are actually quite a few groups around who fight heavy elite-pvp battles and try to get in and out before PL can hotdrop them with supers (yes that happens in lowsec too). They virtually exist in a different world than the FW corps while living and fighting in the same systems.

        I know it because I have been part of that for some time. FW was practically invisible to us because if you fly a fleet of 10-20 T3s/HACs + Logis with the possibility of triage or dreads backing it up, you simply don’t care about that frigate gang dunking it out at some plex.

        Lowsec might not be as alive as it ought to be or could be, but it sure is more alive than I remember it from back when I last hung out there.

        • diessa

          I emphasized small gang PvP in my response because I know that some of the more organized and larger (by low sec standards) things that go on are in the process of becoming even more diverse. I would include FW ops in this. My response is talking about roaming with 5 people or under, which is an active facet of LS. In my response below, I also agree that complexes are good overall. However, it doesn’t change the reality that they can flatten the landscape on smaller scales.

    • Niden

      It isn’t? Are you calling me or the numbers a liar? It’s not about wanting – seeing and doing is believing. I don’t know where you have your alts, but where I live I can get into a fleet and a fight pretty much every day if I wish. Also, I am putting them in context: lowsec, along with all the changes that have happened there since 2011. That there are good reasons it works doesn’t make it less of a fact.

  • Messiah Complex

    I guess the point we’re supposed to take away is, “as long we can point to *something* good in the present, there’s no reason to be concerned about the future.”

    That’s deep.

    • Niden

      Nope, the point is that some people are too busy having fun to give a fuck 😉

      • Messiah Complex

        Which is exactly what I just wrote.

        • Niden

          No, you said that if we can find something good we don’t need to care about the future. That’s not what I said in the piece and I really don’t see how you could interpret it that way. The tl;dr is: it’s not all doom and gloom, lowsec is actually working and thriving, people seem to have forgotten that in the debate that’s being had on the state of EVE. Not just lowsec, PvP is working, simply based on the fact that it’s happening and is still on a steady increase. That’s not to say that all is well either, null sov still needs help, it’s simply a reminder and an attempt at balancing out, and lending perspective to, the debate.

          • Messiah Complex

            I give up.

          • Erutpar

            Let me try and paraphrase your initial reply to him. “Nope, the point is that some people are too busy having fun to give a fuck”(… about the future.) So yes, what he said is true.

            Now let me ask you a question:

            The title of your article is “EvE is Dying?” But It doesn’t appear you actually answered the question you based your article on. So then Is EvE Dying?

          • Niden

            I confess the intent was never to answer the question per se. If EVE was an island and on that island a bunch of people were slowly sinking into quicksand, and those that weren’t are obsessively talking about how others were sinking and how this must be a sign that the entire island is doomed. I’m the guy telling you that there’s another village a few miles down the road where everyone is not only not sinking but also having a good time, so instead of sinking or spreading the apathy you should come over and check it out.

            To put it another way; there is a contradiction in lower PCU but increasing PvP. Certainly EVE is suffering from the state of affairs in null and what’s gone down this year, but it also sounds like symptoms of change to me, and all change is painful.

          • mellyra

            Whether EVE is dying or not has nothing to do with the total amount of pvp or the healthiness of niche regions like low-sec – it’s solely a matter of active accounts.

            This is not about the old “EVE is dying meme” – if it were your comments would be appropriate.
            This is about PCU (which is the best proxy for subscriptions we have) being down significantly and about CCP having done three (!) rounds of layoffs over the past 12 months.

            You can’t pay your employees with killboard stats.

          • db

            I’m not so sure about the health of lowsec lately either. I’ve roamed from Fountain to Placid, Black Rise, Heimatar, and back all in an entire day and found only one fight, and it was two frigs and a cruiser vs two AF. That’s a huge region of space without much going on. And it’s getting to be that way more and more. Who wants to go out in a small gang roam only to have cyno dropped on you and a carrier with a horde of hurricanes come blap you just because someone can? The game mechanics are flawed and favor only the mega powerful and mega rich. Sov mechanics are broken. I won’t go into null. And hisec is about as boring as it can get. I hate to see Eve falling apart, but that’s the way it appears from my pilot’s POV.

  • Jester

    The leak is elsewhere. Since the end of the Halloween War, PCU count is down 28% (yes, you read that right). What’s going on in low-sec has never correlated well with periods of high or low activity on the PCU count. Good article, though!

