For the Greater GoodBlackhuey
“… there are customers that you can lose in a good way and there’s customers that you can lose in a bad way…”Every customer lost is a customer not paying for the servers for my (and your) benefit. Every customer lost is a person who tells ten other people that Eve is a Bad Game. Every customer lost represents a loss of complexity, one or more threads pulled from the tapestry of New Eden. Miner, pirate, “toxic”, F1 monkey, guys who get it and guys who don’t; you are all people for me to shoot, bump, sell to, buy from, outwit, be blown up by and sperged at by. Even Mr Skillqueue Online pays dev wages. So retain all the things. And we know that player corps (and thus MMO interaction) are fundamental to retention. The goal is right. Does the implementation achieve the goal? Well, to answer that I need to dive into Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory. You see way back in the 1950s Freddy Herzberg postulated that job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction act independently of each other. That is to say that some things motivate you when they are done well (e.g. recognition) and others demotivate you when they are done badly (e.g. work conditions) but the reverse isn’t necessarily true; e.g. lack of recognition doesn’t necessarily demotivate, and good working conditions don’t necessarily motivate. You can overcome demotivators by leveraging motivators, but you can’t motivate by removing demotivators. All very obvious-sounding stuff for MBAs to make powerpoints about. Back to spaceships: by murdering the safari, CCP have axed a real impediment for people to enter player corporations. That is to say that they have removed a demotivator. Those with blingy ships need worry less about being bluefucked and hisec CEOs can recruit with gay abandon. So far so froody. But – and this is a big, Kardashian but – safaris are not the only demotivator in hisec corps. They are one of the majors, don’t get me wrong; and their removal is a necessary digit in the combination for unlocking an NPC corp exodus. But thanks to good old Freddy we understand that removal of a demotivator is not the same as motivating; and it is going to take one hell of a motivator to overcome the elephant in the room: wardecs. That woke you up, didn’t it? It scared me to write it. I can almost feel you perched ready to explode with pirate rage and carebear delight depending on my next paragraph. Thankfully, this is where James 315, Funky and I start to merge again. Opinion is consistent that the biggest demotivator for joining player corps in hisec is wardecs, that wardecs are fundamental to Eve as we know it, and that alone, the safari nerf will not achieve its aim. What is needed is a serious motivator – a stick to go with the safari carrot – to make NPC corps unattractive enough to risk wardecs; because the motivation is not there now, even with the safari nerf.
That stick is – must be – tax. Make it hurt. Not 11%; 50% tax on ISK incomes, LP, refining, hell even on the base cost of mined ore and looted items for players in NPC corps. Every single ISK or asset faucet should be cut in half. Make it clear that NPC corps are only for new players and those between player corps. Make them untenable for long term play except for cyno and hauler alts. Before the safari nerf the isolationist response to this would be to form a 1-man corp, which doesn’t achieve the retention aim. But with the combination of both changes, the best option becomes joining a large, active, organised corp. The sort of corp that will protect, educate and deter wardecs. The sort with intel channels and organised ops and competent leadership. In short, the sort of corp which retains players. I’m at peace with myself now. I don’t support the safari nerf because safaris are bad, or because people might quit if they get awoxed, or because grr pirates; I support it because it is an essential part of getting people out of NPC corps. But I don’t support it as a standalone nerf with no followup, because it won’t achieve the aim by itself. Without followup that actively pushes people out of NPC corps, all those fine words about retention will be revealed as just so much CCP misdirection, all the critics will be vindicated and I will join them. How did the song go? “We’re CCP / we march on fearlessly / excellent is what we strive to be”. You have the right idea on retention, CCP. Now read your Herzberg, grab your sack and drop the NPC tax bomb to finish the job. Fearlessly. For the Greater Good.