The summer of 2014 is no different than all previous summers as far as EVE is concerned. Activity is going down, players let their subscriptions lapse and wait for winter to return with more action packed warfare around sovereignty and income streams. Enthusiasts keep playing and engage small gank shenanigans. Pandemic Legion is living in the shadows, preparing for the Alliance Tournament XII. Low sec groups and hunters go fishing or get counter dropped. Some supercapital character is relieved from his terrible hull to upgrade to an Aeon. All seems to be normal for the summer in EVE.
But this year it feels different.
With Crius and its major changes in industry approaching, I thought for a long time that the expansion will bring more life to New Eden. However, when you dive deep into EVE‘s forums you will find a large number of industrialists that are not continuing the subs on their industry alts. They keep their main account active but the common handful of alts with building slots will soon not be able to log in. They have been doing their math and figured out that the business they used to run is not as comfortable as it used to be. Longer supply chains added with an increased risk of getting ganked and large amounts of ISK barely making any profit are part of the problem. Many of the features are still not finalized by CCP, just two weeks before deployment date. People are holding off any new projects for the time being and cutting costs during a time of very high PLEX prices.
This might be caused by many null sec pilots actively consolidating accounts as the general view on null sec is that PVP is on the decline with the blue doughnut remaining strong. HERO coalition is being put in place in null sec and Providence is allowed to remain as it is for now. Both are easily accessible for PVP and this allows the coalitions to provide at least some content from time to time. A common way to prepare yourself is to sell off all your assets and reinvest the ISK into PLEX. Although CSM member Mynnna advised players against investing only in PLEX the prices keep going up, making it a reasonable way to avoid burning money when you plan to come back to EVE after a long hiatus.
Nosy Gamer put out an excellent blog post recently about the decrease of average concurrent user numbers since B-R5RB. This is only further proof of what I have been hearing very often over recent months. While null sec-only players are a minority, most of the industry, resources and community work is coming from this part of New Eden – either directly or indirectly from alts in high sec. CCP uses large scale null sec events as PR material in order to attract new subscribers to EVE. High sec pilots benefit from the mass destruction that null sec entities guarantee as well. As pointed out by HVAC Repairman and me the next Great War is not coming, for many reasons, as long as the Dominion sov system remains untouched by CCP. We are currently going into the fifth year of this broken system and null sec players from all sides are starting to lose faith in CCP, especially after the considerable layoffs this year – pilots find better things to do than playing EVE and stop logging in.
I keep on hearing the rumor that subscription numbers are dropping significantly, some people claim we are already down several tens of thousand subs. CCP of course won‘t share any of those numbers but clearly activity is dropping to a new low after the Incarna debacle. While players are waiting for the new sov system that CCP Seagull promised during Fanfest 2014 I am sure we will see a further decrease in active players while PLEX prices keep on rising as EVE‘s equivalent to RL‘s gold. Veterans keep on buying PLEX at any price to be prepared for the day CCP finally delivers a feature that will either revitalize EVE‘s null sec warfare, or be the final nail for many players to stop caring, leaving New Eden for good.
Currently a new threadnought has been started on the forums with CCP watching. While there are many ideas and proposed nerfs to address several issues the consensus is that null needs fixing. Many people suggest bandaids for power projection, capital ships and income streams, meanwhile to fix stagnation and TiDi battles of several thousand players I think it is time for CCP to re-consider Jesus features. Revamp the null sec sov system and the income streams. Powerprojection is a problem that was created due to the broken sov mechanics and may resolve itself with little tweaks in some areas.
Many sov-related things at the moment are annoying, however, a considerable number of the ideas presented in the thread mentioned above would make life in null sec either dull, unnecessarily hard, irritating or terribly complicated. Replacing one grinding mechanic with another will not lead to any improvements. Shortening jump drive range will not shake up politics. ISK has never been a good way to stop the sandbox doing unexpected things, so anything-cost related will not stop large entities from doing their thing. CCP Greyscale is still quoted for „There will be never more than a few handful titans due to cost and effort,“ and yet we have several hundred active Titans in EVE, not to mention the ~3000 active supercapitals in the last twelve months. Pandemic Legion spent 1.000.000.000.000 ISK on jump fuel in the last year alone and that did not stop us from dropping slowcats on any reasonable target within several jumps. Only new income streams, regional differences and diversity have the chance to make New Eden a better place, allowing smaller groups of players to establish themselves in null sec between the coalitions.
The vision of CCP Seagull is not forgotten among grunts and leaders alike. Within a short time frame CCP has to deliver a decent plan as well as good list of features that herald a new player-owned null sec. I don‘t envy the developer team that has to find a proper solution to these problems – it might lead to the end of New Eden.
Tags: crius, forlorn, industry, nullsec, sov