    • Niden

      Granted, it’s an educated guess on my part based on personal observations and talks. The evidence so far points me in the direction of older nullsec players and their (often highsec industrial) alts. With PvP remaining healthy (at least in number, not considering ISK or narrative) in null are we saying that industry in highsec is the primary source of loss?

      I’m glad you liked it, either way.

      • Jester

        I’m out of the opinion business. Just giving you the numbers and past correlations. At the beginning of the Fountain war, PCU was 36k (30-day average). When it ended, PCU dropped to 28k. At the beginning of the Halloween War, PCU was 34k. It’s currently at 26k and still falling.

  • Fan4eve

    The article is very good. Thanks for that 🙂 Enjoyed.

    That being said, I think that the current lowsec reality will continue until the very end. That reality being… Fun! 🙂 And still, it doesn’t change the fact that the end is indeed coming a lot faster than it used to seem.

    Lowsec has become what fun is all about in Eve, and that’s fantastic for those of us who can “not give a shit” like you, and like me. I’ll keep having fun until I suddenly read some message “Eve is shutting down for good in 1 hour”, then I’ll have fun for 1 more hour, and move to another game just like that 🙂 Because I don’t hold on to the past.

    But after reading your article I have to say what I think, heck… What I sense, what I feel, is that Eve is dying. I felt it before the rain of doom & gloom article came about. If you go out of factionj warfare world for a bit, roam the emptiness of null, spend some time with the highsec carebears, you see that the slope is ever going down.

    Something fundemental is not working as smoothly as it used to. Something is not managing to keep up with gaming technology as well. Everything is square, old, and stuborn. I can’t describe it exactly, but I feel it.

    Eve is not forever. Its end can already be seen in the horizon.

    CCP will never pick up the brooms and start cleaning the old dark rooms, the very core of Eve code, which is old and dying. They’re riding the cash cow for as long as they can, and then they’ll bow out saying “it was good while it lasted, sorry about keep spamming the ‘forever’ bit, we were trying to delay the inevitable”.

  • Billy Hardcore

    sigh yes….only half of 2013 kills….well ITS ONLY HALF WAY INTO 2014 YOU IDIOT THIS ENTIRE PAGE IS CRAP

    • Niden

      What are you on about? I give kills to date as welll as the projected kills for 2014 right next to it.

      • jim

        Burn

  • Patch

    This article represents what I’m seeing in the game. I have two characters, one Provi dweller and a FW character. In both of my homes there is growing activity and fights to be had. It seems to me that with the current mechanics, low sec is probably the most functional part of the game. If you are bored with where you live now, come join us in low.

  • Kamar Raimo

    I have expected this to happen for some time now. The inflation of alts has made EVE very vulnerable to the dissatisfaction of nullsec players. The real problem starts when the major leaders throw the towel into the ring. TEST never recovered from Montolio giving up. Li3 and Gents did not survive the burnout of their leaders either. More examples like that exist. The autocratic organisations of sov-null might be the easiest to keep together, but they also are the hardest to keep alive without their autocrats in charge.

    Who knows what would happen if Mittani, Vince Draken or Progodlegend decide that they have had enough.

    • Danikov

      The problem with good leaders is, while they encourage effective subordinates, they retain their power and position by eliminating challengers (and their continued existence is testament to that ability).

      If they ever do burn out, they’ve eliminated all the worthy successors and are often difficult to replace. Very few have the forethought to have a protégé and establish a contingency for their retirement/departure. I’d love for someone with better knowledge of EVE history to indicate if there has been any cases of effective, deliberate legacies being left by successful bloc leaders.

      • esdc

        I’m not a big fan of TheMittani… But I have to admit that if he leaves, then Eve is in serious shit. CCP would probably pay him a fairly sized monthly just not to leave.

      • Kamar Raimo

        “I’d love for someone with better knowledge of EVE history to indicate if there has been any cases of effective, deliberate legacies being left by successful bloc leaders.”

        I couldn’t think of something like the deliberate grooming of a successor, but Goons did way better after Mittani took over than ever before.

        Also, on a more collective level, when Tau Ceti Federation disbanded and gave Deklein to the Goons, that worked out pretty well too. They still live there to this day.

  • Time does fly

    Nice article and exactly what i am seeing. However, I think that the numbers are even worse than the stats show. As a recent former null sec’r that has been playing off and on since 07, the number of alt accounts i see now is amazing. Back then, very few people would be willing to pay the sub to have multiple accounts as it was all cash. With the advent of plex, incursions, FW and other big money makers, alt accounts are commonplace. When i fly incursions to fund my PVP habit, i hear constant talk of alts which indicate having upwards of 3, 4, 5 accounts. One pilot in my corp has twenty!

    The money shift in EvE is also to blame. Null is where you used to make the most ISK. ISK Ratting there could only be beaten by large scale mining operations. Hearing the cry of the high/low sec communities in regards to ISK imbalances, CCP invented all sorts of ways for them to make HUGE amounts of ISK. The 0.0 draw just isn’t there any longer. You can make more, much sooner and much more quickly in high/low sec.

    The allure of 0.0 is still there for me, but it may be based on past experiences. Back in the day it was the place to be for fleet action and constant warfare. Now, it is sov grinding, empty space, and dealing with egos almost as big as the space you are flying through. Gone are the days of fun roams with kitchen sink ships and small fights. Now it seems to be all alliance doctrine based fleets (hence the f1 jokes) and blobs of t1 frigs from “new” alliances that thought null was where they needed to be, and constantly have 300 bored pilots in space.

    Anyway, TL;DR. You’re right, null is dying as there is little content. CCP has created more in low/high over the years, and 0.0 is where old players go to die.

  • Azzataky

    Yea low sec is awesome. Yet many people tell me FW is bad because you only orbit beacon, you only fly frigates etc. Though its true people in FW usually fly smaller ships its awesome place for PvPer. To me its an PvP arena in EvE. Thanks for this acrticle, as usual on CZ its a good one and I shall wipe anyones face with it who dares to say “low sec sux”.

  • The stock is so high right now in FW, and lowsec really hasn’t been better as far as I can tell.

  • weeehooo

    the only thing that i see dying in eve, is the audience good faith in ccp’s capabilities of steering their company towards better days. what we have seen in the past 3-5 years is a booming mmo market competition, and many copy cat games wishing monopolies such as eve online fail. well dream on. eve online will not die. and after a decade of patience, hard work and meticulous management, i’m almost 100% confident that ccp will not let it go.

  • JP

    http://eve-offline.net/?server=tranquility Enough said. But everyone plays games for enjoyment so if you enjoy it keep playing and hope that the numbers don’t drop to around 15k player base like it did from 60k to 30k. Not bashing the game just showing facts of past numbers that I have noticed since the last time I played but at that time it was around 70k-80k player base.

  • j
    • Ger ee att rickk

      bingo. less than 25k concurrent average last 3 months, 35k for last 6 months, 38k last year. that’s pretty much 40% less people with current weekly average vs 1 year average. And since that is averaged data, then the actual decrease is >40% for, say, exactly 1 year ago. Everyone quit at christmas. I was playing for years, the last straw happened, then i followed all my mates who had quit the months coming up to christmas. Now i occasionally check to see how far the player numbers are crashing 🙂 It turns out to be more fun than eve. Its even more fun to see people denying the obvious.

  • RogainHead

    Hey CCP Phantom, put as much effort into HiSec as you do in Nul and I’ll re-up my sub.

  • Bill

    Everything about Eve is intended to make it “sticky”. You keep coming back because of the investment that you’ve built up. Sov warfare is thrilling the first time or two. After that, you discover that you’ve signed on for a level of commitment to a game that is exhausting at best, and unhealthy as worst.

    Sov warfare has, for the most part, been dominated by “pros”. Eastern Bloc isk farmers, etc. Look at The Mittani. Used to have a career. Now he’s The Mittani full time. Hopefully, he won’t wake up one day and regret not having done more with his life.

    Low sec is the part of Eve that most resembles a game, as opposed to a job. If you’re looking for the game, yeah, low-sec is where you want to be.

  • Great Negotiator

    If only CCP could have made a WORLD OF DARKNESS MMO. Instead they keep doing small investments in a dying game.

  • British Citizen

    EVE has been on the declining slope for many years now. Lets be brutally honest here, after Apocrypha…. Dominion came not too long afterwards and the game has took a slippery slope from there.

    EVE is a unique game, there are many aspects about it that should be universal to more games. CCP could easily crate an EVE 2 (however this would require them to go back to the drawing board). The current EVE engine is just too clunky and old in this day and age. The game can still be fun but even after I have invested years into the game….. right now there is really nothing to draw me back in.